YouTube views aren't translating into profit for British musicians, and even vinyl sales are bringing in more money. According to The Guardian, that is what British music industry association's (BPI) head honcho, Geoff Taylor, claimed when he spoke at the Music Futures conference in England. Unfortunately, he didn't back that statement up with exact figures, but he did say that BPI members garnered 14 billion YouTube views in 2014. Back in 2013, the organization reported that its artists sold enough vinyl LPs to earn a revenue of £12.1 million ($18.4 million), which was the highest the format has ever reached since 1994.
A spokesperson defended the Google-owned video hosting website, telling The Guardian: "Music videos on YouTube can be discovered by over 1 billion people in over 80 countries. To date, we've paid out $3 billion to the music industry -– and that number is growing year on year." In addition to talking about revenues, the BPI boss also talked about lobbying for tighter copyright laws. Services like YouTube, he said, typically aren't held liable for content their users upload, so long as they have a system that pulls down videos at the request of the copyright holders.
Taylor isn't the first person in the industry to express his discontent over low earnings from streaming services. Another Taylor pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify last year after writing an op-ed for the WSJ to say that music should not be free (Spotify has a free tier, as you probably know). BPI's Taylor clarified that he supports free music streaming, but he believes the companies could do better at turning their users into paid subscribers.
You're seeing consumption going up rapidly on YouTube and on the ad-funded tiers of services like Spotify, but the money coming back to the industry through those ad-funded uses isn't increasing at anywhere near the same pace.
Advertising-supported only works if it is a step towards premium, and if it is monetised at an acceptable rate. We can't just give our music away for free: that is not a business model.
YouTube is attempting to do just that with its Music and Red subscription services, though we'll have to wait and see if they can successfully convince people to sign up.
[Image credit: Getty/JGI/Jamie Grill]