EMI wants to control OK GO’s use of YouTube

You don’t need to look far to find evidence that executives in large corporations might miss some of the nuances of emerging culture and the business opportunities that might ensue. I was amused to hear that OK GO in the recent negotiations surrounding the release of their latest album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, were told by their record company, Capitol, (a wholly owned EMI subsidiary), that their record label would have to control their activities on such sites as YouTube in order to promote the band effectively.

OK Go know a bit about using videos to promote themselves. In fact, OK Go are probably the most successful band on the video Internet. Their first video, A million ways, became the most viewed video of all time with over 10,000,000 downloads.

Here it Goes Again, featuring treadmills, has been viewed over 50,000,000 times. It was also the most blatantly ripped off video of recent years – Berocca anyone?

They have just released their latest video for, ‘This too shall pass’.

“Embedded videos — those hosted by YouTube but streamed on blogs and other Web sites — don’t generate any revenue for record companies, so EMI disabled the embedding feature. Now we can’t post the YouTube versions of our videos on our own site, nor can our fans post them on theirs. If you want to watch them, you have to do so on YouTube.

“But this isn’t how the Internet works. Viral content doesn’t spread just from primary sources like YouTube or Flickr. Blogs, Web sites and video aggregators serve as cultural curators, daily collecting the items that will interest their audiences the most. By ignoring the power of these tastemakers, our record company is cutting off its nose to spite its face.

“The numbers are shocking: When EMI disabled the embedding feature, views of our treadmill video dropped 90 percent, from about 10,000 per day to just over 1,000. Our last royalty statement from the label, which covered six months of streams, shows a whopping $27.77 credit to our account.” Damian Kulash interviewed in New York Times.

The value of this band is significant and their popularity is almost all down to their clever and sophisticated use of new channels. Why would EMI want to control them when they are probably one of the only fully functioning forward-looking organisations within the entire operation? What hope is there for the record industry when the money men are so far removed from what is happening that they would wish to do anything other than watch what they are doing and try to emulate it?

Strange times for the recording industry.

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