SIXX:A.M., the band featuring MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx alongside guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist James Michael, has accused YouTube of “spinning misinformation” over criticism that the company does not properly compensate its artists.
A number of artists signed a petition in March to reform the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) in the U.S., arguing that the current legislation “threatens the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music.” They have taken issue with section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or the notice-and-takedown provision, which protects YouTube and other services from liability when users upload copyrighted material without consent. “It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish,” the petition letter reads.
In a post written on the Google-owned company’s Creator Blog, YouTube argued that it pays more than radio and also more than Spotify who pays artists based on how many songs they stream.
“Radio, which accounts for 25 percent of all music consumption in the U.S. alone and generates $35 billion of ad revenue a year, pays nothing to labels and artists in countries like the U.S.,” Christophe Muller, head of YouTube International Music Partnerships, wrote in the blog post.
“Unlike radio, however, we pay the majority of the ad revenue that music earns to the industry,” Muller wrote.
“The truth is that YouTube takes copyright management extremely seriously and we work to ensure rightsholders make money no matter who uploads their music. No other platform gives as much money back to creators — big and small — across all kinds of content,” he added.
Muller dismissed the argument that Spotify pays more by saying: “The next claim we hear is that we underpay compared to subscription services like Spotify. But this argument confuses two different services: music subscriptions that cost $10 a month versus ad-supported music videos. It’s like comparing what a cab driver earns from fares to what they earn showing ads in their taxi.”
Muller also argued that radio pays artists nothing at all and listeners can’t choose what songs they want to hear despite the fact that both YouTube and radio make money from advertisers.
“Like radio, YouTube generates the vast majority of our revenue from advertising. Unlike radio, however, we pay the majority of the ad revenue that music earns to the industry. Radio, which accounts for 25 percent of all music consumption in the U.S. alone and generates $35 billion of ad revenue a year, pays nothing to labels and artists in countries like the U.S. In countries like the U.K. and France where radio does pay royalties, we pay a rate at least twice as high,” he wrote.
Earlier today, SIXX:A.M. released the following statement in response to YouTube’s comments:
“Thank you, YouTube, for your recent response to SIXX:A.M.’s statement about artists payments.
“Unfortunately, your response does not directly address the issues and is merely a public deflection. Comparing modern music consumption to old-school radio is like comparing apples to oranges.
“Are you or are you not willing to pay artists fairly and when will you stop hiding behind safe harbor? (You never answered this the first time).
“Don’t Be Evil, Do The Right Thing also suggests not spinning misinformation.”
Sixx and his bandmates are calling for more artists to speak out and put pressure on YouTube to match the royalty payouts of music streaming rivals.
“YouTube is paying out about a sixth of what Spotify and Apple pay artists,” Sixx told The Guardian. “We are not telling them how to run their business. We’re saying treat artists fairly the way other streaming services are. And by the way, we are a big part of what built your business: music is the No. 1 most-searched thing on YouTube.”
Michael added: “Fans may look at this and say, ‘You guys are rich, why are you complaining, why do you want more money?’ But it’s not just a bunch of rich guys wanting more money. Quite the contrary: this is about the little guy — the up-and-comers that we were at one point. We were afforded the opportunities, but those opportunities will go away if we don’t get some balance. This is about the future of music.”