byÂ Paul Resnikoff
YouTube faces itsÂ strongest accusations to date, from one of the biggest companies in the world.
Apple has now joined a chorus of voices decrying YouTube, accusing the company of profitingÂ enormously while ruthlessly exploiting artists. Â The tough accusations came during a roundtable interview with several top Apple executives at WWDC in San Francisco, with AppleÂ senior vice president of Internet Software and ServicesÂ Eddy Cue, â€Žvice president ofÂ Content and Media Apps Robert Kondrk, Apple Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor and head of Apple MusicÂ Jimmy Iovine answering questions.
â€œPersonally, I find YouTubeâ€™s business to be very disingenuous. It is built on the backs of free, stolenÂ content and thatâ€™s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair. Â Itâ€™s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. Â Thatâ€™s how I feel about it. Â Strongly. Â [Apple Music is] trying to build a platform that provides an alternative â€” where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes.â€
The accusation comes alongside dozens of complaints from artists, including top-ranked artists like Thom Yorke, Adele, Nelly Furtado, and Nikki Sixx of MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e, just to name a few. Â But the industry itself is also starting to rally: Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine has previously criticized the platform, andÂ well-known artist manager Irving Azoff has more recently blasted Youtube for exploitative practices.
But YouTube has blasted back on two fronts: first, the video platform says that overall music viewing is proportionately quite low, and royalties are proportionately high. Â Back in late April, YouTube claimed that just 2.5 percent of its overall traffic is music-related, with music videos drawing just one hour a month from the average viewer. Â â€œThe final claim that the industry makes is that music is core to YouTubeâ€™s popularity. Despite the billions of views music generates, the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube a month,â€Â Christophe Muller, head of YouTube International Music Partnerships, emailed Digital Music News. Â â€œCompare that to the 55 hours a month the average Spotify subscriber consumes.â€
Robert Kyncyl, YouTubeâ€™s Head of Content, has criticized â€˜apples to orangesâ€™ comparisons while pointing to roughly $3 billion in cumulative royalty payments to artists.
Apple can claim far more, and a far different business model. Â Outside of a limited free trial, Apple Music is paid only, with 15 million paying subscribers recently announced. Â Other platforms, including Spotify and SoundCloud, harbor enormous â€˜freemiumâ€™Â populations, and were alluded to by Reznor.