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Is a recent interview, VEVO boss Rio Caraeff revealed that after just 2 years the music video provider had generated $150 million in revenue in 2011. In fact, Caraeff envisions $1 billion in revenue within a “short period of time”. But independent publishers and songwriters have not received any payments at all, according to Songs Music Publishing CEO Matt Pincus.
“Vevo doesn’t pay us because the major record companies have warranted that they have the right to license songs to Vevo on behalf of publishers, backing up that claim with an indemnity,” Pincus wrote in an op-ed published by The Wrap. “So, Vevo pays the major record labels, and the record labels take on the responsibility to pass through an accounting to the publishers, as they do with iTunes track sales. The problem is, the labels don’t do that. They simply sit on the money.”
To illustrate his point Pincus offers that his company publishes a current Top 10 song, “Rack City” by the rapper Tyga” “We are getting paid directly from YouTube for a video that a kid made of himself lip-synching the song with his grandmother dancing in the background. Somewhat nonsensically, we are not getting paid from the official video featuring Tyga that was produced by Universal Records.”
The labels point to a vague clause in the “The Controlled Composition Clause” which in essence grants labels free synchronization licenses to use music videos for promotional uses – i.e. uses for which the labels are not directly paid. Some call this the MTV clause because it allowed the video network to air music videos without paying labels, publishers or artists. But Vevo is paid for it’s stream as is YouTube, where Vevo makes up 40% of the content.
“The major record labels, which are all owned by corporations that also own publishing companies (and two of whom have equity stakes in Vevo) receive money from Vevo,” explains Pincus. “So, major publishers are, directly and/or indirectly, getting paid royalties by major labels. Meanwhile, independent publishers are not getting anything.”