Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where's all the music videos on YouTube?

If you're a YouTube music video watcher you will have noticed that they have pulled all the professional music videos over the last few days.

The Performing Rights Society (PRS) have been trying to negotiate with YouTube for some time about how to ensure payment for song writers and artists when music videos are played. But YouTube, owned by Google, pulled out of the negotiations yesterday unexpectedly.

The principal of PRS is that payment is made to artists and songwriters every time their recorded work is played. Not just on the radio and tv, but in work places, shops and pubs too. Although built with good intentions, it's a pretty hit and miss affair with monies being distributed in an arbitrary fashion.

This break down doesn't surprise me however. I spoke to the PRS a few years ago about how to deal with the use of a well known track as a background for a promotional video for a non-profit organisation and hosted on YouTube.

They had no solution whatsoever to cover that other than an enormously priced global option covering all sorts of other non-related use of the material. I suggested that I would contact the band and their agents directly to agree rights but was told firmly that when the PRS caught up we would be charged the extortionate rate in retrospect.

I questioned how they were going to handle the increase in music used on video hosting sites and their answer was basically to just shrug their shoulders.

The PRS seems to be very outdated in it's view of the way music is used now and is burying it's head in the sand over how it needs to change to accommodate new media. So I can understand Googles' frustration and decision to withdraw.

Sadly it's not just us at the user end that suffers, it's the artists too who have lost a potentially valuable revenue stream by promoting sales of their new album through YouTube. But I suspect that the PRS don't really car about that?

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