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YouTube Hires Music Executive as a Liaison to the Industry

For the last year, the music industry has been waging a bitter war against YouTube, accusing the popular video site of paying too little in royalties. The conflict has often seemed tribal, with record companies and stars on one side, and Silicon Valley on the other.

Now, YouTube has brought over a major player from the music side.

Lyor Cohen, who got his start in the early days of hip-hop and went on to top executive positions at Def Jam and the Warner Music Group — earning a reputation as the most tenacious force in any deal — has joined YouTube as the service’s global head of music, YouTube announced on Wednesday.

It is the latest effort by a tech company to fortify itself by hiring a music insider. Two years ago, Apple bought Beats, which was founded by Dr. Dre and the producer Jimmy Iovine; in June, Spotify hired Troy Carter, the former manager of Lady Gaga.

In a statement, Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, suggested that Mr. Cohen’s role was, to some degree, to be a bridge to the music world.

“Lyor is a lion of the music industry,” Mr. Kyncl said. “As we enter the growth era of the music industry, Lyor is in a position to make tremendous difference in accelerating that growth in a fair way for everyone.”

Mr. Cohen expanded on that in a letter to YouTube employees, saying that in his new position he wanted to encourage the music world to embrace new technologies in promoting music and talent, and to help “take the confusion and distrust out of the equation.”

After leaving Warner Music in 2012, Mr. Cohen started 300 Entertainment, which had a breakout star with the rapper Fetty Wap. Representatives of Mr. Cohen said that he would remain with 300 until December. Google, which owns YouTube, was one of the original investors in the company.

Even with Mr. Cohen’s involvement, YouTube’s path toward peace may be difficult. The music industry has united to a rare degree in condemning YouTube’s low payouts; last year, ad-supported services like YouTube generated $ 385 million in sales, less than the $ 416 million made from vinyl records, despite having a vastly larger audience.

YouTube has countered that it has paid more than $ 3 billion to the music industry since it began, and that its Content ID system catches 99.5 percent of copyright claims related to music. Yet the company remains the industry’s villain of the moment.

Just this week, Irving Azoff, the manager of the Eagles and other acts, continued his assault on the service, calling it “really evil” at an industry conference.

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NYT > Technology

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