Katy Perry is using her star power to help get lesser known artists more money from YouTube.
Perry is lobbying on behalf of Universal Music Group, Sony and Warner Music Group to renegotiate contracts with YouTube because they feel lesser known singers, songwriters and producers aren't paid fairly based off the plethora of "free" music circulating on the site.
The discussions follows the news that 57 artists, including Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, CeeLo Green, Steven Tyler, deadmau5, Lionel Richie, Tony Bennett, Pearl Jam, Bette Midler, and dozens more, filed a petition with the U.S. Copyright Office in a quest to create a safer environment to release music and videos online. The complaint outlines their struggles with “antiquated policies” and acts as a measure to “protect the future of the music industry, recording artists and songwriters,” according to a statement from the RIAA via EW.
The labels want more money from YouTube, but claim the the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects streaming services like YouTube and other sites that rely on content that users upload, is prohibiting them from progressing their agenda.
One might argue Katy Perry earned millions from her music videos that premiere on YouTube, but RIAA head Cary Sherman says her involvement isn't to make more money – she's keeping an eye out for future artists.
"The petition [Katy Perry] filed makes clear that she’s worried about the next generation of songwriters and artists that are coming up. She isn’t complaining that she isn’t making enough money,’ Sherman told Recode.
"But it’s harder and harder for more musicians to make a living. Because the revenue that they’re getting from streaming isn’t keeping pace with the revenue that they used to be able to earn. We’re trying to get to a point where the streaming ecosystem works for everybody."
Sherman outlined an ideal change to save labels time and money when a song is unlawfully shared onto the net. One strategy is notice and stay down, instead of notice and take down.
"There are 100 copies of a song. We can’t just say to YouTube 'we didn’t license this Pharrell song, take it down.' They will not just take down all 100 copies. They’ll take down only the one file that we’ve identified. We have to find every one of them, and notice them, and then they’re taken down, and then immediately put right back up. You can never get all the songs off the system. If we had a system where once a song was taken down, you had a filtering system that prevented it from going back up, we wouldn’t have to be sending hundreds of millions of notices on the same content over and over again.
Maybe then we’d begin to make a difference with all the pirated copies on all of the websites. But as long as there isn’t a stay down, we can’t deal with that. It’s just not possible."
Sherman adds record companies would like to be partners with YouTube, but says the video giant has the upper-hand and aren't willing to budge.
YouTube execs say they aren't giving labels a bum deal, and feel comparing them to "audio-only" subscription services is silly. "To date, Google has paid out over $3 billion to the music industry – and that number is growing year on year," they said. "This revenue is generated despite the fact that YouTube goes way beyond music to include popular categories such as news, gaming, how-to, sports and entertainment.
"And with the recent launch of the YouTube Music app, we recently launched a new, dedicated music experience with the goal to deliver even more revenue to both artists and the music industry more broadly. Past comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges."