YouTube has reached a reported $40 million settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) — a 100-year-old trade association that represents American music publishers and songwriters — over unpaid royalties.
YouTube, which is the most popular online destination for music, according to The New York Times, will compensate affected parties for large swaths of songs online that have missing or incorrect songwriter and publisher data. Through the agreement, participating publishers will be given a list of songs on YouTube with incomplete data, for which the video service will ultimately pay back publishers dating back to August 2012 from a special fund.
“The revenue earned by the music industry on YouTube continues to grow significantly year over year, and we’re committed to making sure that publishers are paid for the usage of their works on our platform, said Tamara Hrivnak, YouTube’s director of music partnerships, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the NMPA to address the industry-wide challenges associated with identifying publishing ownership on digital platforms.”
The NMPA reached a similar settlement with Spotify in May that’s reportedly valued at $30 million.
YouTube is clearly trying to make good with the music industry following months of accusations by both top artists and executives that the ad-supported platform doesn’t pay them fairly compared to paid music subscription services, and that it enables copyright infringement. YouTube, for its part, says that its automated Content ID system is responsible for 99.5% of all claims related to music, and that in the last 12 months, the company has paid out $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone.
In a fresh statement, however, another prominent trade group, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry — a global nonprofit that represents 1,300 record companies — called the $1 billion figure insufficient. “With 800 million music users worldwide, YouTube is generating revenues of just over $1 per user for the entire year,” the organization said. “This pales in comparison to the revenue generated by other services, ranging from Apple to Deezer to Spotify. For example, in 2015 Spotify alone paid record labels some $2 billion, equivalent to an estimated $18 per user.”