Youtube has reportedly asked musicians to agree to not criticise the streaming-video service in exchange for promotional support, according to a Bloomberg report. The move is being seen as a way to deal with issues raised by artists and the music industry against the platform for poor payments and revenue sharing.
In the past few months, YouTube has given a handful of musicians a few hundred thousand dollars to produce videos and has promoted their work on billboards and ads. This has been seen as an effort by the video streaming giant to mend fences with the music industry, which has been critical of YouTube relatively low royalty payments.
Yet such support comes with a catch, says the Bloomberg report, with some musicians required to promise that they won’t make negative comments about YouTube. The report quotes individuals who chose to remain anonymous. Non-disparagement agreements are common in business, but YouTube’s biggest direct competitors in music don’t require them, the people said.
The report also says the agreements apply to partners who make original series for its paid service (YouTube Red) and “go beyond a requirement not to criticize the video site.” What that exactly means has not been elaborated.
The Verge reported that YouTube’s new music streaming service, Remix, is rumoured to launch this March, but it is contingent on the company coming to agreeable deals with all three of the big US music publishers.
The music industry has put pressure on YouTube for years, criticizing its payouts to musicians and labels, as well as its apparent lax attitude towards dealing with copyright infringing songs uploaded as videos. In 2016, 180 artists (including Taylor Swift and Kings of Leon) signed a petition asking for “sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment.”
According to the Bloomberg report, senior executives at YouTube fumed about the letter and privately insisted artists and managers supported the company.
YouTube’s big changes
After a rough 2017 where YouTube was boycotted by advertisers and roundly criticized for having its ads pop up in hateful videos, including those uploaded by terrorist sympathizers and white supremacists, the company announced tighter rules for its YouTube Partners Program last week. Previously, channels only needed ten thousand views on their videos to qualify. Now, they will need at least a thousand subscribers, and four thousand hours of their content viewed over the last year. This policy will apply to both new channels as well as existing partners, starting February 20.
The company also announced that it will begin to manually curate Google Preferred, which lists its most popular content. This move comes after Logan Paul, a popular YouTube star, shot a video of himself laughing next to a corpse in a Japanese forest known for being a suicide hotspot. Paul later took the video down and apologized, amid harsh criticism.