When my brother told me about this a few days ago I could hardly believe it. But it’s true. The German version of YouTube, youtube.de, eliminated all music videos from the big German labels off their site. If you’re in Germany, you can’t watch them anymore. Interesting twist is that you can still watch those same videos if you access them in other countries via youtube.com etc.

Here are some details from a write-up on CNET:

YouTube has pulled the plug on music videos in Germany as Western Europe starts to look like a hostile environment for Web music services.

A YouTube spokesman confirmed that YouTube is no longer playing music videos belonging to the largest music labels after talks with Germany’s biggest royalty collections group, GEMA, broke down.

The conflict is almost identical to YouTube’s spat with a royalty group in the United Kingdom, but with one important twist. According to YouTube, GEMA is asking for royalty rates that are 50 times higher than those asked for by PRS, the British organization, and YouTube argues those are even too high.

And in another twist, they didn’t delete all the horrible phone-made videos of live shows that dilute the access to the good videos with high audio and picture quality. C’mon!

While I can understand (especially as a constantly broke creative person) that everyone needs to get paid, it also seems to be counter-productive not to realize that the times and systems are changing. People have and will continue to have access to creative work without paying for it – the companies that provide that service will make money off it through advertising or selling off their companies. Yes, it’s wrong that YouTube makes money through advertising off of the work of composers while the composer doesn’t see a penny.

But on the other hand YouTube provides an incredible service to discover and share music with other people. If I’m looking for specific music to check out, that’s where I go. If I want to recommend a song to someone else, that’s where I go.

Not to have certain videos available on YouTube is going to cost the artist, the label and the composer because ultimately less people will know about the songs and the artists.

The solution: find different ways to make money. There have to be other ways to make money: selling music to advertisers, concerts, merchandise… crazy idea: cultural and artist grants because society and government actually realizes that art and other culture is essential to our well-being. Okay, I know that one is Utopian.

I’m not much of an innovator and other people will come up with better ideas of how to continue to get artist and entertainers paid, but this is clear to me: The music should continue to be available in these kinds of search engines and content providers. That’s how we find music, that’s how music is advertised to us. Those websites aren’t going away – our demand for them isn’t going to go away.

We’re facing the same things with films. I don’t wish it to be that way – but it is. We have to find new ways to make money of our films as well. Maybe it is about product placement. Although that’s even less legit in documentaries. Maybe it’s not about selling the film on DVD but about creating events around it, which is very appropriate with documentaries. Maybe it’s about just getting by and keeping the focus on the love for the work itself and the good that it can do for others. Because again who is really complaining here? The big corporations and organizations. Not the lower income artists. They don’t seem to be making or losing much money either way. Or am I wrong?

Of course, YouTube could also do what seems to be the right thing and just pay GEMA and all the other royalty collection groups. Oh greed.

So before they pull the plug on music videos on the American YouTube.com as well, here are some of my recent favorites:

Lady Sovereign – So Human
(How come no one managed to upload this and the next one in the right aspect ratio though? Or is it that YouTube needs to get all their different embed codes straight?)

Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls

Loney, Dear – Airport Surroundings

And for good measure and because they were so wonderfully charming at their Williamsburg Hall of Music show last night: Mates of State – Get Better

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