Darren Waters

YouTube row reflects online minefield

  • Darren Waters
  • 9 Mar 09, 16:34 GMT

You might have thought that the sounds of brakes being slammed on in the 100% legal, 24/7 digital content world had long since faded into the distance.

But try and watch a video of Leona Lewis singing on YouTube UK in the next few days and you will quickly realise that the digital world is not so switched on and simple as you might have previously thought.

YouTube in the UK is blocking access to all premium music videos because of a failure to reach agreement with the Performing Right Society over a new license to stream content. It is a reflection of the byzantine world of music rights online.

Despite the fact that YouTube has deals in place with three of the four major record labels in the world it still has to seek a separate deal with music publishers, many of whom use the PRS, in order to get rights to the music and lyrics in each music video.

YouTube UK is saying that the fees charged by the PRS in the UK are "prohibitive" and would mean it would lose money on each click of a video.

It begs the question: If true, who can make a business in the online music streaming world if Google cannot?

There may be an element of "brinkmanship" by YouTube in all of this. There's no suggestion that the PRS was seeking a block to all music video content while discussions continued.

Indeed, when I spoke to the PRS today they seemed taken aback by this move by YouTube. Later they made clear that the first they had heard about this move was when I had telephoned to tell them.

As their boss Steve Porter said: "We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent."

Pointedly, in the statement released to the press by the PRS the final line reads: Google had revenues of $5.7bn in the last quarter of 2008.

But regardless of the motives of YouTube's tactics and the PRS' response this is a much wider issue.

Last year, popular US online streaming service Pandora had to close its doors to listeners outside of the US because it said it could not afford a licence with the PRS and the labels.

Pandora boss Tim Westergren said in an e-mail to users in the UK that the rases were "far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate and so, hugely disappointing and depressing to us as it is, we have to block the last territory outside of the US."

Pandora is not alone: Real Networks, MySpace UK and Imeem have all had problems getting a music video or music streaming business of the ground because of this issue.

You can hear the frustration clearly when Tim Westergren wrote: "It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music.

"I don't often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent -- and by that I mean both well known and indie artists."

YouTube is a little more sanguine: "We value the creativity of musicians and song writers and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright.

"But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our license than before."

Other UK companies too have complained loudly about the issue.

Martin Stiksel, from successful UK-based firm Last.FM, said recently: "We need a total overhaul of how digital content is licensed and distributed on the web. I'd like to see one single compulsory licence for digital content holders: for music, royalties could be distributed according to how often it is played."

Of course, while parts of the the music industry and firms like YouTube struggle to reach deals consumers must be scratching their heads in amazement at such obstacles to delivering legal content in a timely and straightforward fashion.


  • Comment number 1.

    It is very true that the prices the PRS (and the PPL) are trying to charge online music providers is insane. I shudder to think what large companies have to pay, but if you add the PRS and PPL charges together, a hobbyist internet DJ has to pay roughly £140 per listener per year to be licensed just in the UK.

    Further charges then apply in every other territory in the world, all of which MUST be payed if your service can be listened to in these territories, no matter where you/the server is based.

    If the UK licensing bodies continue on this aggressive nd insane approach to music licensing, no one will want to pay. As it stands in the UK, You pay a license when you buy a CD. You then pay a license when you broadcast the song (one license per listener), AND if you want to listen to the music in a public place (a place of work for instance), another license has to be payed. License payed 3 times just for 1 person to listen to the song one time? No wonder Google aren't interested.

  • Comment number 2.

    This is so typical of the music industry. They try to get fees more than their product is worth and if they don't get their way then the cry out and say that it is the artists who're being actively victimised.

    At the same time the big labels are pulling tactics to make it difficult for artists who aren't under their control. They don't care about the artists. They just want the maximum possible profit.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's a completely crazy situation. If I was the PRS, I'd be more worried about loss of sales from P2P network file sharing than youtube not paying a lot of money. There is no better youth friendly media platform out there!

  • Comment number 4.

    Unfortunately PRS seem to have a habit of causing problems for people in the UK. I remember them forcing the owner of a small musical instrument shop near me to purchase a licence as the people in his shop trying out instruments were playing well known songs.

    I appreciate that artists have to make a living, but are such draconian methods really helping? As the legal ways to view content online disappear, the average consumer is probably either going to find an illegal alternative (without necessarily knowing it is illegal) or not watch at all, thus losing the artist potential revenue.

    I think it's about time that someone stood up to the PRS, and a business the size of Google is probably the only one that could do such a thing.

  • Comment number 5.

    When you have the likes of the BPI taking CD-WOW to court - and winning - to block consumers buying at the best deal for them ( even though the BPI are happy for music to be pressed in China at a cheaper cost ) it's no surprise that businesses like YouTube have to restrict usage in the UK.

    I'm against music piracy ( or any piracy for that matter ) and I've bought a considerable amount of CDs based on what I've seen on the likes of YouTube, it is getting to the point where over priced CDs, lower quality legal MP3s and the greed of the BPI are making me wonder if I should just copy my mates CDs instead.

    I don't believe in a free lunch, but it's about time the music industry realised that you can only fleece your customers for so long.

  • Comment number 6.

    'Special' relationship! ... doesnt seem to stretch to corporate America.

  • Comment number 7.

    The PRS are completely unrealistic. If you look at their website they expect people to pay for licences if for example they play a track from a computer to a friend at work. In these times they have to be sensible and realise that people will only pay legally to listen to music if it appears reasonably priced, easy, and fair to use. Instead they appear out of touch and greedy.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good for Google! The PRS have been bullying small businesses and clubs for years into paying costly licences just to have a radio on in their premises. It is good to see them getting a taste of their own medicine. They will have to realise that in the long run they are doing no good at all for the artists and songwriters they purport to represent by alienating the public both on-line and in the workplace.

  • Comment number 9.

    The insane thing is that youtube is the perfect way to discover new music. I've just put down a tenner for a CD by a band I discovered through youtube (The Joy Formidable, in case you are interested). That's £10 that might have been lost to the industry had there not been their videos up on youtube.

    There needs to be a new delivery model for music. For years the industry sold the same thing in different formats - 45, LP, tape, CD and now digital. They've run out now and can't make money from the same thing. A subscription model might be the way forward; but without being able to get music "out there" who will ever know? The industry ought to be counting its lucky stars that it's the only one that gets PAID to advertise (after all, what is airplay other than advertisements for the music?), but low quality streaming footage is hardly going to impact on profits. The record companies acknowledged this, the PRS evidently has not...or are they the easy target for the record companies to squeeze?

  • Comment number 10.

    Well if PRS does not get sensible and start charging more sensible fees then I'll be watching youtube videos through public proxy servers in the US to get past the UK address issues.
    It get me into Pandora and I'm sure it will get me into youtube

  • Comment number 11.

    The Performing Right Society should learn a lesson about greed from the bankers mess.

    The Pandora issue was it completely shooting itself in the foot and now this seems to be more of the same.

    Good on Google/youtube, price rigging by the music industry has gone on for far too long. Although the irony is that everyone (including the PRS) would make more money if they just agreed reasonable payments with the likes of Pandora and Youtube.

    But as I mentioned initially nothing blinds people quite as well as greed.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Pointedly, in the statement released to the press by the PRS the final line reads: Google had revenues of $5.7bn in the last quarter of 2008."

    I'd like to know what PRS mean by this. That money earnt by Google isn't from the music industry alone. Far from it. Do PRS think that Google should use the other areas of their business to subsidise the music industry?

    PRS have for years been charging ridiculously heavy charges for their content, and YouTube aren't the first company who have been hit by their charges as your article points out. In the PR war, PRS are going to lose. Music videos are promotional tools. Advertisements in order to sell their products. For some reason the music industry seem to be the only sector who believes we should PAY for their advertising. Google realise that their model at least lets the industry get paid, and are willing to lose this content to prove the point. PRS have got a far bigger battle with piracy to fight, but they can't help trying to spread their fight too thin, too far and too wide.

    The battle between the distribution models the user wants, and the record companies are trying to enforce has been raging for 10 years. Users are starting to win the battle, with the removal of DRM on nearly all of the major music stores online. Until the music industry accepts they have to find a model to suit the user, they are always going to lose in the long run.

  • Comment number 13.

    All the comments so far seem to think google are doing the right thing. Personally I think they should both return to the table and find a way of resolving this, but i can guaruntee that the artists desrve more than they are getting. Youtube has 100m+ visitors per month in the US alone. world wide would be an interesting figure, im sure they are just being tight and using the fact they are so big to force the price for their subscription down. I think a monopoly commission should be brought in to sought out google, they are too big and are controlling too much of our information. I just wish they didn't make things that worked so well, it makes it hard not to use them.

  • Comment number 14.

    As someone pointed out.. why would consumers buy music they have not heard? Of course they wouldn't, so why should companies pay a fortune to advertise music for artists!

    There is so much greed in the music industry and it's not suprising that consumers are turning against it. Businesses have been forced to meet the demands of the industry, and it's good to see Google stand up to them. PRS need to wake up and realize that market strategies from the last few decades just arnt going to work anymore as digital media dominates.

  • Comment number 15.

    This is a problem much wider than the music industry and applies to all online content. There is a decline or little growth in traditional channels and content providers try to apply old business models to the web to offset the loss which wont work. The web is a "Long tail" model with lots of tiny transactions adding up to a lot of revenue from low yield targeted adds with the service free to the public to get the massive volume needed to make it work.
    The Music industry and others like the Ordnance Survey (UK Maps) are shooting themselves in the foot and putting a big break on the new digital economy.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good on Google, from the sounds of this the PRS have just seen the massive chunk of money that Google makes and feel that they should have a massive chunck of that.

    If Google can't afford to run music videos at a profit then they are well within their rights to refuse to show them.

  • Comment number 17.

    The PRS are surprised that YouTube will stop streaming when their licence runs out? What, they would condone then YouTube broadcasting unlicesnsed content? I think not!

    I think they've just realised they have shot themselves in the foot and are howling in pain at teh thought of losing all that revenue...

    Remind me again how much of that actually ends up in the artists pocket and how much is retained by the industry???

  • Comment number 18.


    No offence, but I cant agree with what your saying. Google are absoultly massive in size, and make a huge profit, but they are well within their rights to refuse a deal that would cost them money. Doesnt matter if they had profits of $1 or $5billion, they are allowed to seek a fair deal just as any other company or individual would. Why should they be forced to pay more just because they are good at what they do?

    As for your suggestion about the monopoloy commission. This just drives me bananas. Google are big and successful because they are good at what they do and give consumers exactly what they want. It's like people are saying you can be successful, but not TO successful or we may need to investigate you and then sue you for lots of money.

    If every there was a case of shooting yourself in the other foot, then this is it for PRS. I say other foot, since they already shot their first foot in the whole Pandora debacle. Could well end up hurting them in the long run.

  • Comment number 19.


  • Comment number 20.

    I think that the PRS is possibly biting of more than they can chew with the youtube issue.
    I think that it is the first point for looking for music videos but this situation also gives other music sites with better quality content a chance to gain ground.
    I am very impressed with sites like HULU and MUZU.TV which are easy to use and look great and have less of the useless videos that you find on youtube.

    Looks like MUZU.TV are taking this as an opportunity. The following comment was made by Mark French MD of MUZU TV and is taken from the MUZU Blog -

    ''It’s not the music industry’s fault that YouTube’s business model doesn’t stack up. The model doesn’t support paying the current PRS rates let alone the payment to artists, because they cannot command high enough advertising rates. Because sites like YouTube are built off the back of user generated content, and have a storied past of allowing ‘illegal’ content to be viewed – brands are resistant to pay premium advertising rates.
    MUZU.TV ( was purpose built for the music industry with a viable model that protects the CPM by its 100% focus on premium music content. While the industry needs to look at the minimum stream rates to make new business models viable and sustainable it should not let YouTube hold it to ransom.”

  • Comment number 21.

    Of course this all goes back to the basics of the Google - and others, dictat that if its online then we can do what we want with it - for nothing!
    Full copyright is not recognised by such sites as Google but you try and take anything from Google for nothing.

  • Comment number 22.

    Someone should point out to the PRS how chavs are driving around in cars with stereos blasting out at ear-splitting volume. Surely they need public performance licences if they can be heard in the next street?!

  • Comment number 23.

    I thought the whole point of these music videos was to promote the artist and the song to encourage people to buy the CDs. So isn't it in the artists interests to have these made available as widely as possible?

  • Comment number 24.

    It annoys me to no end that we suffer endlessly here in the UK because of the companies and governing bodies like PRS who are antiquated and still living in the 60's where they enjoyed bucket loads of money from the sales of Beetles records.

    PRS, just like the various producers, simply do not understand the current world and the current climate. Their entire business model still relies entirely on the sales of CD's and a small handful have really begun to realise that they stand to make much more profit from download sales if they actually invested in it.

    As a result of their greed and lack of foresight, we suffer by having delayed or, in this case, blocked content.

    Music is not the only entertainment industry here in the UK suffering from the same issue of computer/internet illiterate people running the market - its liensing issues that often delays the broadcast of foreign TV shows and the release of games, amoung other things.

    The sad truth is that none of this will change until the certain generation of directors etc retire and people that are web savvy take up the reigns.

  • Comment number 25.

    Perhaps this will lead to a proper public discussion of how the whole music scene works, and more importantly, how the licensing regimes and more critically, how the remuneration is worked out.

    In most other fields, you do some work, you get paid, end of story. For historic reasons, musicians seem to want to get paid again, and again and again for their work. I don't buy the argument that they need to have a revenue stream for their retirement, they can do as other people do and make plans for their old age.

    Lets get away from the greed based musical culture we have, of celbrity and excess, and lets make sure the hangers on in the middle, the "recording industry" who are like leaches, they add no value at the end of the day in this internet age, are removed so that their proportion of costs are removed at a stroke.

  • Comment number 26.

    They've had 10 years since Napster came out. 10 WHOLE YEARS. If any other business took this long to sort out their business model, they'll have gone out of business by now!

    So, no. No sympathies for rights holders in this at all. Why did they think the likes of Google and Apple are going to accept ANY deals which cause them to lose money?
    They WILL simply remove the licensed content, causing the rights holders to earn no money at all.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a rights holder and member of the PRS, all we see is people like myspace and google make a fortune from our product, fail to adequately protect us from just anyone shoving anything they like that belongs to us online, and then when they do work out a system, make ridiculous fortunes from it and try and pay us as little as possible.

    Most composers are not rich, and PRS royalties are a vital part of our income.

    Most PRS members are not record companies, but solo composers like myself, composing anything from jingles to music for TV to pay our mortgages.

    I put some of my songs on Myspace, just for fun. I have gotten around 9000 views - not a vast amount.

    My myspace page is covered with advertising that Myspace profits from.

    Do you know how much as a PRS member I get?


    So when you all complain that we get upset because you all want to STEAL our property, remember that.

    Most of the time we get NOTHING.

  • Comment number 28.

    17. At 10:31am on 10 Mar 2009, odysseus_nz wrote:

    Remind me again how much of that actually ends up in the artists pocket and how much is retained by the industry???


    PRS retain a small amount for running the system - it is overseen by an elected board voted by the membership from the membership.

    How much the composer (not the artist - that is not PRS) gets depends on their publishing deal.

    If they are with a big publishing company they will get around 70%

    If the piece of music is an "unpublished" work - for instance a jingle - then the composer gets 100%


  • Comment number 29.

    It's all rather amusing to be honest.

    PRS have gone and shot themselves in the foot and anyone with enough knowledge is just going to use a public proxy server to watch videos that they want.

    Total PRS Achievement? Bad PR.

    Good on Google and YouTube! +

    Note: I haven't said record labels and artists don't deserve royalties. The PRS just isn't in a position to be outrageous and go over the top with demands.

  • Comment number 30.

    No one is stealing your content. Google had a publishing deal with PRS. It expired, and PRS were asking YouTube to make a loss on each video served. Quite rightly YouTube don't believe they should make a loss on promoting your content. Why should they subsidise your product that isn't profitable?

    Also, if MySpace aren't paying you for your content posted on their site by yourself, thats a problem between you, MySpace and PRS. If you don't want people to listen to the content without getting paid, remove it.

    One could suggest that if you've only received 9000 listens then maybe that music isn't good enough for people to wish to purchase?

  • Comment number 31.

    In reply to Gurubear - you more than likely get no money from me right now. If I could get at Pandora, you might get some.

    I don't do illegal downloads; I wouldn't walk into a shop and take a DVD or CD, so I won't use BitTorrent and what have you. The thing is, I also don't listen to music enough to bother buying CDs or legal downloads, either.

    I did love Pandora, though. I got to listen to music that I would never bother to buy and royalties were paid and unlike the radio I could guide the content and skip the odd track here and there and all without annoying idiots talking at me in between!

    It seems silly to me for the music industry to shut down a source of revenue, however small. I am not buying music from them, but they could be getting paid for me listening. I suppose there's some business sense behind it somewhere... *shrugs*

  • Comment number 32.

    It is clear that the music industry is not a place for small-time people to make a living. I am an artist (photography, not music) and I sell a fair few of my pictures. I have had my work distributed for profit, but also used on websites without my permission. To counter this I started distributing images on my website for free because I wanted to be in control.

    The fact is, I understand when a product isn't worth as much as I want it to be. I'm not arrogant enough to demand that my art pay for my mortgage or bring me a life of riches.

    Music is not worth as much as it once was. There's so much of it nowadays and frankly you don't have to be that skilled any more to be successful, even if you do every stage of the production. Just because you're creating something, don't expect to be rewarded a fortune for it. You have to prove that your product is worth something special.

  • Comment number 33.


    This is, in fact, a repeat of what happened with Apple a few months ago:

    There's only so many places online where artists CAN make money. These websites are run for a profit, if they can't make a profit, they'll be shut down.

    If these websites can't get licenses because they're too expensive, they'll either be shut down, or they'll pirate. And that'll be the end of legitimate music sites.

  • Comment number 34.

    #27 Gurubear wrote : "So when you all complain that we get upset because you all want to STEAL our property, remember that."

    I don't want to steal anything of yours and I object to your comment.

    I don't have an issue with an artist wanting to make money to pay their mortgage etc., it's why I work so I'm not surprised that you have the same commitments. What I do have an issue with is organisations like the PRS and BPI inflating prices or blocking the consumer from getting the best deal. I understand the concept of finance within a business and how they will look for the best way to make profit, offshoring and outsourcing two good examples, but it's about time the consumer was given the same opportunity instead of the BPI bullying companies into submission.

    Save for a handful of artists, I very rarely purchase any new music now and just listen to the stuff I've already got. Until the music industry thinks about how it treats the consumer, you'll be getting very little from me. And, no, that doesn't mean I'll be downloading illegally.

  • Comment number 35.

    The PRS are a bunch of idiots. Last week after a recomendation from a freind I watched the Fleetfoxes on You Tube. The next day I purchased there CD. There are so many artists that I have watched or heard on the internet and then purchased their music after hearing it. You Tube helps the sale of music. The PRS are the new music Taliban and are helping to make a society where music will be banned unless there taxes are paid. At work in a small business they now make us pay a licence for our employees to listen to the radio. What next a BBC type licence for any home that has a HI-FI, radio, iPod, CD player etc.
    If we can't hear the music first we will never buy it! I Think this is the day the music died!

  • Comment number 36.

    #27 Gurubear wrote : "So when you all complain that we get upset because you all want to STEAL our property, remember that."

    This 'steal[ing] our property' nonsense is exactly the attitude that's leading to the demise of the current music industry and people like you missing out on revenues. Music is not a piece of physical property like a CD or LP anymore that can only be bought from (or stolen from) a shop. It's a bit of data that can be copied and distributed in almost limitless amounts for effectively no cost.

    Copyright may give you the right to stop that distribution but in practice this is now impossible to do. The only way you can make money off it is to make licencing deals simple, flat-rate, once-off, no-DRM-strings-attached and world-wide so that anyone can setup a legal online music store with ease and sell music at reasonable prices, and you get your rightful revenue.

    However the current philosophy of the music industry which seems to be to try to kill of anything digital and return to the 60's just won't work. The first time I see a 'blocked due to licencing issues' notice I would feel right in simply shruging my shoulders and download it over P2P - after all if you've blocked me from paying you for it why should I feel any guilt about not doing so?

  • Comment number 37.

    Gurubear, you and the PRS are living in dreamworld. YOU may like to think your music is worth, say, 5 pence a listen. But if Google can only earn, say, a halfpenny from the advertising that it brings in, then they're not going to pay you that. No matter how many billions they make elsewhere. They are not a destitute composers' charity.

    So, you have a choice.

    Get your share of the halfpenny, or, get nothing and have no-one listen to you.

    If you choose the latter, based on notions of what music was once worth in the days of inflated-price CD sales, you're an idiot.

    Like others here. all the music I have purchased recently (and that's a lot, as in these iPod days I listen more than I ever did) has been sampled on YouTube first. If it's not there, I'm going to be much less likely to buy it.

    So the PRS is definitely not acting in your interests for holding out for the 5p, as the only result will be that you get zero money and zero audience.

    All figures used for illustration, I have no idea what the real numbers are.

    (PS I do not understand what you are griping about with MySpace. You put the stuff up there "for fun" and for self-publicity, no-one wants to steal anything from you. Maybe it's time to realise that your chosen job won't actually pay your mortgage anymore, because the output is just not worth it. Then you have the same choice as everyone else - and most would start to think about getting another job)

  • Comment number 38.

    Steve - as you say, all your figures are made up.

    Googles advertising revenue from you tube is BILLIONS!

    My point about Myspace is that everyone assumes that PRS members just make loads of money from everything - that it is some sort of cash cow for the elite.

    Well, it isn't

    Some years ago I wrote a title theme for a series of Sherlock Holmes radio dramas.

    Following their initial usage, 6 of the progs were picked up by BBC World Service and played all over the world on their English channels (obviously)

    The PRS payment to me for all of them, including repeats?

    54 quid.

    And that is me getting 100% of the returns, by they way.

    That is what PRS payments are really about.

  • Comment number 39.


    Actually, it is a bit of physical property.

    When you decide to illegally download via P2P it is no different to you taking stolen property from someone who has smashed their way into a shop.

    You are supporting thieves and agreeing with them being thieves. It is as simple as that.

    When I put up something on Myspace, I choose to do so knowing I dont get money from it. (even though myspace will make advertising revenue anyway). But that is my choice.

    When you download illegally, you are saying to the composer "stuff you, I am stealing it anyway."

    You dont have the right to do that - even though you can by hiding behind encryption.

  • Comment number 40.


    Actually, you have it the wrong way round.

    This issue is about Google using bully boy tactics against the PRS.

    The PRS, which is a NON-profit making society, is tiny compared to google.

    the PRS is duty bound to represent its members and sometimes that takes vasts amount of work.

    Recently I received royalties from a jingle I wrote 15 years ago. (it was just 20 pounds). It had taken the PRS that long to get the money because the British radio station involved simply kept refusing to submit PRS returns. (By they way, it was not just me they were trying to get the money for! hehe)

    The PRS is not a massive organisation that can just bully anyone into anything.

    The media just like making it sound like that.

    Google will win this argument, by the way - the composers and their society are just too small.

  • Comment number 41.

    "Googles advertising revenue from you tube is BILLIONS!" But how much of that revenue is from music videos? Why should the other content that isn't music videos, subsidise the content that is? To run music videos, YouTube would have to make a loss on that content and use other content to subsidise it. Why should they?

    "Some years ago I wrote a title theme for a series of Sherlock Holmes radio dramas.
    Following their initial usage, 6 of the progs were picked up by BBC World Service and played all over the world on their English channels (obviously)

    The PRS payment to me for all of them, including repeats?

    54 quid."

    Again, that is a problem between you, PRS, The BBC and the agreements in place. That has nothing to do with his specific issue.

    "And that is me getting 100% of the returns, by they way."

    Well your complaint is with PRS then for not being able to negotiate a better deal. The fact remains though, why should other video markets have to subsidise the use of music? These are the companies that are after all, prepared to sue people for putting videos up of their grannies dancing at weddings as copyright infringement.

  • Comment number 42.


    And at no point has anyone been downloading illegally here, so therefore your whole argument is a moot point. YouTube were doing things perfectly legally... their PRS deal ended, and because PRS wanted YouTube to make a loss on each music video served to people, YouTube decided not to sign a deal, and as such, because their deal had ended, pulled music videos off of the site. If they hadn't PRS would have been screaming about the illegality of it all. You can't have it both ways, complaining about the legal distribution - then complaining about this legal method not paying you as much as you'd want.

    So PRS have a decision to make. Make money by negotiating the YouTube deal (and Pandora, Last.FM, small indie online DJ's) so its fair to everyone involved and everyone makes a bit of money, or YouTube continue to make a profit on their content, and PRS and its members make absolutely nothing due to greed.

    Again, no matter how much money YouTube makes, why should it have to use other parts of its business in order to subsidise the music video? Why should other content providers make less so the music industry profits from a product that isn't worth as much as it thinks it is?

  • Comment number 43.

    Unfortunately PRS are a bully boy and Google, whilst large isn't the only company to have suffered from PRS. Or do you want to convientely ignore Pandora, who had to close down its UK operation because PRS demanded more per track than Pandora could actually make per track?

    Face it, the product isn't worth as much as PRS think it is.

  • Comment number 44.

    Gurubear, google will win this argument not because of their size but because they are right.

    To expect a commercail organisation to cross subsidise musicains is illogical. The output has no more value than what adverisers are preapred to pay with a profit in for google/you tube.

    The PRS might not be a "massivie organisation that can just bully anyone into anything" but that does not and has not stopped them from trying. Unfortunatly from them their previous attempts at bullying have only served to convince people that they (PRS) want tehir cake, eat it and then come back for seconds, thirds and fourths etc. Hence the overwheliming support for google expressed here and elsewhere. Doing do does not make people theives, merely they do not see the actions of an out of touch industry as valid in the modern era.

  • Comment number 45.

    Youtube can make as much as $15 per 1000 views on videos on their site.

    Youtube should just setup a system so that artists can register on the site and receive payments directly according to the advertising revenues on the videos that are using their registered music.

    Quite simply Google can identify the rights holders for all music on Youtube by having digital and analog fingerprint database and compare that to each new video that is uploaded to the site.

    Youtube should provide an opt-out for artists who do not want their music to be used by anyone on the site, at which point the uploaders are invited to swap the audio track out from their videos to music that is allowed to be used.

    Youtube should provide an unlimited music download and streaming subscription service as well!!!! Why the heck doesn't Google do a music download subscription service?

    This way, do you watch a music video with some cool artist on Youtube, subscribers to that service should be able to click to "Download all songs from this artist" or "Download all songs from this album", Google should provide Mp3 and whatever other formats people want without DRM. Then artists can get more payments out of that subscription plan based on their musics popularity and quality as measured by Googles usage analytics.

    Then one more thing, to not rely only on overlay advertising revenue and the "Click to Buy" advertising overlay on Youtube music videos, then Google should make agreements with Governments so that Internet users pay a global Licence not only for music but for all kinds of art on the Internet, then Google should collaborate with Governments to create databases registering all works of art, especially music and videos, then a database of all the artists and measure popularity of those works of art on sites like Youtube and a Google music download subscription site, then Google can help the Government redistribute revenue to the artists directly, skipping the intermediaries.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Gurubear: Googles revenues from YouTube might be in the billions, but their hosting and bandwidth costs are also in the billions, and those revenues are spread across a lot more content then just music videos. In fact I believe Google is still making an overall loss from YouTube.

    This theme you composed and only received £54 ongoing royalties for? And this jingle too? I presume that you were also paid an up-front fee for writing them on commission which would have covered your costs at the time with some allowance for smoothing your income over time?

    Is there some distinction in the music business between commercial work on commission (with the client possibly keeping the copyright) and more speculative artistic work?

    As a freelancer doing IT work on commission, I receive no ongoing revenue from my work. I come in, I do the requested job, hand over the copyright once paid, and move on to the next client. But if I create an iPhone game on spec and sell it through the Apple store then I do get an income from each sale, but I certainly don't get paid everytime someone plays the game.

    It's not completely analogeous, but it does raise questions in my mind about the traditional income model in the music industry. Perhaps a closer comparison might be the art world with the divide between commercial and artistic, how do they work?

  • Comment number 47.

    perhaps if the music "industry" didn't:

    1. Promise artists millions and millions in recording contracts

    2. pump out constant nonsense under the guise of "music"

    then they would not have to worry too much about piracy because people would be more willing to pay a lower cost for CDs and DVDs etc.

    I also have to question their "amount of money lost" .. shouldn't they be saying instead "amount of money not received"; afterall, who's to say that every single person who listens to music via P2P or YouTube or whatever, will actually buy the song/album afterwards? That seems to be their assumption.

    As for the person who suggested Google and the Gvt should be bedfriends and charge a TAX _JUST IN CASE_ someone decides to listen to a song via YouTube, that's just plain wrong.

    I don't wish to promote P2P or the illegal downloading of music, but as previously mentioned, legal content is either restricted or bad quality - especially when compared to it's illegal counterpart which is often very high quality and DRM free (as an example, OINK.ME.UK used to INSIST that tracks were encoded at the highest possible bitrate and DRM free, provided with full tracklisting and front/back cover if possible).

  • Comment number 48.

    "Actually, it is a bit of physical property.

    When you decide to illegally download via P2P it is no different to you taking stolen property from someone who has smashed their way into a shop."

    These arguments have been done to death many, many times before and on many different forums, blogs, essays, editorials etc. A piece of information cannot be owned like physical property, it's physically impossible. Copyright law gives you a limited right to control distribution of a piece of information in order to give you the chance to make some money off of it. Copyright infringement, such as singing the 'happy birthday' song, recording TV shows onto a VCR or downloading from P2P networks is a civil matter which has nothing to do with the crime of stealing (or any kind of violence). These are the simple facts of the matter.

    Now, the PRS may be able to extort arbitrary amounts of money from small businesses who have neither time nor money to fight the threatened lawsuits but this simply won't work on the net. I'd love it if there were a P2P network where everybody paid a small fee for each download of a song, given the volume of traffic you musicians would make much more money than you ever have before. However it's stupid and restrictive licencing, from an organisation who believes it's still 1989 and music is only sold on physical cds in physical shops, that helps ensure this will never happen.

  • Comment number 49.

    Note to mods - previous comment entered as 'happyskeptic3' as I've temporarily lost password for 'happyskeptic' account.

  • Comment number 50.

    It's is unbelievable in a time of financial crisis that PRS are practically demanding money with menace.

    While they act in this extreme manner it is the consumers who are losing out, it just goes to prove that money is more important than anything else, absolutely disgraceful PRS.

  • Comment number 51.

    As usual the PRS and the rest of the music industry desperately trying to cling to their previous vast profits made from ripping people off. There are loads of cases of the PRS trying to sue small businesses for say playing Radio One which can be heard by more than 6 people when the radio station has already paid the PRS to broadcast the music, but it's ok for each person to have their own radio and other outrageous stunts.

    I have seen the fees these people charge and it's just pure extortion. The music industry is trying to cling onto it's out of date control/business method by sticking it's head in the sand and just demanding more and more money for doing less and less. It's the case of the Buggy Whip manufactures and the start of the car industry all over again, just the music industry has more politicians/lobbists in it's pockets.

    They dread not being able to control which few limited, braindead, plastic, produced by them, false bands we are able to listen to. Pandora was an amazing way to hear something outside of the "industry approved" music lists.

  • Comment number 52.


    So you were paid £54. Perhaps that is all your product is worth. Afterall, it was only the theme tune and the drama was the actual product.

    Just because we see millionaire musicians on television and hear them on the radio, it doesn't mean production of all music means you get paid loads.

    I recently wrote a website for somebody. I charged £250. It's only a few pages but this chap will use the site as an advert for his business night and day and will bring him some good business. But as far as I'm concerned, it's a small product and so only returned a small amount of money.

    So what if you only got £54, you only wrote a single piece of music. It looks to me as if you see the profits of the people you're dealing with and want a larger slice than you deserve.

  • Comment number 53.

    At first when this PRS V Youtube thing kicked off I started downloading all my favorite videos. Now I ain't too bothered most of the material taken off was rubbish anyway. Premium videos of pop stars and on the whole rubbish. PRS obviously doesn't see youtube giving them free advertising space. I don't care as long as my favorite videos don't disappear. In the end it should come down to the artists... Oh I forgot none of the videos removed are real musicians and shouldn't really call themselves artists in the first place.

    This is actually a good thing. It will harm commercial music in the UK.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 38. I know someone who did a similar thing to you and still receive royalties to this day. However 85% of royalties goes to "major" recording artists. Very little goes to independent artists. There will be some exceptions though.

  • Comment number 55.

    Once again PRS show just how out of touch they are with new technology and the ways in which people actually listen to music. Google aren't necessarily whiter than white when it comes to imposing their own way on the Internet, but in this case they happen to be absolutely right.


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