More Stupid New Boss Tricks: Google’s YouTube Artist Relations Debacle

Here’s a little free advice to the power mad rich kids at YouTube:  Always anticipate the “cocktail party conversation” between your artists.  Except now the cocktail party occurs in social media.  You know, “transparency.”

The idea that Google is an open and transparent company is simply laughable to anyone who has actually dealt with the company.  Given Google’s monopoly over video search, when Google threatens artists with being cut off off from YouTube, those threats are amplified with what is called a “force multiplier” in some circles (or an “A-hole multiplier” in others).  An amplification that varies directly with the effectiveness of YouTube’s monopoly over online search, a monopoly perfected for years by Google subsidizing YouTube with profits from its other monopoly businesses.

And I feel pretty confident that even the people Google has hired to be the velvet glove with its artist relations either don’t have sufficient internal control to keep Google from stepping on their own dongles or are just ignored.  Of course–you have to understand you have an artist relations problem in the first place even if you clearly have no idea how to deal with it.

Companies like Apple and Microsoft have long histories of addressing exactly these kinds of concerns, and they’re both really good at it.  They don’t have to pay artists to show up at their parties.

So here’s the problem:  Apparently in the spirit of David Lowery and Zoë Keating, there’s been some open discussion about how YouTube pays out royalties that resulted in this headline in Digital Music News today:  “YouTube Demands the Removal of a Digital Music News Guest Post…”  As the guest writer ONErpm founder Emmanuel Zunz is quoted to have said:

“[YouTube] is threatening to cancel our agreement,” Zunz emailed.  “It’s a very serious issue for us.”

Why?  Because Paul Resnikoff at DMN was out there stirring the pot?  No–because YouTube channel producers (aka artists) were talking about their deals for YouTube.  And producing helpful information for artists.  (Original post is here: Why Jeff Price Is Horribly Misinformed About YouTube Monetization…).

We recommend that any artist with a video on YouTube read both posts:  Emanuael’s so you can see the numbers, and Paul’s so you can see the beast at YouTube actually show itself.

However informative these posts may be, like every other scrap of paper with Google’s name on it outside of the Googleplex bidets with seat warmers, those artist deals no doubt had a confidential information clause that could allow Google to flex its litigation muscle on the artists who did the disclosing that YouTube didn’t like.

Remember the bad old music business with the “out of date business model” a/k/a the “old boss”?  No such confidential information clauses.  Do you know why?  Because you can’t stop artists from talking about their deals so why bother trying?  Unless you want a full fledged palace revolt on your hands.  Such ideas went the way of the “morals clause.”

And given that Maker Studios and some others are making noises about competing with YouTube, that may be exactly what is going to happen.  Then Google would have…competition.  No more shaking down companies for a piece of the action.  Or said another way, competition that would be hard for them to compete with.

I’m reminded of when Maceo Parker took a hike from the James Brown band and created Maceo and All the King’s Men.  Do not jack with musicians, fellas, it never works out well.

But we stand in shock and awe of how the new boss is going to show us how it’s done.  I don’t know why they’re so touchy–after all, as Google’s own Tim Quirk said, royalties are a fetish.

Maybe not so much after all.

NP “As Evil as They Wanna Be”