The Guardian has some more info on Google Music, which launches very, very soon. For $25 a year, consumers will be able to store songs in the cloud and access them on any internet-connected device by either streaming or downloading.
Google proposes a 50/50 split between itself and the labels (master rights holders), with composers and their publishers receiving a 10.5% share – though it’s not clear if that share will come off the top, or out of the labels’ or Google’s share.
Google owns YouTube and pushed PRS, the not-for-profit collection society for songwriters and composers, into a terrible deal last year, arguing that YouTube was a loss-making venture. A publisher asked a Google executive at the time why they didn’t shut YouTube down if, as they claimed, it lost $365m a year. The answer may be that it wasn’t as loss-making as we were led to believe – less than a year after the deal was signed it’s reportedly brought in $450m in revenue. Though the deal was covered by a non disclosure agreement, sources say Google only had to pay the PRS a flat fee of less than £10m for three years. Considering YouTube’s traffic has increased by 50% over the past year with music videos receiving 2bn views a week, a flat fee seems unfair. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance has had 278m views so far, but it’s probably only made producer RedOne what a decent busker could earn in a day.
For Indie Labels:
What’s also telling is that Google hasn’t approached any indie labels about its music service. Does this mean it’s not interested in having this year’s Mercury winners, the xx, included in its new music service? Or Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal and other chart-topping independent acts? “As usual, they’ll make a deal with the majors and expect the independents to be happy to pick at the leftovers,” according to my source at one of the larger indie labels. “I don’t understand why they always have to act like this. We’re happy to license – we license more services than the majors.”
Does Google care? It still doesn’t have a YouTube licence in place with Beggars, one of the world’s biggest independents (the xx is one of its acts). Google knows few smaller labels would dare take them to task – a tiny blues label recently took them to court and ended up being countersued. In Google-land, it appears not all artists are created equal. The jury’s out on if it cares about artists at all. (More Here)
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