If this were Superman, Metallica would be Clark Kent, as portrayed by a young Tom Welling, and YouTube would be Zack Synder or, if this were Republican primaries they all would be YouTube and we’d have to scrap the premise entirely. Recently on BBC Radio 4, Metallica’s manager, Peter Mensch, complained, with good reason, about the free video sharing websites and the financial toll he claimed that they was taking on the music industry.
This is a tricky story to tell. In an article appearing on the BBC website, Mensch had this to say, “‘YouTube, they’re the devil,” he told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the music business. “We don’t get paid at all.
“He said the site’s business model, in which artists make money by placing ads around their music, was unsustainable.
“If someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed,” he said. “It’s over. Someone turn off the lights.”‘
Granted, while all that is true, given Metallica’s history, it could be argued that Metallica is only looking out for themselves. Make no mistake, this is not a Pearl Jam vs. Ticketmaster type deal. If it were, we wouldn’t be so cynical. Metallica just wants its money. If they want to take the lead in bringing about reforms, we will change or tune and opinion quickly. The facts say that something definitely needs to be done.
According to the IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), a distinct value gap arose in what revenue the free sites were generating (YouTube, Dailymotion, Soundcloud) as opposed to pay sites. According to IFPI, “An estimated 900 million consumers on these sites resulted in revenue of $634m (£447m) in 2015. By contrast the world’s 68 million paying music subscribers generated about $2bn (£1.4bn).”
YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl was quick to refute Mr. Mensch claims. Mr. Kyncl countered by saying that it was all about how you went about your business. In his view, YouTube was a boon for artists because it cut out the middlemen. The website Pollster lends these quotes from YouTube’s CBO, “It really depends on what is the flow of the money from us to you. The artists who are signed up directly with YouTube are seeing great returns. Not everybody – but if you’re generating a lot of viewership, you’re making a lot of money.” He also pointed to Lindsey Stirling’s deal with YouTube, “which earned her $6 million last year.”