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Youtube has long been the world’s most popular music service. What has changed is that YouTube is no longer the Darth Vader of the music industry.

For years, some artists and record label costumes loved the millions of clicks music videos got on YouTube, but complained that the Google-owned site was not making enough money for them or not doing enough to stop the rip -offs.

These grievances have not completely disappeared, but most of them have remained silent. Why? One of the main reasons is that YouTube has found ways to generate enough money to make a lot of people in the music business happy – or at least enough content for now.

The question is whether YouTube has achieved lasting or temporary peace. If this persists, YouTube might have achieved something that few internet companies have: a relatively healthy relationship with an established industry that it both helps and disrupts.

Let me go back to the years when YouTube was in the music industry niche. The industry powers regularly trotted a public relations shortcut, the “Value gap”, for what they said was YouTube’s paltry financial contribution to the music industry compared to the popularity of the music on the site. They liked to show numbers showing that vinyl records generated more revenue for the music business than YouTube.

Most of the time, YouTube made money from musicians, songwriters, and record companies the Google way: it sold ads in or next to music-related videos and shared the money with them. people and companies behind the songs. Industry energy brokers said it was peanuts.

Fast forward to last week when YouTube disclosed that it paid more than $ 4 billion to music companies, musicians and songwriters the previous year. It came from advertising money and something the industry always wanted and is now getting – a surprisingly large chunk of YouTube’s subscription business. (YouTube subscriptions include an ad-free version of the site and a Spotify-like service for watching music videos without ads.)

The significance of YouTube’s dollar figure is that it’s not far from the $ 5 billion that the king of streaming Spotify pays players in the music industry from a portion of its subscriptions. (Reminder: Industry mostly like Spotify money, but some musicians sesay they are cheated by payments.)

Subscriptions will always be a hobby for YouTube, but the numbers show that even a side gig for the business can be huge. And he bought peace by raining some of this wealth on those behind the music. Record labels and other industry powers “still don’t like YouTube,” Bloomberg News reporter Lucas Shaw, wrote this week. “But they don’t hate him anymore.”

YouTube’s turnaround may also show that complaining works. The music industry has a pretty successful track record of picking a Public Enemy # 1 – Pandora for a certain time, Spotify, YouTube and more recently apps like TIC Tac and Tic – and publicly intimidate him or play one rich business against another to get more money or something else they wanted.

It’s no longer YouTube’s turn in the hot seat, but I don’t know if it’s for good. Mark Mulligan, music industry analyst and consultant, and my colleague I am Sisario told me that some of the same old reproaches were bubbling below the surface. Powerful music players still believe that YouTube pays far too little per click compared to other digital music services. And they fear that YouTube devalues ​​songs everywhere because it doesn’t do enough to stop pirated versions.

But maybe YouTube has shown that it’s possible for digital businesses to both turn an industry upside down and make it stronger. It is a rarity. Think about the resentment many news organizations and websites have about Facebook and Google, the difficult reliance of restaurants on food delivery apps, and Netflix’s difficult marriages with entertainment companies. Maybe time and money can bring some peace.



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  • He pioneered ways to make a living online: Wired written on Twitch’s legacy, the live streaming service that created ways for people to raise money by doing things online through tips and subscriptions in return for recognition and connection. For better or worse, without Twitch there might not have been a “creative economy” of Substack writers, Instagram influencers, or Patreon podcasters.

Happy birthday to the good dogs Charlie and Silas, who look adorable in their sparkly crowns.


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