According to Billboard Magazine, they will no longer give equal weight to paid streams and free streams in its music charts. The decision was brought by the pressure that they are getting from several music labels and Apple Music.
Notably, a song that is bought from Apple’s download store or streamed on its paid subscription service weighs the same as a free stream on YouTube when deciding for Billboard’s “Hot 100.” However, due to some complaints received by the Billboard Group, they will begin to prioritize paid streams. This means that there is a possibility for artists to be more inclined into promoting their singles on paid services like Apple Music to increase their possibility of rising up the charts.
The Big Billboard Blunder
Billboard group’s Decision, however, is a blow on Google’s YouTube as it hoped to broaden its reach. The said video-sharing platform also had talks with Billboard regarding being included in the album charts. Streams that come from paid subscriptions like Apple Music or on paid subscription tiers like SoundCloud and Spotify are viewed as the same with streams that come from online platforms like YouTube. But with Billboard Hot 100’s retooling, streams from free platforms will be given less priority. Billboard’s statement also clarified that video streams will not be counted into the Hot 100’s calculations.
The head of Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine has argued about the growing influence of YouTube. Iovine described YouTube as fake since its traffic is very much open for manipulation. According to him, artists say that they promote on YouTube because streams on this platform are viewed the same with streams from paid platforms. He then questioned how the music industry could let such a thing pass.
Furthermore, Iovine is discussing with Billboard regarding the issue. He also stated that the music industry should all be going on the same path and should support the methods of getting musicians paid.
Billboard Gives “Rules For Thee But Not For Me”
On the other hand, Darius Van Arman, A2IM coalition of independent labels’ chairman shares the same sentiment with Iovine. Van Arman said that YouTube streams should not be included in the calculations of music consumption charts. This is because when an individual streams a video on YouTube, there is no guarantee that he is there for the music itself or for the visuals of
the music video. He then added that something that has nothing to do with music could be the cause for people to stream, which should not be counted when calculating music consumption. Notably, Van Arman is also the owner of the company Secretly Group.
If there is a chance that YouTube views will be counted when calculating music consumption, it should be significantly lower than those that come from paid streams.
Moreover, YouTube did not respond to any of the allegations.
The Music Industry’s Hypocritical Criticism
The Billboard charts receive massive press. It also provides artists as well as their team an enormous ego boost whenever their song reaches the top position. Owned by Eldridge Industries, the same company that owns Hollywood Reporter, Billboard measures music sales by calculating consumption through radio, Apple Music, and several outlets that could help generate rankings. While it had been long including YouTube streams as a part of its calculations, Billboard charts issued a statement saying that it has to keep up with the ever-changing methods of listening to music to reflect fame.
Similarly, some executives from several music labels are against the inclusion of YouTube streams to the calculation of the Billboard Hot 100. They further explained that it is very easy to manipulate and increase traffic on YouTube using bots. According to these executives, YouTube itself is deciding what it will recommend to viewers while they are streaming a particular video. It is a very common myth about buying YouTube views that is popular. However, there is not any evidence to prove these claims although Google admitted that it has manipulated traffic in some of its ad networks.
YouTube Execs Defend Views From Music Industry
Still, there is someone who stands firm for Google. This is none other than Lyor Cohen, the global head for music on YouTube and a popular figure to music labels. Notably, Cohen was once the CEO of the recorded music division of Warner Music. After leaving Warner Music, he launched 300, his very own music label, with the help and financial support from Google.
Cohen and Iovine were once rivals in the field of rap music. Back in the ‘90s, Interscope Records was co-founded by Iovine while the record label called Def Jam was headed by Cohen.
So, it can be concluded that the backdrop of the conflict involving music charts was the long-existing rivalry between YouTube and music labels over the payment for music streamed on the video-sharing platform.
Music Labels Vs. YouTube Views
The music labels have raised the issue to the European Commission as well as the United States Copyright Office. They were proposing that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act must have a change in provision. The aforementioned act provides protection to tech platforms against legal action for illegal content distribution. In addition, the act was passed in order to protect the internet’s growth.
Out of the three massive names in the music industry, Warner Music Group was the only one to get a new license with Google, allowing it to use its music. Yet even back then, the company complained about the poor deal offered by Google. On the other hand, Sony Music Group and Universal Music Group continue to push the fairer division of profit from songs streamed on YouTube, regardless if it has a license or not.
In estimation, the ad revenue that YouTube got is at around $3.5 billion in the year 2017, says eMarketer. It also mentioned that the video-sharing platform pays micro-pennies for plays which recording companies call the “Value Gap.”
On the other hand, YouTube said that its system is identifying most violations that the three music companies are accusing it. In turn, it has already aided in creating a huge and new revenue stream for the recording companies and music labels.
Furthermore, the officials of the said music companies did not give any comment.