Music Industry Wants More Money From YouTube

Streaming is on track to become the largest source of revenue for the music industry, and it wants to secure a bigger share from the biggest service online.

Copyright enforcement online never seems to satisfy publishers, content creators and consumers. YouTube’s content ID system has allowed pirated content to stand and removed content from creators that caused no infringement. Now publishers may be pushing YouTube to go further, and they could be working to pass new legislation.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is the most common tool used by publishers to protect their copyright online. Content is discovered on a site, a takedown order is issued and the content is supposed to be removed by the host site. YouTube gets a lot of these requests. A large part of the enforcement problem where YouTube is concerned is the sheer amount of content in play.

The core of the argument from music publishers and the Recording Industry Association of America is that streaming has increased dramatically, but streaming revenue has not. Revenue for ad-supported music streaming on YouTube increased 31 percent, yet the number of streams increased by 101 percent.

Additionally, Spotify’s much smaller user base managed to generate more revenue for the music industry in 2015 than physical album sales. Indeed, there’s an argument to be made that streaming will become the largest source of revenue for the music industry, so it’s not hard to imagine the industry trying to secure more of that revenue from YouTube, one of the largest and most popular streaming services.

The issue with claiming that the DMCA is inadequate for policing copyright is that the music industry has been using it frequently and successfully in recent years. YouTube told The Verge that 99.5 percent of sound recording claims are automated through content ID, meaning that YouTube is already shouldering most of the work. In fact, parent company Google receives more than 100,000 takedown requests per hour.

Using the Content ID system, rightsholders can automatically identify, manage, block even monetize their content once it’s uploaded YouTube. And publishers chose to monetize 95 percent of content identified through content ID, rather than having it removed. 

According to The Verge, music labels are in constant talks with YouTube in an attempt to strike content and revenue deals, so these complaints about the DMCA may be an effort to create leverage. With billions of dollars at stake, it’s apparent that the music industry is trying to migrate its model to streaming and away from physical sales, and so far, that transition has been a rocky one.

While YouTube and publishers try to create deals and potentially change laws, it’s clear that users don’t care which side wins. All consumers want is a digital content experience they can be happy with.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Update: A previous version of this article included incorrect information about how record labels use the content ID system and monetize through YouTube.