Universal Media Group Just Doesn’t Get It

This is a guest-post by my brother, Luke Stay.  Follow him on Twitter / FriendFeed.

umgredneck

I do a semi-regular segment on LukeStay.com called Favorite Video Friday in which I showcase 3 innovative or otherwise interesting music videos bound by a common theme. They’re my favorite posts to do and also my most well received. I’ve done 43 of them so far, all but a few of them containing 3 videos each, but every time I think I’ve run out of good videos, I stumble on a few more.

YouTube is my source of choice, mostly because of its popularity and massive database of artists both popular and obscure, but in my never-ending search for quality music videos I often come upon one with “embedding disabled by request.” Nine times out of ten, that video is claimed by Universal Media Group. This always puts me in a difficult position. Do I scrap the video that fits so perfectly with the weeks theme, or do I go elsewhere and find the video on a site not as regulated as YouTube?

Universal Media Group has completely missed the point of YouTube. YouTube is a social network. It is a place to discover interesting videos and discuss them. I’ve found that my meager number of regular readers are a lazy bunch. They don’t click on links to watch videos elsewhere. They want to watch the video then and there, embedded right within the site. If they like it, then they’ll seek out ways to share it with others, usually through YouTube. On the internet, you only have seconds to grab a reader’s attention, and external links do nothing to help you. I have to embed my videos.

I don’t know why they do it. They can’t claim they lose ad revenue when their videos are embedded externally. YouTube now allows embedded ads and most of Universal’s artists already have pop-ups to buy the track on Amazon or ITunes. Embedding does nothing to stop this. I’m not going to claim this practice hurts their business, Universal’s artists are mostly well known, but it certainly doesn’t help them. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten comments on a post I’ve done telling me that a person had never heard of a band or a song and they were going to go buy the track. After the recent suggestion of Marina Martin, I even added links to buy the featured tracks on ITunes (If anyone knows an easy way to add graphical buttons, I’m listening). Allowing videos to be embedded only increases the scope of your visibility. How can that possibly hurt your business? I don’t get it.

I wish I could boycott Universal Music Group altogether, but they just represent too many artists. If I want to keep up 3 videos a post, I need as many videos to choose from as I can get. Instead, I’ll just be forced to keep finding their videos elsewhere, often bringing them no ad revenue whatsoever. It’s a mild pain in my butt, but (I just said butt but, hehe) I’m sure Universal spends massive amounts of money searching for copyright infringements that could be avoided by simply enabling embedding on YouTube. Get with the program, Universal!

Follow more of Luke on http://afrowhitey.com and http://lukestay.com.

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10 thoughts on “Universal Media Group Just Doesn’t Get It

  1. Luke, Peter Kafka addressed this in a MediaMemo post (which I've previously referenced in a post on my Empoprise-MU blog). Kafka quotes from an anonymous industry source, who says the following:

    I work at a major label and I’ve been told informally that embedding is disabled on our label’s YouTube clips because the deal terms negotiated with YouTube on our first licensing deal a couple years back demanded such large advance and per-stream payments that YouTube could only come close to the ad rates required to satisfy the terms by selling the advertising around the video, and not just on in-video overlays. So in the negotiation, YouTube told us only way we could get the terms we asked for was to disable the embedding on our videos.

    If this anonymous insider is to be believed, the in-video advertisements that you reference above aren't enough to satisfy YouTube's revenue needs – or at least they weren't enough at the time the deal was negotiated.

    Like

  2. Interesting, thanks for that quote John. I guess that makes a little more sense then, but I still think the idea of more people getting exposure to their artists should out-weigh the potential loss through ad-revenue. Embedding is basically free advertising for their artists and they don't even have to pay for the server space to host the videos. It sounds to me like Universal is just being greedy and trying to get every penny from YouTube that they can.

    Like

  3. Sorry, this time it's Youtube being greedy, not Universal. It's Youtube's business that is driving the decision, not Universal.

    – Youtube is allowed to play the videos because they negotiated agreements with the studios.
    – Youtube secured the agreements because they said how wonderfully they could monetize them.
    – The studios negotiated certain floor rates which Youtube happily agreed to.

    Youtube said these videos can only be played at Youtube since they wanted to reinforce their site as the destination (not your blog.). Letting you embed videos was only ever just an advertisement for Youtube. You are their marketing arm.

    And now that Youtube is having difficulty monetizing videos as they promised, is it greedy of Universal? Not at all.

    Suppose the tables were turned and Youtube was wildly profitable (like google search). If that were the case, would you call YT greedy for putting together a website people liked, and sponsors paid for? Of course not. Neither is Universal greedyfor putting together content lots of people like and a site (youtube) helped pay for.

    To say it again, YT is completely self-centered in this: it's all about driving visitors like you to YouTube. It's about reinforcing YT as the desitination for videos and increasing on-site ads/pageviews. If that happens, they still hope to monetize you. That's really all that matters to them. Exposure for artists? Google has never cared about that.

    Like

  4. If it's YouTube being greedy, and not the major record labels, why did the labels come after YouTube so hard claiming copyright infringement? My point with this article was to show that Universal (and the other major labels, i.e. Sony, EMI, Warner) don't understand the concept of social media. YouTube is a social site. It's a place to share videos with as many people as you can. Putting limits on how you can share those videos defeats the purpose of the site.

    Yes, I agree that YouTube/Google doesn't care about exposure for artists. And yes, when it comes down to it, YouTube is a site made to generate profit. My point was that Universal should care about exposure for their artists. YouTube wanted Universal's videos because they generate lots of pageviews, and pageviews == ad revenue. However, as described by John's source (above), Universal wanted such a large piece of that revenue, that YouTube had to require that embedding be disabled. It was the only way to both pay off the labels and still be a successful company.

    When it comes down to it, I agree with you, both parties are being greedy. They're both businesses trying to turn a profit and business, by its very nature, is greedy. All I'm trying to say is that Universal should relax a little in this case, because while they may not be happy that someone is earning ad revenue off of their property, they can take comfort in the fact that millions of people are being exposed to their artists, which brings them more money in the long run. I'm not naive, I don't expect anything to change, but if Universal, or any other major record label understood social media a little better, they would be doing a lot more to work with these sites. The Beggar's group gets it, why can't the big guys?

    Like

  5. Sorry, this time it's Youtube being greedy, not Universal. It's Youtube's business that is driving the decision, not Universal.

    – Youtube is allowed to play the videos because they negotiated agreements with the studios.
    – Youtube secured the agreements because they said how wonderfully they could monetize them.
    – The studios negotiated certain floor rates which Youtube happily agreed to.

    Youtube said these videos can only be played at Youtube since they wanted to reinforce their site as the destination (not your blog.). Letting you embed videos was only ever just an advertisement for Youtube. You are their marketing arm.

    And now that Youtube is having difficulty monetizing videos as they promised, is it greedy of Universal? Not at all.

    Suppose the tables were turned and Youtube was wildly profitable (like google search). If that were the case, would you call YT greedy for putting together a website people liked, and sponsors paid for? Of course not. Neither is Universal greedyfor putting together content lots of people like and a site (youtube) helped pay for.

    To say it again, YT is completely self-centered in this: it's all about driving visitors like you to YouTube. It's about reinforcing YT as the desitination for videos and increasing on-site ads/pageviews. If that happens, they still hope to monetize you. That's really all that matters to them. Exposure for artists? Google has never cared about that.

    Like

  6. If it's YouTube being greedy, and not the major record labels, why did the labels come after YouTube so hard claiming copyright infringement? My point with this article was to show that Universal (and the other major labels, i.e. Sony, EMI, Warner) don't understand the concept of social media. YouTube is a social site. It's a place to share videos with as many people as you can. Putting limits on how you can share those videos defeats the purpose of the site.

    Yes, I agree that YouTube/Google doesn't care about exposure for artists. And yes, when it comes down to it, YouTube is a site made to generate profit. My point was that Universal should care about exposure for their artists. YouTube wanted Universal's videos because they generate lots of pageviews, and pageviews == ad revenue. However, as described by John's source (above), Universal wanted such a large piece of that revenue, that YouTube had to require that embedding be disabled. It was the only way to both pay off the labels and still be a successful company.

    When it comes down to it, I agree with you, both parties are being greedy. They're both businesses trying to turn a profit and business, by its very nature, is greedy. All I'm trying to say is that Universal should relax a little in this case, because while they may not be happy that someone is earning ad revenue off of their property, they can take comfort in the fact that millions of people are being exposed to their artists, which brings them more money in the long run. I'm not naive, I don't expect anything to change, but if Universal, or any other major record label understood social media a little better, they would be doing a lot more to work with these sites. The Beggar's group gets it, why can't the big guys?

    Like

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