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Taking The PRS

As you have probably heard by now, YouTube is in the process of blocking music videos to its UK users because of a financial dispute with the PRS (the organisation which collects royalties on behalf of artists and songwriters).

A blog entry posted yesterday by Patrick Walker, YouTube’s Director of Video Partnerships, cited ‘prohibitive licensing fees’ as the sticking point.

According to Walker, if YouTube were to pay royalties at the rate which the PRS are now demanding, they would ‘lose significant amounts of money with every playback’.

Assuming this is the truth (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), then it’s yet another case of music industry short-sightedness.

I should point out that I’m not pointing the finger at the record labels. God knows it took them long enough to embrace the internet rather than try to fight it (eg. Napster), but their willingness to work with free streaming site Spotify suggests those days are finally over.

The PRS, on the other hand, appear stuck in the dark ages. They seem unable to grasp that greater exposure to music increases people’s desire to consume it.

Watching a reduced quality video for free on YouTube is never going to replace the full high-definition musical experience.

What it may well do, however, is prompt you to buy an album or a gig ticket or a T-shirt.

Why do you think music videos are known as ‘promos’ within the industry? They are literally promotional tools -adverts, in other words. Not only that, they are adverts whose makers get paid when they are shown!

In the digital age, the PRS shouldn’t be agitating for more cash. They should be silently rubbing their hands with glee at the fact they’re still getting paid at all.

* You can still watch thousands of music videos for free on MSN Video Jukebox


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