I would really recommend that all of us try our best not to use YouTube as a main source for playing music regularly (for now at least); when we can use totally free Spotify/internet radio and help our favorite old school artists get paid. What do I mean specifically? In other words, it’s OK to use YouTube, but don’t use it in the same way you’ve used your walkman, iPod, or phonograph; because your beloved artists are not getting ANYTHING for the amount of times you’ve played your albums or cassettes. You’re doing the exact same thing (to a significant extent (too complicated to get in to)) when you’re using YouTube. If you can’t afford a $10 standard subscription, or a $5 radio subscription, just use all the free internet radio services, live internet radio stations, and FREE Spotify!! FREE as in NO CREDIT CARD NEEDED!! AS IN FREE!! ZILCH!! ZERO!! NADA!! ZIP!! NIP!! NOOP!! PAY NOTHING!!! AND LISTEN TO ON-DEMAND MUSIC WHEN YOU WANT IT ON YOUR DESKTOP COMPUTER!! I want my seasoned folks to please understand that, on-demand music purchasing from vendors like iTunes, Amazon, and Google will always be here for you, just in case your chosen streaming services can’t get a license for your specific beloved songs. HOWEVER, for the most part people aren’t buying music anymore, we’re streaming!!! Music lovers are only buying music when they can’t find rare/obscure/unpopular music, or on rare occasions when forced to buy vinyl.
There is just no possible way of validating each YouTube channel; I could imagine the trillions of plays (collectively) (perhaps it has even made the quadrillion mark, as YouTube is so very popular) that are not being tracked by record labels, ASCAP, SoundExchange. Understand that although YouTube has something called “Content ID,” this only works if the authorized studio has uploaded a copy of the copyrighted work, and unfortunately a lot has not been uploaded. Also understand that the copyright holder has the right to shut down a YouTuber’s illegal monetizing altogether; but that also means the artist(s) is not getting paid either. So YouTube is a very complex animal. And I know fans just want to play and enjoy, but we should have a basic understanding of what’s going on in the music industry.
Sometimes the infringement will be found within a day or two; sometimes it takes years for YouTube’s “Content Aware” to find illegal works uploaded. Sometimes videos are posted with the wrong information on them; so even if Google was paying for the artist, the wrong artists may be getting the credit for it. So far, I have not found any solid evidence that Google is paying royalties for copyrighted videos with/without ads. These are huge payouts that are lost to the forgotten artists, that all could be prevented by us, and we don’t have to spend a dime (although, I highly recommend getting a subscription service because there are many benefits to having one, in addition the more paid subscribers that exist in the streaming world, the more our beloved artists get paid (on a residual basis) at a very low cost to subscribers). Those of us who can remember that far back, think back in the days when so many Black artists were cheated by their record labels; artists such as New Edition, Toni Braxton, Little Richard, LL Cool J, Prince, even George Clinton; we are indirectly doing similar to what the record labels did to them. The only artists that seem to be benefiting from YouTube are the current artists. I realize the only thing that could correct this (without Google/YouTube becoming like Spotify, spending more than 50% of their revenue in royalties), would be to disable all content with audio music/sound effects in it. However, that would also mean that any videos with intros in them would be either denied upon upload, or existing videos would have their entire audio disabled. This really confuses me a lot, because historically the music industry has always been known to be brutal when it came to making money; yet it appears they don’t give a shit about classic music; they’re only focusing on “who’s hot.” It’s obvious that classic music is till valuable, otherwise they would not exist on YouTube (and I do mean “out of print” music as well). I know a lot of people love YouTube (I do too), but please consider what I’ve just written. We all have the power to help rebuild a failing music industry, with out spending any additional money, and a slight change of habit. What is considered a very much part of our history, has been abandoned by an industry that only looks at “what’s new,” not realizing they can still make money on history, if you present it in the right way. But the reality is, I guess it’s everybody’s fault. I don’t think we can entirely blame the music and film industry for this mentality.
What About Services Like SoundCloud & MixCloud?
Those sites are totally different animals altogether. However, license wise, they are the same deal as with YouTube. Both SoundCloud and MixCloud are primarily specialty sites that contain customized remixes of both current and classic music put together by their perspective DJ. Again, like YouTube, it’s virtually impossible to know offhand what the license situation is for each song/mix you’re listening to. Usually there will be no indication of type of license, or even all the artists used in the mixes. In fact, you don’t even know if the song you’re listening was uploaded by the actual DJ that mixed it. So having said that, if you see that SoundCloud or MixCloud has an available download for a particular song, DO NOT SHARE THAT DOWNLOAD!! The reason simply being, you don’t truly know if the DJ that uploaded it has the license to offer it free for distribution. Just use it for personal use (meaning play it for your own enjoyment). Now, if the remix is soooo HOT and you must share it with a friend or Facebook etc, share the link instead, and NOT the actual download. This way you share no legal responsibility for infringement. When in doubt link it.
You’re using SoundCloud/MixCloud and services like it, with the faith that the individual DJ that uploaded the material has taken care of the licensing for ALL music used in the music mix (beforehand). Now, since the listeners have no legal obligation (other than promising not to vandalize their shit), I say listen all you want! It’s a no brainer. Don’t drive yourself crazy. There’s actually a lot of nice “never before heard, custom music.” However, just continue to be mindful that, the only way to be truly sure that your beloved artist get paid is to use mostly Spotify, iTunes, Napster, iHeartRadio, Pandora, etc.
IMPORTANT BLOG READS:
- “Where To Find Old School Classics?“
- “Legal Streaming vs. Torrents: The Dawn Of A New File Sharing Era!”
- “Before The Music Dies (2007)”
- “What Are The Differences Between the 3 Major Video Streaming Services?”
- “Where Are All The Black Bloggers At? Where Are The Black YouTube Movie Reviewers?”
*Updated June 6, 2017*