Rob Levine, writing for Billboard, looks at the strange place YouTube occupies in the music industry:
Most Internet companies need to get permission from labels in order to use their music — a negotiating dynamic that results in high fees. With services that operate under the DMCA — like YouTube and, until recently, SoundCloud — the dynamic is very different. These services also stream music uploaded by users, and copyright holders who don’t want their content online need to file takedown notices — one for each copy of each song. Instead of selling the rights to music that a service needs, label executives say they’re stuck selling the rights to music that a service essentially already has.
Well, that’s the theory. In practice, it’s more complicated.