Trent Reznor, frontman for industrial rock project Nine-Inch Nails and overall music icon, has recently sat down for an interview with Billboard Magazine, following Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and stated some harsh words regarding the video platform YouTube’s business model, describing as “very disingenuous” and that “It is built on the backs of free, stolen content”.
According to Rolling Stone, Reznor, who recently became chief creative officer at Apple for the new Apple Music system, had sat alongside Jimmy Iovine and Apple’s Eddy Cue for the interview in order to discuss the direction in which the music industry is moving today and what is the future for musical artist. Trent believes that YouTube is a major source of the problem for artist these days who are trying to make a living, and that the only money being made is by the video platform, claiming “I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly.” Continuing on to discuss what Apple Music is providing and how it allows for better paid content sharing “We’re trying to build a platform that provides an alternative — where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes.”
However, YouTube was quick to respond to the comments, one of their spokesperson reached out to Pitchfork to with a statement “The overwhelming majority of labels and publishers have licensing agreements in place with YouTube to leave fan videos up on the platform and earn revenue from them. Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 percent of the music industry’s YouTube revenue,” read the statement. “Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false.” continuing on to point out that their website has paid over $3 billion to the music industry for its content.
As the interview went on, Reznor added his take on emerging technology and what it does to the industry, believing that what was once an old novelty of going to the record store, has now quickly been replaced with the click of a “free” button. “The last 10 years or so have felt depressing because avenues are shutting down. Little shrines to music lovers – record shops – are disappearing,” Reznor said. “And every time there’s a new innovation, the musician is the one that didn’t have a voice at the table about how it’s presented. I thought, if I could make a place where there could be more opportunities, and it comes with more fertile ground, and music is treated with a bit more with respect, that interests me. It’s not, “Oh, I hope I get on that taco commercial.”
The multi-talented musician and producer warns musicians not to ignore the music in the growing digital age. Not to make it a problem but rather a solution “I went through a period of pointing fingers and being the grumpy, old, get-off-my-lawn guy,” he said. “But then you realize, let’s adapt and figure out how to make this better instead of just complain about it.”