Key Music / Music Industry / Streaming

Key Music, Locked Out?


YouTube’s new streaming service Key Music seems to be making an uproar. One artist in particular Zoe Keating has truly exposed the harsh demands of YouTube’s contract for their upcoming Key Music streaming service. Keating states that a Google YouTube Rep contacted her about their new contract and terms. Zoe says the Rep was very nice and took the time to explain everything clearly. However, the message was firm; if she did not sign the new music services agreement Keating’s YouTube channel would be blocked.

Keating’s told the Rep that she was happy with her YouTube’s Content ID account and would like to stay with the service that YouTube was already providing and not partake in the Key Music service. The rep told Keating that YouTube could not have music in the free version that is not in the paid version. The rep explained it would be bad for their users and that all music would have to be licensed under this new agreement.

This new music service contract covers the Content ID account and Youtube’s streaming service, Key Music. Here are some of the terms that I have problems with (In Keating’s words):

1) All of my catalog must be included in both the free and premium music service. Even if I don’t deliver all my music, because I’m a music partner, anything that a 3rd party uploads with my info in the description will be automatically included in the music service too.

2) All songs will be set to “monetize”, meaning there will be ads on them.

3) I will be required to release new music on YouTube at the same time I release it anywhere else. So no more releasing to my core fans first on Bandcamp and then on iTunes.

4) All my catalog must be uploaded at high resolution, according to Google’s standard, which is currently 320 kbps.

5) The contract lasts for 5 years.

Keating was introduced to the Content ID when a representative from YouTube reached out to her. People started using her music for films, videos, slide shows, animations, and art projects. Keating’s music was even used in the demo reel for Game of Thrones, which reached a million viewers. She really enjoyed the ability to see how people were using her music. The Content ID also gave her the control to monetize and reject the use of her music, which she states she never did unless it was used by hate groups and unauthorized product advertisements. Keating also pointed out that the production crew for Game of Thrones should have acquired a synchronization license, however she believes that many professionals don’t know much about synchronization. Without Content ID she wouldn’t be able to track the usage of her content on YouTube. The overall problem is that Keating isn’t getting paid for the usage and second, which is the biggest problem, she isn’t getting credit for her work.

Days after Keating exposed YouTube’s unfair music streaming contract, YouTube fired back. They stated that Keating made fraudulent claims. YouTube said Keating was able to just use Content ID without joining Key Music, making it seem that Keating was lying about her statements. Keating fought back with the release of a transcript conversation with the YouTube Google representative that informed her of the unfair contract.

Keating should be viewed as a hero to the music community. She exposed and expressed her problems with YouTube’s Key Music contract that many artists would have common problems with. In her release of her discrepancies she showed true transparency. I said it a number of times, artists need to unite and rise up against unjust business practices and payouts. After all, there is no music business without music. I feel that this is the year of music business rebellion. So stand up and take your place.