42 Major Artists Threaten to Boycott YouTube…

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According to details disclosed by the Hollywood Reporter, power-manager Irving Azoff is now threatening to remove the works of 42 superstar-level artists from YouTube, including The Eagles, Pharrell Williams, Boston, Foreigner, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Chris Cornell, and George and Ira Gershwin.

In total, these artists represent a catalog of roughly 20,000 songs.

Azoff, one of the most influential artist managers and widely considered to be the most powerful executive in the music industry, now heads Global Music Rights (GMR).  Azoff created this organization to combat abysmal royalties being paid to publishers, songwriters, and artists by online heavyweights.  “The way fans listen to music is evolving daily,” Azoff told THR. “GMR is going to give songwriters and publishers an opportunity to engage in meaningful licensing for their intellectual property.”

“The trampling of writers’ rights in the digital marketplace without any regard to their contribution to the creative process will no longer be tolerated.”

The threat comes on the heels of a freshly-inked deal between YouTube and Merlin, an organization representing thousands of indie artists and labels.  Terms of those negotiations remain private, which suggests that YouTube backed down from its previous decision to force scrappy royalties and bullying contract terms upon indie artists and signed something reasonable.

The timing of the latest tiff is less than ideal.  YouTube is now just days away from its beta-launch of Music Key, its premium music video streaming service.  Music Key, a potential Spotify-slayer, will include ad-free videos, offline mobile access, exclusive content, curated playlists, neatly-compiled albums, and a general level of organization heretofore unknown to YouTube users.

More as the situation develops.


62 Responses

    • Anonymous


      According to Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, Irving Azoff did send takedown notices to YouTube for 20,000 stolen songs — but YouTube failed to take them down!

      So YouTube is a piracy site again — and Google is still at war with artists and songwriters.

      Plus, YouTube now seems to steal from Taylor Swift, too.

      Here’s what a spokesperson for Ms. Swift told BBC after Billy Bragg — a Spotify employee — criticized her for removing her catalogue from Spotify:

      “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service”

  1. Elke Hassell

    Most Powerful Man in the Music Industry??? Really? I thought that was Sony/ATV Publishing with more than 2 Million songs in their catalog and endless artists. Get it right tho

  2. Willis

    Boston? Foreigner? No, don’t do that. People are clamoring for their music.

      • danwriter

        Unhappily surprised, that it. One of the reasons Azoff remains as powerful as he is is the continued demand for classic rock catalog. It clogs the machine, leaving less room for more new music to enter the mainstream. (It also apparently validates the sense that it was simply better music, more artfully preformed and recorded. You do not make better records in your bedroom on 200 tracks.)

    • FarePlay

      Irving Azoff is sitting in his office realizing that the guys from Silicon Valley are eating his lunch. And he’s furious. While I’m certain he respects success and money, he looks at Zuckerberg or Ek and goes WTF, who are these punks.

      Has Taylor Swift brought attention to the possible end of the music business? And are people like Irv Azoff, whose been around for awhile, finally noticing they’re stealing everything even the gold and platinum.

      Am I the only one who has noticed how quiet Iovine has been these past few months. And honestly, I have no idea what direction he’s heading when we do hear from him. But that’s what we got, a mere handful of real music guys with whatever power they have left.

      Bob Seger was on CBS this morning. He was asked about Spotify, He didn’t have clue.

      • smg77

        He’s a dinosaur. He can stomp around now and pitch a fit but soon the industry and the consumers will leave him and his kind behind.

        • FarePlay

          The tragedy is you’re right. These guys are at the end of their careers and what’s astounding is the enormous void behind them. There’s no one on the bench.

      • GGG

        Has Azoff ever said anything (on record) about Spotify? I know he was on a panel with Ek a bit back, but don’t think he’s said anything about them since, really. YT pays substantially less than Spotify, so there’s a comparative reason to threaten one over another.

        As for Iovine, he’s still involved with Apple/Beats, so what’s he gonna do, jump on the anti-streaming bandwagon? Apple’s service probably won’t be any different than Spotify and he knows it. So no reason for him to comment.

        • FarePlay

          GGG, there is something really out of balance with your support of Spotify. You want to tell us what is? Oh sorry, asking you the same question again…..

          • GGG

            Um, there’s something out of balance with your head, since I didn’t support Spotify at all in that comment. I asked a legitimate question and made a legitimate comment regarding a guy who has a (probably very large stake) in another streaming service…

            Get your head out of your ass for one second and start to see that the world isn’t black and white. I thought I was the young one that wasn’t supposed to know that…

          • FarePlay

            We’ve been talking about the damage created by free streaming offers that are open ended both from a revenue and expiration standpoint. If you think about it, Spotify, with no experience in the record business, aside from Napster and Bit Torrent, marched into town with a fully baked business plan that was going to transform the music business.

            Had they come into the market with an attitude of we have what we think is a great idea help us make it happen. Things might be very different today. Now, they are going to have to back-peddle Spotify as a service with a lot of music, but not everything; very different from their plan of ending all other forms of music consumption.

            Streaming is part of our music future, it is not the future.

          • GGG

            Well, I agree with all of this, actually. That blame is almost entirely on the labels, though. And I’m not saying that to defend Spotify, but illustrate how being so averse to change can suck. It happened with iTunes and it happened with Spotify. Why is every music consumption advancement/change driven from outside the industry? Surely people could not have thought CDs would be around forever. There’d been how many physical changes already in like 20 years? So why is digital any different?

            I even agree with your last statement completely, I think we just have different ideas of what “part” means. In other words, I think it means some far greater percent than you do. I just question how long people will pay for a non-physical good.

          • FarePlay

            While the future of physical product is in question, it still occupies an important place as a revenue generator, at least for those of us over forty. There’s no question that vinyl is on a tear and my guess is that it will continue to grow for another 5 to 10 years or until something comes along to replace CDs as the dominant player.

            Therefore, I believe it is worthwhile to support the CD for the time being. I feel the same way about printed books. I spend enough time in front of a lighted and if nothing else I appreciate the diversity. I don’t think we have to have a one size fits all model just because an Amazon or Spotify have visions of market dominance.

            I don’t you if you’ve been following the standoff between a book publisher, Hachette, and Amazon, but the publisher stood their ground and last Thursday after a six month scorched earth response from Bezos, the publisher finally won. Only after enduring huge sales losses to the writers who stood behind their publisher.

            The conflict was over Amazon’s desire to make e-books cheap and cannibalize compensation for the authors. Sound familiar? The big difference was the publisher didn’t capitulate to an unfavorable deal for their authors.

  3. Anonymous

    “This is the most powerful person in the music industry.”

    OMG Taylor Swift is really Irving Azoff?? Is this like a Lorde/Randy from South Park situation? Never saw this one coming!

  4. steveh

    Why do you persist in hijacking threads to rant about your personal issue that have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic?

    Paul – can you please permanently ban this twat?

    • steveh

      Oh I see Paul removed the post I was complaining about – thanks Paul.

      now back to the popcorn…..

    • Anonymous

      it has everything to do with the topic, your failure to understand or realize as such merely outs yourself as someone complicit in the crimes or else is totally clueless, either way its a bad look steve..

      Best to just ignore me or send the message up everywhere possible to get this situation settled ASAP!

      Preferably yall dont put out a hit on me and murder me and preferably yall do the right thing and cut the cheque and signed affidavit. Ill burn the affidavit once the creque clears if thats what needs to be done! For my eyes only right>?>


      • GGG

        Ok, well not that we needed more evidence, but the fact that in your head the two potential outcomes for your situation are someone pays you money or they have you murdered officially puts you over the line into crazy town.

        Go get help. Like, seriously. You are losing it.

  5. Eurosmart

    Repeat after me: No, one, gives, a, Sh!t, and, holdouts, have, no, power any, more.

      • Eurosmart

        Not really the point Nina, and you know it. Of course everyone knows who the Eagles and TS are. They also know who the Beatles are, but them not being on iTunes made not a whit of difference to the success of that service. In the same way these holdouts make no impact on the viability of Music Key or Spotify. If the majors decided to jump… that would be a different issue altogether. Barring that. Zero impact.

        • steveh

          Au contraire I think the big techy monsters like Google and Spotify crave credibility in the music sphere. They can’t stand the headlines generated when major artists say they want out. This certainly hurts them.

          OK a lot of these “vintage” major artists don’t exactly have youth appeal – but Pharrell? You can’t get much bigger than him in the contemporary music scene.

      • Anonymous

        Agree, for once. 🙂

        And I’m totally with Mr. Azoff; I’m just afraid Google can afford not to care in this particular case. Pharell is definitely huge, and Lennon sort of, but they don’t equal Swift. And Beatles are not available on Spotify, so Lennon won’t matter much in the upcoming YouTube-Spotify war.

        Anyway, I also agree with everybody on the popcorn part. 🙂

  6. George Johnson

    Atlas Shrugged for Singers and Songwriters.

    The music looters vs. the music producers.

    The only answer to forced government collectivism is to “go on strike”.

    Between this, Taylor Swift removing her entire catalog from Spotify and making the front cover of Time magazine, I’d say the strike is on.

      • George Johnson

        Because she was right about the true motives of utopians, phony altruists and collectivists. Basically, most music industry gatekeepers. Serve and sacrifice for a cause greater than yourself, and that’s Pandora, Spotify, Google, ASCAP, BMI, Soundexchange, RIAA, NMPA, The Grammys, NAB, etc.

  7. Name2


    LOL. Is that DMN’s or THR’s jewel?

    LULz ipod-killer.

  8. Jabsco

    How many views a month do these songs account for? How many other billions of views are out there to be served? I really doubt Google gives a damn.

  9. Dan

    Boycott your labels….they’re the ones that made the deal with YouTube.

  10. Sidecut

    Those of you that downplay the power of Irving Azoff are clueless. He’s going right after the biggest bully, Google, After he takes them down he’ll take care of that pirate Ek and all the rest. There’ll be no IPO for Ek. Fuck him. 12,000,00 and 28,000,000 a year in executive compensation for Pandora while artists get little and pre 1972 artists got nothing? Fuck them to. Streaming as it is structured now is over.

  11. George Johnson

    Agreed Dan and Sidecut. Jabsco, great question.

    How many streams for the $2 million Taylor supposedly made worldwide according to Ek?

    How many streams would it have taken to meet Ek’s projection of $6 million streams for Taylor ending next year?

    How many streams for the $496,000 all streamers paid Taylor domestically?

  12. Lyle David Pierce, III

    Article I, § 8, of the Constitution is pretty meaningful…

    The Congress shall have Power . . . to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

  13. JTVDigital

    Does he own the master rights of the recordings as well?
    I guess not, all the artists (performers) listed are signed with major labels, who handle the distribution and monetization of the recordings.

    • FarePlay

      JVT I think Mr. Azoff gets pretty much everything he wants in LA. Especially, if he comes out and says it in the Hollywood Reporter.

      • JTVDigital

        I meant you can’t remove a work. What is exploited are recordings, indirectly implying the use of a musical composition (a work).
        If he does not own the master recordings he can’t remove anything.
        Again it’s PR bs just to make some noise and pour water on a drowning person.

      • Anonymous

        Most powerful man in music industry. Still can’t reach counter top, maybe if he stands on his tippy toes. Inspiration to super short men everywhere.

  14. Edward Jennings

    It’s the right tactic. I support Irving Azoff’s stance.

  15. DJ @ Boothnezzi

    The days of streaming as we know have officially changed.

    All the streaming services will have to pay up…

    Free music is on it’s way out

    I thank Taylor Swift and her team!

  16. Versus

    Absolute support. It’s about time there is movement from those with actual influence and possibility of effecting change, whether artists or expects.

    We need a motivated, concerted (no pun intended), intellectual property rights movement, which is really a different form of “workers’ rights” movement, since so many of those whose livelihood depends on the outcome of this battle are the “middle class” musicians, writers, publishers, producers, engineers, etc., and those who are (or were) just able to make a living through music.

    The support of the public, those who love music and those who simply have a human conscience and sense of fairness and compassion, is also essential. The public has to be shown that piracy, “sharing”, and its evil bastard child result, the “race to the bottom” “downward price pressure” on recorded music, are not “victimless crimes”.

  17. Willis

    Irving is a shred dude. You like him when you need him and you abhor him when he grabs more power.

  18. so

    Google’s heart just isn’t in this Music Key thing. Show us you are serious about its success by doing something substantial about (1) YouTube music rippers and (2) Ad blockers. Why would anyone who is thinking straight pay for music (available in your choice of streaming or download, often in high quality) or to remove ads when both are already free?

    • Anonymous

      “Why would anyone who is thinking straight pay for music (available in your choice of streaming or download, often in high quality) or to remove ads when both are already free?”

      Very good points.

      Perhaps they want it to self-destruct. Then they can say to the owners: “We tried, but it didn’t work out. We’ll keep your music on our free service, though. We know it doesn’t pay, but you signed the contract so there you go.”

  19. Felipe

    Considering Azoff’s reputation for being a slimy sleaze ball, I find it hilarious that he’s whining about the actions of others. It’s too bad the artists are caught in the middle, but they should find somebody who is less a scum bag to speak for them.

    • Antinet

      STFU. There are so few people representing artists. You should see the trash they have to deal with on the business side. What do you know about it?

  20. tommy

    Amusing to hear you all whine about and deride Irving. He’s a genius. Always was. Perhaps not the most considerate man in the biz, but extremely effective and probably the only individual in LA who stood up to David Geffen when necessary. His artists know what and who he is, but stay with him and respect him because he always goes to the mat for them and gets them what they ultimately deserve. Tell us the last time an artist was overpaid by his or her label.

  21. Vladic

    on pingo.co none of this is an issue. #musicNotContent

  22. Yatukin001

    Well extreme copyright infringement laws have become the source of how artists are treated today – like shit by big copyright lobbyists. Artists have always been bullied and maltreated by non artists and extreme copyright infringement laws are a good example. The Digital Millenium Copyright Infringement Act was intended to reinforce a citizen´z right to upload copyrighted material for educational purposes. And once less and less uploaders uploaded content and people moved to the VCR´s and to the record players and analogue cameras became popular again – wars between social media and artists reached a critical mass. Another major reason artists began to boycott youtube was all this fake actor shit. Big news companies uploaded content which was staged which people got to be told was for real so that big news services elsewhere would take it up and release it as ´actual´footage. That´s a clear violation against youtube´s policy against spam and deception in the marketplace. Consequently because the rise of social media has enabled artists to connect with each other the world over, big copyright lobbyism has begun to see it´s fall and so we see artists treated with less respect on youtube and other social media. We as responsible keepers of youtube and other social media accounts must be ever watchful against people trying to cause us to behave irrationally against each other with the intent to disunite and mislead us and we must stand with these artists so they´ll no longer feel isolated.