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Trent Reznor and Nikki Sixx continue YouTube diss party

By | Published on Thursday 16 June 2016


The war of words between the music industry and YouTube continues, with Trent Reznor – who, to be fair, is slightly biased, having a second job as Chief Creative Officer at Apple Music – being the latest to hit out at the Google video site.

Billboard tricked Reznor into discussing the rival streaming platform after the big update of Apple Music was announced on Monday. The Nine Inch Nails man said: “Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous. It is built on the back of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair”.

YouTube’s response? “Shut the fuck up, Reznor”. Well, not quite. More along the lines of “nothing stolen here, mate”. A statement read: “The overwhelming majority of labels and publishers have licensing agreements in place with YouTube to leave fan videos up on the platform and earn revenue from them”.

“Today the revenue from fan-uploaded content accounts for roughly 50% of the music industry’s YouTube revenue. Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry – and that number is growing year on year”.

Hey, it’s growing. Good times. YouTube wheeled out the same $3 billion stat when responding to the latest YouTube rant from Sixx:AM, aka the other band involving Nikki Sixx off of Motley Crue. They’ve been especially vocal since the US music industry ramped up its anti-YouTube rhetoric, and recently issued an open letter to Larry Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet.

They wrote: “We are appealing to you Mr Page, as a saxophone player who ironically credits his love of music as the inspiration behind the success of the world’s most valuable company, to step up. As the man who coined the slogans [for the early Google business], ‘Don’t Be Evil’ and ‘Do The Right Thing’, we want you take your own advice before irreparable damage is done to the future of artists around the world”.

They went on: “Artists from every genre are finding it impossible to pursue their art in a world dominated by YouTube. Without changes, young musicians will no longer be able to make music for a living and the next generation of fans will be robbed of great artists. Dreams of breaking into the music industry will effectively be unattainable”.

Responding to that letter via MBW, YouTube said: “The voices of the artists are being heard, and we’re working through details with the labels and independent music organisations who directly manage the deals with us. Having said that, YouTube has paid out over $3 billion to the music industry, despite being a platform that caters to largely light music listeners who spend an average of one hour per month consuming music – far less than an average Spotify or Apple Music user. Any comparisons of revenue from these platforms are apples and oranges”.

To which Sixx:AM have now said: “We are glad to hear that YouTube is listening, but actions speak louder than words. Previous meetings have been postponed and emails left unanswered, after YouTube asked us and other artists to postpone our protests in return for a meeting and action on the issues. The protests were restarted after a lack of activity by YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl, and we sincerely hope that this is not further spinning on their side. Larry Page is Google’s CEO, and our letter was to him. He’s accountable to shareholders and the board of Alphabet. Where is his response?”

Where indeed? As previously noted in this CMU Trends review of the Music Industry v YouTube saga, some in the record industry hope that high profile artists speaking out will force the Google platform to play ball on at least some of the music community’s grievances, in a more speedy fashion than can be achieved by lobbying for a rewrite of copyright law and safe harbours in Washington and Brussels.