After we did some bitching yesterday about major labels joining together to further milk money from consumers who actually like watching and sharing music videos, things got a little juicier when we were tipped off to some potential shady business.
We mentioned in the story that Warner Music Group had demanded that YouTube remove videos of its artists' songs and making the videos on their own pages to be un-embeddable. After the story was posted, a tipster e-mailed to let us know that WMG didn't just stop at YouTube in general -- the videos were actually removed from some artists' official YouTube channels as well.
We won't rat out our source, but we did a little digging of our own. And though we can report that this isn't happening to all WMG artists (Death Cab for Cutie, Kylie Minogue and Kid Rock all still have official videos on their channels), it has definitely happened to some of them. The channels for assorted WMG label artists Depeche Mode, Matchbox Twenty, T.I., Faith Hill, Lupe Fiasco and Missy Elliott feature absolutely no official videos.
The absence is pretty noticeable, particularly for an artist like Elliott who has built much of her career on the success of her videos. Now she's missing out on the millions and millions of views those videos would've been bringing in and in turn, the millions of page clicks to her channel and potential record-buyers finding out more about her music.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we're not going to bat to get a pay raise for Missy Elliott. We're sure she's doing just fine. But the fact remains -- in its determination to retain the integrity of its music rights, WMG has completely forgotten the best interests of its artists. When a video is on YouTube, it can be shared, blogged, posted to Facebook and MySpace and played and replayed over and over again, creating a wealth of exposure that new artists in particular cannot afford to lose. And since when did artists wanting to promote themselves become a bad thing for a label?
Oh well, if there is one thing you can count on besides death and taxes, it's that people who want things for free will figure out a way to get them for free eventually.