YouTube Scores Licensing Deal With World’s 5th Largest Music Label

By Megan O'Neill 

YouTube’s library of licensed music just got a whole lot bigger thanks to a new deal with Merlin, the world’s fifth largest music label after Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group.  Merlin represents 14,000 artists including Aphex Twin and The Prodigy and now, when YouTubers upload videos with music from Merlin artists, instead of having the soundtrack removed from the video, the artists will receive royalties.

Alex Pham of the LA Times Blog reports that in addition to Merlin, YouTube has similar deals with four other major labels and a couple of independent labels, Merge Records and Beggars Group.  Though these independent labels are smaller, they’ve got some major talent under their belt.  Beggars is Adele’s label and Merge represents Spoon and Arcade Fire.

YouTube has similar arrangements with a number of film studios and their own partners.  Via their Content ID platform, YouTube is able to quickly discover when copyrighted stuff, from music to video clips, have been uploaded.  Instead of having these clips removed, the content owners can opt to monetize these videos instead.  Leaving the clips up not only serves as free advertising for the original content, but they can also place ads on these videos to make money off them.

As more and more people upload YouTube videos (we’re at over 48 hours every minute!) it’s a fact of life that people are going to be using a lot of copyrighted music.  And the truth of the matter is, most of these people aren’t doing it maliciously—many of them aren’t even aware of copyright laws.  Deals like YouTube’s recent deal with Merlin won’t only keep uploaders happy (their soundtracks won’t be removed) but they’ll also keep the artists happy (free promotion for their music plus royalties).  The way I see it, it’s a win-win situation.  What do you think?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.