After a four year legal battle with over 3,000 independent music publishers, YouTube has agreed to pay licensing fees to the National Music Publishers Association. While this doesn't affect YouTube's preexisting contracts with the four major labels, it does change the way YouTube and its parent company, Google, will monetize user-generated videos.
Since YouTube is arguably one of the biggest music streaming sites in the world, this is good news for fans of the service because this development means the site will continue being able to offer its odd selection of homemade music videos. It also means we'll be seeing ads on everything, as the agreement was very specific about monetizing user-generated videos, arguably YouTube's largest portion of recorded works.
This is essentially the same deal YouTube offered the major labels over the last few years, but this first time it will be applied to the independent labels and artists. This doesn't just apply to fan uploaded music videos, but also to slideshows and even cover songs. So if you have a recording of yourself playing a Pavement song in a coffee shop on acoustic guitar, YouTube can now advertise on it and distribute the money across labels. The same goes for mashup videos of Cookie Monster singing Tom Waits.
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This ultimately translates to more ads on everything -- but at least the artists will get paid for their work, regardless of how it ends up on YouTube. It's a bigger deal than you might think. An average of 40 percent of YouTube visitors watched a music video in the month of July. The biggest content provider, Vevo, saw 59.7 million unique visitors, which was around 20 percent of YouTube's overall number. Warner Music Group was second, with 31.2 million unique visitors.