YouTube, along with any other streaming service, has caught flack for how much money it pays to artists per play — which, really, we don’t know. YouTube has never said how much it pays artists per play, and there’s never really been a concrete number for how much artists can get for putting their music on the site.
Robert Kyncl, the chief business officer for YouTube, recently wrote a blog post, though, to reveal YouTube has paid over $1 billion to the music industry over the 12 months.
“After several tough years of declining revenues, the industry started growing again, spurred in large part by the growth of music streaming subscriptions,” Kyncl wrote. “As more advertising dollars shift from TV, radio and print to online services, the music industry will generate even more revenue from ads.”
(Notice the “after several tough years of declining revenues” line as a scapegoat for not revealing an amount in the past?)
One billion dollars is a massive number, but it doesn’t quite clear up how much each individual artist gets. This could mean they paid a massive sum to a label, then they split the money up how they want — maybe keeping most of it and paying a fraction to its artists.
Spotify‘s number is somewhat quantifiable. The Guardian reported that, after the label takes a share, an artist gets about $0.002 per play (which still isn’t shit).
The fight over getting paid more for their music is a fight artists will probably have to fight long after YouTube’s biggest impact has passed. But for now, we hope they get as much paper as they can.