Talkin”bout a YouTube revolution

Marketplace Staff Sep 19, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: It’s been a big 24 hours for the video website YouTube. We told you yesterday Warners Music has made a deal to license its music to the site. Today the White House announced it’s going to start posting government-produced anti-drug videos there. Commentator Bill Hammack says Internet video companies have learned their lessons well.

BILL HAMMACK: Video on the Internet has followed the path of all new media; that is, first it apes existing forms.

Take radio. The first broadcasters thought of it as a loudspeaker for reaching large audiences. So they broadcast Broadway plays and lectures.

Except unlike a captive theatergoer, a radio listener could turn the dial.

Radio responded with a mix of music, talk, and soap operas tailored to the intimacy of radio.

Now with YouTube the Internet is moving past dreary repeats of CNN newscasts, or movie trailers.

Consider the LonelyGirl phenomenon. That’s the screen name of 16-year-old Bree, who posted 20 or so short video diary entries.

An astonishing half-million viewers watched each video and they created hundreds of videos in response.

Was she really 16, they wondered? Where her repressive parents devil worshipers? It all turned out to be a fraud, but no matter, viewers were hooked.

What’s different today is that viewers create the experience.

YouTube and Time Warner have teamed up to create a new media with different rules. Those rules let users weave any sort of Time Warner music into their videos without violating copyrights.

Unlike other territorial labels, Warner just took a page from the Grateful Dead playbook.

For years, the group let concertgoers record and distribute tapes. These tapes increased the fan base of the group. And the fans bought high-quality commercial CDs to replace their bootlegged concert tapes.

The same will happen with Warner Artists.

Keep in mind that YouTube streams 100 million videos a day, and people will be exposed to the artists. They’ll buy CDs.

In contrast, Universal Music, the largest record company, threatened to sue YouTube.

Not very enlightened in this Internet age, but then again it takes a very gutsy executive to take business advice from a Deadhead.

RYSSDAL: Bill Hammack teaches chemical engineering at the University of Illinois-Urbana.

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