Trent Reznor on YouTube: "It Is Built on the Backs of Free, Stolen Content"

Trent Reznor on YouTube: 'It Is Built on the Backs of Free, Stolen Content'
We've entered the streaming renaissance in 2016, with big time albums from Beyoncé, Drake, Chance the Rapper and Rihanna all having made their premieres through various platforms. Some people, though, are opting to limit their own streaming experience to YouTube, which Apple Music Chief Creative Officer and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor is now calling out in a new interview. Specifically, he says that the video service was "built on the backs of free, stolen content."

The condemnation was made in an interview with Reznor and various Apple figures, which looks back on the first year of the tech company's Apple Music service. Reznor, in particular, has been hands on with the project, wanting artists to be more in control of their content than they are with YouTube, where anyone can upload material, regardless of copyright law.

"Personally, I find YouTube's business to be very disingenuous," Reznor told Billboard. "It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that's how they got that big. 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. That's how I feel about it. Strongly. 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."

While the Nine Inch Nails founder noted that he "went through a period of pointing fingers and being the grumpy, old, get-off-my-lawn guy," Apple Music is his chance to put forth something to compete with YouTube, as well as other streaming services.

"I'm not looking at the financials as much, but through [the lens] of a consumer," he said. "When Jimmy [Iovine] and I first sat down years ago, it was very clear that the future is streaming. And I bring to that the burden and legacy of having come from the system before that, where livelihood could be made selling physical products and life made sense, you knew who the enemies were and you knew how to get your music out... And in this state of disruption, what interests me most as an artist, and what has been great about working with Jimmy before Apple and within the Apple ecosystem, is trying to bring that sense of opportunity to the musician."

In response to Reznor's words, a YouTube spokesperson had this to say:

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. 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. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry — and that number is growing year on year.

Apple Music is by no means the, ahem, "Only" option for music listeners in the streaming age, but the company's first 12 months have roped in 15 million paid subscribers.

In related news, you can read Exclaim!'s recent Essential Guide to Nine Inch Nails over here.