YouTube’s monopolistic behaviour back in the news again

February 2015



Self releasing musician Zoe Keating has reignited the debate around YouTube’s Music Key negotiating tactics. In a detailed blog post about her current quandary over YouTube, as the market-leading video platform ploughs on with its Music Key adventure. CMU Daily reports that It seems that the new subscription streaming, having placated the indie labels, is now offering terms to self released artistes – which seem to be “join in with Music Key or say goodbye to YouTube entirely”.


Outlining the new YouTube deal as it was explained to her, Keating wrote:

  1. All of my catalogue must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a third party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too.
  1. All songs will be set to “montetise”, meaning there will be ads on them.
  1. I will be required to release new music on YouTube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes.
  1. All my catalogue must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard which is currently 320 kbps.
  1. The contract lasts for five years.


She then adds: “I can’t think of another streaming service that makes such demands. And if I don’t sign? My YouTube channel will be blocked and I will no longer be able to monetise (how I hate that word) third party videos through Content ID”.

CMU Daily opined that there remains some debate over what is meant by a channel on the Google site being “blocked”. YouTube says that music channels can remain on its platform without artists signing up to Music Key, they just can’t be part of the site’s revenue-earning schemes. In an update to her original blog, Keating says that – according to the way it was explained to her – to achieve that she’d basically have to set up a new ‘non-music-partner’ channel and start from scratch. So it wouldn’t be as simple as pressing a button, disconnecting from Google’s revenue streams, and then carrying on running her existing channel but without compensation. Content-ID monitors the YouTube platform for video uploads that use music belonging to third parties, alerting said third parties to the fact their content has been used in this way. Rights owners can then choose to block the video or to share in the ad revenue it generates.

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