YouTube Paid $1 Billion in Ad Revenue to Music Industry in Last Year

Site has been criticized for underpaying artists despite being a massively popular home to watch music videos

YouTube announced in a Tuesday morning blog post that it has paid more than $1 billion to the music industry generated solely from advertising, responding to criticism from prominent voices in the business who have attacked the site for the “meager” revenues it has delivered to artists even as their videos rack up millions of views.

In the post, YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kynci highlighted the growth of subscription services like Spotify — while pointing out that they can coexist with ad-supported music.

“Last year was a bright one for music — after several tough years of declining revenues, the industry started growing again, spurred in large part by the growth of music streaming subscriptions,” Kynci wrote. “This year, the industry has even more reasons to be optimistic. Even as music subscriptions have been growing faster than any other subscription type, advertising is another powerful driver of revenue. In fact, in the last 12 months, YouTube has paid out over $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone, demonstrating that multiple experiences and models are succeeding alongside each other.”

At TheWrap’s TheGrill conference in September at the Montage Beverly Hills, legendary music manager Irving Azoff hammered YouTube as “really evil,” blasting what he saw as the site’s lack of respect for intellectual property in not removing copyright-violating videos quickly enough. A YouTube spokesperson responded by saying that nearly all of the site’s claims come through its automated Content ID system, which works “incredibly well,” far exceeding the claims manually reported by record labels.

Later in September, YouTube hired former Def Jam president Lyor Cohen as its global head of music, a move applauded by Azoff.