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Warner Music has agreed to make its library of music videos available to YouTube, marking the first time that an established record company has agreed to distribute its content through the user-generated media company.
Under the agreement, YouTube users will have full access to videos from Warner artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna. They will also be permitted incorporate material from those videos into the clips that they create and upload to YouTube. Warner and YouTube will share advertising revenue sold in connection with the video content.
The agreement reflects a divergence of opinion in the record industry about how to deal with YouTube, a recent start-up that now streams more than 100m video clips a day. Last week, Universal Music, the largest record company, threatened to sue YouTube for copyright infringement and said it was owed tens of millions of dollars because the site hosted their content without permission.
However, Warner has taken a different approach. Last month it became the first music label to partner with YouTube by launching a “brand channel” where users can view branded content on a specially designed YouTube page. The channel, which was set up to promote sales of “Paris”, the debut album by Paris Hilton, the celebrity hotel heiress, was funded in part by advertisements for a television series by Fox Broadcasting.
“Consumer-empowering destinations like YouTube have created a two-way dialogue that will transform entertainment and media forever,” said Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Warner’s chief executive.
For YouTube, the agreement represents an attempt to commercialise a site that has become the leading destination for viewing short-form video online but has yet to generate much revenue.
“Partnering with Warner Music Group is one of the most significant milestones for our company and our community, and shifts the paradigm in this new media movement,” said Chad Hurley, YouTube’s chief executive and co-founder. “By providing a new distribution opportunity, we are paving the way for media companies to harness the vast financial potential of user-generated content on YouTube.”
Sunday’s deal will coincide with the rollout by YouTube of a new filtering technology designed to monitor content from partners like Warner across its site. That technology will help determine royalties for artists and other rights holders. It will also allow YouTube to remove user-generated clips based on Warner material that the company deems offensive.