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Merlin reportedly signs up to YouTube’s subscription service

By | Published on Wednesday 12 November 2014


YouTube has signed a licensing deal with indie label digital rights agency Merlin for its much-delayed subscription streaming service, or so says the Financial Times.

As previously reported, a big slice of the indie label sector, via global trade body grouping the World Independent Network, went public in May with concerns over what were described as “unnecessary and indefensible” negotiating tactics. The labels accused YouTube of threatening to block their music from its entire platform (both the new subscription audio service and the existing free-to-access video platform) if they did not sign up to the new venture on terms that the indies argued were out of kilter with industry norms.

YouTube owner Google subsequently indicated that it was more than willing to pull indie label content from its market-leading video platform ahead the launch of the new audio service. But when the indies called Google’s bluff, all stayed as it was and negotiations behind the scenes continued, with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki saying at last month’s Re/code conference that she was still “optimistic” that the subscription service would launch “soon”.

Although Merlin and YouTube have not commented, the FT says that the deal is now done, bringing the digital rights agency’s 20,000 member indie labels into the new YouTube service. What that means for the launch of said service isn’t entirely clear, nor what concessions have been made by either side to get the deal done, though it does remove a considerable stumbling block for YouTube.