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.