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Music industry clashes with YouTube

News, 15 September 2016

LONDON: YouTube is the world's biggest music platform, with a full 82% of internet users accessing the service for music, yet it does not operate within the "normal" music licensing environment, a music industry report has contended.

According to the IFPI, the trade body which represents the global music recording industry, the proportion rises further among younger consumers aged 16 to 24 – 92% of whom turn to YouTube as a destination for music they already know.

These were among findings by Ipsos, the research firm commissioned by the IFPI to examine the music-listening habits of internet users aged 13 to 64 across 13 of the world's top music markets.

"YouTube consistently plays down its significance as a music service, arguing amongst other things that the service is primarily promotional. The Ipsos research shows this is not true," said David Price, IFPI's Director of Insight, in a blog post.

"The data from the survey demonstrates clearly that YouTube is a major destination for on-demand music and makes it difficult to accept any argument that the site should operate outside the normal music licensing environment."

The IPFI claimed there is now a music "value gap" between YouTube and subscription services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, and suggested YouTube is not paying its fair share to content producers.

"The research highlights the dominant position amongst music services of YouTube, as well as the fact that the site is used by consumers primarily to access music they know, on-demand," said Frances Moore, IFPI CEO.

"Yet YouTube can get away without remunerating fairly artists and producers by hiding behind 'safe harbour' laws that were never designed for services that actively engage with and make available music enjoyed by the vast majority of its users," she added.

However, YouTube disputed the accusation, telling the Financial Times: "The average YouTube user spends an average of an hour a month consuming music, far less than music-only platforms.

"Less than 20% of all music views on YouTube happen through the user searching for a specific artist or song. In fact, the vast majority of music discovery and consumption is through songs recommended through YouTube's algorithm."

Data sourced from IFPI, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff