Neil Young: YouTube must respect artists

Rocker says YouTube doesn't compensate music artists equally or fairly and says Warner acts are penalized.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
Neil Young wants YouTube to cut deals with the four big labels that would compensate artists equally. Neilyoung.com

Update 9:20 p.m. PT: To include YouTube's response.

Neil Young wants to remind YouTube that Rockin' in the Free World isn't free.

The iconic musician, whose hits include "Harvest Moon," "Cinnamon Girl," and "Rockin' in the Free World," says in a blog post that YouTube doesn't fairly compensate acts represented by Warner Music Group.

Young is referring to the spat that erupted in January between Warner Music and YouTube. The two companies couldn't come to terms on a new licensing agreement and Warner Music's content was pulled from YouTube.

"YouTube has a responsibility to respect the artists it facilitates and resist punishing them to make a business point," Young wrote at his site, Neilyoung.com.

YouTube responded to Young's criticism Monday evening by noting the company "connects music, musicians, and fans. We have deals with all of the other major record labels...It is the record labels' responsibility to represent and pay their artists."

Representatives from Warner Music could not reached for comment.

In the past, YouTube has struck separate licensing agreements with each of the top four record labels. The Google-owned company is amid renegotiating those deals. In 2006, Warner was first among the labels to partner with YouTube. The other labels signed later but negotiated better terms, according to numerous industry sources.

Now, Warner wants what competitors received. Presumably, YouTube isn't offering all of them.

"It is time for industry-wide standards of artist's compensation on the Web," Young wrote. "Warner Bros. artists deserve what artists from other labels are getting."