I recently wrote about Simon Cowell's conflicting statements
expressing anger that YouTube didn't pay him for showing the Susan Boyle video millions of times, while then being happy that the same video will result in 10 million album sales. In my latest column for The Telegraph
, I explore how the legacy music industry made a huge mistake in attacking YouTube
and having videos pulled down off the site for not getting "paid" enough, when just a few years ago if they had wanted to put up music videos of their bands, they would have paid an arm and a leg for software, hosting and bandwidth -- and the consumer experience would have been a hell of a lot worse (RealNetworks media player, anyone?).
In thinking more about this, I was realizing how hypocritical the recording industry is on this particular topic. After all, they go on and on about how bad "free" is, and how they must
get paid for any use of their content or they can't survive. And, yet, when someone gives them
something for free (and YouTube provides free software, free bandwidth, free community and a bunch of other benefits), they complain that they're not getting paid
. It's an incredible double standard. If the recording industry were actually being intellectually honest (I know, I know...), wouldn't they be demanding to pay
Google for providing such a service, since (as they claim) you "can't make money from free"?
Separately, I had wanted to mention this in the Telegraph column, but ran out of room. It is worth noting that at least some of the industry has, in some ways, "embraced" YouTube with the launch of Vevo a couple weeks ago (though, that launch was completely bungled by apparently not expecting anyone to actually visit the site). I still haven't quite figured out what Vevo is, however. It's a joint venture of Google and Universal Music, with EMI and Sony Music as partners (Warner remains the major label holdout). As far as I can tell, though, it just seeks to be a separate platform to give the labels some more "control" over videos on YouTube. I still can't figure out why this needs to be a separate company, other than to play financial games. Isn't this just a feature of YouTube?