When YouTube first arrived in 2006, people flocked to the site to watch videos of cats, babies, and stunts gone awry, and, in those early days–no one imagined that YouTube would, and could, eventually upend the entire music business.
Since the, YouTube and record labels have existed in what could best be described as an uneasy truce: labels and artists loved the hundreds of millions (and even billions) of views that videos would amass–but balked that they were receiving little to no compensation from the broadcasting behemoth.
However, things may be turning a corner, even if it’s temporary: the NY Times reports that YouTube recently disclosed paying out over $4 billion in ad-generated and subscription-based revenue to songwriters, musicians, and music companies.
This revenue creates an uneasy truce between labels, musicians, and the website: it’s no longer viewed as “Darth Vader,” as some have called it, but maybe viewed now as a necessary evil: it’s out of the hot seat for the moment, but critics still complain it’s still pays too little per click and that it generally devalues the art form by not cracking down on pirated versions of songs.
It will be interesting to see where things go from here: how and when YouTube will continue to divvy up their profits with content creators, and how labels, artists, musicians, and publishers will reconcile dealing with technology that simultaneously promotes their music while upending the industry itself.