Stalled contract negotiations between Warner Music Group and YouTube has caused the disappearance of many of the label’s videos from the viral video site. As music channels such as MTV and BET have shifted their programming focus from videos to reality television, YouTube has become the premier outlet for those who still watch music videos.
Hip Hop artists were already feeling the pinch as physical sales have gotten incrementally lower over the past eight years, and the sales climate has only worsened during the recession. This weekend’s standoff between the two media conglomerates spells at least a temporary end to YouTube videos by T.I., Lupe Fiasco and Plies, (Atlantic) along with Bun B (Asylum) and others. Inside sources believe WMG’s unhappiness with licensing fees for music and videos lies at the heart of the matter.
“We work with the music industry worldwide–with major and independent labels and publishers, rights collecting societies, and with artists and songwriters directly–to build user-friendly licensing arrangements,” stated the YouTube Editorial Team via their official blog. “That said, despite our constant efforts, it isn’t always possible to maintain these innovative agreements. Sometimes, if we can’t reach acceptable business terms, we must part ways with successful partners. For example, you may notice videos that contain music owned by Warner Music Group being blocked from the site.”
In the interim, fans have been advised to use Audioswap and other outlets as an alternative or if they have been given a takedown notice.