observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You Tube deal thoughts

As soon as the news broke that Google was working on the purchase of YouTube, a deal that has since been consummated, pundits on MSNBC and CNN began to discuss YouTube’s copyright infringement issues. In taking a page from The Long Tail I must say they just don’t get it. While Universal and Doug Morris may want to go on the offensive against YouTube (a position that has also softened since I started writing this piece) most copyright owners love YouTube.

Maybe not the Top 10 copyright owners in the world, but the remaining 1 billion have no problem with the relatively young website. Just take a look at YouTube’s deck. Much of the content up there is self published. Stupid little clips of the family trip to Niagara Falls, high school football reels, white girls proving they can ‘drop it like it’s hot’ (whatever that means), and montages of expectant mother’s gestation period. [author’s note: the aforementioned pieces are enjoyed by the writer’s son and the writer respectively] But let us also not sugar coat this; the rest is blatant copyright infringement. Whether it be unlicensed postings of Stones Throw videos or unlicensed music for the silly videos. It is infringement in the purest sense of the word.

But what Doug Morris and MSNBC don’t know is what it’s like to be at the end of the Long Tail. When no one cares or knows about your copyright. We say infringe away, please. Take it. Blog it. Whatever you want. Because I need my voice heard by any means. And those entrepreneurs are so use to living on the edge of the marketplace that they have created other hustles that go beyond their copyrights.

To use my favorite label Stones Throw as an example, I don’t think Wolf or Egon care how many times I watched the Oh No “Move Pt.2” video. They know the more times I watch the video the more likely I am to come see Oh No and the rest of the family in November. And the faster they sell out BB King’s the higher the guarantee will be on the next run. The more views of the Lord Quas video means higher merch sales. And so on and so on. The impressions from YouTube stimulate easily controlled and monitored revenue streams.

I equate this argument to a conversation I had with an artist I used to manage regarding his publishing. He was so concerned about ‘keeping his publishing’ as was and is all the rage. He had over 100 published songs and a countless number of joints in various stages of development. And he was dead set on owning his publishing as well as administering it. I told him he was like a mechanic who could build, fix and warehouse a fleet of cars but did not want to open up a garage, a car service, or a car lot. If you can build a car a day why hold onto each car? Let it go. Sell it. And if it’s stolen, no big deal. Build another. As long as you have that skill you will always be in good shape. Now that does mean you don’t lock the cars up at night, but clearly you want people to see your craftsmanship and go on to build your reputation. Then the market will come to you.

This is what YouTube has latched onto. And even the big boys realize that eyeballs on their content is all that really matters. Not attaching a transaction to each impression. Not only is that ultimately ineffective but actually cost prohibitive and damaging to the brand.

Ask NBC if they would rather have 1 million hits on the “Studio 60” trailer or a million dollars. A million dollars is a lot of money but a million YouTube hits in the right hands means 10’s of millions in other revenue, primarily advertising.

You Tube’s copyright issues will be of no consequence. Indie filmmakers and frat boys will gladly sign off on the rights. And with a 5% success rate for new shows the networks will gladly use Google funded and affiliated YouTube to test out a new pilot in hopes of finding the next Lost, 24, Nip/Tuck or Desperate Housewives.

2 Comments:

Blogger ian said...

What's amazing to me is how much derision the MSM has for YouTube and the deal they just did with Google. Pundits on CNN couldn't help but constantly hate on it all day yesterday with sideways comments like "I don't get it", "how long will this really last?" etc. It's amazing how disconnected they are from how the new generation is consuming media of all forms.

October 11, 2006 1:49 PM

 
Blogger ian said...

What's amazing to me is how much derision the MSM has for YouTube and the deal they just did with Google. Pundits on CNN couldn't help but constantly hate on it all day yesterday with sideways comments like "I don't get it", "how long will this really last?" etc. It's amazing how disconnected they are from how the new generation is consuming media of all forms.

October 11, 2006 1:50 PM

 

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