back to article Hey, YouTube: Pay your 'workers' properly and get with the times

The latest record industry middleman takes more than ever from the mouths of musicians, at least compared with the old record industry middleman. Head of the recording industry trade group BPI Geoff Taylor says that video music consumption doubled, but revenue only rose by 0.5 per cent. Taylor contrasted this with a 70 per …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah 'Murica and the UK are totally laissez-faire about copyright, until it comes to propping it up, harassing individuals, and gunning for 10 year jail sentences.

    You haven't failed as a businessman if you're too big to fail.

    1. asdf

      fsck eternal copyright

      >Yeah 'Murica and the UK are totally laissez-faire about copyright,

      By laissez-faire you mean in favor of it being eternal right? Not sure about UK but friggin Disney who built their empire on altering public domain stories sure is getting their way here in Murica.

  2. MyffyW Silver badge

    Tech the enabler - Tech the destroyer

    In the preface to Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury retells how he got writing by hiring a typewriter at the local library. In those days there were dozens of short story magazines which would pay for his content. Technology (in this case typewriter-as-a-service) was an enabler.

    It is significant that in later life Bradbury was resistant to letting his works become e-books, largely because of the value that was potentially destroyed by Amazon et al. That, and the fact that an e-reader perishes at temperatures substantially below 451 degF.

  3. breakfast

    The one impressive innovation I have seen from YouTube, perhaps what was being referred to, is the ability to automatically identify the music on a video with impressive accuracy. If anything that should make it easier for them to route revenues to copyright holders.

    1. Anne Other

      Surely you mean content creators?

      1. The Packrat

        @Anne Other - Surely you mean content creators?

        Nope. He/she had it right the first time. If they're lucky content creators are the copyright holders. More often than not someone else holds the copyright and the actual creators are at the mercy of the copyright holder(s).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, so impressive people are able to claim all kinds of things that are fair use and take peoples money no questions asked. Even if the claim is later withdrawn.

    3. paulc

      I was very impressed with this recognition software as it flagged up some self shot concert videos I had done of an AC/DC tribute band...

    4. Jan Hargreaves

      While that piece of technology is impressive there are two major problems with it:

      1. Now you see many distributors, labels etc all "claiming" the rights to the same song. They more often than not have rights in different territories but claim worldwide nonetheless. Meanwhile the songwriters and performers more often than not get nothing.

      2. This technology is useless when it comes to remixes or DJ mixes. A remix can sound similiar to a track but YouTube will think it's one or the other.

      With a DJ mix it's far worse - they wait for one person to claim the rights to one song, or detect one song in a 10-20 track mix and give them all the royalties. Meanwhile, because it's a mix, the copyright actually belongs to the DJ or the DJ's label and not any of the artists of the original songs. It's then the DJ's label's responsibility to share the revenue with everyone that contributes on the mix. And they pay the same royalty for a 3 minute pop track as they do for an 80 minute DJ mix. Maybe no-one at Google listens to dance music...

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"


    So Google, you'll be accepting attention in lieu of actual money for your ad impressions, right ?

    Yeah, sure.

    That fails the smell test from a mile away.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"

      Of course Google are going to think that attention is worth its weight in gold.

      Getting people to pay attention[1] is the holy grail in their business, it's the rest of the world that doesn't give a fish's tits....

      [1] To adverts. Obviously.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"

      Remember: you're doing it for the EXPOSURE!

      1. NotWorkAdmin

        Re: "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"

        Sure, easily to criticise this statement. Also very easy to forget what happened when newspapers cried out at having their content displayed in Google News. Google complied, then they all wondered where the visitors to their websites had gone.

        Like it or not, you'd be sacrificing a massive amount of reach by not having your content pushed out by Google. That doesn't mean I like it, but I think I understand it to a reasonable extent.

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"

        "Remember: you're doing it for the EXPOSURE!"

        But, but, Exposure'll get you on the sex offenders list!

    3. Dave Bell

      Re: "it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention"

      Yes, it's one of the standard internet cons, much like the idea of Interns in the wider business world.

      You don't have to look very hard to see this scam being used, and outfits such as The Huffington Post even try it on award-winning authors, people who can hardly be said to be short of exposure.

      And the whole internet is built on copyright scams. A quarter century ago, companies were claiming a perpetual and unlimited grant of copyright by you, for anything you posted. In those days it was AOL. The language has changed slightly (under US Law, up until the 1970s, you couldn't license copyright, only sell it, and internet companies have now realised that), and the core problem remains, but there still want an unlimited, perpetual, grant of license.

      The core problem is that the internet can only work by making copies of content, even transient copies in a router, and even as you read this, your browser has made a copy. So the internet companies need to make some sort of copyright claim. And it it practical to remove every copy of a work from a well-run back-up system? But we seem to still be getting trampled on by legal boiler-plate written by somebody who didn't understand the internet.

      And so we get the offer of "exposure", and if you post a picture of a news event to the net, it can get used without permission or payment by the news media, and if we give their copyrights the same respect they send the lawyers in.

  5. Aodhhan

    They're going to milk what they can squeeze.

    Artists must be making enough money, or feel they benefit (something) by using Google to release their music, otherwise they wouldn't permit it.

    Until artists start saying no to Google, they will squeeze and squeeze. Free market, baby!

    Please tell me you don't want the government to step in and regulate this more.

    1. Andy 73

      Re: They're going to milk what they can squeeze.

      The problem is that there is a near endless supply of artists starting out their careers and happy to vlog, hype and sell every last drop of their early experiences.

      The argument is that we end up with an infinite supply of 'debut albums' (which feeds the Google machine and undemanding viewers), but then reality kicks in and those artists realise they need to get a proper job that actually pays.

      The effect is subtle (and I believe felt in the software world too) - we don't get a reduction in quantity, but we don't get deeper, more sophisticated content. There are fewer 'second albums', more software remains in perpetual beta, all that potential for something bigger and better is lost because the next step, where you learn from your craft and do it better is not economical.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "By contrast, YouTube is a business built on cat videos, the low quality threshold of teenagers, and a giant honking copyright loophole. Does this look sustainable to you?"

    Sure, Angryjoe, Totalbiscuit, E-sports, Yogscast, Pollaris, Jim Sterling, AVGN, Nostalgia Critic, educational and informative material, transformative material, that's just the stuff that appeals to me, there's far more out there.

    And not to forget, this short which is one of the most awesome bits of Star Wars stuff ever.

    Get your head out of your arse.

    1. Triggerfish


      If you like the Star Wars clip you should check out the Akira Project clip

  7. JulieM

    The good times are over

    Once upon a time, people used to be able to get very rich in a very short time by importing certain rare shellfish which lived in only one place and were the only source of a stable, purple dye. Then a young chemist by the name of William Henry Perkin invented Artificial Mauve; and suddenly purple clothing was affordable to the masses.

    Also once upon a time, access to the equipment needed to distribute music was limited. Setting up a record label was a serious investment, and this was reflected in the prices they charged. And even though a cassette cost more to manufacture than a CD, it was sold more cheaply because of its poorer quality of reproduction. Then computers -- and memory, HDD space and writable optical discs -- became cheap.

    The Free Market has spoken, and people aren't prepared to pay so much for their music anymore. In fact, without the option of free music, people would rather do without altogether than pay.

    The good times are over. Deal with it. If you want to make music, you are going to get people copying it; if you don't like that, your only redress is to withdraw your labour. (Which is still more than most private-sector workers in the UK .....)

    1. A Ghost

      Re: The good times are over

      You raise some good points.

      Been over this ground many times.

      Tired of it now. It is what it is.

      Like you say, the good times are indeed over. Now we are without hope.

      Not so long ago, ironically enough, the systems in place meant that anyone had a shot at the big time, if they were good enough. Now, there is no hope for anyone, no matter their level of talent. David Bowie would not only not exist today, if he did, he certainly wouldn't get anywhere.

      Let that sink in for a minute. Because what I just wrote is the absolute antithesis of how people see the 'game' today. It's game over indeed, and all you can do is stop, get out of the game and withdraw your labour. This is what I have done.

      I have actually worked my whole life for a few decades, day in day out, to get to the level of expertise I am at now. I would class myself as a top 10 world class producer and songwriter. Bands like Radiohead make a living, but I find their music and songwriting a bit embarrassing. Of course this is a very subjective field, but there has to be some objectivity too. (Hi Bryce [Radiohead manager] - still love ya baby, say hello to your boys for me)

      The problem is that people have really learned to like shit these days. I'm not talking about Radiohead here, they aren't to my taste, but you couldn't say they were 'shit'. I like some of their stuff. It's just that I'm better than them. This is not about quality though. And doing high end exceptional stuff is a major drawback, because people (kids) can not appreciate it. They just don't have the equipment to listen.

      Music is not about what it was in the decades past. Today it is solely about advertising/marketing/lifestyle. The people that appreciated music for music's sake are getting old and dying. There is no one to take their place.

      Now. I know the 'get off my lawn' argument - you're a bitter and twisted failed musician who hasn't kept up with the times granddad. Au contraire. I can outplay, outwrite and outproduce pretty much 90 percent of the shit of the last decade or two. Stuff done by kids anyway. It's really not that good. And that is an embarrassment to them, because they should be better than me. They are younger, sharper, more in the flow, so why the fuck is their music so pathetically bad and why are they still trying to be Jimmy Hendrix?

      Music is dying. It's already dead.

      And please spare me the 'oh if you know where to look there is some great stuff out there'. No. No there isn't. I haven't heard anything new and good in over two years now. And believe me, I do look for it. But I have exceptionally high standards, admittedly. Still, I can tell stuff that is above average quality. Amazingly, the vast majority is below average quality. If that is scientifically possible. :-)

      The kids have run out of steam. They have no new ideas. They have contempt for those that laid the groundwork before them, but they still try to imitate them.

      The problem is there is no scene that has not been 'Red Bulled' out of existence. Microchipped as you walk into the festival. Cameras in your face as you are there, gurning on your gram of speed and half an ecstasy. Hi mum!

      Yes, technology is now in the hands of everyone. But there is a problem. Even the grammy award winning producers are churning out shit records. Sure, they sound fucking great. But the same problem as the kids: They have forgotten how to write songs. They have forgotten how to choose interesting people with something to say to write those songs. And so the old are as burned out as the young.

      I really don't care anymore.

      I still make my music, even though I have retired a failure. I had some chart success and other successes and I can name drop and 'KLANG' with the best of them. But so what? The greatest irony is that even though I am burned out and beyond hope, I can still make music that sparkles and shines and touches places that no one else seems able to. I'm crying out for quality music. I have given up on that as well. I love all music from jazz to drum and bass to hip hop to country to rock to reggae. I can even write and produce in those styles. But can I find someone that is bringing things forward a bit? Doing their own thing? Bringing something new to the table? Nope.

      Music deserves to die this death. I sincerely hope it gets a lot worse. I would like to see every single distribution mechanism go down. Won't happen. But I would like it.

      In the mean time, you all seem to soldiering on in the vein hope that this thing will somehow come good now. It won't. Fucking Jay-Z and Peyonce and the Guardian have made sure of that.

      It really is game over.

      Meanwhile, I'm still digging out gems of songs I wrote 20 years ago, and bringing them up to date in whatever modern productions suit them best. Doing hip hop versions of my country stuff. Working on new forms of music I invented that haven't been labeled yet. Doing mind blowing, jaw-droppingly stunning productions that make the listener think they have just been covered in honey instead of sound waves, such is the gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. Like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now.

      Shame no one will ever hear it, really.

      You just didn't love your music enough! (To paraphrase)

      1. Andy 73

        Re: The good times are over

        @A Ghost

        I really think the problem here is that the 'new technology' has introduced a generation gap that actually separates the young guns from the guys who know what they're doing. The result is that the new kids don't have anyone they're brushing up against that challenges what they do, that shows them 'better'. For a moment, just managing to produce a half decent 'tube video from your back bedroom is enough (seriously, search 'how to vlog').

        I don't believe youtube has to die (but "do no evil" Google really should stop pissing in people's cornflakes). What I'd like to see happen is that the not so new medium starts to mature and people move beyond good enough and go back to trying to out do each other, learning from each other and building on what's gone before. The audience is certainly beginning to mature, and as tastes change, so will the content. I'm not sure we've experienced such a globally synchronising event since the early days of pop.

    2. Andy 73

      Re: The good times are over

      Ah yes, we demand free, because *some spurious reason* and we're too thick to realise that free stuff is not necessarily the same quality as paid.

      Oh yes, and the fact that some uniquely talented individuals got obscenely rich from being uniquely talented apparently offends us, so we're going to prevent anyone from accidentally being successful and rewarded for being uniquely talented.

      And we'll point to a novelty act and pretend that they're an example of why people shouldn't get rewarded for dumb luck and a bit of self-promotion. Because it's clearly unfair if you have people with enough dumb luck to be famous.

      Then we'll celebrate! The good times are over. Now we've destroyed the incentive for those rare talents to hone their art, develop and evolve. Because we've got cat videos and an infinite supply of unthreatening teenagers singing in their back bedrooms (with a touching back story), so clearly there's nothing ****ing wrong with this picture.

      Bill Hicks would have a field day with the retards who think that just because 'the man' is no longer wearing a suit, they've somehow got one over on the world. Well done you, enjoy sitting in your puddle.

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: The good times are over

        I think what "A Ghost" is saying, is that the self promotion engine isn't there any more. Even those who are talented can't get on anyone's radar unless they're sponsored to the hilt by a corporate who'll send them head and shoulders above the mediocrity.

        Yes, there are other gripes in there.

        But I disagree with A Ghost that things are dead. There will always be people who will strive for their art. Those that will do the day job to keep the wolf fed, and then burn the candle at the other end to do what their heart screams, and grow in the process.

        YouTube is destined to die. It is only going to be a matter of time before the advertisers work out that paying money to the likes of Faceache and Alphabet soup is a waste and that they need a new strategy, due to the ad blockers and the like. Personally, I think that YouTube Red is going to die a death; I mean, who's going to pay good money to watch pewdipie swear at a screen? (I watched part of one video and that was enough for me.) - It's going to take a few years, sure, but YouTube will eventually collapse and then the ground will be set for the next thing to build, and the early days of YouTube that gave people a chance, will happen again... on another service.

        I have to admit that a lot of ground has been broken in the last few decades. In one way, sound moved forward because instruments moved forward. We had the electric guitar, synthesisers, vocoders, drum machines and other thing that opened new doors to new sounds. And yes, in those things it does look like we've hit a brick wall.

        And with all the suing going on over riffs taken from here or there, and there only being so many notes you can play in a certain order... it doesn't look good... but there are needles in the haystacks... it's just that the haystack has become larger.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: The good times are over

          I do sort of agree with A Ghost. There is nothing new coming out of the Western nations because they are decadent and dying. Short of a war, or some other catastrophe, or a great upswelling of hope (fat chance) there isn't the will to produce anything new. New music will come from other cultures - ones that are suffering, or ones that are optimistic about the world. I'm increasingly looking back to albums and artist I missed from the 60s and 70s, where all sorts of new things were happening, and you can hear the joy of creating sounds that hadn't been heard before.

  8. tiggity Silver badge


    The sound quality of Spotify, Apple is OK, meanwhile on youtube, often content sounds like the recording is from output of a single low quality headphone recorded in a toilet bowl.

    In general youtube does serve a purpose of finding new music to investigate further, but (unless your hearing is totally borked) it's rather unenjoyable listening to youtube sound quality for long periods of time.

    Yes, there are exceptions where youtube sound quality is OK, but in general that is not the case.

    So it seems reasonable to me that a youtube listen is worth less than a spotify listen, as it's typically a lower quality sound experience.

  9. Crisp

    They are all millionaires

    Is it really worth arguing over what fraction of a billion each of them gets?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Google argues it pays out something far more valuable than money: attention.'

    Hell yes. I can certainly live on that. Attention definitely pays the mortgage. File with 'jam tomorrow', the promise made by publishers since time immemorial.

  11. CJ_C


    I trust that the Performing Rights Society are pursuing YouTube and others. Any other broadcaster, pub or music hall has to make a return in the UK so is YouTube making one in respect of UK users? Or perhaps they think like some other internet companies (mainly US) that the law does not apply to them?

  12. Mike Moyle

    “The rising flow of royalties that should be nurturing artists and labels has slowed to a trickle..."

    What he was THINKING, I'm sure...

    1. Ian 55

      It's effectively what he said

      Who do you think are the last two in the list 'musicians, songwriters, performers, publishers and music investors'?

      Investors = big music companies.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks a lot, YouTube!!

    "YouTube is one of the only platforms that allows anyone to get their music heard by a global audience of over one billion people. And it allows artists like Justin explode from obscurity"

    If anyone knows the way to the local YouTube datacenter, I can provide the torches and pitchforks!!

  14. jmith

    Google is aware of what they are doing

    When Google increased the video length of youtube they did so with the intent of a bigger strategy in mind. They realized that people would start uploading pirated videos to their service. Google sat and watched this develop and thousands upon thousands of full lengths films were uploaded. Google added functionality such as play lists and other features to make it much easier for people to find this pirated content.

    Of course now Google wants to monetize all of the pirated content on their service. They started getting more aggressive with the ads and introduced their "Youtube red" service to make the ads go away.

    Google is fully aware they are providing pirated content but their excuse is "we did not upload these". While they did not upload the content they are providing the framework and the incentive for people to do this. Google pays these pirates a cut of the ad revenue.

    If the copyright owners want to be paid for their pirated works perhaps they should go after Google. The copyright violaters themselves are getting the smallest part of the cut from the revenue. Google is making most of the money from this illegal content. Only in America can someone steal content upload it to the internet and have a major corporation that should know better profit from it.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Most corrupt industry ever

    The music industry makes the black market drug and arms trade look honest in comparison.

    No joke. It's the biggest reason it fought all modernization and adoption of the Internet: it would bring too much transparency.

    1. A Ghost

      Re: Most corrupt industry ever

      The music industry are choir boys compared to the evil of google/facebook/microsoft/spotify/youtube etc. etc.

      They are no more corrupt than anyone else.

      Corruption is rife through all strata and substrata of society. Banking, medicine, government, automobile industry. It's how the world works. It's what makes the world go round. We'd all fly off into outer space if it stopped.

      There's no point in whinging about it. There is nothing can be done now. It's been killed stone dead. No new music from now on. Just the mentally deluded playing that game now.

      The music industry - an organisation no more or no less corrupt than your local council - got its comeuppance. And so did we. No winners here.

      If you think things are objectively bad now, wait 10 years. And the world and everything in it will still be as corrupt as it is now, as its ever been.


  16. theblackhand

    What about freebooting?

    I realise it is at a slight tangent to the original article, but it relates to the question of who ends up providing the content and reaping the rewards.

    In particular - the "battle" between YouTube and Facebook.

    I didn't know this existed until I saw a video about the issue on Reddit, but I don't know the real impact.

  17. hellwig

    I think the definition of a performance is at fault here.

    Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, etc... are Music streaming services, where music is the focus. For 90% of the videos on YouTube, the music is background filler.

    I can understand the music industry getting upset if someone illegally uploads a music video, where the music is intended to be the point of focus, but DMCA take-downs should cover that. The problem is that the industry is also counting videos where any music is played in the background (generally because soundless videos give people the creeps).

    Yes, sometimes I go to YouTube for the specific purpose of hearing a piece of music, generally after Shazaming it, to see if I like the whole song or even others by the same artist. I try to look for "official" channels, figuring those are legit and actually pay something to the artist (and again, if someone uploads music or videos that you own, and you don't want that up there, DMCA!). I'm certainly not watching someone's Reaction Video to a Let's Play video that happens to contain the song in the background. Such a video might introduce me to a new song, but it's a useless medium for actually listening to and enjoying said song. But I'm sure the RIAA and the like count every view of every one of those videos as a performance, and then complain when it lowers their percentage.

  18. nilfs2

    I hope those new "artists" get pirated to dead

    With all the shit "music" that is being produced nowadays, I can only hope that those so called "artists" get pirated and starve to dead, or at least that they have no choice but find a damn job worth something.

    Music is dead, the music labels and producers killed it, not YouTube.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hope those new "artists" get pirated to dead

      So if you worked at Ford, and someone said "Ford makes shit cars I hope they go bankrupt and everyone who works there has to get a real job" (substitute where you actually for 'Ford') you're fine with that? I guess some people just like to watch the world burn.

      Just because you don't like popular music now doesn't mean that everyone in the music industry deserves bankruptcy. Your opinion isn't the only one that counts, and you must not be looking very hard if you can't find ANY music produced these days that you like. Just because your kind of music doesn't make the Billboard Hot 100 doesn't mean it isn't being made. It does mean you might have to actually look for it, but artists aren't going to make it available for streaming where you can find it if they aren't making any money off it.

  19. Aedile

    Even assuming YouTube paid out more it wouldn't really matter. The labels are gobbling up almost 75% post tax income.

    While the article is a little over 1 year old I highly doubt the situation has changed much.

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