YouTube Launches "Foundry" Initiative to Develop Music Talent

YouTube - H 2015

YouTube says it gives artists new tools and guidance on how to successfully grow their presence on the video platform.

YouTube has informally launched an initiative to develop music talent under the name "YouTube Music Foundry," which gives artists new tools and guidance on how to successfully grow their presence on the video platform, according to YouTube. All Foundry content is available for free on the main site as well as on the YouTube Music app.

The Foundry program is one of many the company has created over the last several years to assist artists and the music industry in producing and optimizing content. Among the tools artists are learning to use now include live video production, a rapidly growing technology that over the last several years has grown exponentially with the ascent of Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat and other social media technologies with video. (Facebook recently announced it was making live video streaming tools more widely available for its users.)

Thus far, there have been two two-day Foundry sessions — one in Los Angeles in September and another in London in December. An upcoming New York session will be held on April 25 with BJ the Chicago Kid, Gemaine, The Range, Built by Titan and Miracles of Modern Science.

Billboard confirmed a report, which Bloomberg first reported, that YouTube is reaching out to the music industry to discuss deeper collaborations to better promote artists and encourage exclusive content, which is something of a continuous YouTube initiative. 

While historically the music business and YouTube have been at odds over the site's inability to curb piracy and adequately monetize content, that has improved to some degree with the site's introduction of its Content ID system, which enabled copyright owners to better identify and monetize videos and also streamline the takedown process for infringing content.

In October, the video platform announced YouTube Red, an all-in-one subscription service for $9.99 a month offering users ad-free videos and music, original content and offline play which — depending on subscription adaption numbers (which have yet to be released) — should help the industry's bottom line.

With the music industry and YouTube currently re-negotiating licenses, the industry has made recent statements expressing its dissatisfaction with ad-supported revenue model. The RIAA, IFPI and Warner Music Group have all used the term “value gap” to describe the difference between YouTube’s royalty rates and rates paid by comparable services.

There is also consternation over Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which lays out the “safe harbor” rules that protects digital service providers from their users’ infringing activity, which rights holders say also eats into their bottom line. Yesterday, in fact, the digital head of the European Union Andrus Ansip called on YouTube to pay artists more.

YouTube, for its part, argues music only makes up a small part of its content and parent company Google claims to have paid out $3 billion to copyright holders, according to a report in the Financial Times. The platform also continues to make good will gestures to the music business opening up its YouTube Spaces with their high-tech production facilities to artists and the industry, presenting artist showcases at SXSW, Coachella and elsewhere, offering its YouTube Music Insights tools to help with optimization and its investment in Vevo, a premium music content site co-owned with Sony Music and the Universal Music Group.

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