Trent Reznor called YouTube’s business model “very disingenuous” in a new interview following Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) presentation. Speaking to Billboard alongside Jimmy Iovine and Apple’s Eddy Cue, Reznor, who serves as Apple Music’s Chief Creative Officer, discussed the future of streaming, vinyl and why he’s not a fan of YouTube.
“It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big,” the Nine Inch Nails singer said of Google’s video website. “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. 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.”
On Wednesday, a YouTube spokesperson responded to Reznor’s remarks saying that the website has paid over $3 billion to the music industry, to Pitchfork. “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.”
Reznor said musicians cannot ignore music in the digital age anymore: “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.”
“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.”