The Prince copyright controversy and WMC #54

At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep” but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, upon hearing about the removal of the video, asked Prince to unblock the song stating “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our … song.” –The Prince (TAFKAP) and copyright controversy.

Look around on YouTube, how many TAFKAP clips do you find? That’s right, none. TAFKAP is convinced that if you want to be entertained by him, you have to pay him. He is right of course, even if it does not make him very likable.

Why is he right?

Companies such as YouTube (a Google owned company) are making millions of dollars on the backs of “minor” artists (the long tail) who do not have the funds to employ an army of lawyers to police YouTube in search of their content.

These minor artists should be paid for their work. Tafkap may set a precedent for this to happen.

Take an artist such as Loleatta Holloway[1] (who may be a bad example since she didn’t actually write many compositions herself, but it will do for the sake of the argument). About 124 clips with her voice are featured on YouTube, providing thousands of pageviews for YouTube. Pageviews generate ad revenue. Does Loleatta get paid? No. Does she gain in extra record sales? No, record sales are virtually non-existent since the advent of the internet, everyone downloads1.

The solution?

Micropayments, subscription based YouTubes (one for the the big four, the major record companies who control 70% of the world music market; one for all the independents who control the other 30%); and YouTube setting up a fund for the artists who are missing out on revenue right now.

P.S. It may sound contradictory (especially in regard to my post on The Cult of the Amateur [2], but I enjoy YouTube and its ability to bring unknown artists to my attention immensely, it’s just that I would not mind paying an annual fee to be able to discover them (and not pay to view the majors’ work). I wouldn’t even subscribe to TAFKAP, for that matter, he’s become to MSM to me.

As a bonus, and to extend the contradiction, it’s time for WMC #54.


“Cry to Me” (1975) by Loleatta Holloway.

1) For the record, I never download. I did it for a period of a month back in 2003/2004, lost the 200 songs I had gathered (I hadn’t burned them on cd, in fact I’ve yet to burn my first cd) and have not repeated the experience since I find YouTube satisfactory.

4 thoughts on “The Prince copyright controversy and WMC #54

  1. scott carpenter

    Valid points Mr Sonic, do you still buy/play vinyl or cds?

    Do you archive/playlist your youtube selections?

    I myself am clearing up in charity shops due to people dumping their cd collections for pod nirvana.

    I believe every song is worth a pound and that Radioturd etc can give their music away because they are established artists. Your independent distinction is profound and acts as a filter for the dross.

    I feel that in our lifetime , music has lost its sacred appeal and become an eternal/infernal soundtrack .

    To paraphrase Elliot. we had the experience but lacked the meaning. Then again, maybe I am getting old.

    Philip Sherburne has written a wail for the blogosphere, regarding Techno recently.

  2. jahsonic

    …Philip Sherburne has written a wail for the blogosphere, regarding Techno recently.

    I’ve read parts of it. How can beats go out of fashion.

    With all respect it sounded silly.


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