Indies Get Heavy With YouTube

The global indie music community has gotten a little heated with YouTube over its threat to block the content of companies that don’t sign up to its new streaming service on what are being described as “highly unfavourable terms.”

Such organizations as the Worldwide Independent Network, the European indies under IMPALA, were expressing “extreme concerns” but have now asked the European Commission to step in.

They’ve also got the support of many high-profile and emerging artists by getting the Featured Artists Coalition on board. In the UK, Billy Bragg and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien have gone public and accused the video-sharing website of trying to “strong-arm” the indies into accepting low fees.

Their main gripe is that the Google-owned firm has apparently negotiated separate agreements with major labels Sony, Warner and Universal, but hasn’t bothered cutting deals with the indies.

They say they’re being offered a take-it-or-leave-it deal on “highly unfavourable terms,” which they can either sign or see their content blocked. The indie sector scheduled a press conference in London June 4 to confirm it’s seeking formal regulatory action and will look to the EC for “emergency assistance.”

“YouTube is behaving like a dinosaur, attempting to censor what it doesn’t like,” said IMPALA executive chair Helen Smith. Earlier in the week at Spain’s Primavera Sound Festival, where over 90 percent of the acts were from the indie sector, IMPALA decided to spearhead a complaint to European commissioners.

“This is completely out of synch in Europe where the EC has systematically insisted that European citizens should be able to access the cultural diversity and choice they demand,” Smith explained. “Europe has already had to take a tough line with Google on issues such as search and privacy. Prompt intervention with YouTube must be the next step.”

WIN chief exec Alison Wenham said the process will be started in Europe with IMPALA referring YouTube to the EC for urgent regulatory action. She said it would be the first step in a global campaign.