As we reported, Warner Music Group is now the first of the major label and music publisher to sign a new deal with YouTube. But in a leaked memo to his team, CEO Steve Cooper admitted that the deal was made under “very difficult circumstances.” Here is the full text of the leaked memo:
From WMG CEO Steve Cooper:
I wanted to let you all know that, following months of tough negotiations, we’ve extended our deals with YouTube, separately for music publishing and recorded music.
On the publishing side, Warner/Chappell tirelessly championed songwriters’ rights, and equally, our recorded music team was relentless on behalf of our artists and our music. We secured the best possible deals under very difficult circumstances. Our new deals are also shorter than usual, giving us more options in the future.
Nevertheless, our fight to further improve compensation and control for our songwriters and artists continues to be hindered by the leverage that ‘safe harbor’ laws provide YouTube and other user-uploaded services. There’s no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, our music will still be available but not monetized at all. Under those circumstances, there can be no free-market ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ negotiation.
YouTube has a bigger audience than any other streaming service, which presents huge opportunities for the creative community, and we’re always hopeful about the future. But our experiences during these negotiations were proof positive of the acute need to clarify ‘safe harbor’ provisions under US and EU copyright legislation. That’s the only way to conclusively close the gap between the revenue YouTube generates and what songwriters, artists, publishers and labels make in return.
Our sustained investment in new music and the pace with which we embrace emerging technologies, is resulting in some promising growth. However, ‘safe harbor’ laws that don’t protect artists, songwriters and rights-holders remain the weak link in the music ecosystem. We’re now calling for change more loudly than ever.
In the meantime, we’re all focused on doing truly original, imaginative and exciting work across all platforms, in order to bring our artists and songwriters the biggest opportunities, both creative and commercial. It’s already been an incredible year, and there’s an outstanding array of new music still to come.
Please note, this email has gone to a limited distribution list, so please do not forward, but I wanted to keep you informed in case you get any questions.