Independent record labels have asked the European Union to intervene in a row over the rates YouTube is offering to small music labels to include them in a new service, BBC News is reporting.
YouTube is rumoured to be developing its own subscription music service. In November a website called Android Police reported code in the latest YouTube app referenced a new service called Music Pass.
The service appeared to offer subscribers offline playback of “uninterrupted music” with “no ads on millions of songs”.
YouTube has not officially announced any such service.
Impala, which represents Europe’s independent record labels, claims indies are being presented with non-negotiable contracts – accompanied by the threat that music videos they have posted to their YouTube channels will be blocked from site altogether if they do not agree to the terms.
Ed O’Brien from the Featured Artists Coalition said such deals “risk creating an internet just for the superstars and big businesses”.
Music industry news website Complete Music Update said independent labels feel like that have been backed into a corner by YouTube’s latest demands.
Business editor Chris Cooke said: “YouTube already pays what are probably the lowest rates in the business for music labels’ videos.”
“The majors and independents agreed to that because YouTube isn’t just a revenue stream, it’s one of the most important promotional platforms in music today. But what the indies are getting really angry about is that YouTube seems to be threatening to withdraw this powerful promotional platform if they don’t sign up to the new audio service.”
A spokesman for YouTube said: “YouTube provides a global platform for artists to connect with fans and generate revenue for their music, paying out hundreds of millions of dollars to the music industry each year. We have successful deals in place with hundreds of independent and major labels around the world – however, we don’t comment on ongoing negotiations.”