The battle for higher performance rights compensation is catching fire with Irving Azoff threatening to pull major artist off of Youtube. He is prepared to take 42 of his clients, representing some 20,000 copyrighted works away from the YouTube new subscription service called YouTube Music Key. Some of those clients include Pharrell, The Eagles, Smokey Robinson, John Lennon, and more. Battle lines are being drawn following up Taylor Swift's last week decision to remove her songs from Spotify over doubts of royalties.
Azoff is the former chairman of Live Nation who is now running a new venture, Global Music Rights (GMR)
, aimed at obtaining higher performance rights royalties for songwriters. Traditionally, those rights have been handled by ASCAP and BMI, which have been hamstrung by consent decrees with the Justice Department that requires a license be given whenever an outlet requests it.
The message Azoff is campaigning for is speaking directly to the songwriters community. The more consumers are leaning towards streaming services, the more funds should be compensated to the artist.
"The way fans listen to music is evolving daily," says Azoff. "GMR is going to give songwriters and publishers an opportunity to engage in meaningful licensing for their intellectual property. The trampling of writer's rights in the digital marketplace without any regard to their contribution to the creative process will no longer be tolerated."
Big record labels have bowed down creating deals with Youtube owned by Google recently. Merlin
who represent over 20,000 labels from 39 countries were the latest to ink a deal with Youtube. Those deals would only cover sound recording rights, though, which has traditionally brought in the bulk of revenue from digital services.
The owners of songwriter or publishing rights, on the other hand, have the struggle face attempting to see significant compensation from digital services. In past years, publishers have employed a variety of strategies to correct this -- suing over novelties like ringtones and targeting YouTube specifically for allowing users to embed videos with music. Victories nevertheless but minor in the war.
Irving Azoff is a man on fire right now and we will continue to watch how this story unfolds. What are your thoughts?