Sixx: A.M. Renew Protest Against YouTube
Back in April, Sixx: A.M. began a campaign asking YouTube to "don't be evil," a slogan the company has often used that Sixx: A.M. also felt applied to the current state of artist compensation. At the time, they pointed out that YouTube paid artists an estimated one-sixth of what competitors Spotify and Apple Music pay artists and felt that needed to be rectified along with a revision of the Safe Harbor provision within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a new open letter, the band states that while they scaled back on the promotion of the campaign while awaiting action that never came, they now intend to fully push forward again.
Back in the original letter, the band stated, "This is an important issue to us. We are the lucky ones, like so many veteran artists, who came up in an era where there was much more income from record sales. Today, streaming is a fraction of the income from that time. This is not about us. We are speaking up for the future generation of musicians who must be compensated fairly for their hard work. We would not have had Prince, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, Ice Cube, Taylor Swift or many other artists without a system of support to nurture them."
After their initial letter, the Google-owned YouTube issued a response with a detailed assessment of how they compensate artists and stating that comparing YouTube to Spotify was like "comparing what a cab driver earns from fares to what they earn showing ads in their taxi." Sixx: A.M. then responded by pointing out that while the statement about artist compensation was welcome, it didn't directly address the issues at hand and was "merely a public deflection." Those comments came in early May, and according to the band's new statement, the group stayed quiet while action was promised, but eventually not delivered.
In an open letter to Google CEO Larry Page, the band writes the following:
The sound of musicians knocking on YouTube's door demanding change is growing ever louder.
Recently, as a result of action and statements made by artists as diverse as Sixx:A.M., Debbie Harry, Nelly Furtado, Jay Z, Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, Stephen Tyler and Billy Joel, YouTube's CBO Robert Kyncl met with independent artist representatives and asked them to help pause this protest in return for action.
No action has been taken, meetings have been postponed, emails remain unanswered. The lack of action has hit a sour note with musicians, so we will be RENEWING OUR PROTESTS and taking the issue into our own hands.
So we are now appealing to you Mr. Page, as a saxophone player who ironically credits his love of music as the inspiration behind the success of the worlds most valuable company, to step up. As the man who coined the slogans, 'Don't Be Evil' and 'Do The Right Thing,' we want you take your own advice before irreparable damage is done to the future of artists around the world. Artists from every genre are finding it impossible to pursue their art in a world dominated by YouTube.
Without changes, young musicians will no longer be able to make music for a living and the next generation of fans will be robbed of great artists. Dreams of breaking into the music industry will effectively be unattainable.
In case you have not heard, here is a summary of complaints:
YouTube unfairly pays artists and labels an estimated 1/6 of what its competitors, Spotify and Apple pay
Recent data revealed that vinyl sales contribute more to the music industry than advert funded streaming services, a market which YouTube dominates
YouTube claims to have paid $3 billion to the music industry to date. Spotify contributed $1 billion alone in 2015 according to the IFPI and while Spotify pays $18 per user per year, YouTube pays less than $1
Even these funds are released only if the artist has a deal with YouTube, but unlike other services, the artist cannot choose whether they are on YouTube or not. Much of their material has already been illegally uploaded.
Artists are faced with a choice: Either license content to YouTube for a fraction of what should be paid and enjoy limited protection from YouTube's content ID systems or be forced to issue take down notices for every single infringement on the system. Many including 5 time Grammy Award winning composer Maria Sneider, argue that this amounts to racketeering (https://musictechpolicy.com/2016/05/15/guest-post-by-schneidermaria-open-letter-to-youtube-pushers-of-piracy/)
This disproportionately affects independent and new artists who have their copyrights illegally exploited for free and cannot make a living from the music they create
YouTube make a big show of offering to pay legal fees for users wrongly hit with 'take down' orders, while offering no protection to the vast majority of artists whose material is illegally uploaded (http://www.theverge.com/2015/11/19/9760370/youtube-copyright-legal-fees). They name and shame copyright holders who ask for their illegally uploaded material to be taken down. This actively encourages illegal uploads
The antiquated Safe Harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows YouTube to operate in this way, protected from prosecution for illegal uploads while basing its business model on them
The total 2015 revenue of Google was $75 billion. The total annual revenue of the global music business, in comparison, is less than $15 billion. And yet music is the biggest driver of YouTube's business - 82% of users are on YouTube to access music (IFPI). Google makes money from selling its users' data to advertisers including those consuming music on YouTube
Mr. Page, in Fortune magazine you stated that you felt that your 'music training lead to the high speed legacy of Google'. Plenty of musicians are hoping for a high speed resolution to this dispute and to this unfair system.
Please act before it is too late.
Sixx:A.M. - James Michael, Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and artists worldwide
While Sixx: A.M. have been at the forefront of this battle on the rock side, artists such as Lionel Richie, Steven Tyler and more have been vocal about the need for a revision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, particularly the notice-and-takedown aspect which allows platforms like YouTube to host artist content uploaded by independent users without consent from the label or artist.
Sixx: A.M. recently released the first volume of their Prayers for the Damned album and have dates in support of the disc booked over the next several months. See where they're playing here.
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