NIN's Trent Reznor Calls Out Youtube As "Disingenuous," YouTube Fires Back
This past Monday (Jun 13), was the beginning of Apple's annual WorldWide Developers Confernece (WWDC), and during the opening keynote, the company unveiled the newest design for Apple Music. It's a big shift, and Apple's big names are coming out to talk about it, including Apple Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor, who you may know from his day job with Nine Inch Nails.
Reznor, along with his boss, SVP Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine and VP Robert Kondrk spoke with Billboard in an extensive interview, and during the talk, Reznor took a few shots at one of Apple Music's prime competitors, YouTube.
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.
Youtube has launched a subscription service in the last year, and their audio recognition software is unparalleled, immediately recognizing copyrighted material, and if such material is claimed within Youtube's ecosystem, Youtube will tag the video with ads and payout the copyright owner.
When asked if his own royalty checks have increased thanks to Apple Music, Reznor avoided the question:
I’m not looking at the financials as much, but through [the lens] of a consumer. When Jimmy 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… 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.
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.”
Naturally, YouTube took offense to Reznor's comments, and were quick to fire back in a statement to Pitchfork:
“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.”
This is a case where this is no right and wrong, I feel. While YouTube may have hurt publishers with minimal payouts, I think it has also had a positive effect on music, giving artists a platform to widly share videos and content.