The music industry, perhaps like no other, has seen a number of massive overhauls over the past couple of centuries, and it’s no surprise that modern methods of discovering music are still rubbing some people up the wrong way. The Internet was notorious back in the days of Napster and other sharing sites for angering huge parts of the industry, and this still seems to be true, but the bullseye is on someone else’s back; namely Spotify’s and YouTube’s. As part of a new Documentary for BBC Radio 4 in the UK, Peter Mensch, Manager for bands like Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others, said that YouTube was “the devil”.
Mensch told the documentary that “YouTube, they’re the devil, we don’t get paid at all”. The concern behind YouTube for a lot of artists is that users can load up the app on their phone, even connect it to their stereos using Chromecast Audio and then stream all the songs they want – completely free. Sure, there’s an ad or two here and there, but this doesn’t seem to be deterring a lot of listeners. Considering that YouTube is ad revenue-based, only channels and firms that go in with YouTube will get paid. Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, had a response for Mensch and said that “it really depends on what is the flow of the money from us to you.”
YouTube – as well as other online services – is arguably a double-edged sword. Many an artist have seen their careers start or reach new heights on YouTube, with South Korea’s PSY being a shining example, how likely would it have been for a song from PSY to get into the charts without YouTube? On the other side though, there’s growing concern that people are unlikely to pay for any records if they can just get it for free on YouTube, and launches like YouTube Music probably haven’t helped matters. As we’ve seen time and time again throughout the ages, the music industry is often one of the slowest to adopt change, and while YouTube has been around for some time now, it appears as though some pockets of the industry have had enough. Mensch himself goes on to say that “if someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed”. Just what Mensch has in mind is unclear, but the problem with an established brand like YouTube is that now people are used to it and the service has gotten comfy, it’ll be hard to shift or ask them to change.