YouTube's often controversial Head Of Music Lyor Cohen says in a profile for AdAge that he's developed a simple sales pitch for meetings with artists, managers and labels executives skeptical of the music streamer: "We're going to make you rich and famous."
It's the kind of bold claim that Cohen, who once ran Warner Music Group, is known for.
As the internet's most popular video site, YouTube has come under fire for not returning enough revenue to artists and labels for plays on its ad supported service. Exact number aren't available, but all advertising-supported music streaming combined, including YouTube and Spotify's free service, accounts for less than 7% of U.S. music industry revenue. By contrast, paid music streaming like Apple Music and Spotify Premium account for another 53% or more.
Cohen's plan to turnaround that discrepancy – which Cohen has argued is exaggerated – is centered around getting millions of free users to pay up. Despite two unsuccessful attempts by Google – Play Music and YouTube Red – Cohen is planning to launch a new – likely combined – paid streaming service in the next few months. "I'm claiming next year being the year of music," Cohen said of 2018. "The music business has so much more to gain by working together and building things."
Some are skeptical of Cohen and his plans.
"Lyor believes he has the artist's interest at heart, but he's at the middle of an uneasy marriage between art and commerce," says Bill Hochberg, a lawyer at Greenberg Glusker who works with the estate of Bob Marley. "It's a tightrope act."
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