As Musicians Complain That YouTube Doesn't Pay Enough, At Least One Musician Is Profiting Greatly From YouTube

from the free-can-be-quite-good dept

As various musicians are upset that YouTube refuses to pay more for helping to publicize their videos, it appears at least some musicians understand the massive value of YouTube. Reader Josh Austin tells us he was listening to a local radio show in Denver, where the DJs were interviewing the singer, Joe Bonamassa. In the course of the discussion he mentions just how valuable YouTube has been for him, saying:

All this digital stuff, now, it’s actually really helped my audience, you know. We were playing little blues bars, and with the advent of YouTube all these college kids started coming out, because they’d check you out online, and instead of a hundred fans, there’d be thousands, and it’s great! How can you complain about YouTube? It’s a really good thing.

You can see the video embedded below, with the relevant section starting at about 2:45:

So, for all those musicians complaining that YouTube doesn’t “pay enough,” I would imagine that the increased revenue Bonamassa gets from increasing his audience by an order of magnitude seems like a pretty decent “payment.” And, to think, YouTube provided this promotional platform to him for free!

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Comments on “As Musicians Complain That YouTube Doesn't Pay Enough, At Least One Musician Is Profiting Greatly From YouTube”

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Ryan says:

Re: Re:

Only an exception is needed, not a rule. Musicians have no divine right to profit from their music. I mean, I would love to learn how to fart the alphabet, record it, and make $10 billion a year from it, but that doesn’t mean I deserve to.

The only thing that matters when determining compensation for infinitely available items such as music tracks is the public good; clearly, making music available for free on YouTube is very good for the public. The only reason performer compensation is considered whatsoever is that without it the quality of works may suffer, which is detrimental to the public good.

However, since Joe Bonamassa and many other “exceptions” like him can profit from YouTube’s exposure, that is sufficient evidence that music quality will not suffer, and thus no additional compensation should be expected. For every asinine, antiquated musician that refuses to change their business approach (like you, perhaps), a new, equally talented musician will take his place and provide plenty of music for free. And they will profit from it.

Just like me and my alphabet farting, nobody gives a shit about how people like you insist on making your living.

interval says:

Re: Re:

So you’re saying “Call me when people decide to make me rich, until then I’m not going to put in any work.”

Even Madoff put in time (over 30 years) and effort to rip off all these investors. You’re in essence saying that if youtube won’t make you an overnight sensation you’re time is being wasted. Rather short-sited and unrealistic.

R. Miles says:

Re: Re:

No, wait, that would ruin the story, making everyone think it is some guy who just climbed out of the garage last week.
What an incredible imbecile you are. Maybe if you took the time from whining pathetic rhetoric, you could actually surf YouTube for those very garage bands you’re trying to include in this poor defense against “lost sales”.

How much do you think they lose in sales? Oh, wait! They have none! No labels. No distributors. But free music to entice future fans?

Oh shit! This just won’t work! Not according to your ignorance. I’m going to love the day we all get to watch you eat crow when these garage bands of today become your iPod download of tomorrow.

Such ignorance. And people wonder why I am the way I am?
Now you know why.

It gets tiring trying to educate stupidity.

Anonymous Coward says:

And more to the point Weird Harold no one said anything about making money off of youtube videos, except you that is. It isn’t, and never has been, about that. Its about how free distribution (ie. youtube) gets the artist more exposure, gets the music more exposure, develops a larger fan base, and yields greater profits with no significant additional cost or effort to the artist.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

No cost except record sales lost, loss of potential sales in the future, etc.

Again, this guy isn’t playing the Royal Albert Hall because of YouTube. Like NIN or Radiohead, this is taking an existing artist with a backing and attempting to pin the success only on “FREE!” marketing. Nice try, but doesn’t pass the stink test.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You’re starting to see it too. *Wink* Actually, I’ve been thinking this for some time, but before I post the analysis on SlideShare, I need him to talk more. For example, I nssed to see his usage of quotation marks. This can help gleen East or West Coast education. He seems to hover around an 8th grade writing level, but as some cognitive disconnect as seen in comment 1 and 2. Perhaps a slightly higher-than-average IQ. Bullheaded temperament. Probably residing in the EST time zone.

All point to a confused executive level…

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike, I think what Weird Harold is trying to say here is that you have to actually be GOOD. If you’re good, you only need exposure to make money.

If you suck, you need a label that strictly controls scarce goods to make money.

Honestly, I agree with Weird Harold. I think that’s an excellent point he made there.

Now if only he meant to say it.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are pretty close.

What I am saying is that someone who is someone who is good, AND already has mass public exposure in their domain, and already has the ability to draw crowds, and already has the ability to headline a show, (and so on, I won’t keep at it) can profit for the incremental exposure that comes from something like youtube.

An unknown nobody cannot suddenly become a major star and get rich on the basis of youtube alone. Even the best players and bands need management, marketing, support, and other issues to rise to the top.

Interesting twist of course is that being in the blues market, much of the music that this guy actually plays is cover versions, and he no doubt pays royalties to do so. So most of his “catalog” might never be on youtube if there isn’t agreement with those other artists / song writers.

Interesting how that works out.

PS: Mike, someone else is posting here using my name and being quite crude. Perhaps you want to move to a secured login name system?

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Damn Harold, your logic is completely wrong.

It is impossible to show the negative. Simply showing that you have no one on your list does not prove your situation. You cannot prove a negative.

Even worse for you, all we need is one counter example and you lose.

Besides, when does “getting rich” signify the success of an artist? What about simply getting fan appreciation, making enough that they can focus on what they love to do, happiness??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Harold, you and your opinions don’t pass the stink test.

Exactly how does watching a video on YouTube equate to lost record sales (ignoring that anachronism)? Are you saying that not one single viewer will purchase the music?

And only playing the Royal Albert Hall qualifies one as successful? Then by that measure, 99% of all existing artists are failures.

Or, is it just you who keeps trying and failing? Really, your arguments are so lame, it seems hard to imagine that you even spent an entire second dreaming them up. Your logic is so twisted, it’s funny. It’s not logical, and completely fails to make your point (or any point, for that matter), but funny, nonetheless.

Please, just change your name to “Brain-Dead Harold.”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Wow… you really never stop with the dumb allegations do you?

For a start, you seem incapable of using Google (either to find out who Joe Bonamassa is or to provide a link if you were implying that he is already famous – your arguments are that incoherent I didn’t know what you were going for).

Then, possibly the dumbest part, you seem to be implying that people are watching YouTube instead of buying albums. Yes, Harold, blurry videos that you can’t download onto an iPod are exactly what kids are into nowadays (rolls eyes). Not even the stupid argument that’s going on in the UK is dumb enough to try and claim that – the dispute is around how much of YouTube’s ad revenue artists should get, not a fear that people are watching Youtube instead of buying music.

You seem incapable of providing an intelligent argument. From the ridiculous exaggerations ($10 billion/year? Really?) to the muddled claims about Joe Bonamassa himself, you’re incoherent and fairly misguided.

By the way, the main gist of you claims seem to be that since Joe Bonamassa already had fans, any increase he notices in concert attendance is invalid. Even dismissing the obvious elements (e.g. most artists make far more from merchandise and concert sales than from CDs; surely an experienced artist is in a better position to gauge recent increases in success than a new artist), here’s a nugget of truth for you: before this article, I’d never heard of Joe Bonamassa.

Maybe that’s hard for you to believe, but it’s the truth. As I’m neither American nor a blues fan (casual listener if anything), I’m not familiar with his work. However, I’ve just clicked onto his website and I like the music. I see from his site that he’ll be playing in Wolverhampton in the same week I’m visiting family less than 30 miles away.

Maybe I’ll attend. If I do, that’s one extra ticket sold that would not have happened before this article. I also see he has a few albums on eMusic, and as it happens my subscription just refreshed yesterday. Maybe I’ll grab one or two of those in the meantime… (Oh, just noticed – one of the tracks from his Shepherd’s Bush album is FREE there right now. Downloaded.)

You see, THAT’S who these things are aimed at. It’s a discovery method to find new artists. Joe Bonamassa could not have lost any money from me via his YouTube video because I didn’t know he existed until about 15 minutes ago. Now, it’s possible that I’ll both buy his music and attend a concert.

The only way he could have lost money is by not making the above YouTube video…

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

“No cost except (the 3 cents he might make per CD), (the 3 cents per CD he might see as) sales in the future, etc.”


The music business is no different from most any other business. I’m primarily a computer consultant and I give away tech support all the time because when people realize that you’re a damn genius(and I am) they will give you much better projects than asking why their printer doesn’t work, like setting up their networks and making sure their office procedures are HIPPA compliant. $1500-$15,000 project for giving away 15 minutes of phone time. I’m guessing you’d turn that down cause you’d lose the $50; we call that jumping over dollars to pick up dimes. I give away about $1500 in support a month yet somehow I’m able to still make far more than I give.

Of course you could be assuming that any dipshit 15 year old who “does computers” should be able to do as I do and make as much as I do and that simply ain’t gonna happen. A 15 year old doesn’t have 1/4 the experience I have to make that second part happen just like a shitty musician isn’t going to make a fortune because, quite simply, when their chips are down, the 15 year old and shitty musicians are going to show they have no talent.

Casper says:

Re: Re:

No cost except record sales lost, loss of potential sales in the future, etc.

Again, this guy isn’t playing the Royal Albert Hall because of YouTube. Like NIN or Radiohead, this is taking an existing artist with a backing and attempting to pin the success only on “FREE!” marketing. Nice try, but doesn’t pass the stink test.

Wait, you can measure lost sales due to promotional material? You sir must be amazing, because last time I checked, the purpose of promotion was to net a GREATER return via distribution of free/low cost goods and measuring any potential losses due to promotional materials was virtually impossible as you do not know what the result would have been without the promotion.

How does distributing promotional material, for free, and expanding your fan base, for free, factor into lost sales? Are you saying that people would A) not come to concerts and B) not purchase music from someone simply because they have some of their music available for free via YouTube? Are you assuming that the total number of fans that paid for goods or services would decrease on the whole due to a greater level of exposure?

Anonymous Coward says:

once again Weird Harold, you take a post and twist it to fit your own thinking without regards to what it really says. No one has said that this artists success was due only to youtube or, as you put it, “”FREE!” marketing”. Obviously he is a very good musician. no matter how much free marketing you get, if the product sucks, you won’t succeed. He says after his videos were released the crowd sizes increased. He says it, not Mike, not me, so obviously this had a significant impact. So no, he isn’t playing Royal Albert Hall because of “”FREE!” marketing”, but I bet he will either sell it out, or come close to selling it out, because of some of that “”FREE!” marketing”.

Flyfish says:

Joe Bonamassa is a great performer but he’s hardly successful in the way that U2, Madonna etc. are successful. In fact Joe will be found playing big clubs, not stadiums, not concert halls despite the release of yet another CD this past month. I’m not surprised Joe thinks you tube helped him as he’s on his way up in the world.

So WierdHarold your characterization is a bit off.

That said I like finding vids on yout00b but I don’t think that all music should be free like some axe grinding journalists. I support copyright holders, living and breathing copyright holders, rights to limit or not-limit their works.

If you don’t like the price, don’t buy it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think ol’ Weird Harold is cute. If I were a brown nosing, doo-doo dribbling, snot-nosed suck up… I’d probably say the same things! But wait.. who is he sucking up too? I can’t see any pro-industry corporation hiring the above described kinda fellow to offer irrelevant and clearly unrefined research!! Oh.. oh wait.. *looks through the pirate bay transcripts* yup, looks like i was wrong, they hire actual professionals to do the same thing!!

Naw i’m just giving you a hard time my nowhere but the face tanned man! Continue on with your immense insight in how digital evolution is the downfall of the music industry(the ones who don’t embrace change, that is…however the ones that do embrace change are already doomed and subject to failure, because Prince deems them unworthy.).

Ohoho, i’m just ranting now.. I’m your #1 fan Harold!!!!!!!!!

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Colbert Report

I doubt Weird Harold (WH) watches Colbert – or at least if he does he probably takes it at face value – but I just saw a folk music act on Colbert (with 1M+ daily viewers) called, Lisa Hannigan. He pimped her album, See Sew, and gave her a bigger stage.

Colbert introduced the act as someone he saw on Youtube and thought was good, so invited to his show.

Having a look at her website, I see that a number of new fans were created by the exposure, and will be buying and downloading her music, buying tickets for her shows, and increasing her market:

Nah, WH is right. Youtube owes her money for showing her art (that she posted) and selling ads on it. And WH is also right, Youtube helping musicians is just a one-off for Joe Bonamassa. Wrong again.

WH, maybe the W should stand for wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ronald Jenkees is artist number 1 in your list of 10. He’s got his own website now, but was originally only seen through youtube.

After getting initial exposure on youtube, who in their right mind would want to ONLY promote through youtube. That’s like throwing all your eggs in one basket. Youtube is used/should be used as a part of the artist’s overall marketing effort to make themselves better known.

Furthermore, why does an artist need to become rich and famous to be considered a success. What’s so wrong with making an honest living from your music so that you can provide for your family and have some luxuries. It just so happens there’s a label for those people: the middle class. Why is becoming rich and famous the only measure of success for an artist?

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