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Indie Labels and Associations Respond To YouTube Music Licensing Pressure Tactics

LONDON (Hypebot) – The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), which includes a wide range of indie music associations in its membership, is responding to concerns about YouTube's licensing practices with a joint global statement. Though YouTube is negotiating directly with major labels to license music for its future streaming service, the company has presented indies with templated contracts and "an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed." This unacceptable situation offers a clear focus around which to gather indie forces at a time when YouTube has become a dominant player in online music.

WIN's initiative to address YouTube's bullying tactics is getting a lot of attention on music industry websites and for good reason. YouTube has become a key platform for music marketing and monetization with Google always manipulating terms in its own favor.

With YouTube attempting to force feed indie labels insulting licensing terms, it's no surprise that many in the music industry support WIN's YouTube statement:

"According to WIN members, the contracts currently 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, Deezer and 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) stated:

“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 the largest 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 upon YouTube 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."

Hear, hear!