Chief Creative Office of Apple Music and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor has taken aim at YouTube and the revenue it pays to artists.
“I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous. It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big,” Reznor said in an interview with Billboard.
His problem is with YouTube being a free-tiered service which differs to streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and TIDAL that all require users to pay a monthly fee for access to the music. SoundCloud was also a free-tiered service, however, it has introduced a subscription service after increasing complaints about the revenue paid to artists.
“It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly,” Reznor further said about YouTube.
YouTube features a lot of fan-created content and also content that is uploaded without the copyright holders’ permission. When users upload material without the copyright holders permission, YouTube takes advantage of a “safe harbour” law which means that user-generated content sharing sites can hide from claims of copyright infringement.
The access to free music on YouTube is said to be impacting on the growth of paid music services and putting them at an unfair advantage.
YouTube has denied this with a spokesperson saying (via The Guardian), “YouTube has paid out over $3bn (£2.1bn) 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.”
They further said comparing YouTube to streaming services is like comparing “apples and oranges.”
YouTube was further forced to offer a statement following Reznor’s damning comments.
“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,” a spokesperson wrote.
“Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 percent 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.”