YouTube Streaming Music Controversy: Will Block Indie Artists

It now appears that YouTube is even susceptible to the pressures that come from signing major label deals with the music industry. According to, YouTube will soon start blocking videos from independent artist labels, much like XL Recordings and Third Man Records, that host artists like Adele and Jack White. The reason for this move is reportedly that the big boys at Sony, Universal, and Warner have signed exclusivity contracts to stream their label artists on YouTube’s streaming music service. In turn, YouTube is demanding that indie labels adhere to similar contracts.

In a statement released by Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the YouTube deal has been criticized saying that to independent record labels the deal “is not a fair way to do business.” To further press the issue, WIN also says:

WIN questions any actions by any organization that would seek to injure and punish innocent labels and musicians — and their innocent fans — in order to pursue its ambitions. We believe, as such, that these actions are unnecessary and indefensible, not to mention commercially questionable and potentially damaging to YouTube itself, given the harm likely to result from this approach.

But it seems that WIN’s plea is falling on deaf ears at YouTube. In fact, YouTube has said that not only will it block content from independent labels should they refuse to sign the agreement, but that live performances will also disappear from indie artists as well. This leads industry insiders to wonder if YouTube’s subscriber rate, page views, and Alexa rating will decline, which could cause a loss in revenue for the streaming video giant.

In a statement released to The Verge on the behalf of YouTube, an authorized spokesperson said the following:

Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry. We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind — to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.

This new service, tentatively named YouTube Music Pass, will include a premium subscription service allowing users to bypass ads and commercials and will also allow them the to download playlists to play offline. The official launch date and price for premium prescriptions has yet to be announced.