New YouTube streaming service threatens independent music

The service allows users to pay for content without having to view advertisements and also gives the option to download songs.

June 29, 2014 04:53
3 minute read.

‘WE ARE in a streaming world these days. Everything is accessible today and it’s a blessed idea, despite the fact that it’s not as romantic as it used to be,’ says Kobi Farhi (middle) of the popular Israeli group Orphaned Land. (photo credit: AMI BERNSTEIN)


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A new streaming service created by Google and YouTube is bringing panic to those in the independent music community that are choosing not to comply with the new company policies set in place by these tech powerhouses.

The service allows users to pay for content without having to view advertisements and also gives the option to download songs. YouTube has announced that companies that do not agree to these new terms will be taken off of the website. However, Israeli artists aren’t showing as much anger compared to the many voices that have already spoken out against this new deal.

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Jeremy Hulsh of non-profit Israeli music export office Oleh Records talked about how these problems have a way of correcting themselves in an e-mail exchange.

“I am pretty confident that if You- Tube does indeed block independent artists [and] labels that refuse to sign their ‘terms of service agreements,’ a new service, probably created by an Israeli music tech startup, will replace YouTube within the independent music market,” he said.

Kobi Farhi of the popular Israeli group Orphaned Land believes that there are benefits to this new music service.

“We are in a streaming world these days,” he said. “Everything is accessible today and it’s a blessed idea, despite the fact that it’s not as romantic as it used to be.”

Notable artists such as Jack White and Adele are just some of the many musicians that potentially could be removed from YouTube because their record label, XL Recordings, has refused to sign with the subscription service.

“Artists need labels [of] any kind as it’s hard for some of them to finance, distribute and promote their albums,” Farhi said. “Of course, I’m an ‘80s boy, but it’s history now.”

The service has already partnered with record label giants like Universal, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

This now puts YouTube in direct competition with other popular streaming companies like Spotify and Itunes, which also have contracts with these record labels.

“In Israel, the independent music industry is the main player for emerging Israeli artists both at home and abroad,” Hulsh said. “Without indie labels developing emerging artists, most of the prolific artists you know about would remain uheard of, and completely undiscovered.”

Adam Baruch, owner of Israeli record label Jazzis Records, is not in favor of any type of streaming services and believes this type of music distribution to be an extreme hindrance of the music industry.

“I think the whole format is completely wrong,” he said. “The chances of anybody making it are infinitely lower in the new model because you are one of ten million new songs [on the Internet] a day.”

IMPALA, The Independent Music Companies Association, has filed a complaint to the European Commission, seeking urgent action against these new service terms.

Helen Smith, executive chair of IMPALA, commented on the issue during a press conference held in London last week.

“Negotiations should be carried out in a fair and constructive manner without threats of content blocking being used to give YouTube more weight to impose terms that would not be otherwise acceptable,” she said.

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN, The World Independent Network, an organization created in 2006 representing the interests of the global independent music community, spoke regarding the announcement of YouTube’s new streaming service.

“We appreciate that a small number of independent labels may have their own reasons for agreeing to YouTube’s terms, that is their prerogative, but they are very much in the minority,” she said. “The vast majority of independent labels around the world are disappointed at the lack of respect and understanding shown by YouTube.”

The paid service will not affect users posting their own songs and videos, only artists that have contracts with a record label.

Google launched a separate music streaming service called “Play All Access” in May 2013. The company has not commented on how You- Tube’s new service will affect users already paying for Google’s service.

The YouTube service is expected to be available to the public late this summer.

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