"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." -Mark Twain

Music and MTV and YouTube and Stuff

A couple of years ago, I shot this video (with my phone, I think — I can’t rightly remember) of my home arcade. My sole intent was to show off my game collection at that time. To make the video slightly more enjoyable to sit though, I added some music to it. Phil Collin’s “Take Me Home,” specifically.

As you may have noticed, the music is gone — removed, by YouTube. And, they added a note: “NOTICE: This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled.” They also added a couple of links where I can learn about copyright law.

I was eight-years-old when MTV debuted back in 1981, and yes, I remember the day it launched. There were lots of bands that went from being nobodies to super megastars overnight as a direct result of having their videos played on MTV. Think of all the one-hit wonders from that era. Do you think it’s a coincidence that those band’s only hit was the only video that got MTV airplay? Unless you’re a fan, chances are you can’t name a Thomas Dolby song other than “Blinded Me With Science”, another Madness song other than “Our House”, or another Adam Ant song other than “Goody Two Shoes”. A Flock of Seagulls had a hit in 1982 with “I Ran”. 30 years later, they’re still touring. Can’t name another one of their songs, can you?

The point of this isn’t to have you Google those artists and respond with a list of their songs. The point is that, for years, MTV was essentially running commercials in the guise of music videos, and boy did we lap it up. How many albums, cassettes, and even CDs did I buy over the years for a single song? A lot.

Fast forward two decades. MTV (Music Television) as we know it is dead — this is not news. MTV hasn’t shown music videos in so long that in 2010 they removed the phrase “Music Television” from their logo. MTV created MTV2 (a second channel) for playing videos, but Cox cable (my cable provider) eventually made it a pay channel, and the concept of paying to watch music commercials … let’s just say didn’t appeal to me. But yeah, beating up on MTV for not playing music videos is a dead, dead horse. Like, rotting carcass dead.

So if kids aren’t watching music videos, where are they hearing new music? In restaurants, bars, and clubs? Wrong. About five years ago, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music International (BMI) began visiting restaurants and threatening to sue them for playing the radio without paying for a performance license. This was going on in 2007, and there are no signs of them stopping. This year, over 50 bars have been sued by BMI for performing live music.

One of the things I got in to a year or two ago were Literal Music Videos. Literal Music Videos are parodies in which people take music videos and create their own vocals that describe exactly what is going on visually in the video. If you’ve not seen one, they are hilarious ! Unfortunately, as with my arcade-related video, music companies are scouring Youtube and having them removed.

The music industry continues to complain that piracy is killing the music industry. It seems to me that the music industry is killing the music industry …

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4 comments to Music and MTV and YouTube and Stuff

  • MagnumIP

    Hmm that’s an interesting take, about MTV running commercials disguised as music videos. But I supposed that makes sense, seeing how they usually played many of the same ones repeatedly. Probably similar to radio stations playing certain songs repeatedly. Do you think MTV and radio stations get paid to play certain songs rather than others? It always seemed like no matter how much you hated a certain song, if you heard it enough, you’ll catch yourself singing it or humming it somewhere.

    My routine in high school was watching MTV, Yo MTV Raps, and BET’s Rap City. Then going to my local Tower Records and picking up the cassette single, which later turned into the CD single.

    Now, I no longer have cable/satellite, all the Tower Records have closed, and I only have one old walkman to play my old tapes. It’s amazing how music has changed. For new music, I guess my source these days is internet radio and podcasts. However, I have noticed that a lot of my music purchases these days are of “classic” albums that I missed or just never got around to picking up.

    People always say that their generation’s music was the best and whatever is current sucks. But I *truly* do feel like the music I listened to in high school was the best and stuff these days just doesn’t hold up as well. But maybe MTV/BET had something to do with that…

  • lethargic

    I think the Youtube part of it is more Youtube’s knee jerk reactionary policies than it is the labels/studios. WMG would probably never notice or care about your video. But Youtube has gone over the top with their policy to the point you can hardly get away with anything anymore.

    It’s like they don’t even look at the video to see if it falls under fair use or whatever. They give you a place to defend yourself but it doesn’t seem like anybody actually reads it to give you a second chance.

    I made a Darth Vader video which got so popular that they started asking me to put ads on it. Then a few weeks later they pulled it off due to a copyright claim by FunnyorDie. I had expected it could get taken down, but not by FunnyorDie. I explained to Youtube that there is NO WAY FunnyorDie could own the copyright on Star Wars, that the video that FunnyorDie had that was similar to mine was posted weeks after mine was. Nobody there did anything. I contacted FunnyorDie and they got it in reinstated the next day.

    Then the other day the American Idol winner was going to sing on Jay Leno. I was looking at it and after Leno introduced him and the guy opened his mouth to start singing, a EBS test came on. It was absolutely PERFECT timing and it was hysterical. So I thought I’d upload it for others to see.

    Well it lasted about 3 minutes before they blocked it. Once again they give me a chance to respond. I explain, LOOK AT THE VIDEO, it doesn’t even have actual audio of the show, it’s an EBS test, it’s less than 1 minute of an hour long show, it should completely fall under the fair use rules. You have a million other clips from the Tonight Show on youtube, why is this one not allowed?

    No answer. It’s still blocked. So I put it up on liveleak where there hasn’t been a single issue with it. NBC still hasn’t sued me.

    And after these two videos, Youtube blocked my IP from even LOOKING at the site and forced me to watch a video on copyrights and then made me pass a quiz in order to visit the site again.

  • Youtube really doesn’t care, they don’t even check if the complainer actually owns the content, as you can see from the recent punk music takedowns, by Greg Ginn/SST Records, where videos with music from punk bands that were never on SST got taken down.

    Also: Madness- “House of Fun”
    via The Young Ones :)

  • Wow that totally embedded, didn’t it.