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Musicians want the EU to intervene in a row over the rates YouTube is offering small music labels to include them in a new service. They are accusing YouTube business of trying to “strong-arm” independent labels into accepting low fees. Impala – a body representing Europe’s indies – is spearheading the complaint.
YouTube has long been rumoured to be developing an advertisement-free music-subscription service.
“YouTube provides a global platform for artists to connect with fans and generate revenue for their music, paying out hundreds of millions of dollars to the music industry each year,” said the company.
“We have successful deals in place with hundreds of independent and major labels around the world – however, we don’t comment on ongoing negotiations.”
It says it plans to request “prompt intervention” from the European Commission into negotiations over a new YouTube “music streaming service”.
Impala complains that indies are being presented with non-negotiable contracts accompanied by the threat that music videos they have posted to their YouTube channels will be blocked from site altogether if they do not agree to the terms.
The labels can currently make money by placing adverts at the start of the clips or via pop-up boxes that appear while they are playing.
“YouTube are shooting themselves in the foot with their attempt to strong-arm independent labels into signing up to such low rates,” said musician Billy Bragg.
“They’re in danger of launching a streaming service that lacks the innovative and cutting-edge sounds that independent artists bring.”