It's the latest episode in the debate about whether YouTube is good or bad for artists and labels.
The study, which was carried out in Europe by RBB Economics and reported by Billboard, says that if music content was removed from YouTube—which Google owns—users would shift a majority of their viewing time over to "lower value channels" like TV, radio or internet radio. It also claimed that there would be a significant bump in time spent listening to pirated music, and that only 15 percent of "heavy users" (someone who watches more than 20 hours a month) would switch to higher value platforms like subscription-based streaming services.
"The cumulative effect of these findings," writes Google's public policy manager, Simon Morisson, in the blog post where they published the data, "is that YouTube has a market expansion effect, not a cannibalising one."
But trade bodies like BPI and IFPI have hit back at the finding, asserting that YouTube has an unhealthy effect on the market. "Google's latest publicity push once again seeks to distract from the fact that YouTube, essentially the world's largest on-demand music service, is failing to license music on a fair basis and compensate artists and producers properly by claiming it is not liable for the music it is making available," the IFPI said in a statement. "Legislative action is required to address the 'value gap' that is denying music creators a fair return for their work."