That’s the claim from researchers at Fairfield University and the University Of Colorado who looked at the impact of Warner Music pulling its videos from YouTube in 2009. (The label subsequently reached an agreement to return its videos to the platform.) The researchers compared the sale of Warner Music acts’ albums on the Billboard chart with the album sales of acts signed to labels that had not pulled their content from the video platform. The researchers concluded that the top Warner acts ended up selling more albums during the blackout. “We showed that the removal of content from YouTube had a causal impact on album sales by upwards of on average 10,000 units per week for top albums,” say the researchers. They extrapolate from this that being on YouTube can cost the top albums up to $1m in “lost” sales a year. This, however, does to factor in the ad revenue that can be wrapped around YouTube videos (note how Warner returned its music to the site on the condition that it could control its own ad sales); but it does lead into wider debates about how much control labels/artists have over what music is on YouTube and if any of that can be effectively pulled from the platform if requested (especially given that full-album streams with track annotations are incredibly common and easily re-uploaded if subject to a takedown request).

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