“Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry. We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind — to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us.”
Is YouTube evil — or just diligent?
Still, the takedowns won’t exactly help YouTube with its image, even if they only affect a small number of songs in a few countries. Which makes you wonder: why is the music service doing this? One could obviously make the case that YouTube is trying to strong-arm labels that are holding out for a better deal, threatening to cut them off from ad revenue if they don’t agree to be part of the paid service.
However, there’s also a flip side to this: One could also argue that YouTube just wants to avoid becoming Hulu. The TV catch-up service offers both free, ad-supported and subscription-only content, and subscribers to its paid Hulu Plus tier regularly run into confusing situations where a TV show episode may be available for free on the web, but not through the Hulu Plus app on mobile and connected devices.
The same could happen if YouTube was going to launch a paid service that coexists with free music videos with differing rights. YouTube hasn’t said yet exactly what its service is going to look like, but one of the features likely included is offline playback. Paying subscribers may run into an issue where they’re able to download one song, but not another, or bypass ads on one video, but not another. By blocking these disputed songs altogether, YouTube may be able to provide a more consistent experience for its paying users — albeit at a notable cost for everyone else.