As waves surrounding ‘safe harbour’ debates continue to crash, Mötley Crüe co-founder Nikki Sixx (pictured) is the latest musician to criticise YouTube over the royalties it pays out for music video streams.
Sixx has penned an open letter calling for the video site to pay more to musicians for using their videos is part of a campaign by a coalition of prominent musicians launching this week, with pressure to be put on the site and US legislators. Debbie Harry is the latest to speak out.
Sixx is urging YouTube to ‘Do the Right thing’, adding: “YouTube is paying out about a sixth of what Spotify and Apple pay artists” and “We are not telling them how to run their business. We’re saying treat artists fairly the way other streaming services are. And by the way, we are a big part of what built your business: music is the No 1 most-searched thing on YouTube”.
The artists are weighing into an industry debate that has heated up in recent weeks, as legislators on both sides of the Atlantic consider reform of the ‘safe harbour’ laws governing sites such as YouTube that allow their users to upload content.
Under current laws, such sites are protected from copyright infringement prosecutions provided they remove any copyrighted material when notified by the rights owners.
The music industry bodies argue that such immunity allows YouTube a position of imbalanced strength when negotiating licensing deals with labels and publishers. Trade groups in the US were recently backed by a petition sent to the US Copyright Office for its consultation on safe harbour reform, signed by several high profile artists.
A spokesman for YouTube retorted with a statement: “Google has paid out billions to the music industry, and we’re engaged in productive conversations with the labels and publishers around increasing transparency on payouts. We believe that by providing artists and songwriters greater visibility around revenue earned on YouTube, we can solve many of these issues”.
It continued: “We’re also working hard to bring more revenue to the music industry through our subscription service, as well as continuing to grow our ad supported business, which allows artists and labels to monetize the 80% music listeners who historically have never paid for music”.
Of course, the timing is tactical and this hits just as YouTube’s contracts with the world’s three biggest record labels are up for negotiation this summer.
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