Hard rock band Sixx:A.M. has started a campaign, likely to be swiftly echoed by other star musicians, urging to pay artists more when their clips appear on its video-sharing site YouTube.
The band is urging the technology giant to remember its former corporate slogan “Don’t Be Evil” and stick to the current motto of “Do The Right Thing.”
Sixx:A.M. is releasing its fourth album (Prayers For The Damned Volume I, due out on April 29), trailed by the single “Rise” and following immediately with an international tour going on sale, starting with U.S. dates, so it says it can use the promoters’ marketing money to create a larger platform to get the message out. Having a record company that generates publicity helps it to speak about issues – specifically what it calls “the crisis with the music business and YouTube.”
The comments are the first big push by artists in person and may well open up a new phase of the long-running debate over the amount of compensation by YouTube. Some record labels have for months said that YouTube payments are a fraction of those by Apple Music and Spotify. It is argued that money of about a sixth of others is putting the whole industry at risk.
The trio said in a statement: “We are the lucky ones, like so many veteran artists, who came up in an era where there was much more income from record sales. Today, streaming is a fraction of income from that time. This is not about us.” Nikki Sixx came to fame as bass guitarist and main songwriter for Mötley Crüe; DJ Ashba played guitar in Guns N’ Roses and singer James Michael was a successful writer and producer.
James Michael adds in an interview: “It would be very easy for us to kind of keep quiet and go on about our lives and we would be just fine. But as lovers of music who have benefited greatly from this amazing industry, we look at the potential for really frightening things to happen to the future of music. That does not sit well with us.”
While YouTube has been insistent that it has paid out billions of dollars, documentaries on the subject are continuing. An artist-led awareness campaign (watch this space, they say) may prove to be a powerful mover of public opinion.
“First, we want to say that we are huge fans of YouTube and Google and we use both of them all the time to the point where it is actually quite humorous,” Sixx says in the same interview. Michael adds that Google’s market capitalization exceeds $500 billion, the second highest in the world, while the entire music industry is worth about $15 billion; Google is the top search engine and top place to look for music; music is the top subscribed channel on YouTube with 93 million subscribers – figures that came, of course, from Google, he says. The company is busy with ambitious projects such as building driverless cars while not paying artists fully, he said.