After months of delays and legal wrangling it looked like YouTube’s long awaited streaming music product, Music Key, was finally ready to sail onto our laptops and into our hearts. The project has been plagued with problems including loss of key staff members and a series of lawsuits and challenges from independent record labels. Still, it seemed that all of that had finally been put to rest when YouTube reached an agreement with the labels and announced the beginning of beta testing for Music Key. However, it seems that at least one artist isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel in her dispute with the video giant.
In a detailed Tumblr post, Zoe Keating lists the terms of YouTube’s new music partnership agreement that she objects to and the penalty she’ll face if she doesn’t sign. Keating’s major concerns are the requirement that she authorize her entire catalog for YouTube’s streaming service and that all of her music on YouTube be monetized with ads. According to Keating, the agreement also requires that she release all her music on YouTube first or day-and-date with any other platform like Bandcamp or iTunes. The contract, according to Keating, will remain in force for five years before she has a chance to renew or renegotiate.
Of course according to the post there won’t be much negotiation now, or in the future. If she fails to agree to the terms that YouTube provides, then according to Keating her YouTube channel will be blocked and she will lose the ability to monetize any of her content on the platform or avail herself of the content ID system. This is a major sticking point for the artist, who maintains a comparatively small YouTube presence but uses content ID to claim and monetize her music when it’s uploaded by others.
Keating’s full post goes into greater detail, but the major claims definitely echo charges made by independent record labels during the last round of disputes over Music Key. By virtue of its size, YouTube wields a huge amount of influence in the music world. Artists have come to rely on the site not only to distribute their work but to receive payment when others do so. Keating is not the first to allege that YouTube is now using that reliance to push artists and music publisher to accept terms less favorable than other streaming services. If Keating’s post is an accurate representation of those demands, it’s hard not to sympathize with creators who feel screwed.