back to article YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

Yet another argument has brewed up between independent record companies and a wholesale customer, in this case YouTube. The accusation, that YouTube had given the major labels better terms than they were offering indies, was wearyingly familiar; as was YouTube’s reported response. That response was an offer of “take it or …


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  1. Tom 7

    Leave it

    and with luck we will get another more 'democratic' music portal.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Leave it

      Given that 9 out of 10 video links I get sent by friend in the UK have been pulled by YouTube in Germany means that YT is the last place I bother going to, when looking for music.

      It used to be the big names pulling the videos, but YT are even pulling official video channels of the artists. They were claiming that GEMA made them do it (equivalent of the Performing Rights Society).

      But GEMA won a case against YT, saying that YT couldn't blame GEMA, if GEMA hadn't actually asked for the video to be removed. Now they say that the video has been removed, because YT haven't approached GEMA for a licence.

  2. Gordon 10

    Im shocked I tells ya - shocked!

    Famed content thief will wiggle like a worm to avoid paying for anything.

    Aren't YouTube and Google the ultimate freetards?

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Im shocked I tells ya - shocked!

      Downvotes or not, this is a valid comment.

      YouTube works because stuff gets uploaded and viewed globally before anyone has a chance to object. This can mean that by the time a producer finds all the uploads and gets them blocked, any impact from the launch of a new track has been lost.

      To say that Google get no benefit from this delay is disengenous to say the least. YouTube gets known as the place to see/hear stuff before it is released and a nod/wink to advertisers about how popular it is 'wiv da yoof' or whatever today's magic phrase is results in a few more pennies heading Google's direction.

      1. ratfox

        Re: Im shocked I tells ya - shocked!

        > YouTube works because stuff gets uploaded and viewed globally before anyone has a chance to object

        I take it you haven't heard about ContentId? Producers don't have to find all the uploads. They just tell YouTube which music belongs to them, and YouTube blocks all pirate uploads automatically… If that is the wish of the producer. More often that not, though, the pirate uploads are allowed to stay, but the ad revenue goes to the producer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          So they need to preemptively supply a ContentId to Youtube for stuff they're planning to release in the future, in case it gets leaked early?

          That puts the onus on the content provider to protect himself from Youtube. That's like if there was a smartphone app created tomorrow that could (somehow) open any car, the app maker telling people "hey, don't worry, you just need to provide us the VIN number and we'll block the app from opening you car".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ratfox

            > That puts the onus on the content provider to protect himself from Youtube.

            That's always been the case. Copyright infringement is a civil offense in most jurisdictions, because you're only guilty if a copyright owner objects. You have to assert your rights under copyright. Yes, everyone is protected, but you have to assert your rights against others.

            It's like asking the police to stop all "intruders" entering houses. How are the police to know who has permission to enter my house and who does not? They don't have permission because I say so, but I do have to say so.

            Most copyright owners assert their rights within the work itself or with accompanying documentation, but with an upload site it is impossible to pre-emptively block works that have not had copyright asserted in a way that it would be reasonable for YouTube (or Dropbox etc) to comply with. This is especially difficult these days so many professionally produced independent videos appearing that are being freeing distributed.

            YouTube do have the means to identify works that are copies and once copyright has been asserted, they must comply.

            1. Squander Two

              Re: @skelband

              > That's always been the case.

              No, it most certainly has not. And, in most cases, it still isn't.

              Try approaching Harper Collins with a copy of Casino Royale and asking them to publish it under your name and see how far you get. They won't decide to print a couple of thousand because they can probably sell them before Ian Fleming's estate notice and tell them to stop; they will assume, rightly, that the onus is on them not to breach copyright.

              Google have managed via extensive lobbying to persuade governments that the onus is on everyone else to ensure Google don't breach people's rights. You might approve of this change for whatever reason, but to claim that it's not a change is simply wrong.

          2. Anon5000

            Re: @ratfox

            Comparing watching unlicensed content to stealing a car sounds familiar....

      2. Jedit Silver badge

        "Downvotes or not, this is a valid comment."

        Yes, it is. YouTube are trying to get something for nothing, or at least as little as they can get away with.

        So it's a pity that your comment had to be flavoured with the "internet piracy is killing music" crap that we hear all the time from RIAA and their cronies - something that has been proven false time and again by indie artists discovering that giving some of their music away for free on the web actually increased their sales.

        Internet piracy reduces the margins of corporations churning out bland drivel. The people being affected by YouTube's musical land grab are not affected by it half so much.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happens everywhere

    Despite the vast turnover, all media outlets try and reduce complexity. Television channels focus on a few familiar faces who get all the work, Sky wants just a few footballs teams to broadcast. Corporatism wants to destroy diversity in the interests of "efficiency", i.e. not having to work too hard for a lot of money.

    The problem is not the polices of Youtube; the problem is its actual existence. If we want diversity, we need new monopolies laws for the Internet age. But the nature of corporate funding of politics means this won't happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Happens everywhere

      "The problem is not the polices of Youtube; the problem is its actual existence. If we want diversity, we need new monopolies laws for the Internet age."

      I suspect that we don't need new laws, and the existing ones would suffice just fine. On any metric Youtube has a dominant market share, with numbers circulating showing that it played 44% of music videos viewed worldwide even back in 2011. If a print distributor with a 44% market share tried to offer discriminatory terms to smaller publishers, they'd find themselves on the sharp end of a competition investigation in not time at all, and undoubtedly enjoying a draconian fine for abuse of market power.

      As far as I can see, you are correct that the problem is one of corporate funding of politics, but the impact of that is not blocking new laws, rather it is ensuring that existing ones do not get applied.

      In all of this, it looks to me as though Google are sowing the seeds of their own downfall. They appear to believe that this behaviour is acceptable and legal, and will have no consequences for them. The correct response for music enthusiasts is to try and live a Google free life - different search engine, no Gmail account, make sure your next phone isn't Android, avoid Youtube.

  4. Psyx

    I can't say I blame YouTube for trying to cut out the middle-man, in the same way that Amazon are doing. It means more money for them and the publishing house or label gets screwed out of business. The only thing better than a huge slice of pie is an even bigger one, as far as tehy are concerned.

    In some ways it could be positive: Publishing houses and labels will have to have something else to offer artists to get them to sign on: Actual PR, advances, help in marketing et al. All things which they probably won't be able to do because it costs too much, perhaps.

    I suspect the reality of the situation will be that major labels will continue to be rolling in BritainsgotXFactorTalent money and the indies will struggle and whither.

    The major difference between major label artists and indie stuff as a consumer is that you have to find the indie stuff yourself, instead of being spoon-fed it via the bought-and-paid-for radio stations and Saturday night talent-show TV.

    1. SisterClamp

      Not exactly

      Amazon isn't trying to cut out the middle-person. Amazon is trying to MONETISE the middle-person. It is doing this by (it seems*) pushing to charge for publisher perks, such as pre-orders, personalised recommendations, and for having a dedicated Hatchette representative working at Amazon (a Hatchette Account Manager (HAM), if you will). Reference is here:

      Amazon believes in the long tail and is quite content to leave indie writers alone for as long as it makes sense for it to do so. (Yes, Amazon may well screw over indie writers in the future but, here and now, that's not what's happening.) What YouTube is doing is completely different, going after indies proactively by penalising them while offering better terms to the large recording companies on the same platform.

      The only similarity is that Amazon is big and YouTube is big. Other than that, the two are playing completely different games. I agree about finding indie music, though. It's a lot tougher, but ultimately more satisfying, than listening to the dross that currently passes as Top Twenty "music".

      * I say "it seems" because, as Nate Hoffelder points out (link above), all the leaks so far have come from Hatchette, and we know that a company will never knowingly "leak" information detrimental to its own position.

  5. phil dude
    Paris Hilton


    the reality is there is more music (media) available than is possible for any one person to experience in many lifetimes.

    It makes sense to be a be discriminating...although just as at an all-you-can-eat buffet, I would still prefer the entire menu to make a choice....


  6. Eradicate all BB entrants

    And yet at no point .....

    ..... do the indies step back and think about doing something similar for themselves. The independent scene is blooming again after wilting under the barrage of crappy television karaoke shows so why not service your own sector? Their own streaming/video service would open up a whole new world of advertisers for the labels that would be more relevant.

    Stop thinking about what Youtube/Spotify can offer your fans, look at what you can offer instead, a bespoke streaming\video service for people who love what you create.

    1. cmannett85

      Re: And yet at no point .....

      They already exist: Bandcamp, soundcloud, etc.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: And yet at no point .....

        Soundcloud used to be great, but since the 'upgrade' is a train wreck.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet at no point .....

      The big problem is that, in order to beat "the man," you basically have to BE "the man". The very things that make indies so free are also what limits their ability to reach out: the lack of connections (read: constraints and obligations).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "if it wishes to avoid a disastrous drift into sub-optimal Gini coefficient content markets"

    I'm going to pretend I know what that means and say "Yeah" while nodding my head knowingly with the tip of one arm of my glasses perched on my bottom lip.

    1. Paul Sanders

      Apologies for that rather condensed phrase. What I meant was that we need the right amount of inequality, rather than no inequality. Or, from the other perspective, too much equality makes us all amateurs, and for a field in which excellence has a long tradition, that might not be regarded as a good outcome.

  8. GrumpyOldMan

    Indie Site?

    I'd like to see a new Indie site - those who like indie and know it will gravitate to where they can find it. "If you build it, they will come... " YT is ok, but like all small startups who get swallowed by huge corporates, they loose touch with grass roots in favour of shareholders and the boardroom. Anyone remember when YouTube first started? I do, and had stuff on it back then.

    Personally, I'm not a YT addict and I like music in many forms and some of the indie stuff is really good. I believe diversity is good, competition is healthy, and the monopolistic pay-no-tax attitudes from certain US giants who want to rule the universe is getting up my nose sideways!

    1. pPPPP

      Re: Indie Site?

      Problem is, Google probably own a bunch of patents on it and will stop any competition, free, indie or otherwise.

      Youtube's bollocks now anyway. Most of the idiotic comments, which were the best bit, have now been replaced by pointless descriptions of the content from the few hundred drones on their crappy social network.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: Indie Site?

        Google pretty much never exercise their patents, apart from to fight off other patent attacks, so it would be worth a try.

  9. DropBear

    Oh well...

    I guess it's just a coincidence that in my opinion no music owned by Sony, Warner or UMG is worthy of any attention at all going back for at least a decade now. And earlier music I already got fully covered, sans Youtube, thankyouverymuch.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Oh well...

      Go back to sleep, Grandad.

  10. xeroks

    Original Sin?

    The whole thrust of the move seems odd, given that Google beat its contemporary search engines to profitability by targeting small advertisers.

    Or is this tack a replication of previous success? That is: provide the small guy the ability to advertise, but give the big boys big discounts?

    Anyone able to state what rates big advertisers have compared to "indie" Adsense users?

  11. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Net neutrality

    Google has long been a champion of net neutrality and the concept that all content is created equal. There should be no preferential treatment because that may lead to a 2-tiered 'net where rich companies can squeeze out the smaller operators. Google has spent years (and millions) lobbying for these rights, and creating a 2-tiered royalty system for YT is just demonstrating how sincerely it holds these views.

    1. Levente Szileszky

      Re: Net neutrality

      Yes, I'm getting this feeling of a two-faced sneaky BSing company ever since Schmidt was removed from his CEO positions and Page took over... it's not necessarily him but definitely the changes he made, for sure, that changed Google so much (I opted out of almost everything sans the most basic set of their services and I only keep them reluctantly now as they seem to be the least evil of all big guns.)

  12. Levente Szileszky

    YT is a bunch of arrogant googlers...

    ...and I try to avoid it for a long time now - other than occasional watching of retro-stuff (eg search terms like "full movie" or "historic footage" w/ year) or occasional cartoons for the kids I pretty much stopped using it, there are loads of much better sites out there to discover new music.

  13. channel extended


    I have used YT to watch/listen to some of the new indie groups and I can honestly it's say 90% crap. While this is a common perception, what makes me avoid it for now is there is no knowing how good a group are until you have wasted time. THIS is what the major labels provide as a service. If you don't want to waste time, read some reviews of the group. This will work until the reviewing process gets monetized. Then you eventually are a major label.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      90% of anything is crap

      It might even be more than 90%

      Most of the music, books, games, software etc ever made are crap.

      The fun part is that some of what I consider to be crap, someone else thinks is good.

      As record labels are obviously "not me", and big labels contain large numbers of these "other people", you can't assume that they will find the good stuff.

      A large label will try to pick the 0.1% that is most likely not to sit in most peoples "crap" set, but that isn't the same as picking most people's "really good"

      The way to find "really good" is to find a few pundits who come close to not being "not you", and take their advice - and the pundits will do the same.

      This method is also broken.

  14. AlexS
    Big Brother

    At the end of the day it's the band members that lose out.

    Even established acts are feeling the pinch what chance is it for newcomers. You have far more chance winning the lottery than making a living even for a week.... even if you are really really good....

  15. WatAWorld

    Youtube simply doesn't understand how we find music

    This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how people use the web:

    "and relatively few recordings are so compelling that consumers would leave YouTube if they were not available."

    When I search for a song I go where that song is.

    If the song is not on Youtube I never go into Youtube so there is no Youtube to leave.

    Independent labels could put their music anywhere, so long as google indexes it we'll find it.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Youtube simply doesn't understand how we find music

      "so long as google indexes it "

      That would be fine if YouTube and Google were independent companies. Google's motivation would then be solely to provide the most relevant results, and not to provide "the most relevant results that offer the greatest revenue potential for Google".

      Google already has a ranking problem with video searching. I tried a couple of videos that I know were placed on Vimeo first by their creators, then copied to YouTube by third parties. Guess which version is ten or more places higher on the Google search rankings?

      Vimeo's video quality is, as a rule, better than YT's, which makes it odd that when the same content is hosted on both services, YouTube is consistently ranked above the Vimeo link. Is it because only one of the videos is prefixed with Google ads?

      And this is with Vimeo, a company that Google is not trying to browbeat into a contract negotiation...

  16. Sirius Lee

    It's all much more human than this

    The people responsible for running YouTube have been given financial targets, not worthy ones. As a result, they are just doing the rational human thing and following the incentive plan. The question is, why has the Google board required such short-term thinking? My guess is that YouTube is not earning enough and to garner more ad revenue (and so survive) it's focusing on the content that will help revenues.

    The equally big question is why are indie label manager so inept? Is stomping off complaining about poor treatment by YouTube the only response? Surely in 2014 with cloud resources just a click away, they can band together to create a streaming service of their own, market it through Facebook and generate their own ad revenue. Unless of course, most of it's crap and there really is no market for this 'indie' music.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all much more human than this

      A good indie manager is practically an oxymoron. If an indie label manager were of any real aptitude, he probably wouldn't be working at an indie label. Say what you will, but big labels aren't stupid. When they see something good, they'll snap it up (before a rival does). An indie is an indie usually because he or she lacks something that gets the big labels' attention: ambition, work ethic, connections, whatever.

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