The musician made the comments in a new interview conducted around the one-year anniversary of the launch of Apple Music. Reznor has been working with the music network since it acquired Beats, where he was previously Chief Creative Officer.
“Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous,” he 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.”
He continued: “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.”
A YouTube spokesperson has now denied Reznor’s claims in a statement issued to NME, saying: “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.”
Reznor also said he was looking at Apple Music “through [the eyes] of a consumer”. “When Jimmy [Iovine, Apple Music executive] and I first sat down years ago, it was very clear that the future is streaming,” Reznor explained. “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.”
“The last 10 years or so have felt depressing because avenues are shutting down,” Reznor also said. “Little shrines to music lovers – record shops -are disappearing. And every time there’s a new innovation, the musician is the one that didn’t have a voice at the table about how it’s presented. I thought, if I could make a place where there could be more opportunities, and it comes with more fertile ground, and music is treated with a bit more with respect, that interests me. It’s not, ‘Oh, I hope I get on that taco commercial’.”
Apple Music announced earlier this week (June 15) that the service had now reached 15 million paid subscribers, as it also confirmed details of its first redesign.