VEVO insists it’s in the right on licensing deals

By | Published on Thursday 23 February 2012


The boss of Sony/Universal-owned music video service VEVO has told Digital Music News that his company pays all the royalties due for the videos it streams, adding that what happens between the licensees his firm works with and their artists is not his business.

As previously reported, Matt Pincus of American indie publisher Songs Music Publishing recently said his company wasn’t receiving royalties for many of the videos on VEVO that contain songs his company own. This occurs because in the US the video service licences all rights in the videos it carries from the record companies, who than have a contractual obligation to pay any publishing royalties that are due.

However, Pincus claims, the majors are then using a clause in their artist contracts that says that when videos are used for promotional purposes, if the featured artist also wrote the song, no publishing royalties need to be paid. That, Pincus reckons, is an abuse of a contractual clause meant for when music videos are used as marketing tools (as they once principally were), and not when they are being used as a direct revenue generator.

Although Pincus conceded that that alleged dodgy behaviour was the fault of the record companies, he asked whether VEVO had a duty to ensure that the companies it licenses content from were acting fairly with regards other affected rights owners. Plus, of course, VEVO’s two biggest content providers are its parent companies, so some might argue it’s a bit cheeky for bosses there to totally wash their hands of this problem.

But, in a comment to a story on DMN, in which OK Go manager Jamie Kitman said his band also weren’t seeing any royalties from their EMI-released content that appears on VEVO, the video site’s boss Rio Caraeff insists his company is behaving appropriately, and its for publishers and artists to take the record companies to task if they believe they are being unfairly treated.

Writes Rio: “We pay every single video licensor fairly (based upon all revenue, not just revenue generated from video watch pages like some other services do), on-time and on the same commercial terms no matter whether one is a major or independent label or distributor. What happens between an artist and their label or distributor in their contractual relationship is simply not something that we are party to, and every artist’s deal is different”.

He continues: “We fully respect music, artistry and our teams work incredibly hard to build audiences and generate revenue for artists, writers and rights owners from a user-behaviour (watching music videos) that was considered promotional by the industry for so many years. I am not willing to engage in a public debate here other than what I have already said (so please don’t contact me for more quotes on this) but I felt like declaring the simple truth of how we operate as it seems like this place attracts many who easily disparage without knowing the facts”.

As previously reported, the specific publishing royalty issue Pincus wrote about does not apply in the UK, where VEVO licenses publishing rights via collecting society PRS For Music rather than via the record labels.

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