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Sunday, June 15, 2014

World's Biggest Music Channel Closes

Major Turkish music association, MÜ-YAP shut down its official music channel on YouTube on 2 June, due to a rumoured copyright and revenue dispute with YouTube.

With over three million subscribers at date of closure, it had officially become the biggest YouTube channel in the world in November last year.

The channel - set up to deliver Turkish music to fans around the world - recorded 232m views with more than 4.3bn all-time views, according to industry statistics from YouTube's top 100 channels at the time.

With a comprehensive collection of Turkish music, which included its iconic pop star Tarkan's body of work, MÜ-YAP's YouTube strategy had caught the attention of other industry bodies around the world, wondering whether they could follow a similar path to success.

UPDATE: A Turkish music channel rules YouTube again (2016) >>

However, a joint decision taken by four Turkish music industry associations this month decided to close the most successful music channel in the world and cut off revenue YouTube was unwilling to share, blocking access to its video archive and virtually resetting all its viewing stats.

Turkish music lovers can still access Turkish music videos at Youtube, as Turkish recording artists and labels also have their own official YouTube channels at Google's video sharing site.

Tarkan has his own official Youtube channel the pop artist opened in 2012, while new Turkish video-on-demand channel netd - owned by Doğan TV Holding, the umbrella company that also owns Tarkan's current music label DMC - has its own YouTube music channel, using it to drive traffic to their new site and allow a wider audience to their videos.

Head of DMC, and founding co-director of MÜ-YAP, Samsun Demir had been complaining as far back as February this year on his Twitter account, ahead of the popular music channel's closure, urging his followers to use music video sites that paid out royalties to Turkish artists, so that they could produce better music videos for the public.

Then on 29 May Demir tweeted that even though they were unable to get royalties from YouTube for the channel, they were still uploading new videos to it albeit a week after their release. "MÜ-YAP will be closing at the start of this week," he wrote.

After MÜ-YAP's closure, Turkish news sites reported Demir had tweeted that MÜ-YAP had "removed itself from the digital arena" in response to a follower, tweeting that music companies would have to open their own accounts from now on, because making money had become digital, and this wasn't the job of a music association.

April 17, Demir says DMC's videos will no longer be uploaded at MÜ-YAP as they don't make money from the music channel, and it will withdraw from the digital platform; April 21 when asked if he has "fallen out" with YouTube Demir tweets DMC gives preference to royalty paying video sites; June 2 Demir confirms MÜ-YAP has left the video sharing site and that it wasn't appropriate for the association to be there."

- Brief history of Demir's YouTube tweets

Global subscribers to Turkish music are unhappy over the decision, however, because Demir has been willing to use YouTube to promote his own music company's video site, while having voted to shut down the most popular music channel in the world, and its large video archive.

On 9 June the DMC exec tweeted they had opened a YouTube music channel for netd, and that digital sales had matured enough to do serious business with music labels.

Two days earlier, in response to a follower, Demir had tweeted that, while it was useful and necessary for the Turkish music association MÜ-YAP to have a presence on YouTube initially, the time had come for record companies to do business via their own official digital platforms and not through the association.

It is not the business of a music association to do business, and online purchasing had "come of age" to allow record artists and companies to direct their own sales online.

No artist or company had made any money whatsoever from any revenue generated by the association's music channel, Demir went on to say, accepting they were at fault for not having explained the music channel's closure properly to the Turkish public.

Demir placed emphasis on the Turkish music industry's need to work to world standards, and reminded his followers that similar disputes with YouTube were ongoing in Germany with German record labels.

Demir believes that Turkish artists are being actively "blocked" from wider audiences since 9/11. He has also intimated Europe treats Turkish music and its artists unfairly, by refusing to recognise it as "proper music" and pay out royalties - as is required when Western music is played in Turkey.

As at time of writing, MÜ-YAP has not released a public statement over the YouTube closure, and it's uncertain whether the channel will re-open at a future date.

But users of YouTube should beware: since the closure, subscribers to MÜ-YAP's music channel have refused to let it die, with a large spate of fake accounts being opened in its wake.

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