[We’re thrilled to have a chance to publish an important Twitter thread by composer Kerry Muzzey that crystalizes a number of phenomena: How Kerry caught YouTube using Content ID as a tool to extend the period of time that they can profit from infringement (or the “piracy profit window”)…
YouTube has yet again raised the threshold that a creators and musicians must meet to make any money on the videos they post. YouTube says that the changes are designed to “prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube.” [Yes, just looking out for your best interests.] But the result is that it will take musicians and creators a lot longer to make a dime on the video service.
Starting today, YouTube is changing its eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers per channel.
As YouTube’s public policy flack told the U.S. Senate today:
At YouTube, we believe the world is a better place when we listen, share, and build community through our stories. Our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world. With this comes many benefits to society — unparalleled access to art and culture, news and entertainment, and educational materials.
Yes, that’s right. That’s what she said. She left out the data scraping part.
So if you’re a new artist, enjoy those exposure bucks. Might cover the cost of DMCA notices.
Your margin is my opportunity. Now bend over.
Inspired by Jeff Bezos
If a record company pulled your music from a retailer because of a commercial dispute that had nothing to do with you or the label itself, how would that make you feel? If you ran to your contract to see if you could stop them, do you think anyone would have ever thought to negotiate protection against anything so philistine? This little life parable shows you why you should never underestimate the highly innovative monopolists forcing their way into our lives.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google pulled support for its YouTube video service from Amazon.com Inc.’s streaming-media devices, citing the internet retailer’s failure to make Amazon Prime Video available through Google’s gadgets and the recent halt of the sale of some Nest products on its website.
What’s interesting about YouTube’s behavior is that you would think that YouTube actually owned the videos on YouTube. Which in probably 99% of the cases, they do not. (It’s unclear if the Amazon boycott includes Vevo, the premium content provider co-owned by Google, but I would assume it does.) I’m no fan of Amazon, God knows, so I’m not suggesting that YouTube’s move here is hard on Little Jeffie, the destroyer of worlds.
I’m suggesting that it is hard on artists and is not something that any other distributor would think they could get away with. And the fact that YouTube exists to screw artists and songwriters doesn’t excuse YouTube’s tone deaf wielding of other people’s property to gain a commercial advantage against Amazon accruing almost entirely to Google. So what did Google do, exactly? Bloomberg tells us:
Google blocked YouTube access via the Echo Show, Amazon’s smart speaker with a touchscreen, on Tuesday and will stop supporting YouTube on Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box on Jan. 1. In a statement, a Google representative said it’s taking the action because the YouTube apps on Amazon products aren’t made by Google, like the YouTube app on the iPhone is, and the retail giant doesn’t sell some Google products, such as Chromecast and Google Home.
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services,” Google said in a statement. In its own statement, Seattle-based Amazon said its gadgets now send users to the YouTube website, and the company hopes to resolve the dispute as soon as possible.
In other words, Amazon stopped carrying totally unrelated Google products and Google responded by blocking your videos from Amazon devices. Did anyone ask you if that was OK? According to the Verge:
Three months ago, YouTube pulled its programming from Amazon’s Echo Show device — the first skirmish in what is apparently an ongoing war. Shortly after, Amazon stopped selling the Nest E Thermostat, Nest’s Camera IQ, and the Nest Secure alarm system. Two weeks ago, Amazon got YouTube back on the Echo Show by simply directing users to the web version, a workaround that left a lot to be desired. But even that version won’t be available after today.
In other words, this boycott of the billionaires has nothing to do with any YouTube artist or Vevo artist, but all are being harmed by it for reasons they have no control over. You might, however, be able to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Google and possibly both Google and Amazon by clicking here.
[Editor Charlie sez: And Google is opposing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers legislation?]
Major companies have suspended advertising campaigns on YouTube after their ads were displayed with videos depicting children in threatening situations—while the tech giant investigates ‘disturbing’ autofill results that users flagged over the weekend.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mars Inc., Adidas and Diageo, maker of spirits including Tanqueray and Captain Morgan, have suspended their advertising on YouTube.
The videos were highlighted in a BuzzFeed report that described a “vast, disturbing, and wildly popular universe of videos” that included live-action footage of children depicted in compromising situations. YouTube took down some videos and responded by saying it would do a better job of enforcing its community guidelines.
Dozens of users have also claimed that YouTube’s autofill results include phrases that promote pedophilia—for example, typing “how to have” into the search box brought up “how to have s*x with your kids.”
In a ground-breaking report, Music Canada, a national trade organization, documents the scale of harm being caused by the Value Gap – defined as the significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed, particularly through user upload content services like YouTube, and the revenues returned to the people and businesses who create it.
“This is the story you will not hear from Google,” says Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “YouTube would never have emerged as the largest music service without distorting the use of safe harbour protections in copyright law that were created to protect ‘mere conduits’ or ‘dumb pipes.’ We now know that today’s digital platforms are the smartest pipes that have ever been imagined.”
Creators and governments around the world are taking notice, and taking action. In Canada, thousands of musicians, authors, poets, visual artists, playwrights and other members of the creative class, have urged the Canadian government to address the Value Gap in a campaign called Focus On Creators.
The Value Gap: Its Origins, Impacts and a Made-in-Canada Approach is available for download at https://musiccanada.com/resources/research/the-value-gap-report/.
[In response to Lyor Cohen’s blog post, ‘Five observations from my time at YouTube’]
I applaud and second Cary Sherman’s “Five Stubborn Truths…” response as well as Irving Azoff and David Israelite’s later comments.
Here is an independent label perspective.
Many of us hope that you will be able to change the culture at YouTube to become more artist friendly and transparent. We understand that it takes time to shift corporate culture especially one as established as Google’s. Unfortunately, there are some entrenched alternative facts that are repeatedly regurgitated by YouTube and need to be corrected.
[Editor Charlie sez: And then Google shares the YouTube revenue with terrorists, neo-Nazis and illegal drug purveyors….]
The music business is a tough place for most artists to make money. This struggle was thrown into sharp relief last week when the UK industry revealed that artists earned more from vinyl sales in 2016 than they did from YouTube payments for viewings of music videos.
The BPI, the record labels’ association that promotes British music, says this is the latest example of YouTube exploiting the “value gap” between what it makes from online advertising shown around music videos and what finds its way to the artists’ pockets.
As if to add insult to injury, news of the paltry level of payouts came a day after figures showed that Google, and subsidiary YouTube, took home the lion’s share of the £10bn spent on internet advertising in the UK last year. BPI figures show UK vinyl sales growing for the ninth consecutive year in 2016, to a 25-year high of 3.2m units – driven by Blackstar, the final album by the late David Bowie – and making £41.7m for record labels and artists. By contrast, music video streaming, which is dominated by YouTube, funnelled just £25.5m to the industry.
“YouTube’s holding company [Google] can’t really have a motto ‘Do The Right Thing’ then pay one-seventh of the rates other streaming services pay,” said Allen Kovac, who has managed bands including the Bee Gees, Mötley Crüe and Blondie. “Moreover, Google drives audiences to YouTube, which devalues artists’ music. That’s a win-win for them, but a colossal loser for artists.”