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VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

Founder Jocelyn Johnson Editor-in-chief Sahil Patel Contributors Michael Varrati Liz Miller Designer Karen Almonte

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VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


elcome to “Music in Motion,” the latest VideoInk Special Issue. Join us this week as we embark on a deeper examination of the music space within web video. Who are the biggest players (no pun intended)? What are the biggest issues? Who should you be on the lookout for? We will cover it all.

“It’s King Kong, it’s the Super Bowl, it’s all the biggest things you can imagine rolled up into one,” says Scott Reich, vice president of programming and original content at VEVO. “Music is rivaled by only sports in having such a passionate fanbase,” he continues, “but whereas big sporting events only happen

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

during playoff time, in music, it’s always the playoffs — there is a new hot single, video, or artist that you can discover every week.” Superlatives aside, the man has a point. According to data in a recent “Digital Music Industry Report” by investment bank Siemer & Associates, digital music revenues will climb to $11.6 billion in 2016, after 4

having topped $7.3 billion in 2012. This is in the face of overall music revenues, which fell from $28.7 billion in 2012 to an estimated $27.6 billion in 2013, and are expected to continue falling through 2017 as the industry takes its time adapting to “the digital revolution.” By 2017, the report predicts, digital music revenues could surpass physical music sales.

Granted, digital music can mean many things, from digital downloads to streaming services like Spotify to streaming video platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and VEVO. So even if digital music is big, what about music in a video format?

tened to the radio, and 53% who opted for iTunes — no wonder a YouTube spokesperson told us that music ad revenue for major record labels has “more than doubled” on the site year-over-year. According to Brandon Martinez, co-founder and CEO of music-centric MCN INDMUSIC, if you’re a music label, anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of your YouTube views could be coming from user-created videos. And these can be anything from well-produced cover videos to simply a home-movie clip with a song on the soundtrack.

A recent study from Pew Research found that music is one of the most popular video genres with 50% of adults now watching music videos on the web, up from 32% in 2009. As far as demographics go, music video content skews younger, with 81% of 18- to 29-year-olds watching this type of content online. If you’re wondering why music, which can easily be considered a universal genre not tied to one specific age group, is preferred by younger people online, just look at where they are watching this content. How big is music on YouTube?

In fact, according to YouTube, one of the biggest trends on the music site right now is the rise of the lyric video. This year, the site’s users are uploading twice as many hours of videos tagged as “lyric videos” as they did in 2012 (over 2,000 hours in total). Overall, lyric videos have been viewed more than 665 million times so far song releases.

“YouTube is the largest gathering place for kids to listen to music now,” says Larry Iser, an entertainment lawyer specializing in music and intellectual property.

Of course, the ability for anyone on YouTube to upload any type of content has created problems with music rights-holders (which we will address later this week), but even with those issues going on, music will continue to thrive on YouTube — partially because the site is becoming an important marketing vehicle for artists themselves.

In fact, a study from Nielsen last year found that among the different ways to consume music, 64% of teens preferred YouTube, versus 56% who still lis-

Quick Facts: YouTube vs. Vevo -38.4% of views come from youtube -Youtube allows customization -not all videos are in HD

-VEVO is the most viewed channel on youtube -vevo is easier to naviagte -most videos come from Labels so everything is in hd 5

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


majority of music content on YouTube is uploaded by third parties (regular people like you and me), but a lot also comes from artists themselves.

“You and me and anybody else can throw music up [on the site],” says Iser. “But I think if I’m an upand-coming band, I would want to fully avail myself to YouTube.” Iser describes how YouTube has pretty much displaced the old ways of doing promotion, like having your song on the radio or being the musical guest on “SNL.” “I think the line between what’s considered mainstream music and YouTube is going to get more blurred as time goes on,” says Lindsey Stirling, a violinist and performance artist whose original song “Crystallize” was the eighth most-watch video on YouTube in 2012 (and who is nominated for a YouTube Music Award for her cover video of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”). “I’ve talked to a ton of ‘mainstream artists’ who are now so interested in learning how to build up their Twitter accounts and YouTube channels. It’s kind of a fun phenomenon — people are no longer creating music videos for MTV, they’re creating them for YouTube.” It’s why Billboard and Nielsen are now incorporating “official” video views (for music videos and UGC clips using authorized audio) on YouTube into determining their weekly “Hot” rankings. What’s more, beyond just getting their own content out there, “mainstream artists” are beginning to recognize the value of YouTube-bred talent.

For example, cover songs are the most popular music category on YouTube when measured by uploads, according to Tubular. YouTube artists like Boyce Avenue, Mike Tompkins, and even to an extent Lindsey Stirling have made careers out of covering the top songs of the day (it’s a good way to latch on to what people are already talking about). And the makers of the original songs are taking note. “Jason Derulo went to a bunch of YouTubers and worked with them to do covers of his songs,” says Stirling. “It’s becoming a marketing tool to use YouTube cover songs to get more eyes for their songs.”

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013



t 4.8 billion worldwide views, 1.1 billion of which come from the US, VEVO is the other big web video platform for music. Though deeply linked with YouTube, a story about music on YouTube naturally implies that we’re talking about VEVO, too.

of development”). According to Reich, VEVO puts out 200-300 pieces of content a week across all those formats. When it comes to distribution, Reich says VEVO wants to be wherever its audience is. “We’re not worried about trying to drive viewers to a specific place at a specific time,” he says. “It’s more about being in as many places as possible.”

Except that VEVO trades exclusively in the “sanctioned” aisle of the online music economy — a platform on which every piece of content is approved and professionally produced. It’s the most natural extension of what the music industry has done since MTV went live in August 1981, but adapted to meet the changes in audience viewing habits.

So it shouldn’t be that surprising when VEVO says that over 51% of the 1.1 billion views in the US have come from mobile (including tablet) and connected TV platforms.

VEVO’s content library is dominated by music videos (over 75,000 today). But the company also produces other types of content, from concerts and live events (about 30 a year) to original music/lifestyle series (currently there are over 20 in “various stages”

But maybe that explains the appetite for music in a nutshell. Music is big on the web because music is big everywhere.

Here is a run-down of five music technology companies that you should definitely familiarize yourself with. Otherwise you’re just being stupid. Yeah, I said it.

and monetize videos that feature their songs.AdRev also has a self-serve option, which is more geared toward independent artists and small labels.

Audible Magic: Audible Magic is a broad contentrecognition technology provider, covering, TV, everything from music to online video film, and advertising content. Separately, Audible Magic tech can be used by app developers to build social TV apps for connected devices. Audible Magic clients include Dailymotion and The Orchard.

TuneCore: This company offers an online music distribution service for artists of all sizes to sell their stuff on top music-selling platforms like iTunes and Google Play. Then there’s Publishing Administration, which lets artists collect a second royalty whenever their original composition is sold, downloaded, streamed, or publicly performed in more than 60 countries.

Audiosocket: Audiosocket is a music licensing company that gives creators the ability to license original music across all genres. The company has also built its own technology, LicenseID, which goes beyond most audio-fingerprinting technology. LicenseID provides data that tells all parties, from rights-holders to platforms and creators, if the music was properly licensed or not. This eliminates instances when properly licensed is f lagged and vice versa.

TuneSat: TuneSat is an audio-fingerprinting tech provider that allows artists to track, claim, and monetize uses of their music across “millions” of websites. The company also monitors hundreds of TV channels, and can identify uses of music from 2010 and on. The company also offers a music administration service that evaluates potential cases of copyright infringements and collect funds when applicable. The admin service does not charge artists unless they get paid.

AdRev: This YouTube-centric tech company plugs into YouTube’s Content ID technology to find, claim, 7

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

The Secret Ingredients to Online Music Programming


eb video’s evolution into a global phenomenon has taken many forms, but one universal trend has fueled the international spread of YouTube and other platforms: Music.

Music, after all, doesn’t necessarily require a complex understanding of local pop culture; music doesn’t even really require a knowledge of the language — a fact to which Psy owes his entire viral career. A great song creates an emotional connection quickly. And a really great song? You can listen to a really great song over and over. So it’s almost surprising that YouTube took so long to dedicate one of its 2013 tentpole events to music, and no surprise at all that the YouTube Music Awards inspired a divided but frenzied response. Investing in music-related content has become big business for YouTube, MCNs, and other companies built on these platforms, and two major themes are starting to evolve out of the shows being produced. What are they? Let’s break it down.

YouTube, at its core, has always been a platform that encourages a direct, real connection to those watching. Its most iconic visual, after all, is the head-and-shoulders of a vlogger, speaking directly to the camera — directly to you, the viewer.

journalist Elliott Wilson with well-known hip-hop performers, including Tyler the Creator, Drake, and Macklemore — it’s not a game-changer in terms of format, but the live audience, lengthy conversations, and Wilson’s well-informed questions help create honest portraits of the artists.

But there are always ways to get deeper, and some intriguing formats for enabling a stronger connection between artist and audience are being used by these companies.

More trivia-focused is PitchforkTV’s “Over/Under,” which asks artists including Earl Sweatshirt and The Lonely Island what they think is over-rated or under-rated. It’s hardly in-depth, but it’s a fun and fast look into how those profiled think.

The key is making the artists feel like real people — something achieved by Vice/Noisey’s “Back & Forth,” which pairs up individual artists for essentially co-interviews. The end result creates the sense that you’re eavesdropping on two friends having a casual, but lively, conversation.

Many of these shows touch on both discoverability and intimacy, an overlap which makes sense, as both themes are the core of what makes music-related video content work online: the possibility that anyone can break through with the right song, especially if they connect with the audience.

The long-form interview series “CRWN” pairs music

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


“The D-word” is often a whipping boy for web video, used as a justification for underperforming content. But the same problem exists for aspiring musical artists hoping to launch from unknown to Macklemore status, and many of the web original shows being produced right now seek to address that concern. For example, VEVO might be built on bringing mainstream music videos to online audiences, but since 2011, the program “Lift” has been featuring up-and-coming artists with Q&As, music videos, and other behind-the-scenes content. Sponsored by McDonald’s, “Lift” can lay claim to a pretty impressive set of alumni, including Lorde, Avicii, Karmin, and (seriously) One Direction. There’s also the Electus-run channel LOUD, which launched the series “Road Trippp” this fall. “Road Trippp” uses a reality/documentary format to showcase rising artists, but with the twist of focusing on the tour experience, giving the show a unconventional look at the life of the performer. The first season of six episodes followed rapper Casey Veggies and his friends Joshton Peas and Anwar Carrots as they traveled from Houston to Los Angeles.

In addition, the importance of performing covers for YouTube artists can’t be underestimated in terms of discovery — it’s easier for a viewer to take a chance on an unknown if the song is familiar, after all. Several networks, therefore, have shows featuring performers taking on more popular artists, including Maker’s “Uncovered,” which mostly takes an acoustic approach to covers of artists ranging from Coldplay to Whitney Houston to Bill Withers. It’s a simple concept, but the black-and-white cinematography elevates it. What else helps drive the discoverability of new artists — while also basking in the limelight of the well-known?


VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


he digital video space is more interesting than ever as it pertains to the music industry. This is because artists are less regulated and have more choices as to where they want their content to be seen and heard. Never before have there been so many distribution channels. If fans want to see a music video, or any other type of visual content tied to a particular song, no matter how obscure that song is, they can now easily find it. All they have to do is search for it on YouTube.

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

The ease with which artists can now create and release content is birthing what I believe to be a new creative renaissance, from which a lot of amazing art will emerge. These platforms are starving for great content, and I believe artists will rise up to meet that challenge and create new art, and new types of art, for the world to see/hear/experience. This is where the conversation begins. We are still in the early stages of what this renaissance can ultimately be. And this is what the industry should be catalyzing — amazing, innovative art. Let’s build an era that stands for something. Let’s harness this lack of regulation and need for innovation and make this time period legendary. Because I don’t see this openness lasting forever. As is the case with any renaissance, what we have is a moment in time to do something truly special. And I’m not talking about LOL-Cats or gimmicky videos that go viral… although I do get a kick out of these internet cultural phenomena on a personal level. I want to champion the next great artists — those who use art to fuel innovation in technology; those who use technology to take art to new heights and wider audiences. There are serious challenges posed by the music industry that could get in the way of any form of innovation. Mainly it has to do with something we all face in our lives: It’s hard to embrace change; it’s far easier and more comforting to continue doing what we have always been doing. But the current technological revolution, especially within digital video, isn’t going to reverse course. We will not be able to go back to the way things were — nor should we want to. I think it’s important that artists, labels, and other music companies look at these digital platforms, as well as those that are still to come, as new outlets for creativity, for showcasing their work, for doing something cool. I’m exploring this on the front lines every day with my projects and releases, as well as artists’ and client’s work. I hope others will follow. The good news is, if I’m seeing this pattern correctly, the music that’s already being created and shared in this era of digital video may not only assume its place in the history of great art alongside Mozart, Shakespeare, and Basquiat, but also affect the societal and cultural movements in the world today and beyond. And that’s what will excite the music/tech generations to come! 11

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


hich is better: The Weeknd’s original version of “Wicked Games” or the heartrending cover by Cœur de Pirate? Both are the exact same song in terms of basic harmony and lyrics, yet upon listening, they are worlds apart. This, after all, is the great debate among musicians — can a cover song ever really be better than the original?

Cover Songs Are Both a Blessing and a Curse on YouTube

On YouTube, a similar debate is evolving around cover music, a genre that dominates the small screen. Browsing through YouTube’s top hitmakers, the overwhelming majority broke through via cover songs. Covers are king on YouTube, but is that what the creators really want?


iolinist Lindsey Stirling is one such creator who has walked the line between original artist and cover artist. Her most popular upload to date is “Crystallize,” a dubstep original, which has garnered over 76 million views. Stirling explained the impact the original had on her career, saying, “ I never wanted to be a cover artist. When that [“Crystallize”] blew up, I was like wow, people were coming to my page to hear specifically my music, it was really exciting.” under her belt is the hybrid YouTube musician exemplified. For her, cover songs are simply part of the YouTube ecosystem. “ It [cover songs] used to be such a faux paus, it was a gray area that was looked down upon,” Stirling explains. She adds: “most people see it as a really inf luential thing now.”

Although Stirling has generated million of views from a collection of her originals, cover songs do make up a large portion of her video library. A cover of Imagine Dragons track “Radioactive” is her second most popular video with just under 43 million views. Stirling, with a world tour

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013



covers with the actual artists of those things,” says Tompkins. For his confidence in his original music, Tompkins is still nervous about shifting to non-covers. “It’s scary, because you’re releasing something that’s entirely yours. The reaction whether they liked your cover or not isn’t as bad as whether they liked your original or not,” he says. For many creators this is a serious concern. When you’ve built a channel around covering already popular songs that people are searching for, what will happen once you shift to your own music?

roducer and electronic musician Mike Tompkins started posting on YouTube, at first, to get his work heard. “ I started YouTube to help promote me as a producer. My goal was to create a video,” he explains. “I never wanted to be an artist, it’s something I fell into.” In spite of his initial goals, Tompkins quickly became a massive hit on YouTube with his unique brand of cover songs, which are built from his vocals layered over one another using an electronic beatbox technique. Looking at Tompkins channel, one would come to the conclusion that he is a cover artist through and through. His most popular uploads are covers, and the majority of his channel is dedicated to his specific style of remixing. However, Tompkins, despite his success, is now looking beyond cover songs. “I’m spend a lot of time on my original music,” he says. “I was just on tour. I’m working on my live show and crafting my original music side, which has yet to be unleashed.” And Tompkins believes that a time has come where his audience is ready for something different. “We’re getting to a point where I think they [his audience] are asking for more originals, he says. “I think we’re getting close to the time where I can do a lot more original music.”

For a creator like Tyler Ward, who started as a cover artist on YouTube only to gain a higher level of notoriety from his originals, performing other peoples’ music is more of a “marketing tool.” Ward (and many like him) drive traffic to their channels by searching for popular tracks and producing them in a different way. “Well if you look at the charts, it’s almost a marketing tool,” Ward said in an interview with NMR. “It’s like, ‘I wonder if I could do that with an acoustic vibe, or that with more of an up-tempo vibe’ and just being able to scratch that itch of being a producer and taking a song that is already great and making it different than it is.”

Despite his desire to move further into originals, Tompkins, like Stirling, recognizes the importance cover songs have on his career and YouTube. He says that he’ll always do covers and remixes, but instead of doing them solo, Tompkins wants to collaborate with the musicians he’s covering. “I want to be doing

For most YouTube creators (and for most artists) the dream resides in producing and creating their own original work. However, as it was for Ward and Tompkins, you’ve got to start somewhere. Whether you love it or hate it, on YouTube, that “somewhere” is with a cover.


VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


t’s a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme: A supremely talented violinist slash performance artist goes on “America’s Got Talent” and shows what she is capable of to millions of viewers, only to be told by a British hack named Piers Morgan that she isn’t “good enough” to do what she does. OK, maybe the story’s not exactly the Grimm fairy tale you’re thinking of. But what Lindsey Stirling experienced as a quarter-finalist on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010 is definitely something anyone can relate to. There isn’t a single person in this world

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

who hasn’t dreamt of doing something or being somebody, and then hasn’t come across a naysayer or roadblock along the way. Granted, most people aren’t lucky enough to get a chance to pursue their dreams, and even fewer get as tantalizingly close to the achieving them as Stirling did in 2010. But an even smaller amount have to stand on the big stage and be told in front of millions of people that they just don’t cut it.

“I remember when I was preparing for the live round — this was when America finally got the chance to vote for you — I thought this would be my ‘make or break’ moment,” says Stirling, on a break between rehearsals for her scheduled performance at the YouTube Music Awards. “It wasn’t only that I didn’t continue on the show, but to be so harshly criticized on stage on live TV, when I put myself out there as a solo artist…” It would make anyone want to crawl inside a hole and never come out. “I remember being so hurt,” she says. “I considered going back to being a backup person on a country band — maybe this dancing/violin thing of mine was a bad idea.” Alright, fine, maybe in some ways Stirling’s story is a fairy tale or a movie. Because if anything, this sounds like that moment you see or read in every narrative arc — you know which one I’m referring to, that “night is darkest before the dawn” moment. This was that for Stirling. Because as she tells it, right after having those crushing doubts, she realized that this “dancing/violin” thing is what she truly loved. All she had to do was “work harder” and “find ways to continue developing this idea.”

“It all started with Devin Graham,” says Stirling. “He offered to do a free music video for me, the only stipulation was that it would live on his channel. At the time, he had about 20,000 subscribers, which to me seemed like a ton — it was a big number of people who might hear my music.”

Easy! Well, not quite. “After [‘America’s Got Talent’], I tried several ways to get my music heard. I auditioned for talent agencies and variety shows,” she says. “But it seemed like every time I would try, the door would close in my face, or I’d be ignored, or told that I needed to change.”

And they did. With that one video, Stirling says her music started to sell — people would f lock to her “tiny channel” to watch her videos and tell her they loved her music. And these were “real people,” the people she wanted to make music for, not “business people.” “The light went on in my head,” she says. “I can control my career over here [YouTube]. I can be what I want to be, and I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me that I was good enough.”

But, that’s life, right? It’s a Capital B that will beat you down, wait for you to make a motion to get back up, and then beat you down again. Not many choose to get back up. Stirling did. Stirling joined YouTube on May 20, 2007 — well before “America’s Got Talent” — but she didn’t really get her “start” on YouTube until afterwards. “I had a channel, but there was only one video on it, which I uploaded just for kicks,” says Stirling. “For a while, I wasn’t really doing anything with YouTube at all — I didn’t even understand what it was.”

With her “start” on YouTube secure, Stirling dove deep into the YouTube ecosystem. She consumed everything she could about building a fanbase. “I researched how to be the best YouTuber — I did collaborations, I learned that I had to stay true to myself, which is something my fans gravitate to.” When I ask Stirling what drives her, she says it’s her passion for her craft. She’s chasing and remarkably succeeding at her One Big Dream. Which I get; if I was the starting goaltender for the New York Rangers, I probably wouldn’t need something to “drive” me — the fact that I was doing something I love would be

It wasn’t until after “America’s Got Talent,” and after more doors continued to close, that Stirling decided to give YouTube a real shot — and finally had something go her way. 15

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

enough to keep me going forever. But for Stirling, I think it’s a little more than just her passion for her music. She’s one of a select group of musicians to come out of YouTube and be known for her own music. Her fans on YouTube validated her passion, after she was judged by countless people (including British hacks) as being not up to snuff. “To hear from people around the world; to get emails and letters about my shows; for people to say my music makes them happy; that my songs have helped them overcome things like depression — I believe in certain values and creating things that are uplifting,” she says. “It’s amazing that there are peo-

ple who live all over this world, who speak different languages, but have chosen me to be a part of their day. To know that I in some way made a difference in their lives, it’s a real special feeling.” It’s this connection with her fanbase that convinced her to launch a second channel, which serves more to provide a behind-thescenes look into her life. “I did it kind of as an experiment because my fans kept on telling me to do vlogs,” she says. “I learned a lot doing it — at meet-and-greets, fans would talk more about how much they loved my pumpkin-carving video than the song I had released that week.” Though she’s quick to add: “Of course, music videos have more views because they’re more shareable, but behind-the-scenes stuff has a different purpose — it’s for fans who want to know more about my everyday life. In fact, my fans on that channel call me Lindsey. Not Lindsey Stirling. Just Lindsey.” But as her profile in the music industry continues to grow, will she be able to keep up with the demands of having two channels?

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

Stirling understands the conf lict, and has tried to combat the slower release schedule (she went from one music video a month on her main channel to roughly one every two months) by releasing more behind-the-scenes content. “It’s going to get harder and harder, but I definitely always want to use YouTube as my platform.” She’s not the only one, though. Forget “YouTube stars,” mainstream musicians are also looking to YouTube as a platform to build an audience for their songs and videos. “That line [between YouTube star and mainstream star] is going to get more blurred as time goes on,” says Stirling. “I was talking to some guy at Atlantic Records, and he was telling me how different things are now in the industry. Atlantic no longer has to comb high and low for new artists — artists are rising themselves on YouTube, and all Atlantic has to do is swoop in and pick them up.” “That’s the new model,” she continues. “Eventually it’s not going to matter if you are ‘mainstream’ or are big on YouTube — at some point, it’s all going to be synonymous.” Don’t be surprised if she’s the one who makes this Great Merger happen. “I hope to be nominated for a Grammy,” says Stirling. “I want to be the artist that bridges the gap.” Three years ago, that might have sounded far-fetched; today, it doesn’t sound crazy at all. 16

Lindsey’s stock quickly rose, and within three years of her worst professional moment, she’s arguably one of the most famous YouTubers around. Want proof? Here are some stats: Her main LindseyStomp channel has more than 3.5 million subscribers. A music video for her original song, “Crystallize,” has been viewed close to 77 million times to date. It was also the eighth mostwatched video on YouTube (that’s all of YouTube) in 2012. The music video for her cover of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” which she did with Pentatonix, has nearly 43 million views, and earned her a YouTube Music Award for “Response of the Year.” Four of her six most popular videos are original songs. Oh, and she recently completed her first world tour. “A year-and- a-half ago, if you had told me that by now I would have toured the world, I would have said no way,” she says. “It’s crazy that it happened so quickly, sometimes I have to stop myself and remem ber how amazing this is.”


s we reported earlier in the week, YouTube is bubbling with cover artists looking to make a name for themselves and, if “talented” enough, join the artists they cover in vocal stardom. We’re here to show you the cover artists who are growing the fastest as they track towards Rihanna-status fame, with data provided by Tubular Labs.


Gabe is on fire! He’s a Pop/R&B singin’, Ricky Martin-esque cover artist whose channel on YouTube is growing by over 18 thousand percent! A NOLA native, Gabe has toured with Chris Brown and even graced the stage of “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” And while he’s a cover artist by “trade” on YouTube, Gabe also writes his own songs and melodies both for himself and other artists. With over 30,800 subscribers to date, Gabe is definitely creepin’ in on the mainstream.

2. passionsf

Don’t let his subscriber-base of only 200,000 fool you, dear reader. PassionSF, AKA Jeremy Passion in real life, has a voice like butter and guitar skills that would make any girl go wild. It’s no wonder his channel has grown over 4,000%, raking in upwards of 35 million video views. Like many other cover artists, Jeremy writes and produces his own original compositions. The difference is his are really, really good and often get more views than his cover beats! Have a listen here and don’t be surprised when Passion sweeps the airwaves.

3. dannarichards Our third-fastest growing cover artist is

representin’ the ladies! A little Cranberries, a little Anna Nalick, a little Natalie Merchant, Danna Richards folk stylings are most impressive because she’s acoustic and seemingly unedited but so powerful, not to mention she plays multiple instruments and has impeccable songwriting. Despite her modest numbers, Richards’ channel is growing by over 1,000%. We’ll be watching out for her next big singles!

numbers, especially from a channel that’s touting only 33,000 subs.

5. myramerciless

Ringing in as our fifth-fastest growing channel is the oh-so-adorable MyraMerciless, who has over 3.1 million video views to date, up over 400%. Her videos are created from the convenience of her iPhone. Wow. Take that Tyler Ward and AlexGMusic, an iPhone cover artist pulling comparable numbers! Her videos also star celebrities like Pikachu — who could beat that? Favorite video is MyraMerciless’ parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” And with cover artists being such massive contributors to the volume of music-content on YouTube, Tubular Labs gave us the dish on what artists get the most love from their cover artist comrades. Here’s a quick list of the top five artists that are covered on YouTube by creators like PassionSF and Danna Richards. Covers of these five artists songs account for almost 15% of the covers on YouTube. Justin Bieber’s covered tracks account for ~755M videos uploaded to YouTube.

4. coltrane78 He’s not growing by thousands of percents but Aaron O’Keefe, AKA Coltrane78, is climbing the ladder by over 860% with his heavy metal covers. And for a genre which barely ranks in the Top 10 on YouTube, Coltrane78 is generating quite a following. In fact, his cover of Tool’s “42 and 6” has over 2.8 million views in under two months, bringing his channel to over 32 million video views to date. Whether you’re a metal head or not, you have to respect those kinds of 17

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


t all began with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The landmark copyright law, passed by the US Government in 1998, is arguably the most practical reason for why copyrights are an issue when it comes to music on the web, and even more specifically, music on YouTube. It grants online service providers like YouTube a “safe harbor” provision, which means that as long as service providers take down infringing content when notified of its existence, they cannot be held responsible for the actions of their users. “I think Congress had to strike the right balance between the rights of artists and the future of the internet,” says Larry Iser, an entertainment lawyer specializing in artists’ rights and intellectual property. “When you have a platform that has billions of things being posted to it every day, how can it possibly be expected to police that?” It’s a fair question, but it also means that the job of policing the illegal use of copyrighted material fell on the rights-holders themselves. “It required artists and songwriters to be vigilant,” adds Iser. “Is it fair to them? Probably not, but if you don’t give service providers immunity, they wouldn’t function and we would not have YouTube.” It’s a gargantuan task, though, made even more complicated by

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

the fact that properly copyrighting music sounds like a complex undertaking. “Think of it as squares

within squares,” says Brandon Martinez, founder and CEO of INDMUSIC, the largest music-focused MCN on YouTube. Each song, obviously, has a sound recording. Those who own the sound recording (often music labels) have its Master Right. Embedded within that is the song’s composition — lyrics and music — which fall under Publishing Rights. For a song to be properly used in a video, licensees need to clear both the Master and Publishing Rights. Sounds easy, right? Well… “In most cases, the Master is owned by one person, whereas in publishing, it’s possible that numerous entities have ownership of the composition,” says Brent McCros-


sen, co-founder of Audiosocket, a music licensing company and tech provider. In these instances, for a song to be properly licensed, the licensee would have to not only identify who owns each part of the composition, but contact them to get those rights. As you might have guessed by now, there is no up-to-date database that outlines who you need to call to secure a license, partially because, that data itself (who owns what) is not readily available. It’s a very complicated problem, which companies like YouTube have tried to solve by acquiring “blanket rights” from labels and performing rights societies for UGC content, according to McCrossen.


ongress might get involved again, adds McCrossen, in an effort to push rights-holders to make this entire process easier. “They’re largely saying to rights-holders: ‘You can’t not help people understand what they need to do and who they need to call,

and then sue them when they don’t properly license.” Except the problem is, until relatively recently, the music industry did not know or care much about YouTube outside of the official music videos, which were/are largely distributed via VEVO. According to Martinez, it wasn’t until the industry saw large sums of money being poured into various MCNs, and the runaway success of YouTube-based cover artists and viral songs like “Gangnam Style” and “Harlem Shake,” that the industry fully came to grips with how much money it was missing out on from third-party content — which, for labels, can account for anywhere from one-third to two-third of views. “That really began to create a rift between the music industry and YouTube,” says Martinez. After seeing creators become successful while illegally using copyrighted material, Martinez says “publishers are now like, why are we going to give you the rights, when you’ve already made millions of dollars off of us?” Publishers are awake now, he says, and want their cut of the revenue being generated on YouTube. nfortunately, when the music industry is not busy litigating the alleged infringers, it’s still having trouble putting a system in place to prevent such abuses.


“For a long time, the music industry has expect-

ed other companies to solve their problems,” says McCrossen.

“We need to be developing our own tech to solve our own problems, otherwise we’re always going to put our destiny in the hands of some other party.” “Do you remember Napster?” adds Iser. As he describes it, when the music industry was confronted with the issue of digital downloads, instead of banding together to come up with a way to monetize this new form of music distribution, each record company essentially went its own way. “Each record company aligned itself with a different tech company,” he says. “They wanted to be the company to not only protect their own music, but also be able to license their tech out to others. And as a result, no one was successful at it.” One person/company was successful — Steve Jobs, when Apple changed the industry forever by introducing iTunes and the iPod.


“I think the same problem exists here [with music rights issues],” continues Iser. And to the music industry’s credit, it appears they are getting the memo. “I know the RIAA and NMPA have been working together with rights-holders to find ways to solve for these inefficiencies — for the industry to finally take responsibility for these issues,” says McCrossen. And to YouTube’s credit, even though its largely able to protect itself from being sued by the music industry, the site has made steps to reduce the issue of copyright infringement — from holding classes/seminars on best practices for music creators who want to use copyrighted material, to looking for ways to improve upon technologies like ContentID. “I can tell you that there is a sincere effort on [YouTube’s] part to resolve the issue,” says McCrossen. Maybe that’s why the company is introducing the concept of “managed” and “affiliate” creators, to make it easier for both YouTube and the embattled MCNs to police those who might illegally use someone else’s work. Because as McCrossen describes it, if the music industry and YouTube do their parts, then the responsibility for legally using copyrighted material will fall on those who should be held responsible — the creators.

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013


ith VideoInk’s “Music in Motion” Special Issue coming to a close, we asked some of the intelligent people we spoke to during the week to share their thoughts on what to do and what not to do when creating and distributing music content on YouTube. Some of these tips might feel obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people still don’t get it. So enjoy.

1 Don’t go for the viral video. A

lot of people believe they need a viral video, something that’s considered a hit. But that’s not how you create a fanbase at all. People are not loyal to someone who has a viral video, they become true fans when someone gives them content on a consistent basis. – Lindsey Stirling

2 Don’t be afraid of imperfec-

tion. Create. Do the best that you can. At the end of the day, every YouTuber is still learning, still trying to figure out what works. I remember when I was about to release “Crystallize,” I was so nervous because I thought the dubstep community would hate it. But I remembered that I’m still experimenting on YouTube. People are going to tell you what they think, so use that knowledge to test out what works. – Lindsey Stirling

3 You’re not just a musician,

you’re also an entrepreneur. You wear many hats. You have to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Look at someone as big as Justin Timberlake, who used to be controlled by his manager in his early days. Now he is very

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

much in control of his business. You need to ensure you have similar control. – Brandon Martinez, co-founder and CEO, INDMUSIC

4 Be active on social media. Use

all the different modes of social media to connect with people. Respond to comments, listen to feedback. It creates a direct connection with your fans. Use your channel, and the new videos you put on the channel to promote whatever you’re focused on at that time. – Lindsey Stirling

5 It’s OK to advertise. Creators

who want to reach more people with their videos can use video ads to do so. To make it easier, we’ve developed a new way to create an ad for your video directly from your video manager. You can now easily upload a video to YouTube and start promoting it with a video ad within minutes. YouTube’s TrueView ad is unique in that a brand only pays for actual views/impressions. — YouTube

6 Metadata, metadata, metadata.

The next version of the industry is going to be reliant on metadata. Producers, publishers, distributors, and in terms of rights management in general, metadata is vital. Now that Billboard is tracking YouTube views for its Hot 100 charts, and RIAA is tracking it for certification, this really matters. You as a musician can build a successful career based on this information, but you have to make sure you get it right. – Brandon Martinez

7 Use the tools that are avail-

able to you. Whether that’s via a 20

partnership with a network or learning how to do it yourself, know how to take advantage of things like annotations and playlisting. You’ll learn that strategies for successful music videos are different to those for comedy videos and so on and so forth. You will learn a lot by practicing and iterating. – Brandon Martinez

8 Test before you publish.

YouTube now has a system in place that allows you to publish a video privately and then determine, before it goes live, whether you’re going to run into any Content ID problems. Take advantage of this, so you don’t lose out on any ad revenue. – Brent McCrossen, CEO, Audiosocket

9 Consider YouTube Paid Chan-

nels. Musicians can launch a paid channel with a monthly subscription. This could be used for anything from exclusive live shows for super-fans to sharing archives of past concerts and music videos. – YouTube

10 Find a way to properly li

cense a song. Call anyone you have to, and if that’s difficult, which in many cases is, or if you can’t get someone on the phone, go find a company that can issue it for you easily. Remove that headache, once and for all. – Brent McCrossen

11 Credit the licensor. When

you upload a video, literally credit where that license is coming from. List that in the video itself. – Brent McCrossen

12 Collaborate. Everybody


o you’re a musician on YouTube — what now? Do you upload cover songs and pray that Sony doesn’t slam you with a copyright violation? Or do you stick to only uploading originals while constantly worrying that some good-for-nothing is stealing your track and uploading it elsewhere?

On second thought, scratch both of those options. Instead, why not join a multi-channel network? I know what you’re thinking: “I would do that, but I don’t know any.” Well, today is your lucky day pal-omine, because we’ve got you covered like carmel on an apple. Behold!




Don’t let the all-caps name fool you, INDMUSIC isn’t messing around. Sporting the title of “YouTube’s Largest Music Network” (according to them), INDMUSIC helps musicians on YouTube accurately monetize while protecting their rights as both cover and original artists. INDMUSIC has all the bells and whistles offered by most traditional MCNs, including access to detailed analysis of search terms and options for increased revenue through product placement and ad partnerships. INDMusic currently has 275 channel partners with an average of over 100 million monthly views.

Omnia sets itself apart from other music MCNs through its massive roster of superstar talent. While this network offers standard MCN services (ad revenue, rights management, content ID software), it also boasts partnerships with some of the biggest names in music, including Tyga, Talib Kweli, and Inna. But Omnia doesn’t only represent mainstream musicians, the network works with independent artists as well.

Audiam is still a fairly young service. In fact, the network is still in its beta phase. However, it’s run by two veterans of the digital music industry, Jeff Price and Peter Wells, co-founders of f lat-rate music distributor TuneCore. These are two guys who know music distribution and rights management. Audiam works less like an actual MCN and more like service provider that allows artists to upload their music. Audiam scans YouTube for any videos using those songs, authorize monetization on YouTube’s end, then split revenue with the artist 25/75. 21

ZEFR ZEFR isn’t specifically a music-only MCN. The network actually works with some of the biggest brands on YouTube, including Sony Music, Nascar, Universal Pictures, and “Saturday Night Live.” ZEFR, using proprietary technology, helps manage content owners’ rights online. The network also recently launched BrandID, which tracks, in real-time, who is uploading, sharing, and talking about a given brand’s product. If a penguin in Antarctica uploads a video about how great the new Lady Gaga album is (penguins, big fans), you better believe ZEFR knows about it.

The Orchard The Orchard didn’t start as a YouTube MCN. The company launched in 1997 originally as a music and film distribution platform. However, The Orchard has recently jumped in the world of YouTube, launching technology like B.A.C.O.N (Bulk Automated Claiming for The Orchard Network), which as the name suggests, helps partners find where their music is being uploaded to YouTube. Once those videos are found, The Orchard allows musicians and labels to monetize instantaneously.

VideoInk: The Music Issue 2013

Music In motion  
Music In motion