Is Google Right In Forcing Artists To Sign With YouTube Music Key?
Google is making it mandatory for artists to sign over the rights to their music for its new streaming service — YouTube Music Key — and some artists are furious about it. Cellist and composer Zoë Keating wrote a long post on Tumblr in which she explained how YouTube is forcing her to sign with its Music Key service.
She said that her YouTube rep explained that she would have to sign on to YouTube Music Key otherwise her channel would be “blocked.” By blocked, her rep meant that the channel would be demoted to third-party account or in other words, a normal account that anyone can create. Hence, she would lose all of YouTube’s monetization options, and her recognition of being a musician.
Keating is not the type of person who would try to make money out of exclusive partnerships as she has leaked her own music on torrents herself. Neither it is the question of whether she wants to participate in a streaming service or not, because her music is on Spotify. The issue is about choice. She feels irritated by the fact that she is not given the freedom to choose what she wants to do with her music. She explains:
Is such control too much for an artist to ask for in 2015? It’s one thing for individuals to upload all my music for free listening (it doesn’t bother me). It’s another thing entirely for a major corporation to force me to. I was encouraged to participate and now, after I’m invested, I’m being pressured into something I don’t want to do.
So Keating signed up for a service by which she can make money through advertisements on her videos, and now that she bought into that, she is furious over the fact that she is being forced into a relationship.
Keating is not alone. Independent labels and artists have been protesting against Google’s strong-arm approach which forced them to sign on.
Their perspective is true on one side, but Google isn’t doing anything dirty over here. It is true that YouTube was initially an open platform where creators from any domain could share their work, and this is what made YouTube successful. By making it a you-must-do-this-to-use-it service, Google is killing its initial spark.
But look at this problem from Google’s perspective. It hosts millions of songs and it is not possible to work out individualized terms with each artist. The service wants to create same rules for similar artists in order to make it a win-win for everyone, and this is what they are doing with YouTube Music Key — providing another avenue for artists to make money.
No one is forcing Keating to take Google’s money. It is her choice of whether she wants it or not. But if an artist wants to use Google’s massive platform to put his or her videos and get paid, that artist has got to pay the price too.