Independent Labels Announce ’10 Point Action Plan’ Against YouTube…

After an ugly set of exchanges involving independent artist Zoë Keating, Digital Music News, and YouTube last week (here, and here), a consortium of independent labels is now getting involved.  The European-based consortium, headed by Impala, has drafted a ten-point action plan in reaction to ‘resurfacing abuses‘ from YouTube.

Impala has very significant sway over legislators in Europe, already a contentious regulatory battleground for YouTube parent Google.

The following is a statement issued by Impala this morning.

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51 Responses

    • Sarah

      Actually, it’s something, which is way better than nothing.

      Most truly big changes start with just talk. Eventually, the talk becomes louder, more frequent. More join in the discussions. Talk spurs change.

      Talk spurred us to stop our business plans last year and completely shift our focus to online music and video.

      Specifically, indie labels talking about YouTube’s attempts to strongarm them into unfavorable terms for its new subscription services. Zoe Keating’s talk about her rates from different streaming sources. Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift’s talk about Spotify. Countless other artists (and even fans) chiming in to voice support, express their own dissatisfaction, and discuss their own needs and desires.

      We were preparing our startup’s first marketing campaign – we were only a matter of days from launching it! – when we first noticed all this talk. We searched through the internets and found it everywhere. And we decided that we agreed with it. Then we decided we could provide a solution to the problems prompting that talk.

      Our solution – in the form of a new platform – is launching very soon. We don’t follow the YouTube or Spotify or Soundcloud models, we’re not just a modification of an existing service. Our model was built from scratch to specifically address the problems we learned about because of all that talk.

      Who knows if our platform will help solve the problems facing today’s artists? We certainly don’t know, but we think it has a really good shot. And if ours doesn’t succeed, then someone else will try, and then someone else, until we get to something better – but only if people, like these labels, keep talking.

  1. Anonymous

    Any initiative to stop the Safe Harbor scam is great.

    As for YouTube:

    I was a fanboy for years, but I can’t support or work with a company like that anymore.

    • Sarah

      What caused you to stop being a “fanboy”? Was it something specific, a combination of things, etc? How did you use YouTube before, and how (if at all) do you use it now?

      • Anonymous

        Google has been a problem for years, but YouTube always seemed to be the good Corleone guy.

        Then suddenly, last summer…

        But you’re launching a YouTube alternative, you know the story.

        • Sarah

          Thanks for the response!

          I do know the story in general, but of course that’s not the same as knowing an individual’s story.

          On YouTube, I think they started out good. Certainly they provided a platform for a lot of artists and creators (and random teens and cats) to find audiences. But then it inevitably went downhill, because the business model they chose is inherently unfavorable to artists.

          Also, we’re technically not launching a “YouTube alternative.”

          We’re launching a YouTube/Spotify/iTunes/etc alternative. 🙂

          • Anonymous

            The industry certainly needs a YouTube alternative! And perhaps — perhaps — an iTunes alternative.

            But why would you want to start a Spotify alternative?

          • Sarah

            Great question, thanks for asking!

            Short answer: because not all artists are happy with Spotify, and we think many of their complaints are legitimate. Therefore, we’d like to give artists a streaming option where they’ll have more flexibility and significantly more control.

            Honestly, we think even Thom Yorke will like our new model. 🙂

          • Anonymous

            As far as I can see, audio-only streaming will always cannibalize audio-only downloads.

            But providing the service obviously doesn’t hurt anybody — as long as you can opt out (choose video streaming and/or download sales only).

          • Sarah

            Perhaps. But I don’t see it going away any time soon. Focus on things you can change, not on things you can’t.

            I don’t think streaming is necessarily bad for artists; I think the way streaming is currently implemented is bad, and that can be fixed with a different business model.

            In any case, everything on our platform is actually opt-in, not opt-out. Artists have to deliberately choose to participate, and they can leave at any time. Artists can use some of our features, all of them, or none of them. No coercion, ever, and lots of choice. 🙂

            Here’s a question:

            For a moment, forget how Spotify (and everyone else) currently streams audio. Start with a blank slate.
            How could streaming be set up in a way that is favorable to artists?

          • GGG

            Coming from the resident “pro” Spotify person on here (in reality, just pro streaming out of future necessity and Spotify happens to be the biggest one right now) my issues are:

            1) Obviously it could/should pay higher per stream
            2) Not sure how feasible this is, but payouts could correspond to actual listens. In other words, if I’m paying a monthly fee and only listen to two artists, my $10 or whatever should be split between them proportionally, not thrown in the overall pool and diluted substantially. If I listen to literally one song that month, give them $10 (minus your cut).
            3) You seem to be covering this already, but opting in is a huge part as well. I think it should be set up where if you only make a single available, the whole album should still show up so it’s obvious it exists. You just can’t play them. But the opt-in/opt-out should be fairly immediate, too, so you can do short-lived listening parties or whatever promo gimmick you want.
            4) This isn’t really about streaming, but the layout should be much more user friendly, especially for acts with a ton of albums.
            5) Probably most important to me, is that it needs to become the default player for blogs, et al, posting songs. The embed functionality needs to be flawless and attractive. In the past year alone a couple of my acts would have made hundreds, if not thousands of dollars from tracks getting played on blogs, but they were through SoundCloud. If you could monetize “exposure” one step ahead, people will love you forever. Some blogs do embed Spotify, but not as many as could, since it’s still not a universally used service. If you could monetize plays without having to have people sign up for/download your service, that’d be great.

          • Sarah

            First, thank you! I really appreciate that you shared so much information.

            These are great points. Here’s how some of them fit into our platform.

            1. Higher per stream – absolutely

            2. Not only is it feasible for payouts to correspond to actual listens, we think it’s wrong when they don’t. So they will.

            3. Opt-in, opt-out – yes. LOVE the listening parties idea and it is easy to implement. You’ve got it. As for displaying songs that aren’t available for streaming – not commenting on that yet but you’ll be happy with our approach.

            4. User friendly layout – can you give more specifics about what you want?

            5. Flawless embed functionality will be added soon. It’s not something we’ve focused on yet, but we can make it more of a priority post-launch now that we know how critical it is. Thanks again – the only way we know what is important to artists is for you to tell us.

            Disclaimer: We’re a startup, so it is NOT going to be perfectly designed or include everything on Day 1. We’re trying to do something big, and we have to start somewhere, but we’ll add features and make improvements ASAP. Plus, we’d like feedback from our users on many things before we add/change them.

            I would very much like to chat with you and give you a private demo before we launch. Unfortunately, I can’t give you my contact info publicly yet. In about 2 weeks 🙂

          • GGG

            Awesome, this all sounds great, thanks for doing this.

            As for the design, I’m not really sure. I’m not a designer so for me it’s one of those I have to see it then decide if I like it or not haha. I just know so many sites try to cram as much info onto each screen as possible that it gets a little muddled or hard to search at times.

            When you put the albums in the grid format on Spotify for example, it’s infinitely better in my opinion than their default straight list of albums. For artists with 1 or 2 albums it’s not a big deal but with like the Beach Boys or something it gets to be too much.

            And yea, totally understand about building up the service. Good luck

          • Sarah

            We’re going with a very clean, uncluttered design – we want the artist’s content to be the star. After we launch we’ll ask for feedback and requests on design, and improve the design based on what our users actually want. So if you don’t like it after you see it, please be sure to let me know 🙂

          • Faza (TCM)

            If I may chime in: your question, Sarah, can easily be answered with one word – “jukebox”.

          • Sarah

            I’m thrilled that you chimed in, especially because – while our platform supports a number of other models for streaming – I personally agree that “jukebox” is the best answer. You’re going to like what we do. 🙂

          • Anonymous

            “Focus on things you can change”

            Good point — all the successful Spotify holdouts we’ve seen lately suggest that audio-only streaming, as we know it, is one of those things.

            “In any case, everything on our platform is actually opt-in, not opt-out”

            Then I guess we won’t have to argue about streaming, will we? 🙂

            Personally, I simply need a service that provides the original YouTube functions.

            Better payment obviously never hurts, but the crucial part for me is to be free to make exclusive releases on iTunes and elsewhere while I upload and monetize the number of music videos I want, without being forced to making my entire catalog available on the service.

            Btw, how short videos can be monetized? 30 secs?

            And how about monetizing User Generated Content?

          • Anonymous

            Oh, and what GGG says about embedding.

            That’s particularly important in the upstart phase when you can’t drive enough traffic by yourself.

            It needs to work perfectly with Twitter, Facebook, personal sites, etc. If it doesn’t — or if there are bandwith problems, or other hickups — it will annoy a lot of users. But if it works, then you can seriously compete with YouTube right from day one.

          • Anonymous

            Sarah, I just saw what you said about embedding now, so I’ll add a few more words about why it’s so critical — not only for us, but for you — that it works perfectly right from the start:

            People are not going to upload music videos to a new stand-alone site that doesn’t have any traffic. Why would they?

            And your site won’t have more than a few thousand visitors during the first months.

            But Twitter users don’t care whether they click on an embedded YouTube video, or on an embedded video from an unknown video host.

            And most artists will obviously prefer to use your service instead of YouTube if you pay better — IF the embedded videos work on all platforms (as opposed to Vimeo, for instance, that doesn’t even play in some browsers).

          • Sarah

            Okay, let’s talk about embedding. Anonymous, I’m sold on the importance – thanks for stressing it.

            We’re not going to be able to monetize embedded audio or video right away. But we can do it, and we can make it available pretty darn quickly.

            So we’re looking at maybe a few weeks out for “almost flawless” embedding, another 2-3 months for flawless embedding with monetization. Here’s my question:

            Would you actually switch from either Soundcloud or YouTube embedding, providing the basic functionality is solid, prior to monetization being available, with the understanding that it’s in the works and will be available in the very near future?

            The reason I ask is primarily a business one.

            Startup = minimal resources. So we need to focus on things that are most likely to (1) directly bring in money or (2) make us attractive to investors (show “traction”) pretty quickly.

            If we can do embedding, but not embedding + monetization, immediately, is that really of any value?
            Or would it be better to focus on other things and hold off on embedding functionality until we can include monetization?

          • Anonymous

            “Would you actually switch from either Soundcloud or YouTube embedding, providing the basic functionality is solid, prior to monetization being available, with the understanding that it’s in the works and will be available in the very near future?”

            Sorry, I’m wasting your time here — I’m not going to work with a subscription service.

            But no, I would not switch from a service that already offers monetizable, embedded files to one that doesn’t.

          • GGG

            Well, the issue, and reason embedding is so important, is that most people use platforms that DON’T pay anything. SoundCloud pays zero unless you sign up for their ad service, which everyone hates. A lot of other blogs just host it themselves, too. Pitchfork and a few others embed Spotify a good amount, but it’s still fairly rare. And it also doesn’t help the artist if someone doesn’t have Spotify downloaded to play that, so they never hear you.

            So a Soundcloud-esque embedded player that actually paid would be a godsend. If you’re not monetized at first it’d take a bit of marketing/word of mouth/direct outreach to blogs to get people to switch to you. Might not grow too much. But honestly, the second you start paying for those streams, I, and many others, will shout it from the rooftops. Because now all of a sudden all those random placements on blogs can recoup some PR cost.

          • Sarah

            That’s helpful, thanks. We’ll definitely get a solution for this.
            What specifically do you hate about SC’s ad service?

            And we are not a subscription-only service 🙂

          • QUill Dem

            Google is also an international thief of content from photography to film to materials from libraries. Their employees have been caught scanning materials in historic libraries in Europe without permission. Eric Schmidt and Larry Page are both unbelievably arrogant cogs in the military industrial complex as well. Google is a horrid parasite on the planet, and the more the rest of the world treats them as a malignant growth, the better, because the USA won’t do anything.

          • Sarah

            So . . . I take it you don’t like Google. We are not fans either. 🙂

  2. Willis

    Whatever. Indie labels seem too have even less power when they “work together”. Amazing.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think you’re aware what’s going on EU right now and how big a threat it is to Google.

      • Rodney

        Last time I checked, we weren’t in the EU. Try looking at the historical acts by indie labels and their failed efforts.

        • Anonymous

          “Last time I checked, we weren’t in the EU”

          Google is, and EU is far more important than the US.

          • Rodney

            Meaningless. So what there are more people. Drill down and show who the real consumers are (who has access and money).

  3. July

    In other news, in the USA, streaming revenue will surpass download (singles and albums combined) revenue by July 2015.

    6 months away….

    • Anonymous

      In other news, in the USA, streaming revenue will surpass download (singles and albums combined) revenue by July 2015.

      6 months away….

      red herring information..

      glossed up word sorcery that makes it all sound good, but which has zero substance or meat for what truly matters to most people, other then those trying to put a pr spin on something…

    • versus

      Not because streaming is a success, though. Only because sales are dying.

  4. Dan

    Nice try by IMPALA to try and claim credit for the work that IFPI/MPAA are doing in getting safe harbour changed – the rest is just meaningless bollocks

  5. Dave 5000

    How does safe harbor have anything to do with the Zoe Keating thing? This sounds like a load of crap. The Zoe Keating thing is an anti-trust issue and anti-windowing issue. It is not a exactly a copyright issue or safe harbor issue. Getting rid of safe harbor rules will cause a much bigger problem for artists because there are a lot of artists who love making covers on youtube. You get rid of safe harbor and tighten copyright laws the idea of a cover is basically gone.

    I’m personally not a huge fan of cover songs but it is a way a lot of people get noticed on youtube especially people like Jack Conte.

    • Anonymous

      Safe harbor has everything to do with it:

      An important part of YouTube’s extortion strategy is not to block stolen content unless you sign their contract.

      That leaves you with endless DMCA takedowns — because of the safe harbor.

  6. FarePlay

    YouTube has put themselves in a bad light and it demonstrates the arrogance of tech in their belief that they’re above the law. Last year Amazon demonstrated it with their treatment of the authors signed to thr Hachette book publishers. Amazon willfully interfered with the sales and marketing of books written by the authors signed to the publisher, basically because Hachette refused to sign a deal. The authors have lodged a complaint with the DOJ and Amazon may have repercussions.

    YouTube, stating that they’ll protect musicians and songwriters against infringing content if they sign up for Music Key and not protect those who do not, could open legal recourse for acknowledging that they in fact ‘tolerate’ piracy on their site.

    This is why people are talking about changes to the DMCA in regard to Ms Keating ‘s actions in these comments.

    • Anonymous

      “YouTube, stating that they’ll protect musicians and songwriters against infringing content if they sign up for Music Key and not protect those who do not, could open legal recourse for acknowledging that they in fact ‘tolerate’ piracy on their site.”


  7. Kevin

    I love how percentages are used. 80% of investment in new music. 80% of what actual figure.
    7.1 million jobs threatened. Who are you kidding.
    Here is one figure I can bandy around 80% of EU music rarely gets heard outside of the country of origin. The ONLY place where potential buyers can sample this music is via You Tube, other online sources or the abysmal annual Euro Song joke.
    Illusions of grandeur in play here.