Sharleen Spiteri criticises YouTube's 'take it or leave it' music licensing deals

Texas star Sharleen Spiteri is supporting independent labels in their row with YouTube over licensing negotiations for its upcoming Spotify-style music subscription service.

"Songwriters fully support independent record labels in their fight to get better terms and deals from YouTube. It’s about time we all made some noise about the way they negotiate with take-it-or-leave-it deals," said Spiteri, in a statement released by British songwriters body BASCA.

"It might be a little easier for writers like myself who also perform, but for those who do not and now have to rely on streaming income, the current rates are just not enough."

Independent labels – through trade association WIN – have been in a public dispute with YouTube for several weeks.

WIN claims that Google's online video service has sent its members non-negotiable contracts offering worse terms than those agreed by major labels, backed up by a threat to remove their videos from YouTube if they do not sign up.

For its part, YouTube claims that labels representing 95% of the recorded music industry are already on board for the new subscription service, which will launch later in the year following internal tests.

BASCA, which published Spiteri's statement, is also enlisting other British songwriters to support the labels, including Barry Mason, whose compositions include Tom Jones' Delilah.

"Someone must be making money out of the music on You Tube but it certainly isn't the people who write the songs," said Mason. "Delilah would need to be streamed roughly 113,250 times for [co-writer] Les Reed and I to earn enough for a coffee each at Starbucks."

BASCA's chairman Simon Darlow, who also co-wrote hits for the likes of Grace Jones, Cliff Richard and Toyah, attacked YouTube's use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in its dealings with labels, publishers and music collecting societies.

"BASCA is against NDAs which hide what appear to be poor streaming rates for songwriters and composers. We cannot afford to let these practices undermine the value of songwriting and composing and leave the music industry with a talent drain which will affect the UK both culturally and financially," he said.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that YouTube is delaying its planned removal of channels belonging to labels that have not signed up to its new service, raising hopes of an amicable solution.

Indie licensing agency Merlin is also thought to still be in talks with YouTube over a wider deal for its label members.

While YouTube is not commenting publicly on the latest developments in these negotiations, the company has been trying to stress its positive side for musicians: revealing plans for new features including crowdfunding, and launching a new Music Artists and Album Promotion section on its Creator Academy website.

From YouTube to Amazon, hold tech innovators to accountPowered by article was written by Stuart Dredge, for on Tuesday 8th July 2014 10.19 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010