Songwriter Claims He Was Exploited By Google... But A Few Seconds Of Logical Thinking Disproves That

from the ok,-let's-work-this-through dept

A bunch of folks have sent in the latest PR attempt by some musicians in the recording industry to force Google to pay unsustainable rates to keep their music on YouTube. Pete Waterman, who apparently co-wrote the Rick Astley "Rick Roll" song Never Gonna Give You Up has come out saying that Google "exploited" him, because he earned a grand total of £11 last year, even while the video was a hit on YouTube.

There are probably more details here, because no one actually says how much Google paid overall. For example, part of the problem may simply be the deal that Waterman himself signed concerning his royalties. But, more to the point, it's not Google that's doing any exploiting at all. Here's the simple logic process to run through (which Waterman and all the folks supporting this PR stunt failed to do):
  • How much attention did Waterman's song get last year thanks to YouTube?
  • Fine, take away YouTube. How much attention would Waterman and his song have received last year
Yup. No one would be talking about Waterman or his song at all in the absence of YouTube and the rickrolling phenomenon. The only "exploiting" being done is now, by Waterman, because he got totally lucky in that a bunch of internet jokesters happened to pick his song (mainly for how bad it is) to use as part of an internet joke. He deserves to get paid for that? It could have just as easily been any other ridiculous pop hit in the 80s. And, if it had been, then no one would be talking or caring about Waterman at all.

Furthermore, it was never YouTube making use of the music, but it was all these people on the internet, adopting the meme. YouTube was just the platform they used for it. So, no, Waterman wasn't exploited by YouTube in the slightest, though he seems to have no trouble at all trying to exploit the fact that he got lucky and whine about it -- even though it's the only reason his name is now in the news again.

Filed Under: exploit, pete waterman, rickroll, videos
Companies: google


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Apr 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Wow...

    The funny thing here is that he's complaining that he earned £11 from Google last year. Not £11 total. Sorry to invoke the name, but this is the same mistake WH usually makes when discussing free models or YouTube - assuming that everything they do is in a vacuum and it doesn't affect revenue elsewhere.

    In the same period, how much did he get from the song being sold on iTunes as a result of the extra exposure? From Amazon or 80s CD compilations featuring the track? From rights being bought to play the song on TV? How many extra radio plays did it get as a result of rickrolling? What about the cover version and remixes produced in the last year (according to Wikipedia, at least 5), surely they'd have to pay royalties to the original songwriter as well? How much did he get as a result of the track being on Barry Manilow's 80s cover album? Would the song have been covered at all if not for rickrolling?

    I'd be willing to be he's made a lot of money from rickrolling. Just that the cheque didn't say "Google" on it, that doesn't mean YouTube had nothing to do with it.


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