As YouTube prepares to roll out an ad-free streaming music service, it will block videos from indie artists who don't sign up for the new offering, as originally reported by Financial Times. YouTube has signed deals with the major labels, and is explicitly threatening to block artists from using the entire YouTube platform — free or paid — if they do not agree to the terms of the new streaming service.
The FT quotes Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, confirming that the service plans to block videos from any artists or labels who have not signed on to its new paid service, "to ensure that all content on the platform is governed by its new contractual terms."
The Guardian points out that this would affect a number of big-name artists, potentially eliminating names like Jack White, Adele, and Arctic Monkeys from YouTube. A YouTube spokesman told The Verge, "Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry. We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind — to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year. We are excited that hundreds of major and independent labels are already partnering with us."
A source familiar with the situation has confirmed to The Verge that most of the details in the FT story were accurate. YouTube does not want to launch a paid service and then be forced to show some videos in ad-supported mode, or offer users the ability to take videos offline, but not be able to offer that for big names like Adele or Jack White. It is going to begin blocking artists whose labels have not signed on to its new licensing terms in the countries where those deals apply starting within just a few days, although the paid service is not expected to roll out that soon.