PRS Steps Up Row With YouTube | Billy Bragg, Radiohead, and Bono All Argue The Case

2 min read

The beginning of last week saw YouTube block access to music videos from the UK. This happened because the existing deal between the Google-owned site and the PRS (Performing Right Society) had ended, and negotiations over a new deal broke down.

The two sides are reportedly along way from each other’s positions. YouTube is claiming the PRS is asking for too much money per video play, and failing to provide information over the membership of the PRS and consequently who is going to see this money. The PRS is claiming YouTube needs to pay more and cites increased viewing figures as evidence.

A Situation Unresolved

A week has gone by and the situation seems to be as bad as it ever was. There were reports of a new meeting having taken place in the week which the PRS seemed confident about, saying, “The meeting was positive. We are committed to ensuring our 60,000 songwriter and composers members receive a fair deal and that UK consumers continue to enjoy music videos on YouTube.”

However, at the same time this meeting was happening, the PRS was seemingly invoking its members to come out and fight for it. Musicians such as Billy Bragg, Radiohead, Robbie Williams, and KT Tunstall have now formed the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC). This group is seeking to fight for the rights of songwriters and musicians to get their rightful cut from the industry.

Bragg Brags

Bragg broached the subject of YouTube, telling The Times:

“Google, YouTube’s owner is a company that makes billions in profits; we think they should be paying artist royalties from the advertising revenue they make. A dispute like this illustrates the needs for the creation of the Featured Artists Coalition, so we have a voice and the public understand that sites like Google should be paying for music.”

Bragg doesn’t seem to understand that Google already is paying for the music on YouTube. Every time a video is played, it has to pay a certain amount of money to the record label or artist that owns the copyright. The argument is whether YouTube should pay more than they actually make for the content being on the site in the first place. Which common sense would suggest not.

And Your Solution Is?

While savaging YouTube, Bragg fails to come up with anything approaching a solution. It seems the FAC artists, as well as the PRS want to be paid no matter where the money comes from. And they seem to have forgotten that their music being featured on YouTube is actually making them money.

As TechDirt points out, if Bragg and his fellow artists’ argument holds water, surely they’d be happy with their content disappearing from YouTube. But they’re not, they want it back on there, as well as on all the other video streaming sites on the Internet. They just want to make more money each time their content is watched.

Bono Shows His Ignorance

So where does Bono, mentioned in the title of this article fit in. Well, the last word has to go to the U2 front man, who shows how little he understands about what is going on in the world by telling USA Today:

“People think people like me are overpaid and over nourished, and they’re not wrong. What they’re missing is, how does a songwriter get paid?”

“It’s not the place for rich rock stars to ask for more money, but somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it’s a sacred thing, so I’m a little offended [by illegal downloading].”

“The music business has been thrown to the dogs legislatively. [That will change when] file-sharing of TV shows and movies becomes as easy as songs. Somebody is going to call the cops.”

When “file-sharing of TV shows and movies becomes as easy as songs?” I think you’ll find it already is Mr. Bono sir. Maybe someone needs to point you in the direction of The Pirate Bay, Mininova, and the reams of other torrent file-sharing sites out there.


The point is, musicians, and the organizations supporting them, don’t seem able to grasp that the world is moving on. The old distribution models are either dead or dying, and they can no longer be propped up to add another zero to Bono’s bank account. Until someone on the inside realizes this, then YouTube is going to be a music video-free zone.

Related Ad

Buy ‘U2 – No Line On The Horizon’ on Amazon