Nearly one year after the original launch date of YouTube Music Key, the streaming service has scored a major breakthrough. The long-delayed platform, which give users easy access to YouTube collection of music videos, has reportedly partnered with thousands of indie labels represented by rights group Merlin.
The report comes from The Financial Times, which claims the deal was signed within the last couple of days. By agreeing with indie labels, YouTube has cleared a huge roadblock. In May, a company that represents indie labels accused YouTube of strong-arming smaller distributors into signing unfavorable deals. That dispute came to a head in June, when YouTube reportedly threatened to block ad revenue on the YouTube videos managed by labels that wouldn’t agree to music service’s terms.
As this controversy raged, YouTube claimed to have already struck deals with 95% of labels, and by teaming with Merlin, it seems to have cleaned up a lot of the remaining 5%. Merlin, based in the UK and the Netherlands, represents more than 120,000 distributors worldwide.
This announcement is the latest in a series of positive turns related to YouTube Music Key, which was first announced in March 2013 and suffered a series of delays and setbacks throughout 2014. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently claimed the service is set to arrive “soon,” and YouTube also shut down its Disco feature, indicating it may have bigger plans in its near future. Now, with even more music on board, the product’s launch seems as close as ever. We’re waiting with open ears.