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YouTube challenged over music industry support

Music industry show Midem provides platform for YouTube debate

YouTube has defended itself against critics of its music streaming service at the industry’s annual Midem show in Cannes.

Vice president of YouTube content Tom Pickett was faced with questions and interruptions during a panel appearance, with musicians and independent labels still in doubt over whether to embrace the platform’s influence.

Some small label owners remain concerned that YouTube and Google are not “music people”, and expressed fear that their ultimate goal is to dominate the market at the expense of independent outlets.

Additionally, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) challenged YouTube over the amount of money it pays out to artists, suggesting it is much less than the sums provided by streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer.

Another keenly debated topic was the ongoing scrutiny over Google’s measures to protect artist copyright. Mr Pickett was questioned by an audience member over what YouTube was doing to stop people from converting its videos into MP3s for free.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor commented: “We can’t understand why it’s taken so long for Google and YouTube to do something about this.”

YouTube cites ongoing music investment

In response to the criticism, Mr Pickett stressed that YouTube was “all in on music”, and suggested the company has contributed “over a billion dollars” to the industry over the last few years.

Analysts also noted the ways in which the company has helped labels make money from user-generated content, and cited Google Play as an example of a mutually beneficial service.

The criticism of YouTube was also far from unanimous, with some label owners and industry insiders suggesting a better understanding of how YouTube operates could help musicians generate more money, as opposed to simply demanding more money per stream.

The general consensus among YouTube’s defenders was that while the platform remains some way short of perfection, the music industry could benefit from making more of an effort to make sense of its potential.

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, said: “The landscape of the music industry is changing all the time, and it’s up to artists and labels to try and keep up. That said, there are unfavourable comparisons to be made between YouTube and other music providers, so there is clearly work to be done on both sides.”

Written by James Riches

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