It's hard to imagine a worse advertisement for the alleged new all-streaming future of the music business than the current mess with YouTube and independent labels.
If you haven't been following it, YouTube has failed to agree terms with hundreds of labels outside the three majors (Universal, Sony BMG and EMI Group) for its proposed Spotify-like paid music streaming service.
Two decades of consolidation means that the "big three" control most of the copyrights that YouTube wants. They've made their agreements and hundreds of indie labels have been presented with non-negotiable deals substantially inferior to those the three majors were offered. That leaves some important artists, most notably those on the Beggars Group roster (including Adele, Radiohead and Jack White), outside the tent.
Astoundingly, YouTube has used its existing, stable and well-accepted licensing system for videos containing music as leverage to try and force indies to accept its terms for the paid music streaming service. I'm with Billy Bragg on this one -- it's a massive strategic blunder:
"I don’t know why they’ve opened this hornet’s nest right now, apart from corporate hubris," said Bragg. "I don’t think they realise what a stupid thing they’ve done."
As others point out, this will do YouTube reputational damage and it will probably see them dragged into needless regulatory strife in Europe. It also renders incoherent a structure that has actually been working.
So if YouTube goes through with this idiocy, what will happen? Well, not everything in an indie catalogue will actually come down. But as Billboard explains, it will turn off the modest revenue stream currently available for those videos:
Not only will YouTube hurt indie labels in their collective pocketbook for refusing to sign its deal for the service, it will be kicking sand in their faces too, because it will likely leave their music up on its site for anybody who wants to play them -- it just won't monetize those music videos by putting advertising against them.
That means labels will have to play whack-a-mole if they want their music pulled off the service, because YouTube will likely hide behind the safe harbor provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and only take down music when notified by the rights owner. Rights owners already know they can't play whack-a-mole fast enough to get their music taking down from the user-uploaded site. Their music will always be up there.
Google's informal company mantra is supposed to be "don't be evil," but that apparently goes out the window when they deal with indie labels, one indie label executive complained to Billboard.
Artist channels will be blocked and indie artists will no longer have access to Content ID to track fan-uploaded videos. But Adele videos won't disappear altogether, because they'll still be on Vevo, the major-label-owned service-within-a-service that has reached an agreement with YouTube. Indie labels and artists will still be able to get their videos onto YouTube, but it appears they'll have to upload them outside their already-established channels.
The sole mercy of this approach is that the multitude of third-party videos that use independent music won't be taken down as collateral damage. But the indie artists will not get their tiny payment for the use of their music.
It's a complete mess that sets things back at least five years. YouTube and its parent Google are behaving dreafully. I hope this gets sorted, soon.
In the circumstances, perhaps I should play some new independent videos while the playing's good.
Here's the strange and surreal video for the title track of The Great North's Up in Smoke album:
And, with oddly similar themes of muck and mission, the just-released video for Doprah's 'Whatever You Want':
New in the online shop at FlyingOut ...
Simon Ogston's excellent Skeptics documentary Sheen of Gold, at last on DVD.
Pre-ordering as crowd-funding for a vinyl version of Robert Scott's forthcoming solo album The Green House. If you buy it, they will build it.
And Bored Games' Who Killed Colonel Mustard? as a WAV or MP3 download.
Last Friday, I happily helped my friend Andrew Moore celebrate his 45th birthday with a party at Lucha Lounge. Music is central to the community Andy and I are part of and it was fittingly integral to the party. The best part of the evening was a set from Moore Than a Feeling, the Moore family band, featuring Andy's brother Phil Moore, Phil's sons Jacob (formerly of The Checks) and Ethan and, of course Andy (The Beads, the Battling Strings and Meatboy).
At one point, Phil's wife Linda and daughter Katie also took the stage to reprise Linda's William Blake-penned vocal on the Exploding Budgies' 'Sunflower'. But my highlights were the "covers" from Phil's old band, Goblin Mix, and in particular, this one, which is one my of favourite songs full stop:
Later, Blair Parkes' band Range played. And I took the stage to sing with a band for the first time in my life, performing the Reduction Agents' 'Waiting for Your Love' with Andy's all-star covers band Suicide Wednesday. Video of that is mercifully unavailable, but it was a lot of fun at the time.
Arch, funny and smooth: it's the new jam from Coco Solid -- out next month:
The Australian DJ Copycat only makes his edits and remixes available for the standard free-Soundcloud 100 downloads. This one has been up for 40 minutes as I write and you'd best grab it right now.
Over at TheAudience - covering 'Riders On the Storm' is kind of a big call, but October actually puts it off pretty well (click through for the free download):
And, from way down the chart, this sultry little groove:
A version of the same track is also available on Soundcloud. I for one would like to hear more of Deeper Kind, and soon.
And, finally, staying on the instrumental hip hop tip, a fresh new free track with a pleasing electro feel from Adi Dick:
That's from his new mini-album Undergrowth, which you can explore on Bandcamp.
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