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), 11 Apr 2009 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Just making a great movie (replace with song, software, whatever) is apparently no longer enough."

    It's not enough under the current system either. For example, I'm a member of eMusic and I love the service - enough that I no longer care about buying major label content. On a regular basis, both on eMusic's own forums and on other sites, people post messages along the lines of "there's no songs I heard on the radio 5 minutes ago therefore there's no good music" (paraphrasing - the language is usually much harsher). Wrong, of course, popularity has nothing to do with quality. As I always point out, every band you love started out as a band that nobody had ever heard of.

    In other words, under the current system it's not enough for someone to record a great song. It has to be marketed to within an inch of its life to hit the chart and played on radio every minute of every day, at the cost of many thousands of dollars. The burden and risk for these costs are usually borne by the artists in the form of advances (that must be paid back before any royalties are seen, usually on unfair terms) and by signing away creative and copyright control over the work to the label.

    One of the great things about these new models is that they remove the need for that. The RIAA, with their unfair contracts and impossible-to-pay-back "advances", is increasingly irrelevant. Again, nobody is going to force an artist to sign up for these new models. There are huge advantages for those who do, but there's more than one model to choose from if they're not comfortable with this one. That doesn't mean this model isn't workable, however.

    It would be nice if you listened to what people say here instead of reverting to your prior assumptions every time. People are not saying that artists do not deserve to be paid for their work. They are saying that the normal system is unsustainable, and that there are many other ways to make money if you use your imagination. Besides, here's the horrible truth that most artists do not want to hear - not everyone gets to be successful. It was true before the internet, it's true now. Hopefully these new models will encourage artists to be paid on the quality of their work, which is not what happens now.

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