Fight Over YouTube Videos Heats Up In The UK; Musician Propaganda Begins
from the you're-about-to-learn-what-leverage-is dept
The decision earlier this week by Google to block music videos in the UK has certainly kicked off quite the firestorm of discussions within the music industry — and an awful lot of whining about how it’s “just not fair.” Not surprisingly, the PRS folks have dragged out some musicians to kick and scream about how Google makes sooooooo much money, so why aren’t they sharing? It’s the same economically clueless argument that the newspapers have been using against Google. However, as Google pointed out, they are looking to share. The offer they made to PRS was to give them a significant portion of whatever ad revenue can be generated on those videos. PRS wants more than that, such that every music play would cost Google significantly more than it made.
It is, perhaps, no surprise at all, that one of the major complainers on the musician side is Billy Bragg — who’s been quick to make these sorts of ridiculous arguments in the past as well, and whose manager, Peter Jenner, is equally unable to understand basic economics. The problem is that they think that the world owes them money after the fact. They both refuse to come up with decent business models, and then complain when others do — and demand that those other innovators simply have to pay up.
It’s the same story we hear over and over again. Folks in the entertainment industry insist that 100% (or perhaps 99%) of the value comes from the content itself — and refuse to recognize that any of the value comes from the technology, the service or the community of folks using those services. However, their own actions show how wrong that is. If it’s true that Google is “underpaying” the artists, shouldn’t the artists be HAPPY that Google took down their content? After all, according to what some of these artists and record labels insist, wasn’t Google “stealing” from them? So, now that Google has stopped, doesn’t that mean they’re better off?
The very fact that the musicians are so up in arms shows how much more leverage Google has. It shows that a significant part of the value is in YouTube. YouTube can survive just fine without the music videos. The musicians, on the other hand, are suffering. That’s why it’s the musicians complaining. But that shows the very point Google is trying to make: Google has the leverage here, not the musicians. And, yet, the musicians still want to pretend it’s the other way around.