Free music is easy to find nowadays. Just head over to YouTube and you can find millions of tracks including many of the most recent releases.
While the music industry profits from the advertisements on many of these videos, it’s not happy with the current state of affairs. Record labels complain about a “value gap” and go as far as accusing the video streaming platform of operating a DMCA protection racket.
YouTube doesn’t agree with this stance and points to the billions of dollars it pays copyright holders. Still, the music industry is far from impressed.
Today, IFPI has released a new music consumer insight report that highlights this issue once again, while pointing out that YouTube accounts for more than half of all music video streaming.
“User upload services, such as YouTube, are heavily used by music consumers and yet do not return fair value to those who are investing in and creating the music. The Value Gap remains the single biggest threat facing the music world today and we are campaigning for a legislative solution,” IFPI CEO Frances Moore writes.
The report also zooms in on piracy and “stream ripping” in particular, which is another YouTube and Google related issue. While this phenomenon is over a decade old, it’s now the main source of music piracy, the report states.
A survey conducted in the world’s leading music industry markets reveals that 35% of all Internet users are stream rippers, up from 30% last year. In total, 40% of all respondents admitted to obtaining unlicensed music.
This means that the vast majority of all music pirates use stream ripping tools. This practice is particularly popular among those in the youngest age group, where more than half of all Internet users admit to ripping music, and it goes down as age increases.
Adding another stab at Google, the report further notes that more than half of all pirates use the popular search engine to find unlicensed music.
TorrentFreak spoke to former RIAA executive Neil Turkewitz, who has been very vocal about the stream ripping problem. He now heads his own consulting group that focuses on expanding economic cultural prosperity, particularly online.
Stream ripping is a “double whammy,” Turkewitz says, as it’s undermining both streaming and distribution markets. This affects the bottom line of labels and artists, so YouTube should do more to block stream rippers and converters from exploiting the service.
“YouTube and Alphabet talk of their commitment to expanding opportunities for creators. This is an opportunity to prove it,” Turkewitz informs TF.
“Surely the company that, as Eric Schmidt likes to say, ‘knows what people want before they know it’ has the capacity to develop tools to address problems that inhibit the development of a robust online market that sustains creators.”
While stream ripping remains rampant, there is a positive development the music industry can cling to.
Two weeks ago the major record labels managed to take down YouTube-MP3, the largest ripping site of all. While this is a notable success, there are many sites and tools like it that continue business as usual.