Google Releases Study Defending YouTube's Value To Music Biz; Trade Bodies Hit Back
A Google commissioned report finds that YouTube may actually be driving up artist sales despite low pay-outs.This article originally appeared on Billboard
A Google-commissioned report into how YouTube impacts on the wider music economy has—somewhat unsurprisingly—found that the hugely popular, yet much-maligned platform significantly drives sales and stops users from visiting pirate music services.
According to a European study carried out by RBB Economics, if music content was removed from YouTube around 85 percent of the time that users spend on the platform would switch to lower value channels, such as TV, radio or internet radio.
RBB claimed there would also be a significant increase in time spent listening to pirated content (up 29 percent), while only 15 percent of heavy users, defined as someone who watches more than 20 hours of music videos per month, would switch to higher value offerings like subscription streaming services. In the U.K., that number increases to 19 percent; in France it’s 12 percent.
The report also looked at data from Germany, where a long-running dispute between YouTube and performing rights society GEMA meant that a large volume of music content was not available on the platform for many years. That stand-off was resolved in Nov. 2016, but before-and-after analysis by RBB found that, in general, blocking on YouTube had no effect on a track's performance on streaming services.
To compile the study, entitled “Value of YouTube to the music industry, Paper I: Cannibalization,” RBB analyzed responses from a 1,500 person user survey, as well as data on YouTube views and streams on audio platforms of approximately 5,000 tracks in four European countries – Germany, France, Italy and the U.K - over a three year period. More papers looking at YouTube’s role in the digital marketplace will follow in the coming weeks.
"Our research examines the question of cannibalization and finds that in the absence of YouTube, most time spent listening to music would be lost or move to similar or lower value channels, including file sharing and piracy,” said Patrick Smith, partner at RBB Economics, in statement accompanying the report.
Cover photo courtesy of Jenny Tobien/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images