London – 4th June 2014

WIN, FAC and IMPALA issue urgent call for regulatory intervention from the EC

Artists join YouTube protest as dispute escalates

The ongoing dispute between The Worldwide Independent Network, (WIN), which represents the global independent music community, and YouTube has further escalated, with the Google-owned company refusing to withdraw its threats to labels unwilling to sign up to its new music streaming service on what WIN has previously called “highly unfavourable terms.”

YouTube continues to approach individual independent labels directly with a non-negotiable template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.

The Featured Artists Coalition, representing numerous high profile musicians as well as emerging artists, has also joined WIN in calling for measures to stop YouTube abusing its market power over independent music companies and artists.

The independent sector will confirm at a press conference in London today that it is seeking formal regulatory action and will look to the European Commission (EC) for emergency assistance.

IMPALA, the European independents association, will be spearheading a complaint with the European Commission, a decision taken this weekend by the IMPALA board in Barcelona at Primavera, the leading music festival where over 90% of the artists are independent. The complaint will include a request for urgent intervention to stop YouTube carrying out any blocking measures or issuing new threats.  Regulatory action is seen as an essential safeguard against abusive conduct and to promote real competition and diversity in the digital music market.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, said “YouTube is behaving like a dinosaur, attempting to censor what it doesn’t like. This is completely out of synch in Europe where the EC has systematically insisted that European citizens should be able to access the cultural diversity and choice they demand. Europe has already had to take a tough line with Google on issues such as search and privacy. Prompt intervention with YouTube must be the next step.”

Musician Billy Bragg added, “YouTube are shooting themselves in the foot with their attempt to strong-arm independent labels into signing up to such low rates. They’re in danger of launching a streaming service that lacks the innovative and cutting edge sounds that independent artists bring. Would music fans be willing to pay for such an inferior product? I don’t think so.”

FAC Co-Chair, Ed O’Brien from Radiohead said, “Indie artists and labels are at the cutting edge of the future of music.  To restrict them in this way is to risk creating an internet just for the superstars and big businesses.  Without the innovation and risk-taking of the Indie Sector we lose a vital ingredient in pushing us all forward.”

Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN and Chairman of AIM (Association of Independent Music, UK), said “We will start this process in Europe with IMPALA referring YouTube to the EC for urgent regulatory action, which will be the first step in a global campaign.  Our fellow trade associations around the world, representing tens of thousands of independent companies, also take issue with the actions of YouTube towards the most creative sector in the music industry. We must therefore do everything we can to protect the independent sector from the actions of one very powerful company, which seeks to railroad content owners, and by association their artists, into unfair and unjust contracts while threatening to block access to their platform. “

Mark Chung, a board member of German independent music trade association Verband unabhängiger Musikunternehmen (VUT) added: “If there ever was a need for further evidence of Google’s willingness and ability to abuse its market dominance, this is a particularly blatant and despicable case. Coming from a corporation whose armies of lobbyists, PR agents and paid bloggers tirelessly spin their corporate interests as supporting “free speech” and opposing “censorship”, the removal of legal music videos with the objective of extending the corporation’s dominance to a further young, fledging market is beyond cynical beyond cynical. We look to Joaquin Almunia to move to resolve this. Of course the wider Google issue will also require adequate new regulatory legislation and serious consideration of a break-up of this spying, lying and out-of-control monopoly.”

For further information:

Andy Saunders at Velocity Communications

Telephone: + 44 (0) 207 060 9111

Mobile: +44 (0 7939 133050


IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent European independent music companies. One of IMPALA’s missions is to keep the music market as open and competitive as possible. IMPALA has an impressive record on competition cases in the music sector. The first EMI/Warner merger was withdrawn in 2001 following objections from the EU after IMPALA intervened, in its first year of existence. It also won a landmark judgment in 2006 in the Sony/BMG case, and when Sony acquired 30% of EMI publishing in 2012, it was at the cost of significant divestments. The biggest set of remedies proportionately ever in a merger case was secured later that year, when UMG was forced to sell two thirds of EMI records and had to accept ten years of scrutiny over the terms of its digital deals. When WMG bought Parlophone in 2013, IMPALA secured a hefty divestments package for its members. On top of mergers, IMPALA has also been involved in other anti-trust cases involving the music sector, such as the abuse complaint against YouTube in 2014 and the call for regulating unfair business practices by large online players. IMPALA has also submitted observations on Apple’s bid to acquire Shazam.  See the organisation’s other key achievements in IMPALA’s milestones.

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

Coudenberg 70, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

+32 2 503 31 38