YouTube is asking musicians to agree to non-disparagement clauses in exchange for promotional support, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg. While non-disparagement clauses can be more common in partnerships or spokesperson deals, it is not a norm within the music industry and YouTube’s biggest competitors in this arena don’t use them. Over the past few months, YouTube has worked with select artists to promote their work by way of producing music videos and placing them on billboards.
The report states the campaign’s purpose is to help YouTube build a bridge with the music industry, and that non-disparagement clauses are a safeguard to keep these artists from saying negative things about the company. They also say the agreements apply to partners who make original series for its paid service and “go beyond a requirement not to criticize the video site.” What exactly that means is not explained.
YouTube’s new music streaming service, Remix, is rumored to start this March, and the launch is contingent on the company coming to agreeable deals with all three of the big music publishers. The music industry has put pressure on YouTube for years, criticizing its payouts to musicians and labels, as well as its lenient approach toward dealing with copyright infringing music streams uploaded as video. In 2016, 180 artists (including Taylor Swift and Kings of Leon) signed a petition asking for “sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment.”