As YouTube rolls outs its Music Key subscription streaming option, the Google-owned video giant is under pressure to pull almost 20,000 songs from its services. Veteran music executive Irving Azoff said last week he was willing to take some of his clients away from YouTube, and with them the songs they represent, including works by Pharrell Williams, John Lennon, the Eagles, Smokey Robinson, Chris Cornell, Steve Miller and George and Ira Gershwin. Now Azoff is ramping up the pressure.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer for Azoff’s new Global Music Rights organization wrote a letter to YouTube’s general counsel earlier this week reiterating a demand that YouTube remove the songs from its services. While indie labels squared off with Google earlier this year in a debate over rights to sound recordings, Azoff’s group focuses on songwriter or publishing rights. Randy Grimmett, Azoff’s partner at Global Music Rights, told Bloomberg News “there’s no evidence” YouTube has a license for those rights.
A YouTube rep said in a statement: “We’ve done deals with labels, publishers, collection societies and more to bring artists’ music into YouTube Music Key. To achieve our goal of enabling this service’s features on all the music on YouTube, we’ll keep working with both the music community and with the music fans invited to our beta phase.”
As streaming makes up a bigger share of recording income, the music industry is trying to boost its payouts from streaming services. As you may have seen, it’s causing much debate. Most recently, Billy Bragg has weighed in on Taylor Swift‘s decision to pull her music from Spotify. And major label Sony has said it’s reevaluating whether it should support free music streaming services, as opposed to subscription streaming services. Now with Azoff threatening on behalf of Pharrell and so many others, it seems as if no one is — wait for it — “Happy.”