IN BRIEF:Its a simple but fundamental point if you want to understand how the music business works today: while debates may rage around streaming services such as Spotify and just how much/little remuneration they provide to artists, there is serious money to be made from distribution through YouTube - and that includes fan-made vids/UGC (user-generated content). The lexicon of YT would label many of these 'responses'.
The stats in this article seemed modest by March
The bottom line? The dominant narrative around digitisation and the music industry is of piracy and the disruption to the traditional record industry model centred on purchases of physical media. How fair the payment splits are can be debated, but music video's viral potential does offer a chance to make money - even if its fans (re)making their own versions of an original video. Their work can deliver significant cash to the artists behind the original.
Scroll to the bottom for info on the new YouTube-based record label, All Def Music, a collaboration between Russell Simmons, Universal Music Group and others.
This blog's description makes reference to the ongoing status of music video, and particularly to the scope of viral hits to raise serious revenues. Here's a little detail on how a much-mimicked video, in a very postmodern fashion (one that would gain a knowing smile from Andy Warhol, whose 'Factory' churned out 'his' work actually produced by others!), makes money directly from the multiple 'tributes', 'responses', remakes, term them what you will:
Those who enroll in the content ID service give YouTube a reference file of their content. They then choose between getting videos that are found to use that content blocked from the site, or taking a slice of the advertising revenue those rip-off videos generate and tracking the original's success.The article this is quoted from was published in Feb 2013, and was impressed at the amount of money the recording artist (Baauer; here's his Twitter) behind the track was raking in; by March 2013 the scale had reached unprecedented levels, as this BBC graphic illustrates.
According to Billboard, more than 4,000 Harlem Shake-related videos have been claimed by the content ID system which makes for more than 30m views as of last week.
The single is also doing well on iTunes charts, where it was fighting for the top two spots on Tuesday in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and most of the rest of Europe.
Heyden's article breaks down the staggering figures:
The Twittersphere and Blogosphere were also lit up; 'trending' hardly does justice to just how extensively this viral phenomenon was spread across the web. Advertising, or sponsored tweets, offer yet more potential income for bloggers/Twitter accounts/Instagram sites etc with sizeable followings. This graphic, from the same BBC article, illustrates the scope for this:The Harlem Shake viral video trend, which has sparked over 100,000 imitations and garnered nearly a billion views, has been going a month. It's been unique in the speed of its spread.On 2 February, the Harlem Shake video meme was born. By 11 Feb, YouTube claimed there were 4,000 videos being uploaded a day.
Over 700 million people have viewed the videos, YouTube says. More than 100 versions have at least a million views. The most has nearly 40 million.
The format is simple. The soundtrack to every video is New York DJ Baauer's song Harlem Shake.
Each video lasts about 30 seconds. For the first 15 seconds, one person - often masked or in a helmet - dances in front of apparently oblivious or uninterested people.
As the bass drops, the video cuts and suddenly the screen is full of people dancing energetically and festooned with weird costumes and props.
|Social media coverage of this viral was phenomenal. Will we see others of such global scale?|
Will your hard work earn money for the musicians whose recordings you are using?
|Simmons looks to make jam from YT exposure|
News then of the new joint venture between Def Jam's Russell Simmons, UMG and others: a new YouTube-based record label 'which will focus on signing, developing and promoting musicians on Google's video service', showing just explicitly YT is viewed as a serious music (not just music video) distributor.
Its an intriguing experiment; the major record labels are enjoying considerable revenues through Vevo and their licensing deals with YT, but its Indies who have arguably sought to best exploit YT's potential to this point, with highly interactive, audience engaging channels:
YouTube has already spawned a number of music stars. British singer/songwriter Alex Day has more than 708,000 subscribers to his channel, which has generated more than 116m video views, for example.In 2011, Day sold 100k downloads to reach number four in the UK's Christmas-week singles chart.Meanwhile, British bass-music brand UKF has 4.4m subscribers for its UKF Dubstep channel, which has racked up more than 1bn total views since its launch in 2009.Traditional record labels are also finding new income streams from YouTube. Indie label Cooking Vinyl said in January 2013 that it was earning up to $5,000 per million views on the service, with its YouTube revenue having more-than doubled between February and November 2012."We're anticipating YouTube becoming our most important revenue stream in the future," said the label's digital distribution manager Richard Leach at the time. It remains to be seen whether Universal Music Group's new venture can help the major label group towards a similar goal.