According to some reliable sources, YouTube has offered promotional support to musicians in exchange for those musicians not to criticize the video-hosting site. As reported by Bloomberg, over the past several months YouTube has given six-digit checks to a handful of musicians to create videos and also promoted their works on billboards in an effort to mend their severely complicated relationship with the music industry. YouTube has been agreeing to long-term deals with major labels and intends on launching a paid music service by March 2018.
Without elaborating on what exactly they meant, one of the anonymous musicians who spoke to Bloomberg about this practice said that YouTube’s non-disparagement clause goes beyond you can’t criticize them, they also require that most of their partners agree to those same terms, including people who make original content for their paid service.
In 2016, nearly 200 artists signed a petition which called for YouTube to better police copyright violations on their site. Senior YT executives were very upset about that letter and privately claimed that they were backed by a majority of artists and managers. People familiar with the matter said that major artists like Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney had only added their names to the letter so that their record labels could negotiate better deals. YouTube also countered the public rebuke by saying they’d paid out more than $1 billion to the music industry, while simultaneously stepping up their crackdown of copyright infringement.
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