YouTube pays $1 billion to the music biz

YouTube pays $1 billion to the music biz


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2014

Tom Pickett, a YouTube vice president, has disclosed at Midem panel that his company, owed by Google, paid more than a billion dollars to the music industry over the ‘last several years.’

That looks like good business for both sides, with reasonable trickle-down for artists. Certainly much better than the Spotify scam.

Small labels, though, are still unhappy.



  • timthecomposer says:

    You are completely wrong on Spotify as it happens. I don’t know why you have a weird hex out on them like you do poor old Lang Lang and Katherine Jenkins. (OK maybe the last one is not that weird a hex)

    As explained here:

    – you can see that Spotify (who have far fewer users than Youtube) have in fact already paid out well over $1bn in royalties and that was up to end of 2013, in which year alone they paid out over $500m.

    You might also want to look at the section “Spotify relative to other services”. There is a thinly-disguised direct comparison to Youtube there, showing how Spotify pays $6k-8k per 1 million listens against Youtube’s $3k per 1 million.

    If I was an artist (oh wait, I am!) I would far rather my music was heard on Spotify with its clear way of remunerating rights-holders and its high quality stream than on Youtube with its random take-downs and opaque pay-offs to a few large record companies (and its crappy audio quality), and having ghastly ads plastered all over my video to boot.

    So why on earth do you have the hots for Youtube and a hex on Spotify, Norman?? That’s beyond me.

    People that constantly whinge and whine about their Spotify royalties should take up the matter with their record label, who are to blame in most cases for apparently poor rates, as they often don’t allow streaming royalties to recoup in the same way as CD royalties. Or perhaps they should try and get some more plays. You can see on the Spotify page what a “global hit album” actually nets in royalties from Spotify: $425,000 per month as of last July. $425k **per month**!! That’s not bad now is it?

    • David says:

      Sorry Tim, but you are the one that is wrong about Spotify. If you aren’t a paid shill for them you should be, you might be missing your calling. To make your point, you direct us to…. the Spotify propaganda page?? Seriously?? Furthermore, you felt you needed to insult artists with some “blame game”. “Global Hit Album”?? I don’t think Renee Fleming has one of those (in Spotify terminology), and she sang at some game or something yesterday. Maybe Justin Bieber does, but I’m not sure he reads Mr. Lebrecht’s column.

      Spotify does not pay well. If you know a little about it, you’d know that the big 4 (Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal) have had considerable holdings with it. There’a reason for that, trust me. Spotify has played music without consent (if you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Robert Fripp of King Crimson). The entire logic of “well, Youtube sucks too” means exactly squat. Rather, it means that Spotify is at least good at one thing: spin. They seem to be able to convince younger people that this is some new land of unicorns and rainbows, and that anyone who can’t see this is old and listens to wax cylinders of Bing Crosby. This “new way” is a giant ripoff, and its supporters are trained like seals to throw out ridiculous figures, make absurd statements and ultimately are forced to play the “blame game” like you did.

      That Spotify Propaganda page exists for a reason. It has to, because there are very few ways in the real world to spin the reality. Since you put up the link, I’ll put up another. Check out the comments, I find them hilarious. It’s basically a bunch of gullible youngsters telling him that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he won’t drink the Koolaid. I weep for the children, they’re stuck with Miley Cyrus.

      • timthecomposer says:

        I assure you I’m not a paid shill!* I just have a different opinion to you, David Byrne, and Thom Yorke and so on. And yes I have looked into it in quite a lot of depth. I do know the company and the issues around this quite well.

        * But I would be happy to take their money if they want to give me some, at the moment _I_ give _them_ a tenner a month. Sadly they don’t shill for me however, they just supply me with a vast library of music to listen to. No, I haven’t bought a CD since signing up, but then I haven’t copied anything either.

  • DieterK says:

    Yes, Spotify is a “scam”, but YouTube/Google is an even bigger one. As far as I know, Spotify payments per stream are about 2-3 times higher than what YouTube pays.

    “Tom Pickett, a YouTube vice president, has disclosed at Midem panel that his company, owed by Google, paid more than a billion dollars to the music industry over the ‘last several years.’”

    Google should disclose how much money they earned in “the last several yearrs” by placing ads on filesharing platforms and other web destinations that generated traffic with illegal uploaded music.

    • SVM says:

      I agree with DieterK, above. Simply citing one large sum of money, without context, is not an adequate defence for ripping off musicians (and, for that matter, others involved in the production of the recordings). Nor does it account for the manifest sloppiness in the metadata, which are the basis for distributing royalties, and for which there are insufficient means for concerned citizens, creators, and small companies to challenge and rectify.

      I would also like to know how the royalty money is distributed, whether the rates Google pay are commensurate with those levied by PRS and their global equivalents from other licensed websites (if not, then, surely, Google is behaving like a cartel), and whether the basis of distribution is a sample or a census (the former would be severely discriminatory against classical musicians, since many would not make the sample).

  • Ben Wintour says:

    I work in mainstream music at a major US record label, and I can tell you that Spotify is no scam and your previous posts about it are highly exaggerated.

    We all love Spotify. Those behind the scenes and the artists themselves.