In Sunday’s Op-Ed section of the New York Times, Damian Kulash Jr., lead guitarist and singer of the band OK Go (the band with the oh-so-viral treadmill video “Here It Goes Again”) explains why you and I can not embed music videos on our websites. Turns out it’s just big record companies being dumb short-sighted, once again.
If you look at the amount of music videos on the web today, you could assume that music videos, in addition to porn videos, are frequently searched for. Just try and look for some old song that you remember from your high school dance. It’s most likely that someone has either put up a video of the song if there is one available or has posted just the song along with a picture or picture slide show. For instance, if you look, you can find some videos of classic Genesis with Peter Gabriel.
And of course, those of us who create content sites and/or participate in websites built around sharing culture content share those videos, usually by using the embed code that comes with the video on the website where we first saw the video. Thereby allowing us to go “Ooo look; I found this cool video,” which, like a 80’s hair ad or a STD in an orgy, gets shared again and again and again — if it really is that cool. You’d think that record companies would get behind that, we and everyone else are freely promoting your video in a way that your promotions department can’t.
For example, the singer Sade just released a new album, Soldier of Love, Feb. 2010. The last time Sade released an album was Lover’s Rock in 2000, 10 years ago. This is big since Sade is the type of singer who almost everyone loves or at least respects. I mean, how many singers can release an album 10 years later that will automatically be highly-anticipated?
As her first single was released, it was passed around on the Internet through embedded videos and just as quickly those unauthorized videos, on the sites I read the most, were taken down. But I may not have even found out about the video or even listened to the first song if someone hadn’t said “Oo this is cool; I need to post it.”
Internet users are a short-attention span economy, they want their viral now, make it quick. If you ask them to go to another website to get the final product of something you’ve mentioned in a post, maybe only 1/2 of those people will do that (1/2 is me being generous). The rest will go on to easier things. It’s just the way things seem to work. If Sade’s record company had allowed the video to be embedded, it could have been more widely seen by people, thus creating new fans and informing current fans who may not have known about her new album, if they, the record companies, had only allowed her new video to be embedded.
Kulash writes in the article that his video “Here It Goes Again” dropped “from about 10,000 [views] per day to just over 1,000” views per a day when his record label disabled embedding on the video. So why did the companies disable embedding? (See? I haven’t forgot the point of this article.)
The companies wanted to make money. And it turns out the money made on doing this is not even a large amount. In the article Kulash writes, “labels receive $.004 to $.008 per stream [view].”
So on one hand we have embedding that gets your band promoted, gets more kids to buy the album and go to the concert and in general, be informed about your band. On the other hand you have no embedding, which doesn’t help the band you signed get promotion, which means less record sales and possibly less concert seats sold; but hey, you got $.004 cents from that kid who looked up the band on YouTube.
I’m failing at seeing why this is a smart business choice, but that’s most likely because it’s not smart.
To read the rest of the piece, including what this possibly means for the future of music, click here.