In the May/June 2017 issue of Canadian Musician magazine, journalist Michael Raine spoke with leaders in the Canadian music industry, including Music Canada’s President and CEO Graham Henderson, about the Value Gap and the industry’s complex relationship with the streaming giant.
Regarding YouTube’s assertion that the music community should be satisfied with the payments it receives from the service, Henderson said “it’s ludicrous because if they were on the same footing [as other streaming services], it wouldn’t be $2 billion, it would be $20 billion or $30 billion that they would be paying out and I can tell you we would live in a very, very different world. They would restore the old balance where there was enough money in the hands of independent and major labels so that they could actually invest in artists.”
Stuart Johnston, President of the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), expressed similar concerns. “If YouTube were to pay rights holders even what Spotify pays for their free tier, it would be a significant and positive step forward for the independent community, but they don’t,” said Johnston. “So that business model – and I am going to say it over and over again – it devalues music. It is an unfortunate situation.”
Safwan Javed, an entertainment lawyer, songwriter and drummer, and VP of the Songwriters Association of Canada, spoke to the problems resulting from the safe harbour provisions. “Imagine the labels’ move with YouTube is to say, ‘We need to renegotiate our agreement,’ and YouTube says ‘no.’ So what’s the labels’ next move? If they want to go to a contentious and aggressive posture and say, ‘OK, we’re going to pull our catalog,’ well that’s all fine and the videos they’re making are not uploading, but other people are probably going to still be uploading stuff,” said Javed. “The general public will still be able to upload stuff, and sure you can try to police that, but policing that is exceedingly difficult and you’re spending a lot of resources on something that is essentially like a whack-a-mole that doesn’t stop.”
Raine highlights the growing chorus of artists that are speaking out and calling for reforms, specifically the artists petitioning the US Copyright Office to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the Focus On Creators initiative in Canada, which has sent a letter to to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, which urges her to put creators at the heart of future policy.
The article is available online at http://canadianmusician.com/features/archives/214.