An open letter from music industry insider Irving Azoff appears on Re/code today and, in the world's least unexpected move of the day, attacks the technology industry for the way it interacts with the music industry, and in this case in his role as artist manager, artists.
Normally I have nothing but scorn for those in the music industry who fail to understand the changing nature of their own business and how the disruptive elements of new technology has slowed their gravy train. What's true for musicians is also true for taxi drivers and journalists.
I say normally, because unlike other letters from the industry, Azoff's is focused, exposes a specific problem and asks for a reasonable solution.
The target is YouTube and its inability to prevent music being illegally uploaded to the service. Azoff argues that YouTube manages to prevent its own premium content from leaking out from behind its paywall so why can't it prevent music from doing the same.
Its not a totally straightforward question to answer. For example there are elements of fair use to consider. However it does seem like YouTube may not be doing a great job of handling artists objections to their music appearing on the service.
On the other hand, many, if not all artists actively push their music videos onto YouTube because it is now the number one service for video consumption in any medium. An artist refusing to make their video available on the service is effectively signing their artistic suicide note. And after all videos were originally intended to be a marketing tool to sell more music rather than a product in themselves.
It isn't unreasonable for YouTube to provide artists with the same content management controls as the service uses for its own software. It's also reasonable for artists to demand the background data relating to plays, ads and revenue.
Google needs to step up and address these concerns to ensure that all parties involved (artists, consumers, advertisers and Google themselves) are getting a fair deal from YouTube's streaming service.