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Songwriters support indies in YouTube squabble, also hit out at NDA culture

By | Published on Tuesday 8 July 2014


Just in case you’d forgotten that the indie label community is still busy battling to secure more favourable terms from YouTube for its planned audio-streaming service, the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors, or BASCA if you prefer, yesterday confirmed it was supporting the independents in the ongoing dispute.

As previously reported, various indie label trade bodies have hit out at the Google-owned company, arguing that it is offering unfavourable terms for labels to sign up to its planned Spotify competitor, and has threatened to take away the right for said labels to monetise their videos on the existing YouTube platform if they don’t play ball with the new service.

A statement put out yesterday by BASCA included statements from various members of the organisation, including Texas frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri, who told reporters: “Songwriters fully support independent record labels in their fight to get better terms and deals from YouTube. It’s about time we all made some noise about the way they negotiate with take-it-or-leave-it deals”.

Meanwhile both Spiteri and fellow BASCA member Barry Mason, who wrote Tom Jones hit ‘Delilah’ amongst many other songs, expressed concerns about the rates paid by streaming services in general, and the existing YouTube video site in particular. Spiteri continued: “It might be a little easier for writers like myself who also perform, but for those who do not and now have to rely on streaming income, the current rates are just not enough”.

Meanwhile Mason said: “Someone must be making money out of the music on YouTube but it certainly isn’t the people who write the songs. ‘Delilah’ would need to be streamed roughly 113,250 times for Les Reed and I to earn enough for a coffee each at Starbucks”.

The songwriter group also hit out at the secrecy surrounding this, and most other, digital deals, something focused on by Music Managers Forum CEO Jon Webster in the discussion on the YouTube dispute in the recent CMU Podcast. Most digital licensing deals are subject to non-disclosure agreements, though there is often disagreement on both sides as to who, exactly, is insisting these deals be done in secret.

Also confirming his association’s support for the indie label community, BASCA Chairman Simon Darlow told CMU: “BASCA is against NDAs which hide what appear to be poor streaming rates for songwriters and composers. We cannot afford to let these practices undermine the value of songwriting and composing and leave the music industry with a talent drain which will affect the UK both culturally and financially”.