Top Publisher: VEVO Isn’t Paying Anything to Indies…

If you thought VEVO was too good to be true, you might be right ― especially if you’re an indie.  According to a troubling critique from Songs Music Publishing CEO Matt Pincus, VEVO is sytematically skipping payments to indie publishers.  The bilk seems to be happening through highly-inclusive deals involving Vevo’s major label, joint venture partners, according to the Pincus’ op-ed (published in the Wrap).

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Digital Music News contacted VEVO immediately after the Wrap published the piece.  VEVO emailed us back, but declined any comment.  The allegations, if true, would help to deflate a recent announcement that VEVO is now making $150 million in revenues annually, with more than $200 million going back to artists since inception.

Sounds great for VEVO and its partners, though Pincus says the fun stops there for Songs and other indie publishers and songwriters.

“What has gotten far less attention is the fact that independent publishers and the many songwriters we represent, have not received any money from Vevo. Ever,” Pincus writes.

“That’s right.

Vevo: $150 Million.  Independent publishers and songwriters: Zero.”

VEVO largely revolves around major label content, which makes sense given its major label joint venture partners.  But that doesn’t mean indie publishers and songwriters aren’t penning some of the tracks.  And, if majors sign all inclusive (recording+publishing) deals, majors are essentially saying they’ll pass these payments through.  And according to Pincus, they aren’t.

“So, Vevo pays the major record labels, and the record labels take on the responsibility to pass through an accounting to the publishers, as they do with iTunes track sales.  The problem is, the labels don’t do that.  They simply sit on the money.”

Actually, Pincus goes further to say that his content is oftentimes licensed without his permission, without any payments attached (apparently they don’t invite you to the Christmas party, either).  “Synchronization licenses are not compulsory,” Pincus notes.  “Yet, labels are doing it anyway.  I see uncontrolled songs that we publish in videos broadcast on Vevo, and we are not getting paid for that.”

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But wait: the situation gets even more absurd, according Pincus, because Songs Music Publishing and other indie labels actually have direct licensing arrangements with YouTube.  Which means that when VEVO isn’t involved, they get paid, but when VEVO is serving the content, they aren’t. “To illustrate, my company publishes a current top 10 song, ‘Rack City,’ performed by the rapper Tyga,” Pincus continued.  “We are getting paid directly from YouTube for a video that a kid made of himself lip-synching the song with his grandmother dancing in the background.

“Somewhat nonsensically, we are not getting paid from the official video featuring Tyga that was produced by Universal Records. Seems illogical to me.”

The full Wrap op-ed is here.