The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Video Killed The Radio Star

Discussion going on over on the Guardian Media website, regarding PRS withdrawing permission for YouTube to show pop videos, because YouTube don’t want to pay the same royalty rate as everyone else on the internet.

As you might expect, there’s quite a few posts which can be summarised as, ‘Wah wah wah, “the man” wants to take my free content away, wah wah wah’. I won’t bother to address that argument, except to say that if any party is “the man” in this equation, it’s YouTube, not the PRS.

Other arguments. ‘The musician doesn’t get any of the money PRS collects’. Well, they get about fifty per-cent – and they’d get considerably more if companies like YouTube didn’t make the collection process so expensive. The fact that the royalty rate is scandalously small – an artist will be lucky to get enough money to buy a stamp from their video appearing on YouTube – doesn’t justify depriving them of what little they do receive.

But pop videos are just loss-leader advertisements for CDs, right? The PRS should pay YouTube for hosting it’s adverts! Wrong. Pop videos are as much a product as the music; more so, now there are no pop music shows on terrestrial TV and MTV became all about programmes about rappers doing up their cars and showing us around their mansions. You can buy pop videos on iTunes, you can buy DVDs. And, as anyone looking for the Virgin Megastore on Tottenham Court Road will realise, CD sales aren’t exactly booming right now – despite all the ‘free advertising’ they are supposedly getting from YouTube.

Final argument. ‘It’s shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’. Which, if you think about it, is also a compelling argument for abandoning every murder investigation if they haven't immediately discovered the culprit.

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