Trent Reznor is the latest musician to denounce streaming services’ free platforms. Joining artists like Taylor Swift and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, the Nine Inch Nails frontman took YouTube to task in a Billboard interview from Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, calling the video hub’s business “very disingenuous.”
“It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big,” Reznor said. “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.”
The 51-year-old singer, who serves as Apple Music’s Chief Creative Officer, recently oversaw the paid subscription service’s redesign. He offered the tech giant’s approach as a substitute for free sites like YouTube and Spotify.
“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,” Reznor said.
Shortly after Reznor’s remarks began to circulate, YouTube responded to his accusations in a statement to Pitchfork. A representative for the company refuted Reznor’s claims that YouTube left unlicensed videos online to build revenue, and asserted that the website has paid over $3 billion to the music industry since its 2005 launch.
“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,” the statement read. “Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 percent of the music industry’s YouTube revenue. Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false.”
Reznor has yet to respond to YouTube’s rebuttal.