Irving Azoff Slams YouTube, Backs Radio
May 9, 2016 at 11:54 AM (PT)
After YOUTUBE Head of International Music Partnerships CHRISTOPHE MULLER defended the service against charges of mistreating artists financially, noting that YOUTUBE pays artists more than radio does (NET NEWS 4/29), music industry titan and EAGLE manager IRVING AZOFF launched a devastating counter-attack in an open letter to the music video service on RECODE.NET.
"Your attempt at 'Setting the Record Straight' through a post on your 'creator blog' last month did exactly the opposite: It was obfuscation to divert artists’ attention from the fact that YOUTUBE hides behind the DMCA’s 'safe harbor' provision and pays artists a pittance," AZOFF wrote. "You say that music matters to YOUTUBE. There is an old adage about actions and words. If YOUTUBE valued music, then it would allow artists to have the same control which YOUTUBE grants to itself. YOUTUBE has created original programming. Those programs sit behind a 'paid wall' and are not accessible for free unless YOUTUBE decides to make them available that way. If a fan wants to watch the YouTube series "Sister-Zoned," that fan has to subscribe to YOUTUBE RED for $9.99 a month. But the same does not apply to music."
If you want YouTube to be compared to terrestrial radio, then you have to be a good partner to artists like radio is
"If music matters to YOUTUBE, then why not give musicians the same choice you give yourselves?" AZOFF continued, noting that TAYLOR SWIFT can't decide which of her songs are made available for free and which are part of a paid subscription service, nor is she able to opt out of YOUTUBE. He dismissed the "outdated" Digital Millennium Copyright Act that forces artists to send YOUTUBE a notice every time that song is uploaded by a different user as impossible to monitor, and he chides YOUTUBE for hiding behind the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA.
"Before you tell me that you can’t control what is uploaded to YOUTUBE, let me say it seems clear that YOUTUBE can control the content on its platform when it wants to do so: it controls its own series programming, and it limits offensive content like pornography. It certainly monitors what people are listening to on YOUTUBE and provides that information to advertisers.
"But when it comes to music, YOUTUBE claims it has no control and can’t keep a song off its platform. You exercise control over content when it is good for your business. But the truth is that, from the beginning, free music consumption drove YOUTUBE’s business, and so YOUTUBE chose not to give artists control over how their music reaches their fans."
Azoff Takes Radio's Side
"If you want YOUTUBE to be compared to terrestrial radio, then you have to be a good partner to artists like radio is," he wrote. "Radio works with artists so they can present music to their fans in the way they intended. Radio does not provide unlimited, on-demand access to music which can be shared. Radio doesn’t leak music, and it doesn’t make unfinished or poor-quality live recordings available. It’s about creative control."
Finally, AZOFF concludes by asking YOUTUBE the following question: "If you are paying so well and providing such a great service to artists, then why is there discord between you and the creative community? You can blame the labels and publishers -— or the 'middle men,' as you call them. I know how easy it is to take shots at record companies and publishers -- I have been doing it for years. But the root of the problem here is you: You have built a business that works really well for you and for GOOGLE, but it doesn’t work well for artists. If you think it is just the labels and publishers who are complaining, you are wrong. The music community is traditionally a very fractured one, but on this we are united."