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It's been more than six months since we revealed changes in the code of the YouTube Android app that indicated the long-rumored YouTube streaming service was imminent. So what's the holdup? A rocky relationship between YouTube and independent music publishers may be to blame. Late last week the Worldwide Independent Network, a trade organization for indie musicians and labels, issued a press release decrying Google's treatment of independent labels.


The press release explicitly states that YouTube has approached labels both big and small with contracts for a new music service... and that the terms being offered to independents, or at least those represented by WIN, are unfair. Compensation is reportedly far below what's currently being offered by rival services like Rdio and Spotify, and the terms are non-negotiable. Furthermore, the release says that turning down the YouTube music service contract means that music from the relevant artists will be "blocked on the platform." Anonymous sources "with direct knowledge" of the negotiations tell the New York Times that refusing YouTube's terms may mean that labels won't be able to collect revenues from user uploads that include their music, a considerable source of secondary income.

The WIN press release includes some damning quotes from executives at independent labels and trade organizations:

It is unfortunate that a service like YouTube with a worldwide scope appears not to be interested in treating all copyright owner creators equally. This has an effect not just on A2IM’s label members but also upon their artists and the consumer fans of our artists who will lose this form of access to our music. We hope that we can continue discussions with YouTube and ultimately restore and grow our relationship with this very important service.

Rich Bengloff, President  -American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)

The independent sector has struggled for decades to have a fair market in which to work. There is no reason for us to, at this point, give to one player privileges that could jeopardize the market health as a whole. This pressure over the labels is insane and will lead nowhere, but to a delay in service launch.

Luciana Pegorer - Managing Director ABMI, Brazil

We are extremely disappointed at YouTube’s decision to use its market power to unilaterally enforce inferior commercial terms on the independent sector. For a company that has arranged its structure to pay minimal tax in our market, to now see YouTube’s treatment of independent Australian labels who provide so much of its Australian music content so as to further improve their profitability at the sake of local content creators is deeply concerning.

David Vodicka – AIR, Australia

Contracts with the big guns of the music industry like Sony, Universal, and Warner are already in place. It's not clear if they've been given the same terms as the non-negotiable contracts offered to smaller labels, but it's safe to assume that these bigger powers would have more room to deal. Neither YouTube nor Google are commenting on any of it.

It wouldn't be impossible to launch a new music service without indie labels, but doing so would put "YouTube Music" at a crippling disadvantage to its competitors. It's hard to say who's at fault with any certainty without seeing the terms, but WIN's press release says that its talks with YouTube last week went nowhere. We may be waiting on this one for quite a while.

Source: WIN via The New York Times

London, May 22nd 2014 – The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organisation that represents the interests of the global independent music community has responded to news that YouTube intends to block the content of members who do not sign a new music streaming agreement describing it as ‘unnecessary and indefensible’

WIN was formed in 2006 to represent the global independent industry, which boasts the second largest global market share after Universal.

As reported by several news sources:

(http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2014/04/YouTube-music-subscription-music-service-to-launch-this-summer-report-.html) YouTube is expected to launch a new music streaming service. The service has apparently negotiated separate agreements with the three major labels – Sony, Warner and Universal – but according to WIN’s trade association colleagues has yet to reach any substantive agreement with their members.

At a time when independent music companies are increasing their global market share WIN has raised major concerns about YouTube’s recent policy of approaching independent labels directly with a template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.

According to WIN members, the contractscurrently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavourable, and non-negotiable terms, and undervalue existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezerand others.

WIN has held extensive talks with YouTube at their instigation over the last 24 hours to try and resolve this issue but no progress has been made. WIN’s request for YouTube to rescind the termination letters sent to its members has not as yet been agreed to.

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN and Chairman of AIM (Association of Independent Music, UK)said, “Our members are small businesses who rely on a variety of income streams to invest in new talent. They are being told by one of thelargest companies in the world to accept terms that are out of step with the marketplace for streaming. This is not a fair way to do business.WIN questions any actions by any organization that would seek to injure and punish innocent labels and musicians — and their innocent fans— in order to pursue its ambitions. We believe, as such, that these actions are unnecessary and indefensible, not to mention commercially questionable and potentially damaging to YouTube itself, given the harm likely to result from this approach. The international independent music trade associations call uponYouTube on behalf of their members to work with them towards an agreement that is fair and equitable for all independent labels. This has uncomfortable echoes of similar behaviour by MTV ten years ago, who chose initially to take a similar approach in undervaluing the independent sector, but who subsequently concluded a deal on fair terms, which lasts to this day. It is for every company to determine their own commercial arrangements, but it is in no one’s interests to see independent artists being undervalued in the digital marketplace.

Other organisations and WIN members from around the world also joined calls for YouTube to re-consider its position. Statements of support have so far been received from organisations in the following countries

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • UK
  • USA
  • Vietnam
Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://www.exabit.tk/ Thomas Miller

    Does that Nexus 5 have a Verizon 4G LTE symbol?

    • http://about.me/barrae Maximiliano Barra E.

      Yep. Weird.

    • Jeff Miller

      Maybe just a render, but I would be very happy if became a reality!! A few months back some one on Droid Life (employee) tweeted there may be some truth to a VZ N5.

    • Fabian Pineda

      Could be that the screenshot is from a phone that is Verizon LTE compatible, stitched into a N5 with one of those screenshot apps.

    • http://thegumshoe.com/ Michael Crider

      No, my DROID MAXX does.

    • Woe, Is [S]unjΔy

      Look at the top bezel. The picture is edited.

    • mgamerz

      Its not. The USB symbol is different and it doesn't show on normal android when plugged in.

  • Fabian Pineda

    ...and once again, copyright trolling ruins it for everyone, except this time it isn't the big labels.

    • No.Just.No

      This isn't trolling. This is taking a stabs getting a fair price for your content instead of getting shafted by yet another Google service.

      • No.Just.No

        Taking a stand not taking a stabs.

        • Fabian Pineda

          No, just, no. I'm sure the deal is fair and it's getting ditched by these labels because, you know, indies gonna indy.

          • Joshua Hill

            Well if you're sure it's fair it must be. If it was such a fair deal there would be some indie labels signing up and denouncing those that wont. Is that the case? Only in your dreams!

          • Neill Smith

            That's a false dichotomy.

          • Joshua Hill

            What I have described is certainly a dichotomy. However, if you knew anything about indie labels (they are very activist) then you'd realise it is probably a TRUE dichotomy. I wont say it's impossible that an indie label has signed and hasn't spoken up but it would be highly unlikely.

            Besides, it was a counter to @fabian_pineda:disqus's ridiculous assertion that he didn't provide any source, facts or reasoning to support. If you want to support that, fine go dig a hole with him.

          • Neill Smith

            The false dichotomy is that it's either a fair deal or some indie label would sign and would be very public about it. There are obviously many more than just the two options you've laid out. I don't see any source or facts or reasoning to support your assertion that it's highly unlikely an indie would sign and no publicly be a dick about it and I don't see how unsupported assertions counter unsupported assertions.

      • Neill Smith

        "Fair" in this case being the price you've already established via collusion elsewhere in the market? Ok, yeah, sure...

    • dude

      I can't agree with you, I'm not into indie music, but it would be a good thing for all the labels to be treated the same. I have not and won't be buying music from Sony BMG or Warner anytime in the future.

      • Michael

        Independent Labels and Indie Music are not always the same. Indy labels are basically any label that isn't a part of the Big 3(This includes all the labels backed by the Big 3).

      • primalxconvoy

        If they wanted control over their music, then why put their music on YouTube?

  • Godspoken

    How come it worked for GPMAA, but not Youtube Music?

    • Michael

      Not all Indy labels are on board with All Access.

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      Because they probably didn't try to force them to lower fees with GPMAA because they have no marketshare in streaming, YouTube on the other hand is a large (monopoly almost) service and can (attempt to) lower fees (possibly illegally, at least in Europe... anti-trust, monopoly-misuse laws)

      • Neill Smith

        YouTube is so far from being a monopoly when it comes to streaming music the mere muttering of the word is ludicrous...

        • Roger Siegenthaler

          They aren't stronghanding with their music streaming services but rather their video streaming service... Saying if you don't agree to these terms (for a music streaming service) we'll kick your videos off youtube, and block your access to ContentID and youtube monetisation is misuse of their monopoly on video streaming... which they arguably do have.

          • Neill Smith

            If that were true ContentID itself would be the misuse. Collusion between big players to cut up the advertising revenue on virtually every video and divide it amongst themselves? Refusing a slightly smaller industry player's seat that the table because they don't like the terms of the collusion is the monopoly misuse says you.

        • Rachele Gibson


          ❤❤❤ ❤�❤❤ ❤❤❤ ❤❤�❤ ❤❤❤

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    I still can't understand why would Google need to have literally two music subscription services at once. If I want to listen some music - I'd go and do that in Play Music via actual audio tracks, why would I need to go to YouTube to do the same? Besides music clips are really stupid IMO, it's easier for labels to just upload songs in their true quality instead of 360p clips with horrible sound, Roadrunner Is a prime example of that

    • AbbyZFresh

      Most people don't know nor care about Play Music outside of Android enthusiast. Plus YouTube is more accessible to more people than Play Music as at the moment.

      • primalxconvoy

        In an android enthusiast and I couldn't give a rodent's derriere:

        - because official music apps are cr@p, imo.
        - Japan, which is always behind the technological curve these days, still hasn't got Google Play, nor big data caps (some "unlimited" data plans are capped at 7 gigs).

        YouTube allowing this officially would effectively bypass this for the masses AND compete with Apple's fledgling streaming service (which IS available in Japan).

        • evolvedxconvoy


          This...available in Japan...at launch...

          You're so silly...

      • Jk Jeeks

        Pretty true. I have Spotify, iTunes Music, iTunes Match natively in my country but no Google Play Music and still waiting for it to arrive here. YouTube is probably a great music streaming platform if done right.

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      I have no idea why it wouldn't be combined like Play Movies, which you buy on Google Play but watch on youtube...

    • http://futureisfiction.com/blog daretoeatapeach

      Plenty of songs are only available on YouTube, unfortunately.

      It could also be handy if you wanted to have a video stream, say for playing in the background at a party.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Suddenly chromecasting comes to mind...

        • http://futureisfiction.com/blog daretoeatapeach

          I'm not familiar with Chromecast, but I'm sure there are already ways to do what YouTube proposes (Blip.fm, while not an ideal solution, comes to mind). But it makes sense for YouTube to want to make a native tool, as companies are often want to do.

  • Mado

    Yeah...remember the time when YouTube was all about "we're independent, we're doing this on our own, no record labels" and stuff?

    You either die a startup, or live long enough to be acquired by Google.

    • senor_heisenberg

      YouTube was acquired by Google so long ago that you bringing up an old statement is pretty much irrelevant.

    • saf1927

      Yeah, I mean... founded in 2005, bought in 2006, so long, right?. Compared to now, 2005-YouTube was horrible. YouTube lived more as a Google service than an independent one.

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    Now, this is the chance in a lifetime they get to make a stand. 50$ says they wont take it.

  • gmaninvan

    I still don't understand why this exists. What happens to all access?

    • Artevius Hardin

      I'm thinking this will be somewhat of an ad supported version of all access that uses Youtube as a trojan horse. People already go there to listen to music all of the time, so having access to full albums from the same page as the artist's music videos would be a better option. It could bring the user uploads to a halt, since there would be no reason to choose them over "Youtube Music" when all of their music would be in the same area without the need of another search. Some user uploads don't have ads, so that may be the last positive for choosing them over what could be a more user friendly option.

      • Jeune Sekwa

        This is what I also predicted last year since this is exactly what they did with Play Movies and YouTube Movies. I also think they will replace YouTube with Google Play Videos. All the free and paid channels will be in the Play Store then you'll have a player for your videos and playlists (like Play Music). By the way they already bought the domain name http://www.googleplayvideos.com

        • Artevius Hardin

          I don't think "Play Videos" will ever have the cultural relevance of "Youtube," so it's hard to believe they'd change how it currently works. I could be misunderstanding something.

          • Jeune Sekwa

            Clearly they can't replace a behemoth like YouTube overnight. I see it like Picasa & Google+ Photos. Both would coexist for a very long time. At some point YouTube would be neglected while "Play Videos" would get new features and a better design (less banners ads hopefully). Someday visiting the URL http://www.youtube.com would automatically redirect to http://www.googleplayvideos.com. This shouldn't matter too much for most people since all their content will be there in a better experience. However I don't expect this happen anytime soon, this should be a long time strategy as Google works hard to unify its ecosystem. And as they say on their G+ page, "Google Play is the new home for all your favorite entertainment", so there should also be YouTube videos.

          • Artevius Hardin

            I get what you're saying now. Sounds like that could be the road map they're currently on for the service. The current url redirecting to the new GPV would make since once they fully commit to something like this. It'll surely cause more mayhem online whenever this actually happens.

          • Jeune Sekwa

            Of course I could be wrong but for me it's so obvious. They started the transition with YouTube Movies (www.youtube.com/movies) and Play Movies (play.google.com/store/movies). Both work together seamlessly. The same will happen with Play Music and YouTube Music. It's good to have both platform for now so that means more choices for users and they definitely still need a huge brand like "YouTube", but someday the "Google Play" brand will become bigger IMO. By the way I wouldn't be surprised if they name their first retail store in New York : Google Play (the playground is open). Sounds perfect for consumers and obvious to me since they already sell devices on the Google Play website. But once again I could be wrong.

          • gmaninvan

            I also think we aren't that far away from Google Play and the Chrome Web Store merging. I think that what will happen is that Android will start to better support web apps and DART. Then, chrome apps will start to appear in Google Play with Chromebooks listed as devices.

            After this, they will slowly merge the apps and design language.

          • Jeune Sekwa

            Yeah I agree. I think the same as you.

      • gmaninvan

        Excellent reply and a very clever idea!

  • Alex

    Since Larry Page has come into the picture, things are starting to look more $ interesting. Whatever happened to Google Don't Be Evil moto? Microsoft was king until they got too greedy and lost consumer trust. Is Google on the same path? Too early to tell, but more and more questions are starting to come into play...

    Google, be as you were, respect creativity, offer terms to those in need, collect less and quantify. You'll keep me loyal. Fast forward 7 years and greed takes over, charge for this, YouTube, Gmail etc... And we'll depart to a new venture, a new Google will rise and the flock will turn... It'll be too late MS style (MS may still have a chance to come back, although I'm in doubt, think xbox 1 controller doesn't come with rechargeable controller, pay $30 for a battery?)...

    I love you Google, I have faith in you...

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      Well developers are already ditching Google stuff for anything and everything else xD. They're feeling the pressure already.

  • primalxconvoy

    Is this really an issue, though? There are numerous third party apps that have been streaming music from YouTube for quite some time.

    Do the Technorati actually bother with the official YouTube site or app on their respective systems these days?

  • fabulosospucas

    Bad Google! Bad!

  • Brian

    Why would Google aka YouTube treat musicians the same? Its not like indies would bring in more money than the buf artists.

  • Neill Smith

    So Google is trying to do to streaming rates what Apple did to DRM way back when, build a platform that's so attractive to publishers they have no choice but to play by consumer friendly rules. It's to bad they're using ad revenue from truly independent content creators as a bargaining chip though.

  • didibus

    What YouTube needs, is to make this a Music Video Streaming Service! That would truly make it compete and different to Play Music.