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!! You’ll still be dealing with ads anyway. 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.
I know that independent artists who might be reading my article are cringing right now! I’ve read soooo many artists who despise Spotify, and others like it. I’ve heard all the cry baby arguments most make who are against Spotify and their payouts. In fact, many artists prefer to monetize on YouTube, because Spotify pays so little. But remember that ad revenue is not the same thing as royalties. Please consider the fact that, you’re only making money if someone actually clicks on the ad, and purchase something on it. Royalties are residual monies. While you cry about Spotify’s payouts, without Spotify, you’d be making nothing at all, because 80 percent of those users would be on Pirate Bay right now downloading your music. Actually, not even then, because torrents are not setup in a way that fans can discover you! Keep in mind, the keyword is DISCOVERY!! Album sales has never been the bulk of any artist’s income. Just let that marinate for a bit.
Back on the subject of YouTube. There is just no possible way of validating each YouTube channel; I could imagine the quadrillions of plays (collectively) that are not being tracked by record labels, ASCAP, SoundExchange, etc. Understand that although YouTube has something called “Content ID,” this only works if the authorized studio/distributor/copyright holder has uploaded a copy of their copyrighted work, in order to create a footprint. But, 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.
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. Now, a lot of up and coming hip hop artists are using SoundCloud and MixCloud. 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 THE ACTUAL DOWNLOADED FILE!! The reason simply being, you don’t truly know if the DJ that uploaded it has the license to offer it free for distribution. To be quite blunt, like YouTube, you don’t even know if the person uploaded it is their own copyright. The best thing to do is, just use it for personal use (meaning play it for your own personal 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). AND, you’re trusting in that the uploaded material is actually owned by the uploader. Now, since the listeners have no legal obligation (other than promising not to vandalize their website, and or not to infringe an artist’s music), 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, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Internet radio, etc. Or purchase from either itunes, Amazon, or GooglePlay. If you purchase from one of those three, you know it’s legit, because there are special information that is needed that only the copyright holder would have.
IMPORTANT BLOG READS:
- “Where To Find Old School Classics?”
- “Getting Older Folk On The Bandwagon”
- “Legal Streaming vs. Torrents: The Dawn Of A New File Sharing Era!”
- “Before The Music Dies (2007)”