The UK vs. YouTube & The New Music Industry
COMMENTARY: By suddenly taking down music videos in the UK, Google's YouTube proved that it could walk away from the table. Music videos, particularly those just in the UK, are something that the mighty Google can live without. Anyone who has ever been involved in high stakes negotiations has probably reached a similar moment. To move the ball forward you need to prove – or at least appear to prove – that you can walk away if necessary.
UK licensing body PRS For Music has cried foul; and they have every right to. But in the end, who needs whom more? Google's YouTube wants UK eyeballs, but not if it can't make money. In the end, PRS clients will want the income YouTube brings, even if smaller per play than before. If the dispute is not resolved quickly, some labels, as with Merlin and MySpace, will just bypass the PRS and get their content back up.
Who is the villain? Many in the press want to skewer Google for unilaterally disrupting their video fun, but they forget that it was the PRS that forced Pandora out of the UK as well.
"It's the UK music industry that is the biggest looser."
Who suffers? The fan, as usual, who just lost a major source of music discovery and found another reason to be angry at the music industry.
But it's the UK music industry that is the biggest looser. From online royalties to ISP interference, the birthplace of The Beatles and Sex Pistols seems determined to send the message that it has no intention of being an incubator for new music tech and the new music industry itself. – Bruce Houghton