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YouTube: Not Just Videos

August 31, 2012

When users are seeking out videos, the majority of which are humorous in nature, their number one choice is YouTube. However, there is so much more to this site than just user shared videos. In June 2009, there was a wedding, and in that wedding, the bridesmaids and groomsmen danced down the aisle to the song Forever……everyone who just read that last sentence knows exactly what I am talking about (if not, take a look  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0). This video was uploaded to YouTube in July and by December it was the third-most-watched video of 2009, totalling 28 million views in North America and 33 million worldwide.

As I mentioned earlier, YouTube is much more than just videos. According to the HBS article “Sony and the JK Wedding Dance”, “In the early 2000’s the Recordings Indutry Association of America (RIAA) started the practice of filing lawsuits against those sharing music online illegally, via peer to peer networks.” It goes on to say that two high profile cases ended up going to court, and I would assume one of those was the famous Napster. The point is that anytime someone else’s work is used to generate positive perception, the original artist, in this case Chris Brown, wants their fair share, and who can blame them, for if he didn’t produce that song, would the video have been the such a hit? Although, I also think the video and its populatiry resurrected his music career by using his song. In Feburary of 2009, Chris Brown turned himself in to the LAPD, charged with making criminal threats after a woman involved with an incident with him had sustained visible injuries. He immediately began losing endorsements, and in June he plead guilty to a felony charge. So, without this viral video using his song, would he even have a career today? Within 48 hours of this video being posted, it had broken the record for most views for a single video on YouTube, with over 3.5 million views. That is an incredible amount of exposure for the artist.

Jeff Doeds was the Executive VP of Marketing and Digital Media for Son’y Jive Label Group, which had signed Chris Brown in 2008. The article quotes him as saying, “We sit around these offices on a daily basis and try to figure out how to create viral activity for our artists, often with little success. Then this happens.” Sony had a content licensing deal with YouTube, which used a content identification system to track and notify licensees of copyrighted materials on YouTube. When this video went viral, Sony was notified that one of their songs was being used without authorization, providing them with three options:

  1. Issue a take-down notice, forcing the video to be taken down
  2. Do nothing, which provided an ancillary way to benefit from the attention gained from the video (i.e. ticket sales)
  3. Notify the host they were claiming the song, allowing them to negotiate some form of revenue generating or sharing agreement

Accoridng to Dodes, “At Jive, I’ve taken the approach that the best thing in most cases is to try and allow the consumer to do what the consumer wants to do with content after it’s released. That’s the physics of the web nowadays; it is nearly impossible to prevent it, so you need to embrace it and often times positive things can come of it. At the same time, if our artists’ content is being used, they should be paid for it.” In most cases, I agree, the artist should be compensated for their work being used. However, I think this video did more good to Chris Brown’s career than any cut of revenue from it would have done.

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