Neil Young (And Warner Music) Should Learn To Respect YouTube… And Music Fans

from the this-is-getting-tiresome dept

After Warner Music got greedy and demanded money from YouTube that the company is under no legal obligation to pay (safe harbors, people), Google and YouTube demonstrated to Warner Music how little leverage the record label has by taking down all Warner Music videos. This is making plenty of Warner musicians quite angry with Warner Music for pissing off their fans and in some cases breaking the artists’ own websites. So, rather than back down and admit that it overplayed its hand, Warner Music is pulling out the old school strategy it has used for years to win such arguments: trot out some well-known musician to whine about how it’s just not fair that he’s not getting the “respect” he deserves.

This time around, it’s Neil Young, who has taken to his own website to claim that he and Warner Music aren’t getting the proper respect from YouTube, and that YouTube needs to pay up to provide that proper respect. And what about all the musicians who Warner Music’s policy is harming right now? What about all those musicians whose fans are pissed off that they can’t see videos with the music they like? The problem isn’t that YouTube isn’t respecting Warner Music — it has no legal obligation to do so. The problem is that folks like Neil Young and the execs at Warner Music don’t respect their fans at all, and fail to realize they want to access their music through YouTube, and doing so provides those musicians with a great benefit in terms of better connecting with their fans and opening up new opportunities to create valuable relationships that will pay much more money in the long run.

In the meantime, when you look at the actual statement on Neil Young’s site, it seems like a a pretty blatant copy of the NY Times. We’re guessing he didn’t pay the NY Times anything. So why isn’t anyone demanding that Neil Young “respect” the NY Times?

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Comments on “Neil Young (And Warner Music) Should Learn To Respect YouTube… And Music Fans”

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63 Comments
Liberty Dave says:

Neil Young

Neil Young is an old, liberal idiot. Like many of the rich elites he knows nothing of economics or human action whatsoever.

Good for YouTube, I’m glad they did that. They have no obligation at all to play anyone’s videos. If you don’t like YouTube then you can use a competing website for your videos, and there are plenty of them.

Steve says:

Is nothing "identical compensation"?

Neil says on his website: “Radio used to introduce music to the masses and was crucial to every new release, with identical compensation for every artist and label.”

Wasn’t that compensation actually NOTHING for the performers? Didn’t I read somewhere that due to contract loopholes performers get no royalties from radio airplay? I think only the songwriters and music publishers actually get paid anything. Granted, for a lot of performers, like Neil, they are the songwriters — but for others, they long ago lost their rights to royalties or never had them in the first place.

More on royalties here: http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/music-royalties.htm

Amazed, truly amazed. (profile) says:

Four Dead in Ohio

Neil used to be THE anti-establishment artist in my opinion. He was scruffy, unkempt, I’d imagine he smelled of patchouli and Old Granddad. He’d show up in odd places, like playing with Pearljam on the VMAs, and I always felt that for him it was about the music and the fans. I used to admire him for how little he seemed to connect with the business end of the music industry. All it took was this one bad play, and he’s now corporate in my book. Sorry, Neil, but I think I’ll go download your entire catalogue of music via The Pirate Bay tonight, and I’ll probably seed it too.

Pud.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

"Neil, you ingnorant slut"

Neil, could you do us all a favor and burn out? Because this “fading away” shit is really getting stale.

I can’t remember the last time you offered anything relevant to the dialog that is popular music. Honestly Neil, I mean that with all my heart.

Your inability to grasp the dynamics of the new world we live in just shows how fucking senile you are. Give it up.

Besides, not that many people are even watching the shitty videos of you up on YouTube anyway. I’d estimate that the royalties you are missing out on would probably only buy a can of Coke. Shit, you could sing for that.

You are old, man. Take a look at your life.

Anonymous Coward says:

So I just went to Neil young’s website, and I am more convinced than ever that his brain is gone. The talent may still exist, but the thought process is not functioning. If it were he would not have stated “Artists can go directly to the people.” then, essentially, states that Youtube has broken the conduit between the artist and the people. If the artist can go directly to the people, how can Youtube break the conduit? If the artist goes directly to the people, youtube isn’t in the middle and has no control over the conduit. However, if the record label controls access to the content created by the artist, then by refusing to accept the offer that has been made, they (the record label) have blocked the conduit, not youtube. In other words Neil, tell Warner to let the music play, you’ll gain more exposure (the positive kind, not like what you have generated here) which leads to more sales, which leads to more money. After all, isn’t that what you’re after?

LostSailor says:

Overreaching again

In the meantime, when you look at the actual statement on Neil Young’s site, it seems like a a pretty blatant copy of the NY Times. We’re guessing he didn’t pay the NY Times anything. So why isn’t anyone demanding that Neil Young “respect” the NY Times?

You can’t be serious, Mike. A “pretty blatant copy” of the NY Times? A parody of the nameplate or “masthead” on the front page, but not nearly a copy. The lettering is calligraphy, but a different calligraphy than the Times uses (check the serifs). And Young parodies the “all the news that’s fit to print” box. Any similarity ends there.

I know you’re trying to underscore your point, but by overreaching, you miss your mark.

Dave says:

I like him, still...

I like Neil a lot. He has written a lot of good songs, he’s principled, and he puts a lot of feeling into his performances, even if you don’t like his voice.

On the other hand, it’s well known that he’s a stubborn, crotchety bastard, and a luddite. All digital music’s bad, only analog is good (wonder if he’d return the money on all the CD’s he has sold?). With any famous person, part of the brain shuts off, and “principled” morphs into “I’m always right, and won’t listen to anyone else”.

Next thing you know he’ll be sitting in a rocking chair railing about how “back in my day….”

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Time for some critical reading skills

” Radio used to introduce music to the masses and was crucial to every new release, with identical compensation for every artist and label. Since You Tube has given some labels better deals that others, the Media Giant is treating artists unequally, depending on which label they are on. “

So basically, Warner artists were getting underpaid compared to other performers for the use of their music on YouTube. They complained about getting underpaid, and Youtube tossed them out.

First, it is important to note for all you “the web is free” people that Youtube is paying performance rights on the music. Isn’t that interesting? All your Web2.0 dreams go out the window on that one, don’t they?

Second, If YouTube is in fact paying to play the music, they should treat all music the same. Otherwise, they would be screwing over the little guy who isn’t part of a label that struck such a deal. Another example of the little guy getting screwed by big media, this time with Web2.0 darlings helping out. Google does no evil, indeed!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Time for some critical reading skills

Second, If YouTube is in fact paying to play the music, they should treat all music the same.

Yeah, same goes for music buyers too. I mean, if you’re going to buy music from one band, you should buy from all of them. Playing favorites by only buying music from artists you like is just not fair! All artists deserve for you to buy their music! See, what we need is a music tax that everyone pays so that all artists get paid. The free market isn’t fair!

And if you believe that, you’ll believe Weird Harold’s drivel too.

David says:

I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

You blowhards must have piss for brains. If you really read what’s on Neil’s site you’d see that his only complaint with You Tube is their unequal compensation of artist. Equality is what Neil has spent his whole life promoting. The whole article is about making the compensation equal so that all record companies and their artist have the same chance to be downloaded or viewed. This has nothing to do about, should videos be on You Tube or does You Tube have the right to post videos. Neil knew and accepted “tape trees” years ago and he was always ok with it. To paraphrase, he said “what I understand is that its mainly fans that want to hear more of an artist and that I doubt that it hurt sales”?. This was maybe 10 years ago that he said this. Before opening your mouth (or typing) and confirming how dumb you are, go search Google for some of his quotes over the years instead of misreading one web page and drawing a stupid conclusion from it.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

@David:

It is you with the so-called pissbrain.

First, let’s just get out in the open the Neil Young is a troglodyte. He’s out-of-date and loud-mouthed about things he knows little about. He essentially ruined CSN by adding the “Y” and folk-shit has never been the same since.

Now to the issue. Neither YouTube nor any other website should be paying to have videos on their site. Videos are promotional tools, and the tools who work for the labels are so busy stealing money from everyone – especially the artists – that they see dollar signs under every bush. and they aren’t afraid of a little bushwhacking here and there because it’s basically how they feed. The media conglomerates are playing out a massive FAIL on this whole issue by not realizing what everyone else did years ago: Having your shit online, for “free”…only leads to more exposure and more sales. Trying to turn your loss-leaders into product turns off your customers and results in falling revenue. Someone earlier mentioned MTV and this is on point: “Back in the day”, the labels were PAYING to have their videos on MTV. What changed with the fucking internet? NOTHING.

Now to your observations about Neil’s angle on this whole issue:

“The whole article is about making the compensation equal so that all record companies and their artist have the same chance to be downloaded or viewed”

What? Are you fucking brain dead? You don’t enable the artists to be downloaded or viewed more by making YOUTUBE PAY MORE. No matter who pays what, the artists are downloaded based on the VALUE of their art, as determined by the AUDIENCE. Money paid has nothing to do with how much exposure an artist is going to get. DO YOU GET THAT?

YouTube could PAY Warner 10 TIMES MORE THAN ALL THE OTHER LABELS COMBINED… and Neil would still only get downloaded two or three times a year because NO ONE CARES ABOUT THAT WRINKLED OLD PIECE OF SHIT.

You have the equation completely backward, and you are calling out “piss for brains”??

Dude, really. Get back on the turnip truck.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Contract

So Warner made a contract with YouTube. Since then other labels made better contracts. Warner wants to change the terms partway through the contract, makes threats. Either wait until the contract ends to renegotiate or suffer oblivion. Warner made the initial contract. Warner is threatening YouTube. Warner is to blame.

LostSailor says:

Musical Taste and Rational Argument

It seems to be a theme around here. Musicians who embrace the New Digital Paradigm are hailed as visionary musicians who make awesome music. Musicians who voice any support for artists rights under copyright and want to get paid under those terms are crappy musicians and out of touch dinosaurs who could never play anyway.

Since when do positions on copyright equate with musical talent?

I find this highly amusing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Musical Taste and Rational Argument

So you’re saying that you’re seeing some relationship between a musician’s ability, or lack thereof, to compete in the market and their desire for protection in that market? Hmm, interesting observation. I guess it kind of makes sense that the ones that competition would hurt the most cry the most about it. Thanks for pointing that out.

David says:

No one can be that dumb: was: I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton

Your reply has so many holes I don’t know where to start but let me at least try.

First let me say thank you for copying my “piss for brain” comment, I’m truly flattered.

Secondly, whether you like Neil or whether record companies should be paid for being on You Tube are really another topic. Please stay on topic. I know it is hard for you but up your med’s.

I did find one section of your post on topic and I’ll address it.

You don’t enable the artists to be downloaded or viewed more by making YOUTUBE PAY MORE. No matter who pays what, the artists are downloaded based on the VALUE of their art, as determined by the AUDIENCE. Money paid has nothing to do with how much exposure an artist is going to get. DO YOU GET THAT?

Value determined by the audience is what Neil is saying should be the case. His statement is directed at the fact that if certain companies get paid more their artist will be promoted more and thus will end up on You Tube more. Value will then be determined more by which record company an artist is with and how much You Tube pays them.

While you didn’t say it (and may not understand it) it is true that WB signed a contract but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t bring pressure for You Tube to change the terms. That happens in business all the time, it’s called negotiation. I think that WB is concerned about the cash, but I think Neil is concerned about equal access (not so much for him but for others).

Your other point about Neil not being download is again off topic and not worth comment.

You still may not understand the point about unequal compensation, but get someone locally to explain it to you.

Please think before you type and if you can please get someone to read over it first so they can help you frame your thoughts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No one can be that dumb: was: I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

“Value determined by the audience is what Neil is saying should be the case. His statement is directed at the fact that if certain companies get paid more their artist will be promoted more and thus will end up on You Tube more. Value will then be determined more by which record company an artist is with and how much You Tube pays them.”

Value determined by the audience? So, what? Are you suggesting that paying more is helping? Oh, and whether or not artists should be paid for YouTube clicks kind of /is/ the point of this whole article. Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it isn’t.

“While you didn’t say it (and may not understand it) it is true that WB signed a contract but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t bring pressure for You Tube to change the terms. That happens in business all the time, it’s called negotiation. I think that WB is concerned about the cash, but I think Neil is concerned about equal access (not so much for him but for others).”

And YouTube answered to the pressure by removing the content. Why does that make YouTube wrong? WMG wanted to change the contract. YouTube said no. WMG pushed on it. YouTube removed the content, so WMG is now getting nothing. Win Win for YouTube, it would seem. You can’t just suddenly decide you want more than you’re getting, then get all whiny when you are told no. Mr Young’s outrage is misplaced, and should be directed at his label, who are the people who are there to PAY HIM.

Azrael says:

Re: Re: No one can be that dumb: was: I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

“Value determined by the audience is what Neil is saying should be the case. His statement is directed at the fact that if certain companies get paid more their artist will be promoted more and thus will end up on You Tube more. Value will then be determined more by which record company an artist is with and how much You Tube pays them.”

Value on YouTube can be easily determined by one single factor: number of views.
Please explain how paying WB more would make me view the video of an old fart.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: No one can be that dumb: was: I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write


    Your reply has so many holes I don’t know where to start but let me at least try.

Classic Dumb-Ass Opening. Here’s some advice: Just pick a place to start, and start. It’s pretty easy. Stating that you don’t know where to start just makes you look like a douchebag.


    First let me say thank you for copying my “piss for brain” comment, I’m truly flattered.

Ok, time to start listing all those holes…remember??


    Secondly, whether you like Neil or whether record companies should be paid for being on You Tube are really another topic. Please stay on topic. I know it is hard for you but up your med’s.

Ok, strike two. Time to start with the hole-listing-process, ok?…
PS – You are not the hall monitor here; that’s Monday to Friday at your junior high… My showing that the argument is moot before listing the problems with it is perfectly valid. Your stating that it’s another topic is basically admitting that you’re feeling shaky and want to steer back to your safe-place, which also makes you look like a douchebag.


    I did find one section of your post on topic and I’ll address it.

Finally…thanks for staying “on topic”


    Value determined by the audience is what Neil is saying should be the case. His statement is directed at the fact that if certain companies get paid more their artist will be promoted more and thus will end up on You Tube more. Value will then be determined more by which record company an artist is with and how much You Tube pays them.

    While you didn’t say it (and may not understand it) it is true that WB signed a contract but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t bring pressure for You Tube to change the terms. That happens in business all the time, it’s called negotiation. I think that WB is concerned about the cash, but I think Neil is concerned about equal access (not so much for him but for others).

Finally…thanks for staying “on topic”


    Your other point about Neil not being download is again off topic and not worth comment.

Good Lord…Yeah, that was a comment…Next time, if something isn’t worth comment…just don’t comment. That’s how grown-ups do it.


    You still may not understand the point about unequal compensation, but get someone locally to explain it to you.

The problem with you is that you think with an old-style frame of reference. YT is not a radio station. YT is not a TV station. Most of the content up there is posted by the users, and users post content they like. WB is trying to make money from content which is up there and they leaned on NY of all people, because he’s stupid enough to get on a soapbox and wax idiotic about it. Here it is, simplified for you:

Basically WB said to YT, “we want to get paid more for this content”

and YT said, “no”,

and WB said, “then take it down”,

and YT said “ok”

and WB said “oh shit, let’s get YT to whine about this because we don’t know what else to do – we fucked up in a major way on this.”


    Please think before you type and if you can please get someone to read over it first so they can help you frame your thoughts.

anonymous says:

nice thought... but

while i generally like techdirt’s frank take on the music business’s self-inflicted woes… the author of this article is sadly mis/un-informed about the relationship between YouTube and the major labels. their equity stake received upon google’s purchase of YouTube was built upon a rev-share agreement.
as much as i love YouTube and also love to harp on the labels — this crap story is helping no one’s cause.

Debunked says:

No one knows what went on behind closed doors.

Mike quote:
“Warner Music signed a deal and is now trying to change the terms of it, and make it worse for consumers.”

It seems like there is not definitive reporting about these negotiations (which I assume were behind closed doors). I think it would be more accurate to say that negotiations broke down and that is within both parties rights. As you can see others describe below a different dynamic to the negotiations than you do. Not saying you are wrong but perhaps being way to lax in reading into the situation. If you want to provide additional sources to back up your above claim feel free to do so. Otherwise figure that everyone except the people in the room don’t really know what transpired. And even the spin after the breakdown can easily be of the “he said…she said” variety.

In the first quote below note the “renewal” in “contract renewal terms”
In the second quote note that “Google attempted to change the way…”

Lead sentence from http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/news/international/16430/Warner-vs-YouTube.htm

“The world’s third largest record company Warner Music Group has pulled all of its YouTube videos, having failed to negotiate acceptable contract renewal terms with the company.”

also…

“Google is currently attempting to negotiate terms with the remaining members of the ‘big four’ – EMI, Sony and Universal. Talks broke down after Google attempted to change the way that the labels generate revenue from their current pay-per-play terms to a more ad focused system.”

Chris Huff (user link) says:

Clarity

OK. Forget any value judgments about the music. Who cares.

Mike, do you have any links/evidence that validates this statement: “Warner and the three other major labels signed their deals all on the same morning.”

Seems to me that everybody is just frothing at the mouth on one side or the other and nobody is reporting the facts because nobody knows them; it was a closed-door negotiation.

Warner is saying that their pay rate is lower than the other majors. Mike is saying that Warner Bros. is lying – and his blog does record a history of Warner trying to get blood from turnips and squeeze down everyone they can for more dough.

The argument that “it’s the small guy who loses” doesn’t really take with me because let’s be honest: no one, not a major web site not a major label is going to look out for the independent artist. I agree with Mike that posting for free on YouTube can work with a viable business model.

So. Neil Young is just trying to do what he thinks is right, and he believes that Warner is telling the truth. Mike believes otherwise. Mike, can you also respond to Debunked above who has basically the same point I have? – there are some sweeping statements in this post that don’t seem to have solid ground and you are usually so spot-on the money. Thanks.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

Mike

Since you have piss for brains I know you didn’t go to law school, so get off the “safe harbor” (not safe harbors as you stated, that would be a place to dock you boat). Safe harbor may protect YT from punitive damages not may not protect from statutory damages (which can be massive).

Also I’m sure you didn’t go to business school either or you would know that companies don’t pay millions of dollars if as you say they have “no legal requirement to pay”. Google isn’t stupid, and didn’t just chunk up a bunch of money because they had it.

I know you don’t understand the relationship between “views” and “money” and you might be better taking Marketing 101, but I’ll try to make it simple. Money leads to advertising, advertising leads to searches, searches leads to views. I’m not sure if you have ever noticed but record companies pay to have their artist ads appear on certain pages. Where do you think that money comes from?

WB has to right to ask for whatever terms they wish for in a contract. YT has the right to agree or refuse. Neil Young as the right to post his opinion on his web site. We have the right to agree or disagree.

My point is to that we should try understand what is the disagreement. It’s not “respect” of YT or fans by Neil Young (I can’t think of any artist that has done more to earn respect then Neil). The whole point of Neil’s message (which I think most people with a little humor can see was written tongue in cheek) is that if You Tube really respect fans they would pay all records companies equal just like radio did. I think what you and all the other nuts in here miss is that equal can be $0. Why don’t YT just pay all record company $0 if they have “no legal requirement to pay”?

“Always makes you more credible if you start off a comment with an insult. Then we know that you have a real argument.”

Thanks for stating that I’m credible (I wish I could say the same for you). Besides showing credibility, starting with and insult also get people to read you comment (especially the jerks). Thanks for reading! Mike

David says:

I hope you guys don't look as dumb as you write

Lucretiou

No it’s people that read something, change the facts and then make a post that doesn’t have anything to do with the original statement.

I do like Neil Young music and the fact that he tries to make the world a better place for others. However if he was my hero I would have posted with a name like “Neiliou” or just “Neil” (kind of like you did with your name).

Non-original name, non-original thoughts!

Move on, you’re too lite!

MarcoVincenzo (profile) says:

Neil's just showing his age

Neil’s failure to grasp the idea that the old business model no longer applies is a reason to pity him, but nothing more. The last Neil Young album I bought was on vinyl, circa 1981-82. I never bothered with his music on CDs, and when the digital era hit I just borrowed disks from friends and ripped them. I didn’t see any reason then that I should have to pay him twice, or more times, for the exact same music and I still don’t. If he thinks he should be paid, then he needs to get out and work, just like the rest of us.

David says:

Still more

Mike

There are multiple types of safe harbors, which I was referring to. You are wrong.

Safe Harbor is the legal argument or concept, which would be singular. That would be like saying “he could be convicted under the rules of murders”.

This is also wrong. The DMCA’s safe harbors protect from both punitive and statutory damages. You are wrong.

Read Viacom Inc. vs. YouTube, Google Inc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

Graduated top of my class at a top 10 MBA program, thanks for asking.

If that’s true (very unlikely) you need a refresher. If your business is allowing uploads and downloads of content, no attorney would advise to pay millions that you legally don’t have to do. Google isn’t stupid. It might make business sense to pay for something that is minor to your business model but never for your core product. If there wasn’t a legal reason to pay they would get a summary judgment and be done with it.

I’m giving up on the money relates to views statement, you’ll never understand. Remember Marketing 101, wonderful stuff.

WB has to right….

Who said otherwise?

I would assume that what “Neil doesn’t respect YT…or fans” means. I think that was the point of the article. (please do comment on what “assume” means, I haven’t heard that one yet)

You do realize that radio doesn’t pay musicians for music they play?

They pay ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for composers which is the payment I was speaking of. The point of the example is that they pay an equal amount based on usage. They don’t pay different amounts to different record companies.

Not according to what NY wrote…

?

As I said (you can read, right?) the answer is that they knew this would be cheaper than dealing with the drawn out lawsuit, while also leading their smaller rivals into a lawsuit as well.

So they paid big companies in order to get rivals to sue them? Clear as mud. Why would a case with no legal justification be “drawn out”?

Your reading comprehension skills are fantastic.

Your insult skills are weak, but keep trying!

nzgeek (profile) says:

@David

If your business is allowing uploads and downloads of content, no attorney would advise to pay millions that you legally don’t have to do. Google isn’t stupid. It might make business sense to pay for something that is minor to your business model but never for your core product. If there wasn’t a legal reason to pay they would get a summary judgment and be done with it.

My guess is that Google/YouTube had a choice: pay money and host the content on their site (and therefore be able to get advertising revenue), or get DMCA notices and take the content down. They looked at the bigger picture and decided that some money was better than none at all, and chose to strike contracts with the big content publishers.

If you can’t see that, then perhaps you shouldn’t be questioning Mike’s MBA…

tisbiz says:

neil young and all...

i really doubt neil young cares about or needs more money…
he happens to enjoy playing music and doesn’t want to see new artists getting barred…he’s an audiophile to the max and has helped tons of artists..and disabled people as well…i’m sure most of you on here have done pretty much nothing in that regard..esp since this is what you choose to gripe about…
viva neil young…

Ramona DeSalvo says:

Apparently Mike Masnick has never heard of public performance rights and licensed streaming of musical compositions. YouTube is not entitled to safe harbor protection. It is not an ISP. Read the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Throw false statements out there and it just spreads more ignorance. Big bad Neil Young and every other songwriter – how dare they want to get paid for their copyrighted works that people who contribute nothing creatively feel entitled to steal?

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