Those people who have been using YouTube for viewing music videos in the UK will be finding that suddenly they are vanishing, but friends abroad will still be able to view them.
The reason for this is that no agreement has been reached between You Tube and the Performing Rights Society (PRS) over royalty fees. Quotes from the parties involved can be read over at BBC News Online, with further commentary from Technology Editor Darren Waters on the Technology blog.
It would seem that the PRS was asking for an increase in the amount You Tube (Google) pays to cover the streaming of music videos. You Tube is calling the proposed rises prohibtive and that the rate applied would have resulted on a loss for each music stream played.
While we do not know for sure, it may be that the PRS was trying to increase income and thus the amount passed onto its members from a web based model, but with the credit crunch YouTube is being hit by reduced advertising revenue and thus felt unable to sustain the proposed fees.
Interestingly this all happened on the day a report from MusicTank arrived. MusicTank is a music business network, created as part of an initiative from the University of Westminster. The report looks into ways for testing the market for selling music in a broadband age and how the business model can shift from buying physical media to the much harder to track digital mediums.
"Another important point is that the business should take more notice of how many people downloading music actually use the tracks they’ve acquired. Many consumers download unlicensed material purely for sampling purposes, often simply playing the track just the once before discarding it forever. So a service that paid rights holders on the music consumers are playing rather than what they have downloaded would be more accurate.
Then there’s the issue of quality. Whilst it might be natural to assume that the majority of legal services would offer up better quality recordings, the reverse is actually the case. A number of P2P sites, for example What.CD, make a point of enforcing a minimum standard of 320kbps for MP3s, whilst some of the more exclusive sites insist on lossless formats such as WAV or FLAC, often accompanied by full scans of sleeves and liner notes. Compare this with the measly 128kpbs offered as standard by the leading digital store iTunes until January 2009 and you can see why for some audiophiles (and those most likely to pay for music in the first place), the pirate option looks attractive."Extract from "Let's Sell Recorded Music!" report
For those who want to read the report in full they can by providing an email address via on www.musictank.co.uk
The irony is that many will simple turn to search engines such as Google itself and depending on the search terms people use they will get official artists sites, or links directing people to torrents, which you think would be the last thing the music industry would want.