YouTube bulks up music offering


Many already know if you want to listen to just about any song quickly and for free, YouTube is the easiest and quickest way to do it. Now the Google service is capitalizing on that, making itself more welcoming to independent labels and musicians.

On 10/17, YouTube unveiled a new feature called the Merch Store that allows users to purchase fan merchandise directly on an artist’s YouTube channel. On 10/10 YouTube announced a long-awaited deal with global rights agency Merlin, which represents some 14,000 independent labels. Until recently, that catalog was mostly driven by major labels including Sony Music, EMI Group, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. In August, YouTube relaunched its music page, adding local concert listings, curated playlists and the YouTube Top 100.

YouTube told The AP the music industry as a whole is making “hundreds of millions of dollars annually from having their content on YouTube” and that music ad revenue on YouTube for the major record labels has more than doubled year after year.

Those announcements follow deals with indie labels such as the Beggars Group (includes Vampire Weekend), Merge Records (includes Arcade Fire) and a settlement earlier this year with the National Music Publishers’ Association on royalties for music publishers.

That has made YouTube an important digital realm for independent labels, too, for a percentage of ad revenue, and now, opportunities for merchandise and ticket sales. Bands and labels’ YouTube channel pages often offer downloads, T-shirts, concert tickets and more.

“Those labels and the artists they represent now have a powerful monetization opportunity on what has become pretty clearly a significant music destination on the Web,” harles Caldas, CEO of Merlin, told The AP.