Is YouTube Going The Way of Napster?
Remember back in the late '90s/early '00s when Napster was free and you could download just about any damn thing you wanted -- from the latest album by your favorite band to outrageous porn? Those were the days. I still have dozens and dozens of CDs I made from Napster. The popularity of Napster ultimately meant its demise, and although it was reborn as a pay site, most folks decided the thrill was most definitely gone. When iTunes showed up, it was game over. Is YouTube heading in the same direction? I am an admitted YouTube junkie; I spend far too much time there, so potential changes makes me very nervous.
For the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that YouTube has has started blocking music videos, television shows from other countries and removing audio. This is mainly because YouTube is under increasing threat of lawsuits by music companies and television networks who still don't get it. Music companies are the worst, trying to put a stranglehold on who can see music videos by their artists. A couple of weeks ago, YouTube users in the UK found that nearly every music video was blocked because Google didn't want to have to pony up more money to that country's Performing Rights Society. Is YouTube/Google trying to lose viewership and turn off potential advertisers? One has to wonder.
As for record companies, isn't the point of a music video to promote the artist? Why bother making a promotional video clip if it's going to be so regulated that no one can actually see it? Most record companies that allow their videos on YouTube also require that embedding be disabled so it can't be posted on blogs, websites, etc. This also makes no sense, because usually it's a fan who wants to share the music with others. Isn't this point? It's amazing that we're in 2009 and record companies still can't buy a vowel and solve the puzzle.
Now, comes word that YouTube is going to try and be more like Hulu and create partnerships to show "legal" television, movies and music videos. It sounds like user-uploaded videos will get the back-burner and the "You" in YouTube will become a misnomer. This stupid move falls right in line with what Facebook's redesign and Twitter's chirping about how to monetize its site. Everybody is trying to be the next social networking millionaire, but in the race to make money, the users who helped built these websites are getting the shaft. There's all sorts of rumors out there: charging a monthly fee to use Twitter, charging for uploads to YouTube, some sort of fee for folks who overuse Facebook.
The Internet is not nearly as fun as it used to be. There are too many viruses, too many con-artists, and too much greed. There's always something else ready to take the place of a site that doesn't meet user needs and demands. MySpace has been left in the badly-designed dust by Facebook, and now Twitter is threatening to topple it. Somewhere, a tech wizard is dreaming up the "next big thing" and in 10 years time Facebook and YouTube will either be dinosaurs or pay sites no one visits anymore. There's been plenty written about Net Neutrality, and how governments and corporations are eventually going to ruin the Internet as we know it. They just might be right.
Oh, and just for shits and giggles, the video from YouTube post above is the brilliant Amanda Palmer. She's been trying to get out of her contract with Roadrunner Records for at least a year. The final straw was when Roadrunner fuckwits told Miss Palmer to cover up her stomach in a music video because she looked fat. Here's the new ditty Miss Palmer created to provoke Roadrunner even further. The language is colorful, but you should be used to that if you read this blog.