Chad Hurley: YouTube to share revenue with video creators

January 31, 2007

News: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley announced plans to share revenue with people who post videos that become popular on YouTube.“We are getting an audience large enough where we have an opportunity to support creativity, to foster creativity through sharing revenue with our users,” Hurley said. “So in the coming months we are going to be opening that up.” (More here)

Analysis: I’ve listened to some YouTube users’ reactions, and they see this development as both good and bad. The fears are that YouTube will lose its “community” ethos and become just another “corporate” site. On the other hand, some people spend a lot of time creating videos for YouTube that generate traffic to the site, so why shouldn’t they get paid? Both sentiments strike me as legitimate.

I’m more fascinated by the copyright issues that could become more intensified under a revenue-sharing model. If the video creators are profiting from videos that are based in part on some copyright infringed clips, and if YouTube pays those creators, then the claims of copyright liability against both the creators and YouTube becomes even more serious. Once money is involved, the video creators’ “borrowing” of content from others — let’s say some copyrighted music synched without authorization — becomes even more tenuous under fair use analysis. And YouTube’s position with respect to the creators would become more akin to an agency relationship, potentially opening it up to stronger vicarious liability claims. Without a concrete plan to examine, it’s too hard to say how serious these risks are. But any plan would obviously need to consider the copyright issues raised by revenue sharing.

Mia Rose: I’m “the most viewed person ever” on YouTube

January 31, 2007

News:  “I’m YouTube’s Biggest Hit” details the story of teen singer Mia Rose from London.  She’s being represented by Damien Estrich, who runs the channel on YouTube called YourTubeNews.  It’s suggested in the article that Mia Rose may sign with Atlantic Records.

Mia Rose stated, “I can’t believe everything has happened so quickly. I was six when I started singing and I haven’t stopped since.  My passion has always been singing and a couple of my friends told me about YouTube. They said the YouTube community was fantastic and uploading videos would be a great way to promote my music.  Within a matter of weeks I became the most viewed person ever on the site. Next thing I had record companies offering me contracts.  It’s such a fairytale, to think just a month or so ago I was singing on YouTube and now I could be joining artists such as James Blunt and Craig David at one of the biggest record companies in the world.  I can’t wait to introduce the world to my music and I’m itching to get into the studio to start recording.”

Analysis: It’s great to see YouTube discover unknown talent.  I wonder, though, who told Mia Rose that she was “the most viewed person ever.”  I doubt that’s accurate.

Terra Naomi, The Utube Blog interview, Part 3

January 31, 2007


The Utube Blog: OK, let’s turn to some easy, short answer questions. I promise not to ask any Barbara Walters, what kind of tree would you be questions, but let’s start with, Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Terra: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Radiohead, David Bowie, and Mozart.

The Utube Blog: Who are you listening to on your iPod right now?

Terra: Imogen Heap, Laughing Hyenas, and Radiohead.

The Utube Blog: Favorite movie?

Terra: Right now it’s “West Side Story.”

The Utube Blog: Favorite book?

: Right now it’s “Midnight’s Children.”

The Utube Blog: Ever watch American Idol?

Terra: Nope.

The Utube Blog: You might be the only one in America based on last week’s Idol ratings… Any New Year’s resolutions?

Terra: Nope. Every New Year’s Day I make a list of things which will happen in the coming year. Goals, wishes, intentions… this year there are about 60 I think.

The Utube Blog: Describe a typical day in the life of Terra Naomi.

Terra: These days I get up, walk my dog Elliott, read MySpace messages and emails, make any phone calls I need to make, go to the gym or yoga, and then to the studio where I spend the rest of the day/evening. I’m loving that!

The Utube Blog: Yeah, sounds like a nice gig. What’s one interesting fact about you that even some of your friends don’t know?

Terra: Honestly, I am guilty of giving out WAY too much information. I don’t think there’s anything I haven’t told someone. Even my mom and dad know every detail of my life—much to the dismay of some of my ex-boyfriends!

The Utube Blog: At the law school where I teach, some of my students are in a band called the “Backup Plan.” The name is kind of a joke about what would happen if they didn’t make it as lawyers. Let’s just imagine that Terra Naomi was still undiscovered, or the music thing just hadn’t worked out. What would your backup plan be?

Terra: Great name—I would probably be living on my mom and dad’s couch. Or in my car.

The Utube Blog: Well, thank heavens for us you don’t need to go to your backup plan! The world is a better place for it. You are definitely the best thing YouTube has discovered so far. I think I’ll end on that note, thanks so much for sharing with us, Terra! Look forward to your next album.

Terra: Thank you!!!

Part 1 of the Interview with Terra Naomi

Part 2 of the Interview with Terra Naomi 

Terra Naomi, The Utube Blog interview, Part 2

January 30, 2007


The Utube Blog I really, really love “Close to Your Head.” On YouTube, you say that you were inspired to write the song by an encouraging comment you received from someone on YouTube. What was the comment?

Terra: He literally wrote “the stars are close to your head.” I don’t think English was his first language and it was such a beautiful sentiment. Before I knew it I had written the song “Close to Your Head.”

The Utube Blog: When you write a song, do you write the lyrics and music at the same time or together? Does one come before the other? You seem to be able to compose very quickly — “Say It’s Possible” in 5 minutes.

Terra: It depends—there is no one process when I write a song—sometimes everything comes together, like “Say It’s Possible,” and other times I write the melody and chords first, then the lyrics, and vice versa.

The Utube Blog: On April 9, 2006, you wrote on your blog that you wrote the most important song you have ever written? Which song was that? And do you still feel that way about it?

Terra: That song is “Something Good to Show You. I wrote it after singing backup for Neil Young’s album “Living with War.” I do still believe that it is one of my most important songs. I won’t say “most important” because I think “Say It’s Possible” is also a big one for me. “Something Good to Show You” is a political song and I had not written a political song up to that point.

The Utube Blog: Besides the recording contract, what’s been the biggest change in your life since you’ve been discovered?

Terra: Well, all the recent changes in my life relate to that one big change. But before the recording contract I think it was the realization that my music could reach people around the world. And not only reach them, but inspire them. I always thought that was possible, but seeing it actually happen was such an incredible affirmation. I stopped caring whether I ever got signed, whether I got the approval from the industry, because I saw that the real people of the world were embracing me. I make my music for those people, not for the music industry.

Part 1 of the Interview with Terra Naomi

[Tomorrow: Part 3 of The Utube Blog’s interview with Terra Naomi]

Terra Naomi, The Utube Blog interview, Part 1

January 29, 2007


The Utube Blog: Hi, Terra, thanks for taking some time to chat with us. OK, let’s get right to the song that made you famous, “Say It’s Possible.” When I watched your original YouTube video, it stopped me in my tracks. It’s what I call a showstopping performance. I’m sure that many others have felt the same way, given the over 1 million views the video generated and the many people from all parts of the world covering it. Why do you think this song resonates so much with people, or is it still a mystery?

Terra: First of all, thank you! I’m not really sure what it was about that video/song. I think part of it was the stark, honest performance—me in front of my video camera, no frills, no edits—I don’t think people are used to seeing that these days. The rest is sort of a mystery. I wrote it in about 5 minutes—everything just flowed out of me, the words, the melody, the chord pattern—and I think it came from an honest place inside of me that other people can relate to.

The Utube Blog: Five minutes?–that’s incredible. You have a real gift. Now, I’ve read that it was your manager’s idea for you to give a “virtual tour” on the Internet after you decided not to tour on the road. Who is your manager, and where did he or you get such a crazy idea? Be honest, did you actually think it would work?

Terra: My manager/producer is a supremely talented and lovely man named Paul Fox. He made records for XTC, 10,000 Maniacs, the Sugarcubes, the Wallflowers, Semisonic—and many more. I was sitting in his studio one day and I just couldn’t handle the thought of going out on the road again on my own…those solo tours were unbelievably grueling. So the two of us came up with the idea that I should film myself and post … I decided to name it “the Virtual Summer Tour.” We honestly thought that maybe 1,000 people would see them at the most.

The Utube Blog: What drew you to YouTube, anyways? You could have launched your virtual tour on MySpace music or your own website. Why YouTube?

Terra: YouTube was actually an afterthought. I had never used the site. I had an account set up because a friend had made a live performance video of “The Vicodin Song” at one of my hotel cafe shows and he suggested posting it on YouTube. So I did. But I had never used the site other than to post the video. MySpace had recently started its video hosting section so I posted my videos there. A few days later, as an afterthought, Paul said, “Why don’t you post them on YouTube, too?”

The Utube Blog: That was a pretty good afterthought. YouTube’s probably not an afterthought to anyone any longer. By the way, in the video in which you visit YouTube’s offices, one of YouTube’s reps appears to say, if I heard correctly, that your dad emailed YouTube pointing out your video for “Say It’s Possible.” Was it really your dad? If it was, will he get a cut of your future royalties?

Terra: Haha—no—it was not my dad. I didn’t go back to check on this, but she probably said “Chad” as in Chad Hurley. Apparently Chad stumbled upon my video soon after I posted it and then forwarded it to a few other people at his company, including the woman who was responsible for choosing the featured videos. According to this woman, she watched it 5 times and then put it on the front page.

The Utube Blog: No way, Chad Hurley…the cofounder of YouTube? Wow, that guy has many talents–not only running a company, but finding the next great musical talent. Chad Hurley deserves the many thanks of all your music fans. But I think after Google bought YouTube Chad probably won’t be needing a cut of your royalties. Regardless, your virtual tour on YouTube was a huge success, giving you exposure and leading to a major recording contract. But, now with your success, do you think you will continue your virtual tour on YouTube?

Terra: Well, I don’t call it a virtual tour anymore—that was really just a summer 2006 thing—but yes, I will definitely continue posting videos. I’ve been busy in the studio lately, but I plan to start posting videos again very soon.

[Tomorrow: Part 2 of The Utube Blog’s interview with Terra Naomi]

This week: interview with singer Terra Naomi

January 28, 2007

Since I’ve been following YouTube, I don’t know how many videos I’ve surfed through. But if you asked me what are the two most important YouTube videos created so far, I think my choices would be quite easy to make.

(1) The first video is the more infamous video of then-Senator George Allen calling his opponent Jim Webb’s video guy a “macaca.” This video probably gave the Democrats the control of Congress, after Webb was able to pull out a close victory that put the Dems over the top in the Senate.

(2) The second video is Terra Naomi’s “Say It’s Possible.” It’s the video that proved that musicians can be discovered on YouTube, it proved what’s possible on YouTube.

This week, The Utube Blog will feature an exclusive interview with Terra Naomi, who was generous enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts about YouTube, her music, and much more. Stay tuned.

Video of the week: Pelosi blinks before Cheney (many times) on Letterman + Colbert

January 26, 2007

“This is the kind of thing I don’t think you’ll see on any other show,” said David Letterman. He was wrong. Stephen Colbert ran the exact same joke on the same night, during the same hour, and Colbert may have been even funnier (see Colbert joke). What are the odds of that — brilliant minds think…?