Peter Mensch, the manager of world-renowned music bands including Metallica, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Muse, has described YouTube as “the devil” to the music industry.
“YouTube, they’re the devil,” he told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the business of music industry. “We don’t get paid at all.”
He argued that the current model used by companies such as YouTube, where artists generate revenue from advertising rather than the sale of the music, will eventually kill off the music industry.
“If someone doesn’t do something about YouTube, we’re screwed,” he said. “It’s over. Someone turn off the lights.”
According to the annual report of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) streaming sites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Daily Motion have an estimated 900 million users between them, with revenues of $634m in 2015.
Meanwhile, roughly 68 million people pay for music subscription services worldwide, but they accounted for $2 bn in sales for the industry.
“The market-distorting value gap must be resolved if music is to thrive in the long term,” the report said, adding that it hoped to achieve a legislative solution.
In response to Mensch’s criticism, YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl argued the reason artists weren’t getting revenue streams from YouTube was a result of agreements they had with their record labels.
“It really depends on what is the flow of the money from us to you,” he said.
“The artists who are signed up directly with YouTube are seeing great returns,” he said. “Not everybody – but if you’re generating a lot of viewership, you’re making a lot of money.”
It was 15 years ago that Metallica, who Mensch manages, successfully sued Napster in a case that gained national prominence.
The issue surrounded Napster’s alleged breach of copyright with its file sharing system which enabled users to get music for free.
Many argue the case marked the move towards the access of music on the Internet that has locked the music and technology industry into conflict ever since.