Wrong response to the wrong problem

WRONG RESPONSE TO THE WRONG PROBLEM…. I can understand the music industry’s concerns about file-sharing and “piracy.” I can’t understand this.

James Blunt, Madonna and Led Zeppelin are set to disappear from YouTube after their record company, Warner Music Group, fell out with the video-sharing site in a row over royalties.

Warner Music said it would pull hundreds of thousands of videos from the site following the collapse of talks with the Google-owned company about renegotiating a content-sharing deal. “We simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide,” the group said. Warner Music added that it was “working actively” to find a resolution with YouTube.

The company had yet to remove all material from YouTube by yesterday afternoon, with Madonna fans still able to watch a video for her single 4 minutes posted by WMG on the site — the promo for James Blunt’s ubiquitous You’re Beautiful was also available. Other Warner Music artists include Metallica and Bloc Party.

Content will be removed from the site along with recordings owned by Warner Music’s record publishing business, Warner/Chappell Music, which controls the copyright to songs including Happy Birthday to You and Winter Wonderland. Warner Music’s withdrawal also covers amateur clips that feature its artists or copyrighted songs — potentially widening the action to hundreds of thousands of additional postings.

Ta-Nehisi Coates explained, “This makes no sense. A music video is nothing more than a really expensive ad. It’s amazing that these guys want YouTube to pay them for the right to show their videos.”

Quite right. The whole point of music videos is promotion; it’s why they exist. The logical thing for Warner Music Group to do is to encourage YouTube to feature as many music videos from Warner artists as possible. It’s not complicated — consumer likes video, consumer purchases music … consumer doesn’t see video, consumer doesn’t know about music, consumer doesn’t purchase music.

In this particular situation, YouTube was already paying Warner Music Group for the rights to post videos, but Warner decided it wanted more money. So, after YouTube balked, Warner decided to take away the very promotional tool its artists need to sell more music. The company, in other words, is spiting YouTube in the most self-destructive way possible.

There’s a reason the music industry is failing.

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