Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor: ‘I Find YouTube’s Business to Be Very Disingenuous’
Sixx: A.M. have been leading the charge against YouTube, claiming that the video site has not been compensating artists fairly for the clips that have gone up online. But other artists are not exactly happy with the YouTube compensation model either. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor offered his take during an interview with Billboard about the new Apple Music streaming platform.
When asked directly about YouTube and how they're viewed by labels, Reznor stated, "Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous. 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."
Reznor was also asked if he's seen his royalty checks growing any as an artist. "I’m not looking at the financials as much, but through [the lens] of a consumer. When Jimmy [Iovine] and I first sat down years ago, it was very clear that the future is streaming. And I bring to that the burden and legacy of having come from the system before that, where livelihood could be made selling physical products and life made sense, you knew who the enemies were and you knew how to get your music out," stated Reznor. "And in this state of disruption, what interests me most as an artist, and what has been great about working with Jimmy before Apple and within the Apple ecosystem, is trying to bring that sense of opportunity to the musician."
He went on to add, "The last 10 years or so have felt depressing because avenues are shutting down. Little shrines to music lovers -- record shops -- are disappearing... And 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. 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.'"
Read more of Reznor's comments as he and Apple Music leaders Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue discuss the first year of Apple Music's streaming platform and what they've learned in their Billboard interview.
Update: A YouTube spokesperson contacted Loudwire with a statement regarding Trent Reznor's comments. It reads as follows: "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."
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