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Killing the golden goose
June 17, 2014 9:17 AM   Subscribe


 


Don't be evi...ah, fuck it.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:20 AM on June 17 [41 favorites]


Right? I thought about referencing that, but there's just no point any more.
posted by boo_radley at 9:21 AM on June 17 [10 favorites]


Google prepares to kill independent musicians on YouTube.

Will you be able to watch them being killed for free with ads, or is this just for subscribers?
posted by jbickers at 9:23 AM on June 17 [45 favorites]


I said they dropped the word "don't" from their motto at least a couple of years ago.
posted by localroger at 9:23 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


jbickers: "Will you be able to watch them being killed for free with ads, or is this just for subscribers?"

Gruh, should have been "independent labels".
posted by boo_radley at 9:23 AM on June 17


Meet the new business model, same as the old business model.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:24 AM on June 17 [4 favorites]


Now would be a great time for an enterprising start-up to become the "imgur of video". There's your entire pitch, I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding investors.

Best case scenario: you beat Google at their own game; second best case: they buy you out and you all become rich (worst case: Yahoo buys you).
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:25 AM on June 17 [44 favorites]


Years ago, I used to really respect Google.
posted by No One Ever Does at 9:25 AM on June 17 [19 favorites]


"Don't be evil" predates the IPO. Everything changes when a company is sold to people who care only about profit.
posted by anonymisc at 9:27 AM on June 17 [10 favorites]


SoundCloud seems to be much more interesting anyway.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:27 AM on June 17 [6 favorites]


The complaint from independent labels seems to center on how much YouTube is willing to pay labels under the new service terms for streams of music that are free. The labels have been concerned that YouTube is giving more royalty weight to music played in the paid tier, and therefore offering less of a payout for the free plays — but in reality YouTube will be adding more enhancements to the free tier to compete better against the Spotifies of the world.
As much as I'd like to believe Google is the sole bad guy here, I've had enough contact with the Music Industry© to know that calling them thieves and liars will hurt the feelings of thieves and liars.

This is the same sort of squabble that happens every time Charter Cable needs to renegotiate the deal to carry the local sportsball games.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:30 AM on June 17 [21 favorites]


Yeah, seems time for Bandcamp to add video to their already outstanding audio service.
posted by komara at 9:30 AM on June 17 [13 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, online video services are fungible. Until Google buys up Vimeo, Dailymotion, Metacafe and whoever else steps in to replicate the business model, do we really have to worry about artists being locked out of the internet?
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:31 AM on June 17 [6 favorites]


from the guardian article:

Artists including Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Jack White could see their videos taken down.

This is even dumber than the panda/pagerank/metafilter cockup.
posted by bukvich at 9:31 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


To be entirely fair, any independent label which is contracted with VEVO will still have videos by their artists available on YouTube. At least, that is what the first link in this multi-link post states.
posted by hippybear at 9:34 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


And this shouldn't affect the truly independent artists who aren't on a label of any sort, should it? That bit remains unclear. (It's likely they were never going to be part of the paid streaming revenue anyway...)
posted by hippybear at 9:35 AM on June 17


GNUsic!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:36 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


[Fixed the accidentally murderous typo, carry on. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:37 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


This appears to be pretty close to where I'm prepared to draw the line, Google. I feel a divestment AskMe coming up...
posted by Fezboy! at 9:37 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Come on, guys. Google's Head of Content Programming says you can't devalue music. It's impossible.

And since he was once an indie musician too, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, nothing at all, either with regards to Google's streaming service or other people's.
posted by weston at 9:40 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


You know, Vimeo provides a very satisfactory user experience.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:42 AM on June 17 [12 favorites]


As someone who occasionally videos songs at gigs and uploads them to YouTube, I'm wondering whether this'll affect me; whether Google will just pull down all the videos I've taken of bands whose copyright holders aren't signed up to their scheme.
posted by acb at 9:43 AM on June 17


If Vimeo has any sense, they'll be rapidly expanding bandwidth capabilities, researching indie labels, and making hit lists for marketing people to target.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:44 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


People listen to music you can get on Spotify on YouTube? Why?

Is there an app or service that queues videos into a playlist?
posted by 99_ at 9:46 AM on June 17


God, Google's responses to this are all spintastic.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Are you asking if youtube has playlists, 99_? It does.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 9:49 AM on June 17


Is there an app or service that queues videos into a playlist?

YouTube offers its own playlists, and at the very least sync-video, the service I use to organize group MST3K watchings over the internet, supports creating a playlist you can just let run.
posted by JHarris at 9:50 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


As much as I'd like to believe Google is the sole bad guy here, I've had enough contact with the Music Industry© to know that calling them thieves and liars will hurt the feelings of thieves and liars.

This is not the case with independent labels, many of which are truly independent artist run collectives. Most indies are literally like one big band that made a name for itself helping other musicians get there. It's really frustrating that people don't bring more nuance to their understanding of these issues. It's not even all that hard to understand. Independent labels are not the big-bad record industry. The RIAA is really just the major labels and media companies. The true independents are by and large not crooks and liars, but musicians!
posted by saulgoodman at 9:51 AM on June 17 [8 favorites]


People listen to music you can get on Spotify on YouTube? Why?

because
posted by Hoopo at 9:55 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


People listen to music you can get on Spotify on YouTube? Why?

Because it's free and everyone knows what it is.

Because for years you've been able to share a link with your friend and know it will work (in the same country, on their desktop).
posted by zippy at 9:57 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


All we hear is radio gaga, radio Google, radio artists only as big as Lady Gaga?
posted by Talez at 10:08 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Google - DTMFA.

/Yes, I am deliberately trying to start a meme. I promise to only post it once more and then shut up about it.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:10 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


SoundCloud seems to be much more interesting anyway.

I could rant such a rant about "New" Soundcloud but I'm just going to go out and kick stuff until it breaks or my foot hurts.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:13 AM on June 17


Best case scenario: you beat Google at their own game; second best case: they buy you out and you all become rich (worst case: Yahoo buys you).

Worst case: sued to oblivion. Besides, the business model would be almost impossible to replicate for any small player, because of the size of the business they are facing. You can't make a streaming music service without the majors, and you have to be big enough to face the majors on even ground.

Paid music streaming doesn't make any money right now. Everyone knows how terrible Spotify plays, but they aren't profitable. The music industry is trying to get them to charge more, or find music somewhere, and the tech industry thinks that if they charge more than a trivial amount, people will start to pirate like it's 1999.

Google may just be trying to charge rates that the market will bare. Whether they are right or not, who knows.
posted by zabuni at 10:19 AM on June 17


Half the time SoundCloud doesn't work for me. No idea why.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:19 AM on June 17


, the service I use to organize group MST3K watchings over the internet,

With this in mind, I find YouTube's entire approach to content and usage rights totally incomprehensible. How come almost every MST3K episode is available on YT? Or every episode of Screen Wipe with Charlie Brooker? It doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway, as mentioned upthread, I generally rely on SoundCloud to stream music these days anyway. Or maybe Grooveshark (simply because there are so many Bob Dylan bootleg recordings there).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:22 AM on June 17


Don't be Google
posted by jozifd at 10:28 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Paid music streaming doesn't make any money right now. Everyone knows how terrible Spotify plays, but they aren't profitable. The music industry is trying to get them to charge more, or find music somewhere, and the tech industry thinks that if they charge more than a trivial amount, people will start to pirate like it's 1999.

It makes money. Labels are making money from Spotify hand over fist. They get 70% of the revenue no matter how much it costs to build and maintain the service because some other sucker thinks they can make money from it! Then they only have to hand over 8-15% of the revenue they collect from Spotify to artists! And that's all applied to the $250K advance they gave to the artist to make the record in the first place!

That's where your artists go from "a niche indie album makes $3300 a month" to "my royalty cheque last month was equal to a can of baked beans".

And the best part is for the labels? The artists shit on Spotify, Spotify debunk artists and barely a word is said about the shit royalty rates that labels get to pay their smaller artists!

It's like the world's biggest evil supergenius plan actually put into action and nobody has a fucking clue that it's going on or even able to understand how it happened.
posted by Talez at 10:31 AM on June 17 [9 favorites]


Worst case: sued to oblivion.

Worst case: you never launch because you can't afford the "fast lane" to customers.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:32 AM on June 17 [15 favorites]


I've seen a few people comment elsewhere that from a user point of view it wouldn't make sense to pay for an ad free subscription only to run across videos which still have ads. I diagree.

A comparable service to this might be Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime subscribers don't expect every package to ship for free, just items labelled for Amazon Prime. I think Google could and should have used that model. They could make it so users with an ad-free subscription can easily tell which videos are ad free and given them the option to just skip videos which still use ads. If video uploaders notice their income dropping because they aren't getting money from those on the subscription model then they have incentive to sign on to the subscription model.

I think Google was trying too hard to copy other music subscription services.
posted by Green With You at 10:33 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


SoundCloud seems to be much more interesting anyway.

Soundcloud, like the Internet itself, is exiting adolescence and entering young adulthood. Getting it's first real job and apartment, having to realize the real world fucking sucks.

They're at that stage YouTube was at when they started adding all the automatic infringement detectors. Wasn't there just an fpp about it? Basically, people's stuff has started getting tagged as infringing when it's not CONSTANTLY, and there's little to no recourse or customer support even if you're paying for "pro" service. It's even happened to huge artists like iirc kaskade who had to have their team of people go harass soundcloud, and still not get quick resolution.

Soundcloud is starting to drift in to "suck" territory slowly.

Why the fuck can nothing decent like this stay decent for long? I mean I know the answer, and YouTube has sucked for quite a while, but at least you could go search for a song there and almost always find and play it.

By the way, this sort of thing has been building up for a while. For at least a year if you searched for a song on mobile you'd only get stupid live videos, but if you searched for it on the desktop site you'd instantly find it. You could play it with a direct link, these weren't "no mobile" videos and they weren't unlisted. They were just trying to kneecap playing mobile music that way. Ugh.
posted by emptythought at 10:34 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Google wants to pay less to license content that isn't being paid for by subscriptions? Wake me when the true evil starts.

You do realize the catch line here could be turned such that the independents are blocking their music (e.g. not licensing it) until they get better terms, right?
posted by smidgen at 10:35 AM on June 17 [7 favorites]


and YouTube has sucked for quite a while,

I think for finding copyrighted music and movies, yes, but then again there is a ton of user-generated content that is quite good. All of my screen-time is spent on YouTube, basically, watching videos by fellow trainspotting hobbiests (the very definition of niche), but also newscasts etc.

What I don't get is why there is so much Rolling Stones content up on YouTube. Or other dinosaurs of rock.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:38 AM on June 17


Amazon Prime

US only again, for music.
posted by bonehead at 10:49 AM on June 17


How soon before Google faces antitrust action?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:52 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


How soon before Google faces antitrust action?

Thanks, I needed a laugh today.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:54 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


Soundcloud is starting to drift in to "suck" territory slowly.

I mostly use Spotify and SoundCloud for music sharing and discovery. Spotify has never been that great for independent artists, but SoundCloud has seemed pretty easy and fair to use. However, I fear you're right, and they are going down the same road as all the others. Is Bandcamp still a good place for artists?
posted by bluefly at 11:01 AM on June 17


You do realize the catch line here could be turned such that the independents are blocking their music (e.g. not licensing it) until they get better terms, right?

Yeah, that is what's happening, and the apoplectic Google-is-killing-indies fervor is hiding the real question, which is why this deal is unacceptable. Amazon launched their streaming music service last week and Universal refused, presumably due to the royalty rates or other terms. Universal is part of this deal with Google. Why? What's different?

Without knowing terms--and I haven't yet found details, so please correct me if I'm way off-base--I suspect that it comes down to the balance between up-front rights for streaming and ongoing royalties for plays. Big labels get a big payout and don't worry so much about the royalties, at least not yet; indies get shafted on both ends.

The fact is that royalty payments--meaning both sync royalties that labels receive and songwriting/publishing royalties that can be split any number of ways--are still pitiful for streaming, and nobody seems sure how to correct that. The DOJ is working on updating the regulations that are keeping PROs from renegotiating songwriting royalties, but it remains to be seen what will happen. Probably nothing good, especially with Google on the "wrong" side of the fence now.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:03 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


The true independents are by and large not crooks and liars, but musicians!

Like John Vanderslice. It kills me that we finally killed the middleman, and have a cheap, reliable, content-neutral (for now!) system of distribution, only to have the middleman's secretary and his cousin stepping in to fill his shoes (so to speak).

From one of the links:

According to those label members, which include Australian and New Zealand companies, the fees being offered by YouTube are considerably below current market rates – including those of fellow streaming services, Spotify, Rdio and Deezer, who offer artists between $0.008 and $0.005 per stream.

So we can't give a fraction of a penny to a common joe-shmoe with a Tascam and a looping pedal in his bedroom, yet if we assess sub-penny ticks on high-frequency trading done by people as rich as Croesus, the economy will collapse.

Seriously, WTF is our deal? Can we not be content with making a living so that others may as well, or must we always-effin'-always make a killing?
posted by eclectist at 11:13 AM on June 17 [11 favorites]


This is shitty, especially for actually non-famous independent artists, but I can't help but wonder if Google is shooting themselves in the foot a little bit. Like, I can promise that people aren't going to throw their hands up and stop seeking out Adele videos just because she's not on Youtube. Maybe this will lead to a diversification of video hosting options.
posted by threeants at 11:16 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


What this really sucks for, I guess, is all the services that use YouTube as a secondary source for music. Last.fm radio's new YouTube-based model, for example, is unbelievably shitty as rolled out, but now it'll be truly useless.
posted by threeants at 11:18 AM on June 17


They're at that stage YouTube was at when they started adding all the automatic infringement detectors. Wasn't there just an fpp about it? Basically, people's stuff has started getting tagged as infringing when it's not CONSTANTLY, and there's little to no recourse or customer support even if you're paying for "pro" service. It's even happened to huge artists like iirc kaskade who had to have their team of people go harass soundcloud, and still not get quick resolution.

That sounds very ham-handed for a service which caters so heavily to electronic music. Soundcloud is fundamentally different than YouTube in that it relies on producers to upload content, not users. YouTube monetizes user-uploaded content for the copyright holder, instead of auto-deleting if it's found to be infringing (well, most of the time...), because users upload most of the content and can do it without claims to ownership. Has this really been an issue on Soundcloud? I don't really see user-uploads there, only tracks from pro accounts. Has it been a problem in terms of sampling royalties for remixes? As far as I've been able to figure, most people posting music to Soundcloud are doing so for promotional reasons, in order to market their name/label by releasing a free track every now and then, or promo mixes and short samples of tracks. This doesn't seem to be infringing on copyright at all, but maybe I'm missing some sub-section of uploaders who are just sharing others' tracks, or at least that's never been what I've used it for. I'm kinda baffled...
posted by krinklyfig at 11:23 AM on June 17


It makes money. Labels are making money from Spotify hand over fist. They get 70% of the revenue no matter how much it costs to build and maintain the service because some other sucker thinks they can make money from it! Then they only have to hand over 8-15% of the revenue they collect from Spotify to artists! And that's all applied to the $250K advance they gave to the artist to make the record in the first place!

I've never understood how this model is "evil." A band has no money but they want to put out a record. A record company says "we'll buy the rights to your record and market/distribute it for you. We'll give you $X upfront (you use $250k in your example but presumably it could be dramatically more or less). If your album sells 3 copies then it's our loss and you keep that money forever. If it sells more than that and you earn out, then we'll pay you x% of every copy sold thereafter."

How is that evil? The band doesn't have to sign. They can distribute themselves, they can see if anyone else wants to buy the rights to the record for more money. Nobody says VCs are "evil" when they offer $X amount of money for Y% controlling stake in a company. If the founders think their company is worth more than that they simply don't take the deal. They don't go around calling the investors the world's biggest evil supergeniuses.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 11:26 AM on June 17


People listen to music you can get on Spotify on YouTube? Why?

Because Spotify's model (buffet streaming) is a destructive force.

YouTube's royalties aren't great (and apparently the deal is about to get worse), but it's distinct enough from personal cloud record collection that it doesn't make the pretense of being a primary form of engagement or revenue for artists. Spotify does -- it aims to supplant the economics of buying recordings with the economics of radio listening.

The model either needs to die or it needs to charge more and disintermediate.
posted by weston at 11:31 AM on June 17


Don't be evi...ah, fuck it.

Hey, hey, hey -- they never said they would never be evil -- they just don't want anyone else to be evil...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:37 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Does this mean that all music is going to disappear from YouTube now?????
posted by KokuRyu at 11:44 AM on June 17


This is all because I was just getting ready to start planning to do some promotional YouTube videos for my band Tangemeenie's new album and for our upcoming Kickstarter, I bet. All because of that damned Faust curse! Everything I even think about touching turns to shit!

/Kidding; I'm not really this delusional, though I am genuinely upset about the timing of this change.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:57 AM on June 17


Seems to me that if you want to help the independents, the real money moving forward is not in developing a site made to distribute music or video, but to develop a dead-simple one-click install for hosted video/music content. Help people host the music or video on their own site, rather than depending on a company that can take the content down at a whim. A common interface and playback method handled by the hosting software, so it's as simple for the end user as uploading to YouTube and as simple to the consumer as hitting "play".

You wouldn't have to worry about anyone suing you for piracy as you'd be offering the hosting software, not the content. Whatever people use it for is their business. You might get hit with patent lawsuits over the interface though.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:02 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


How is that evil? The band doesn't have to sign. They can distribute themselves, they can see if anyone else wants to buy the rights to the record for more money. Nobody says VCs are "evil" when they offer $X amount of money for Y% controlling stake in a company. If the founders think their company is worth more than that they simply don't take the deal. They don't go around calling the investors the world's biggest evil supergeniuses.

It's evil because you take a cut because you have a cost of doing business. In this case they shift almost the entire cost of doing business onto the band's tab and then give them a small sliver to pay that entire cost of doing business.
posted by Talez at 12:10 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Help people host the music or video on their own site, rather than depending on a company that can take the content down at a whim.

Hrm. Yes. Distribute them widely, to avoid a single point of failure. And of course you'd need a site to track these instances...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:11 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the hue and cry. Youtube is trying to acquire favorable terms for how people use their service, so as to not undercut their soon-to-launch business. This is a luxury good, not medicine. It seems that some people are reacting like youtube is a public utility or a human right, and not a private corporate entity that has always existed to earn profit.

Somehow, musicians were able to have a career before the advent of youtube. Now they can't? I know that youtube has changed some things, but even if they have changed that much, then the music industry has gotten very complacent to put all that leverage in the hands of one gatekeeper. Why is youtube responsible for subsidizing the music industry?

Now, some folks are trying to get the government involved. Why not cut out the middle man, and apply to the government for stipends for musicians? Why not band together and start their own music video service? It seems like the only option being considered is to indignantly cry for daddy to intervene.
posted by Edgewise at 12:20 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty amazing amount of industry spin. What's happening here is that indie labels are refusing to make a licensing agreement with Google and as a result Google is legally obligated to take down their videos.
posted by Jairus at 12:22 PM on June 17 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure that's actually the spin-free version so much as the counter-spin. But it's hard to tell.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:26 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


If your album sells 3 copies then it's our loss and you keep that money forever. If it sells more than that and you earn out, then we'll pay you x% of every copy sold thereafter."

Depends on the bands deal, but sometimes the record deal is more effectively a loan. If the album doesn't recoup the band ends up owing the label, and some labels do everything they can to make sure the album sells but doesn't recoup.
posted by drezdn at 12:27 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Jairus: "This is a pretty amazing amount of industry spin. What's happening here is that indie labels are refusing to make a licensing agreement with Google and as a result Google is legally obligated to take down their videos."

I don't get this -- isn't there an implicit license when I upload my videos? Something along the lines of "in order to show you the video, I grant permission to google to transmit the video". I guess I'm not sure where google's legal liability starts.
posted by boo_radley at 12:28 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


And FWIW, I'd really like to know what the deal is here. I'm seriously just now planning promotion for a self-released project and can't tell how--or if--this might impact me. From what I've read, it seems like I'm going to have to start paying for something people used to be able to do for free. If that's true, then I can tell you, I'm not part of any "industry" that is "refusing to make a licensing agreement with Google" and I'm personally effected. But I honestly can't tell from this coverage.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:30 PM on June 17


Unless you are part of an industry consortium that is negotiating with Google on your behalf this does not affect you.
posted by Jairus at 12:31 PM on June 17


Good. That's all I needed to know. The coverage didn't make that clear at all.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:32 PM on June 17


It's evil because you take a cut because you have a cost of doing business. In this case they shift almost the entire cost of doing business onto the band's tab and then give them a small sliver to pay that entire cost of doing business.

But the record company isn't "taking a cut" -- they bought the album, it no longer belongs to the band. And those costs of doing business are higher than you think, because they include buying the rights to other albums that flop miserably. Label margins are low compared even to other media businesses. (Around 11% for 2006-2010 according to the article linked below)*

What looks like a lot of cash to you does not translate to a lot of profit --if it did you'd have Ivy League grads out there starting record labels, not hedge funds.


*http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/1178849/music-film-industries-average-lowest-profit-margins-among-media-sectors

posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:34 PM on June 17


This doesn't seem to be infringing on copyright at all, but maybe I'm missing some sub-section of uploaders who are just sharing others' tracks, or at least that's never been what I've used it for. I'm kinda baffled...

This does happen on Soundcloud but it doesn't seem to be a large percentage of use on the face of it.
posted by atoxyl at 12:35 PM on June 17


Nobody says VCs are "evil" when they offer $X amount of money for Y% controlling stake in a company.

Have you really never met anyone who says capitalism is evil?
posted by Jairus at 12:36 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Why is youtube responsible for subsidizing the music industry?

Is YouTube not getting ad revenue from the video? They do, then they pay out to rights owners and keep what's left. They aren't subsidizing anything - they're making money, and that's not what we're talking about; we're talking about preadatory licensing practices that hedge out smaller players. Sure, they are under no compunction to give smaller players the same deals that they give Sony BMG, but in the creative biz, sometimes the most interesting work, the most sought-after, fractal-like, is on the margins. When you've abandoned the margins, you don't get that money - you only get the money from the nth replaying the Eurhythmics' Sweet Dreams.
posted by eclectist at 12:40 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Wait--I also have an ASCAP-affiliated music publishing company I use to publish my own stuff. I thinks that's probably where I'm going to get screwed or not now depending on how you look at it... Sorry for the vagueness. I really wish I could parse this out from the original articles, but they aren't concrete enough...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:42 PM on June 17


Ah, so maybe it's really only UMG that's involved in this dispute, I think. Jesus. I don't even know anymore.

Either way, isn't YouTube already getting a lot of value out of the free content it hosts? That's where the eyeballs it uses to justify its ad pricing come from, after all.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:45 PM on June 17


I really wish I could parse this out from the original articles, but they aren't concrete enough

It's completely unclear. None of these articles actually say what YouTube is planning on "blocking" other than "music." Frankly I think it's too early to have this discussion, for there to be so much hubbub, without details of what, exactly, is going on.

Your publishing and songwriting royalties, though, are entirely separate from this--the royalties in question are for master recording rightsholders as far as I can tell (i.e., your label entity). Like I noted above, ASCAP is trying to get the DOJ to allow the PROs to negotiate more favorable streaming royalties, but it's slow going.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:47 PM on June 17


How soon before Google faces antitrust action?

Google is livin' the (Coprorate) American dream, baby! So, in other words, never.
posted by tommasz at 12:51 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


You know, Vimeo provides a very satisfactory user experience.

Oh, Zeus. How I wish.

I'm looking at you, you damn slow loading, locking up POS
posted by BlueHorse at 12:53 PM on June 17 [6 favorites]


Vimeo is great except when it comes to privacy controls.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:05 PM on June 17


Is YouTube not getting ad revenue from the video? They do, then they pay out to rights owners and keep what's left. They aren't subsidizing anything - they're making money, and that's not what we're talking about; we're talking about preadatory licensing practices that hedge out smaller players.

When I ask why google should be expected to subsidize the music industry, I am referring to the fact that these indie labels think they deserve a better deal i.e. they want google to give them part its profits in the form of lower fees. Look - don't get hung up on semantics. My point is, why should they expect google to give up profits on their behalf?

It's not a "predatory licensing practice." They can just opt to not license. Their content will be dropped from youtube. So what? What right do they have to expecting their stuff to be posted to youtube? Musicians got by for decades (some might even say millenia, but let's just talk about the music industry) without posting material to youtube. Why does it suddenly become a right to have this happen? Because google let it happen for so long? Then they are just being punished for not having previously charged for this service. This is essentially the same argument as a squatter who has not waited for the previous tenant to leave.
posted by Edgewise at 2:39 PM on June 17


This is a pretty amazing amount of industry spin. What's happening here is that indie labels are refusing to make a licensing agreement with Google and as a result Google is legally obligated to take down their videos.

That second part is where it gets fuzzy. It sounds like Google says they will take the content down if the contract is not signed, but it's not clear if that is because they don't have the rights, or just because they can threaten that to get people to sign.
posted by smackfu at 2:48 PM on June 17


Does anyone honestly think that independent labels and artists will be "killed" just because they can't get their videos on YouTube? Isn't that argument giving Google exactly the ammunition it needs? Isn't this entire argument being based around money giving anyone else pause?

Most labels, of whatever size, are also only in it for the money. The arguments aren't about culture, proliferation of beautiful experiences, the connection between artists and their fans, or even the music itself.

The Internet became TV 2.0 a long time ago in the eyes of the content business. This is a natural follow through on that commercialization and the arguments from both sides on this issue are completely hollow.
posted by Revvy at 2:49 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Vimeo is great except when it comes to privacy controls.

Is that why there's so much nudity?
posted by Pudhoho at 3:07 PM on June 17


The reality is YouTube's market value is dependent on it providing lots of cool free content. You say these bands want a cut of Google's profits, but without free content to post, YouTube would be worthless, because it's the free content that drives traffic to YouTube in the first place. That's why it's YouTube and not one of the many other pay video services that already exist. The argument that indie's are holding out for a cut of Google's profits is so logically tangled up and circular as to make no sense whatsoever.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:41 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I feel entirely stupid because I feel like I'm missing something. If I, myself, write a song and record it, I can put it on Youtube, no problem. At what point do I become a "record label"?
posted by the jam at 3:43 PM on June 17


Dear Youtube: you too can be replaced by an upstart. (OH YES you could.)
posted by Twang at 3:55 PM on June 17


Oh, crud. Does this mean that the music video I directed for Abby Travis could get taken down? Because that thing ate like three months of my life, and I love it like my firstborn child!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:01 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


So it says specifically independent labels, and the BBC News link says "Universal, Sony and Warner" have already agreed.

So, did Universal, Sony and Warner agree to the crappy terms figuring they'll make it up in volume, or did Google offer them better terms because they're too big to strongarm?

And I presume that ongoing negotiations are only news because someone thought bad PR might push the other side to settle. I guess we're all obligated to pick sides now.


the jam - to my understanding that just makes you a Youtube content provider, providing Youtube with the many hours of free content. I think you only become a record label if someone else puts up your song and you go, "Oy that's my song. Give me some of that sweet, sweet advertising revenue."
posted by RobotHero at 4:04 PM on June 17


Most labels, of whatever size, are also only in it for the money.

Wow, I couldn't disagree with this more. Taken broadly, the music industry is such a thoroughly non-lucrative one that outside of a handful of big players, I feel, most labels are really labors of love.
posted by threeants at 4:10 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


You say these bands want a cut of Google's profits, but without free content to post, YouTube would be worthless, because it's the free content that drives traffic to YouTube in the first place.

Well, that's youtube's problem! If this hurts them significantly, perhaps they will reverse this decision.

The argument that indie's are holding out for a cut of Google's profits is so logically tangled up and circular as to make no sense whatsoever.

It's actually extremely simple and short. These indies want to pay less. By paying less, google gets less money and the indies keep more. It really doesn't get any simpler than that.

Do you think this has something to do with something other than money? I keep not hearing an explanation for why anyone has a right to have anything posted on youtube. Why does anyone deserve to have their content hosted for free? Just because it happened before? I can't figure out how to see this as anything but people whining about having their toys taken away, except they were never their toys to begin with.
posted by Edgewise at 4:11 PM on June 17


What threeants said is right. People have ruined themselves personally trying to preserve independent labels out of a shared sense of mission and investment in the independent music scene as a cultural good. The comment upthread about it always coming down to money couldn't possibly be further off the mark from what I've seen in the actual world. #YouSuck
posted by saulgoodman at 4:27 PM on June 17


But the value that's being captured as YouTube's profit resides solely in the content. No content =/= no YouTube profits.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:29 PM on June 17


I still remember when that was the whole argument for sharing your content for free on the web: the content hosts get free content that drives clicks, the content producers get exposure that ultimately drives sales: win-win, right? We were very aggressively sold that model in the 90s, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm skeptical of whatever the new BS marketing plan is.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:35 PM on June 17


At what point do I become a "record label"?

Still not sure we have enough info to know, but my impression right now is, the second you decide you might want to sell your music somewhere else.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:52 PM on June 17


Do you think this has something to do with something other than money? I keep not hearing an explanation for why anyone has a right to have anything posted on youtube.

I don't disagree with you, but the challenge of course is that YouTube is the second-biggest search engine on the planet. It's where people go to find new music, and YouTube is also bundled in with Android, the most popular mobile OS on the planet.

However, this sounds like a good opportunity to offer a competing platform. The challenge of course is that Google or Apple or Amazon can squeeze out competing music apps from their mobile operating systems.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:02 PM on June 17


Do you think this has something to do with something other than money? I keep not hearing an explanation for why anyone has a right to have anything posted on youtube. Why does anyone deserve to have their content hosted for free? Just because it happened before? I can't figure out how to see this as anything but people whining about having their toys taken away, except they were never their toys to begin with.

Isn't the implicit threat here that if you don't agree to their new terms, in the long term they'll remove your songs from the copyright checking systems that redirect advertising revenue to you when somebody else uploads your stuff?
posted by dng at 5:02 PM on June 17


If only this were in place 6 years ago we'd have no Justin Bieber.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 5:05 PM on June 17


What I said was that it was most labels were in it for the money (not "everyone" or "always") and that the arguments in this issue are solely about the money.

For all the hate that comment is getting, I have yet to see anything in this issue that's about something other than money, even from the people doing the hating. People are perceived to have "ruined themselves" financially in support of music, yet the attitude that someone's ruination is solely financial shows how skewed that perspective is.

If it's a labor of love, you're not ruining yourself by doing it in the face of financial losses and you don't care if YouTube wants a bigger cut. The money doesn't matter if you're doing it for love, it only matters if you're doing it for money.
posted by Revvy at 5:11 PM on June 17


These indies want to pay less

Nobody is asking them to pay. The argument here is that Google offered exceptional compensation to the major labels--note that UMG signed with Google but not Amazon--to make their catalogs available for streaming on Google's upcoming music service, while independent labels are being offered only the micropenny, below-already-pitiful-market-value streaming royalties. Google is using YouTube as a hammer against the indies to force compliance.

Which is their preogative, of course--YouTube is, like it or not, pretty much the de facto place to promote and discover music, and their Content ID is damn near the only way to detect infringing uses. Google is betting, here, that the value of continued promotion on YouTube is great enough to make the poor streaming royalties palatable.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:14 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Revvy:

if YouTube won't allow music videos from independent artsts who aren't signatories to their new terms, then that either cuts them out or requires them to agree to YouTubes terms unconditionally (and I can't tell if that means only certain labels get to play, but that's what it sounds like so far, or that you'll have to sign up for some pay service to upload videos). So YouTube gets to harvest the value of the content and then charge content creators for the privilege.

I'll admit, I still don't have enough info to know what this really means in practice, but it sounds and feels like a big leverage grab meant to put pressure on the smaller end of the market. Which is just exactly what we all need more of right now, said no one ever.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:28 PM on June 17


saulgoodman, I understand what YouTube is doing and why some are upset about it. It all makes a great deal of financial sense that YouTube and various labels would be fighting over money. That's what they do and it's exactly the point I'm trying to make.

If YouTube were a true monopoly - the only game in town for music video distribution - I could support an argument of cultural oppression.
posted by Revvy at 5:51 PM on June 17


Yes but the parties actually getting squeezed out in the worst way are all the other even smaller labels, self-releasing artists, and ultimately, the content consumers. They're not even at the table.

Unless of course the reporting is just bad, and this won't actually disallow unaffiliated individual artists from posting videos of their own music (assuming they also sell their music through other channels). I still don't feel like there's enough detail known to say just how bad or good this news is, but seeing the general trends in these things over the last couple of decades, I think it's reasonable to be skeptical this is going to be good for anybody other than the usual "winners" in the game.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:28 PM on June 17


Nobody is asking them to pay.

Thanks for straightening me out...I got sidetracked and mucked up the details.

I still stand by what I said, and it sounds like you technically agree. It's their platform, even to the point of screwing it up. I don't know if this is a good idea for them, although I doubt I'll personally feel the impact.

I'd be more incensed if they were restricting non-commercial content. I appreciate the internet as a place for public amateurism. But when it comes to corporations lobbying the government to restrict what another company is able to charge them, I have no sympathy. Worse are those who act indignant, as though their rights are being trampled.

If the state feels that it's in the public interest to encourage small music labels, I think that's actually terrific; but it should put it's money with it's mouth is, instead of forcing other companies to carry out this policy. In other words, subsidize the artists, or subsidize a competitive hosting service.

In the latter case, subsidy might not even be necessary...this may have even created a - gasp! - business opportunity for an outfit that wants to specialize in hosting indie music. The audience is a marketing dream: 20-40 with disposable income, internet savvy, early adopters with enough social capital to make something "cool." I think it would be possible to get free advertising from influential publications like Wired and Pitchfork for this kind of business, if you can get a couple of industry names in your corner.
posted by Edgewise at 10:37 PM on June 17


I do suspect that the EU will eventually step in and regulate royalties for on-demand streaming of music (probably just as another technology comes along). It's still the wild west, and the problem (for artists and labels) is that it's supplanting record sales at an alarming pace. An independent artist can make something like $0.60-0.70 on the sale of a single on iTunes. How many times is that single listened to? A dozen? Twenty? Maybe fifty or a hundred over the years? Put that same single on Spotify and those same twenty plays will earn $0.10-0.16. Google is, allegedly, offering even less--and less still for streams paid for by advertising.

The fact is that the most important thing for Google launching their streaming service is a huge catalog, and they've manged to secure that already. Using YouTube to bully smaller catalog owners is a gamble whose outcome probably doesn't matter too much to them. I think the spin is a bit too extreme, but it's absolutely in indie labels' best interests to make this as big a deal as possible, to paint Google as screwing the little guy (because they are). Public opinion is about their only weapon in the fight.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:57 AM on June 18


The money doesn't matter if you're doing it for love, it only matters if you're doing it for money.

As far as I know, people who work at something for the love of it still have to feed, clothe and house themselves and their family.

(I really hate the 'if you are truly doing it for love, then you'd not care about the money' argument. I love what I do, but that doesn't mean that my employer gets to turn around and pay me nothing or less.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:39 AM on June 18 [11 favorites]


Seriously, fuck vevo. Just don't watch any of their videos anymore.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:03 AM on June 18


The incantation that seems to be the most effective for youtube is to end all searches with "-vevo -(C)".

Now, if only I could just make my browser automatically add that to every search.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:12 AM on June 18


Actually, VEVO is not YouTube. It uses YouTube as one of its syndication channels, but they are not synonymous. Anyway, VEVO has stated that they are going to continue to make independent label artist videos available on their YouTube channel.

(They've also partnered with Vadio recently, I have no idea what that is or what that means, but it may mean VEVO is looking to get out from under YouTube's thumb.)

Frankly, I love the VEVO app on my AppleTV. Its video streams are the closest thing to old school MTV I've seen in ages.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 AM on June 18




I love what I do, but that doesn't mean that my employer gets to turn around and pay me nothing or less.

The test is this: Would you stop doing it if you couldn't make money with it at all?

For most artists, the answer is no. For most labels, the answer is yes.

I'm not saying that the only true art is done for free or that artists shouldn't get paid whatever they can get for their work. What I am saying is that artists benefit by being aware of where the arguments about their contributions to society are coming from.

And none of this discussion is about art or art's benefits to society. It's all about money, even when it's claimed that it's about art.
posted by Revvy at 1:25 PM on June 18


For most artists, the answer is no. For most labels, the answer is yes.

Except for the many, many artists that are labels because the entire legal and business framework for selling recorded music is already established to in effect require you name yourself a "label" in order to release music and get it through the various promotion and distribution channels at all. Lots and lots of indies are literally just the artists themselves going under a made-up label name they use for doing the business of selling their music. And sure, a lot of individuals would continue to make art in some fashion either way, but a lot of them couldn't (because guess what? it costs a lot of time and money to make art beyond the amateur/hobbyist level), and even if they could, they shouldn't, because it's not sustainable to throw unlimited amounts of time and money into projects that don't return at least the cost of doing business. That's just a recipe for personal financial and social ruin for the vast majority of people. Not to mention something any sensible business person would recognize as getting the raw end of the deal.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:51 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


The entire industry is set up to perpetuate and financially benefit itself, not to benefit society by getting more artistic creations into the public sphere. Until artists are willing to step out of the trap which is designed to take advantage of them, the status quo of financial well-being will continue to be portrayed as the only method by which artistic endeavors can be valued.

it's not sustainable to throw unlimited amounts of time and money into projects that don't return at least the cost of doing business.

I am really glad that so many artists throughout history have succeeded in ignoring the idea that they should break even on their work.
posted by Revvy at 2:07 PM on June 18


I thought maybe you didn't realize that independent artists who want to sell their music at all basically have no choice but to set themselves up as indie labels to do it, if they want any kind of access at all to the bigger markets for their music. But now I think you're just spoiling for a fight, and I'm not interested in one, so cheers!
posted by saulgoodman at 2:23 PM on June 18


FFS.
posted by homunculus at 6:09 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I am really glad that so many artists throughout history have succeeded in ignoring the idea that they should break even on their work.

Me too. I love reading about that part of their career before I read the bit about how they died in poverty at 34.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:53 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Yes, breaking even isn't "doing it for the money." It's like the difference between capital, management, and labor. Doing a labor of love and hoping to "break even" on a minimal living wage is not the same thing as "doing it solely for the pursuit of money" and equating it as such does seem like "spoiling for a fight" indeed. There's an old assumption that "traditional artists" didn't do it for the money but as we know (Bob?) it was a different time, and the ones who didn't actually "do it for the money" (might be fewer than you think) tended to die early or live on the kindness of others, essentially "breaking even" by living.
posted by aydeejones at 6:56 PM on June 19




There are a couple of interesting sections in there.

3(b) compels content providers to release new material to Google simultaneously with "similarly situated partners." Does that include iTunes? Or only providers who offer on-demand streaming, like Spotify? With Apple's acquisition of Beats, does iTunes become a streaming service?

The clause makes an allowance for "a reasonable quantity of limited-time exclusive promotional offers [...] with a single third party partner" provided that Google also gets comparable offers and that they don't "frustrate the intent" of the contract, but what are the limitations? Can you offer an album for a week on Bandcamp before you allow streaming?

6(b) indicates that Google won't pay royalties for plays and downloads during users' free trial, and that you must offer your content to Google for the free trial if you offer it to other providers.

Item 3 in Exhibit B specifies that, should any "major label" agree to rates lower than the ones specified in Exhibits C and D, Google can reduce the compensation for everybody. "Least-favored nation?"
posted by uncleozzy at 9:24 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


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