Van Halen manager Irving Azoff piles pressure on YouTube

Irving Azoff
Irving Azoff (Image credit: Getty)

Van Halen manager Irving Azoff has called on YouTube to come up with a fairer deal for musicians.

Azoff – who also manages Thirty Seconds To Mars, Steely Dan and Christina Aguilera, among others – has penned an open letter to the video and music streaming site on Recode’s website.

It’s a response to a post on YouTube’s Creator Blog called Setting The Record Straight, which addressed recent comments by Sixx AM, Metallica manager Peter Mensch and others that YouTube was mistreating artists.

Azoff says YouTube’s policy of not allowing artists to opt out of appearing on the site is unfair. YouTube uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to justify its stance, meaning artists have to send YouTube a notice every time one of their songs is uploaded by a different user – a situation Azoff says is “impossible” to stay on top of.

He says: “If YouTube cares about copyright management then join the music business in its efforts to reform the DMCA.

“Or, better yet, you could really prove your love for music by not allowing music on to YouTube unless you ask the creators of that song for permission.

“I know realistically you won’t voluntarily agree to take on the task of asking artists for their permission. So, if you are going to continue to force artists to notify you when an infringing song is on YouTube, once an artist tells you that she wants her song taken off YouTube, you should keep it off. When the artist sends a ‘take down,’ it should be a ‘stay down.’”

He continues: “Before you tell me that you can’t control what is uploaded to YouTube, let me say it seems clear that YouTube can control the content on its platform when it wants to do so.

“It controls its own series programming, and it limits offensive content like pornography. It certainly monitors what people are listening to on YouTube and provides that information to advertisers.

“But when it comes to music, YouTube claims it has no control and can’t keep a song off its platform. You exercise control over content when it is good for your business. But the truth is that, from the beginning, free music consumption drove YouTube’s business, and so YouTube chose not to give artists control over how their music reaches their fans.”

Metallica manager Peter Mensch recently described YouTube as “the devil,” while Sixx AM called on the site to live up to its former motto and “Don’t be evil.” Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke compared YouTube to Nazis, saying they “steal” art.

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Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.