GOOGLE HAS THREATENED to block a number of independent record labels from Youtube for refusing to sign up to its new terms and conditions.
The issue has arisen as a result of the company's planned Music Pass streaming service for Youtube, which will show music videos to viewers for a monthly subscription without advertising.
Although there is no launch date for the service, reports have emerged that claim the labels which choose not to opt-in to the new service will have their content blocked completely from Youtube. Robert Kynci, the head of Youtube, said in an interview with the Financial Times that the firm will do this "within days".
Last year, Google launched its audio streaming service Google Play Music as a rival to Spotify and Deezer, but this new Youtube service appears to be focused on video.
Independent label consortium Win recently held a press conference explaining why its members chose not to sign up for the service, citing unfavourable terms that would damage sales in an already shrinking market.
At the conference, chairman Alison Wenham said, "We understand that Youtube is still, despite our intervention and despite some very trenchant conversations between Youtube and myself, still threatening to block independent content from the Youtube platform if those independent labels do not sign the contract."
What is not yet clear is whether Youtube intends to remove the videos entirely or simply exclude them from the premium service, and so far, Google has refused to clarify, issuing statements that burble on about its dynamic platform.
Internationally renowned acts are based on indie labels. A look at this week's indie album chart shows acts as diverse as Hank Marvin, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, James, Sophie Ellis Bexor, Pixies, Uriah Heep and Adele. While its not clear which of these artists are likely to be affected by the ban, it demonstrates that indie labels are not just fringe operations, but represent some big stars.
The INQUIRER asked for comment from the British Phonographic Institute (BPI) whose chief executive Geoff Taylor told us, "We think it is wrong for Youtube/Google to threaten to ostracise certain independents - denying fans the opportunity to hear their music, and labels and artists the chance to earn a living from it - because they are unwilling to surrender to a take it or leave it ultimatum.
"As the dominant online video platform, Youtube/Google should negotiate fully and fairly with independents and not misuse its power."
With Google not making any attempt to explain its intentions, we will have to wait to see how this plays out. Expect to find out "within days". µ