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YouTube will force indie labels to join new streaming deal—or be blocked

"In a matter of days," you will no longer be able to listen to some of your favorite artists on YouTube.


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Jun 18, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 2:53 am CDT

YouTube is set to start blocking videos from artists like Adele, Radiohead, and the Arctic Monkeys on its site after numerous independent labels refused to sign new licensing deals for an upcoming premium streaming service, according to a new report from Financial Times.

The blocking could even start “in a matter of days,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, said. This would be to make sure that all content would adhere to the new terms.

News of YouTube Music Pass, an ad-free subscription service, first came out last year, but the Google-owned company is pushing ahead despite not having some of music’s biggest artists after Amazon launched a new music-streaming service for Prime members last week looking to compete with Spotify.

For a monthly fee, you would be able to watch or listen to music without any advertisements on any devices, even when you aren’t connected to the Internet.

So far, around 95 percent of the music industry—the three big record labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music, along with a number of smaller labels—have signed the new licensing deals. The remaining labels, which includes XL Recordings and Domino Records, are reportedly trying to hold out for a better deal.

Some of the labels have turned to the European Union to intervene, and the trade body for independent music labels Impala argues that YouTube is using its position of power and its audience reach to force the smaller labels into accepting less-than-ideal terms that could hurt many smaller artists from getting any exposure on the site.

YouTube seems to be willing to move ahead, regardless of whether those smaller companies sign the new licensing agreement.

“While we wish that we had a 100 percent 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,” Kyncl told the Financial Times.

When asked for comment, a YouTube spokesman confirmed to Gizmodo the Financial Times story.

“Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry. We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind — to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”

So just in case there’s no last-minute solution, you might get your Adele fix while you still can.

H/T The Verge | Photo via AdeleVEVO/YouTube

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*First Published: Jun 18, 2014, 12:12 pm CDT