Trent Reznor Blasts YouTube: ‘Built On … Stolen Content’
Reznor — who, it's worth noting, has played a role in developing one such service, Apple Music — recently spoke with Billboard about the streaming economy, identifying YouTube as being particularly bad for artists.
"Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous," said Reznor. "It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly. We’re trying to build a platform that provides an alternative — where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes."
Although Reznor admitted he isn't "looking at the financials as much" in terms of whether he's personally seen a significant rise in royalties since Apple entered the streaming business, he argued that regardless of the figures, this is the future of the music industry — and it's the artist's job to be his own advocate.
"Every time there’s a new innovation, the musician is the one that didn’t have a voice at the table about how it’s presented," said Reznor. "I thought, if I could make a place where there could be more opportunities, and it comes with more fertile ground, and music is treated with a bit more with respect, that interests me. It’s not, 'Oh, I hope I get on that taco commercial.'"
UPDATE: YouTube has responded via a statement to Pitchfork. It reads: "The overwhelming majority of labels and publishers have licensing agreements in place with YouTube to leave fan videos up on the platform and earn revenue from them. Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 percent of the music industry’s YouTube revenue. Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry–and that number is growing year on year."
Why Aren't Nine Inch Nails (And All These Other Bands) in the Rock Hall of Fame?