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YouTube Is Threatening A “Mass Cull” Of Videos From Indie Labels

Written by Nastassia Baroni on June 18, 2014

Video streaming service and treasure trove of adorable cat escapades YouTube is in the midst of heated negotiations with various independent music labels, with a company executive announcing this week YouTube will undertake a “mass cull” of music videos from the site “in a matter of days”.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Google’s vice president and YouTube’s head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, confirmed the company will launch its own paid streaming music service but said it would begin to remove from its site content from labels that haven’t signed up for the licensing deal.

According to Kyncl, Google has inked deals with the three major record labels (Sony, Warner, Universal), as well as a number of indie labels, accounting for 95 per cent of the music industry. But content from the remaining labels will be blocked from the platform.

“While we wish that we had a 100 per cent success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience,” Mr Kyncl told the Financial Times.

Several of those record labels have been fighting back against what they perceive are Google’s strong-arming tactics on the market, forcing the smaller labels into compliance by offering inferior terms of service. “They have suffered a simple but catastrophic error of judgement in misreading the market,” Alison Wenham, chief executive of the Worldwide Independent Network told The Guardian.

“We have been hearing from many companies across the world who are expressing fear, displeasure, outrage and confusion at the phone calls, letters and bullying they seem to be receiving from YouTube employees,” she added.

According to the Financial Times, artists like Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Jack White could see their videos removed from YouTube if the service carries out their threat, but some reports suggest this claim has been overstated. Digital Trends points out, since Vevo has separate deals with YouTube and several indie labels, its videos on YouTube won’t be blocked, meaning very few artists would be affected.

YouTube has been talking about launching its own streaming music service for nearly a year. The service will charge people to watch and listen to music without ads, and allow them to download songs to their mobile devices. It plans on internally testing the new service in the coming days.

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