Does YouTube Underpay Artists 13 Billion a Year? Understanding YouTube’s Article 13 Freakout


Desperate times for YouTube. CEO Susan Wojcicki is currently organizing a Childrens Crusadeagainst EU MEPs by urging YouTubers (mostly US teens) to “take action” to protect her $772 billion dollar company’s swollen profits. You see the EU just proposed guidelines (article 13) requiring platforms like YouTube to stop hiding behind its users and pay musicians fairly.  She thinks that is an outrage and is spreading wild disinformation.

Seems batshit crazy to enlist children in a multinational corporate lobbying effort, until you figure out just how much YouTube is cheating musicians.

A rough calculation suggests YouTube is shorting musicians at least $13 billion a year.   It’s probably way more.  We can’t know the exact amount but it’s pretty easy to figure out the lower range.   Spotify with 160 million users in 2017 paid out at least 2.225 billion in royalties to rights holders (It’s probably a little higher). That’s around $13.90 user. YouTube provides the same service (except with video) and CEO Susan Wojcicki says YouTube has 1 Billion MUSIC users a month. 

So even at Spotify’s low rates that means YouTube should pay $13.9 billion a year.  But YouTube paid less than $500 million to music rights holders last year. The entire US recorded music industry in 2017 was $8.7 billion.  That’s a lot of missing money.

This is Google: Second largest corporation on earth, manipulating children to protect one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history. Disgusting.