There is more about sandwiches and cigars in the Financial Times’s ‘Lunch With the FT’ interview with YouTube’s music boss Lyor Cohen. Which, in fairness, is the point of this particular slot in the newspaper. One part did stand out however: Cohen putting a date on YouTube’s ambitions to become the biggest partner (in revenue terms) for the music industry.
“The twin-engine growth story is critical to us becoming the biggest and most valuable platform to the music industry,” said Cohen – those engines being subscriptions and advertising. “We will provide more revenue to the music industry by 2025 than anyone else.”
Keen readers may remember this ambition (which didn’t come with a specific date then) causing tension at the UK’s parliamentary inquiry in February, when BPI boss Geoff Taylor expressed scepticism about YouTube’s potential to become the industry’s biggest partner.
“We’re not on a path to achieve that, let’s put it this way,” said Taylor during his testimony at the inquiry, earning a rebuke from YouTube’s public policy boss Katherine Oyama in her session later that day. “I honestly was surprised and a bit disappointed by the testimony that I heard…”
For now, the figures show that YouTube paid out $4bn to the music industry in its last year, while Spotify is paying out around $5bn a year. Growth of the former (which Taylor himself noted that the music industry would welcome) is a positive story, regardless of how soon or whether it overtakes Spotify.
Talking of that UK inquiry’s findings suggesting the music streaming economy needs a ‘complete reset’, that’s a topic Cohen swerved during his FT interview, asking the journalist to cite the report’s findings before saying “I don’t know what you’re referencing. I don’t want to speak of something that you’re reading off of your iPad.”
Given that he is moving to London to oversee the next stage of YouTube’s music growth, and with a market study by the UK’s competition regulator in the offing, we suspect he’ll become much more familiar with the debate in that particular country, and may even bring his views – “Sometimes people will over-regulate and stifle innovation,” he told the FT – to its study.
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