Have you notice that you can’t watch some of your favourite music videos on YouTube anymore? Find out why and who will be affected.
YouTube is the third most visited site on the net, behind its parent company Google and Yahoo! The site also hosts the second largest search engine on the internet and is visited by hundreds of millions of people a day.
Videos can be uploaded by registered users, but various companies such as the BBC, Channel 4 and some record companies upload videos too.
What is PRS?
The Performing Rights Society (PRS) is the UK body that collects fees for music artists whose work is played, performed or reproduced in any way.
The society issues licenses to companies like YouTube which streams music videos from different record companies. These licenses ensure that songwriters and composers are given the money they deserve for allowing different companies to use their work in any type of media.
What’s the problem?
For YouTube to legally play music videos, a license fee must first be paid to PRS. However, YouTube has been unable to do this because it claims that PRS has increased the fee to an amount that a spokeman said would,“Lose significant amounts of money (for YouTube) with every playback.”
Since YouTube has chosen not to pay the fee, it has removed music videos from artists on EMI, Universal, Warner, Sony BMG and some indie labels.
YouTube has admitted many reasons for the decision:-
Money, money, money
YouTube is funded by advertisers whose products will be promoted around the video. The website claims that it would not be able to afford PRS’s license and would have to pay more to the society than what it would make from advertisements.
Where would the money go?
PRS represents around 60,000 different songwriters and composers. YouTube claims that the society refused to say which artists the license would cover, which would mean that it wouldn’t know who is being paid and whether it is a fair amount.
PRS has spoken out and said that one of the reasons why the license price was increased was to reflect the increased video viewings on YouTube, which means that artists would get a fairer cut.
The Featured Artists Coalition
Some of the biggest names in music including Kate Nash, Robbie Williams, Kaiser Chiefs and Radiohead have joined together to form the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), which believes that YouTube should pay the fair amount for having their videos on the site.
However, many members feel that the situation between YouTube and Google has focused on commercial needs, so FAC is looking to make a new deal between all music companies and representatives that focuses on the artists themselves. It aims to give artists more control and a fairer share of the profits made from their songs.
The coalition has come about because of the rising popularity of digital music, where record companies continuously make deals with other digital companies without letting artists who are involved know about it.
Any artist can show their support for the coalition by joining the campaign. Alternatively, PRS has launched a new site called Fair Play For Creators which gives music creators everywhere a chance to speak out about Google’s move.
Who will be affected?
YouTube is the first port of call for users who want to find a song or video, and also helps to spread the word and create a buzz. Now record companies will have to find other ways to get artists heard.
There are also concerns that PRS could force other streaming sites like MySpace Music to limit its services. MySpace plans to launch a bigger music service for UK users this year, but it may not be able to afford PRS’s big price demands.
Everyday YouTube users will also be affected. Many popular videos by some of the world’s biggest artists including The Pussycat Dolls, Amy Winehouse and Girls Aloud are no longer available on YouTube.
Users may end up having to pay to watch videos from different artists. YouTube has already offered people who upload a video the option to allow others to download their videos for a small cost.