Rick Astley only earned $12 in royalties for his song Never Going To Give You Up being played on YouTube.
The way payment works between performers and broadcasters is that the broadcaster pays the performer royalties for use of their music. On YouTube, that is a process that becomes much messier and much more inconsistent. With users constantly adding new videos, and including music that they may not have a right too, it’s hard for musicians to get paid for music on Youtube.
Even when a musician does get payment, it isn’t the payment typical of that given by the average broadcaster. Rick Astley’s song Never Going to Give You Up has been played more than 39 million times on YouTube. Despite its popularity, Astley has received on $12 in royalties for the music, a pathetic amount.
Song songwriter organizations, including GEMA in Germany are trying to fight a battle in court to force YouTube to detect all illegal downloads to YouTube.
The organizations argue that YouTube has the duty to apply recognition technology to identify when music is uploaded illegally. It isn’t an easy technical issue to fix, but with YouTube’s power and computer engineers it should be doable.