The Great Disappointment: Tidal Highlights YouTube’s Moral Hazard for All the World to See
Part of Tidal’s business model relies on artists being able to grant exclusives. The concept of an exclusive requires property rights that are respected by other platforms in the channel.
Imagine if Showtime began showing rips of Game of Thrones day and date with its HBO release. Forget that HBO would sue them and win. The actors, screenwriters, producers and the vast below the line personnel would think twice about working for Showtime in the future.
And that’s exactly what should happen to YouTube.
Beyonce released “Die With You” on Tidal as an exclusive. Everyone at YouTube knows that it was intended to be an exclusive just like everyone at YouTube knows that YouTube could keep the track from being uploaded to YouTube if YouTube wanted to do that.
YouTube has worked hard at getting the world to accept the concept of “user generated content” as some kind of great cultural event–even, when like “Die With You”, there isn’t anything particularly “user generated” about it, unless you call a one-to-one rip of Beyonce’s track that was distributed in clear violation of Beyonce’s rights “user generated”.
And even if you do accept that someone should have the ability to make a private copy for their own personal use, that’s not what’s happening here. These are copies that are distributed by YouTube for profit–copies that in this particular case feather YouTube’s nest.
Make no mistake, YouTube does not like anything about Tidal and they don’t like anything about the shift away from advertising supported services. Not only does YouTube rely on advertising, data profiling and scraping from the YouTube data honeypot, Google serves ads on both Spotify and Pandora.
So Google is incentivized to use YouTube like a sword to insult and undermine anyone who challenges their business model. This is why Google hides behind a tortured interpretation of the DMCA notice and takedown in Google’s notice and shakedown version of the law. As we saw with the indie labels and again with Zoë Keating, YouTube will withhold the use of its take down tools if it helps them gain commercial advantage in an unrelated area tied to “notice and shakedown”, such as their own subscription service.
Suing Google to try to change this is playing into Google’s hands. That’s what they want you to do, and they have shown that they will spend any amount of money on litigation to perpetuate the “notice and shakedown.” Litigation does not work well with Google and neither does law enforcement as we have seen with the populist Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood who Google is trying to muzzle for having the audacity to challenge Google, the new Enron.
What does work with Google is anything that changes their behavior. And the great news is that Beyonce and the other artists at Tidal and their supporters have a very simple way to address YouTube’s failure to resolve their moral hazard.
Don’t do business with them. Withdraw from everything associated with Google–YouTube, Music Key, YouTube Video Awards, all of it. Tell your sponsors that you demand that the sponsor controls where Google serves their ads. Tell your music publishers and record companies that you don’t want your songs or recordings or videos appearing on YouTube at any price. No lyrics in Google search.
There’s a lot you can do. The first step is realizing that what happened to Beyonce happened because Google let it happen, not because of some “fans” who may well have been YouTube employees. Just ask yourself, who benefits if subscription music fails?
We have been sold a bill of goods about converting fans into subscribers for years. This is like the mass psychology phenomenon of the Great Disappointment. The Great Disappointment is what happens in a cult when the second coming doesn’t happen on the appointed day and at the appointed hour (specifically “Millerism” for those reading along).
The cult of streaming has been promising the second coming for too long now. We don’t believe it. What you have been seeing in the collision of rationalization and reality that has caused both the Pandora and Spotify brands to tank is “The Great Streaming Disappointment”. And now everyone should realize that they’ve been had by the thimblerig operators in the streaming cult.
There is something we can do about it and we can do it right now. Just tell them you’re tired of being a useful idiot.
Tell them no. Because it’s about respect.