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We’ve been hearing rumblings about a new music service coming from YouTube for a few months now. With the recent acquisition of Beats Music by Apple, and Amazon’s just-launched Prime Music, it seems as though YouTube parent Google is gearing up to finally launch its long-rumored service very soon. But there’s a twist: some independent labels might not be along for the ride.

A post on the Guardian points the way back to a report from the Financial Times, which claims that YouTube head of content Robert Kyncl has confirmed that artists represented by independent labels – acts like Adele, Jack White, and the Arctic Monkeys, and more says the post – will be removed from YouTube “in a matter of days.” The reason, it seems, is that those labels have yet to sign onto YouTube’s licensing agreement for the new music service, which would serve ad-free and downloadable songs to users in exchange for a subscription fee.

Kyncl, who claims that YouTube has agreements with 90 percent of the music industry, is quoted as saying:

“While we wish that we had 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience.”

How or why blocking independent labels from posting videos on YouTube would provide a benefit to users isn’t quite clear, of course. At the end of the day, YouTube is a private company that can block whomever it wants for whatever reason it wants. If the company wants to strong-arm smaller labels into signing on the dotted line by blocking them from posting videos, well, it has every right to do that. It just stinks.

However, a post on TechCrunch about this story points out an interesting wrinkle: many videos of popular artists that make their way to YouTube do so via Vevo, which has a separate agreement with the video service. As such, even after this licensing dispute takes effect and videos from indie labels are blocked, they still might show up on YouTube via Vevo. The main way it could affect users would have more to do with the lack of ads and the ability to download songs through the new streaming service.

As of now, YouTube has yet to formally announce its music streaming service, so it may be a few days or weeks before we know the full situation. But if YouTube can’t come to an agreement with labels that represent your artist of choice, there’s really only one thing to do: don’t use it. For fans of Spotify or Amazon’s new Prime Music, that shouldn’t be a problem.

[Source: Financial Times, Guardian, and TechCrunch]


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