Did you think the rows over YouTube contracts and indie musicians would end once the company struck a deal with licensing agency Merlin? Think again.
Independent musician Zoe Keating has gone public with a claim that YouTube is threatening to block her channel if she does not sign up to terms as unappealing as those infamously presented to indie labels last year.
“The message was firm: I have to decide. I need to sign on to the new Youtube music services agreement or I will have my Youtube channel blocked,” she wrote in a blog post this morning.
“Here are some of the terms I have problems with: 1) All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too. All songs will be set to “montetize”, meaning there will be ads on them,” she added.
“I will be required to release new music on Youtube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes. All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps. The contract lasts for 5 years.”
Keating claims that a YouTube rep has told her that if she does not agree to the terms, not only will her channel be blocked – she’ll also be unable to use its Content ID feature to “claim” third-party videos using her music.
“As of today there are 9,696 videos and last month those videos had 250,000 monthly views. The Content ID robot sucks up more videos every day,” wrote Keating.
She added that a phone call last year with YouTube about her concerns “was similar to one I had with DA Wallach of Spotify a couple years ago. Similar in that I got the sense that no matter how I explained my hands-on fan-supported anti-corporate niche thing, I was alien to them. I don’t think they understood me at all.”
“The Youtube music service was laid out as a win win for me and they honestly don’t understand why I don’t see it that way,” she continued. “A lot of people in the music industry talk about Google as evil. I don’t think they are evil. I think they, like other tech companies, are just idealistic in a way that suits them. I think this because I used to be one of them [referring to her past as a software developer. The people who work at Google, Facebook, etc can’t imagine how everything they make is not, like, totally awesome.”
Keating added that she’s minded to decline YouTube’s terms, but going public will deservedly reopen the debate into how the company is working with independent musicians – particularly those not represented by labels that are members of Merlin.