Whether you like them or not, Chicago rock band OK Go are probably on your radar. This is almost exclusively down to the success of a viral music video for their song Here it Goes Again in 2006. The video which showed the band doing choreographed moves on four treadmills is one of the internet’s most popular videos of all-time with nearly 50 million views and ended up winning a Grammy award the following year.
Four years later and OK Go are learning that the online landscape of 2010 is a different beast. The band released a new album Of The Blue Color Of The Sky at the start of the year. To promote it, they got the Notre Dame marching band involved and shot a music video, but when the video was released the band were deluged with complaints. Why? The band’s record label EMI had blocked the embedding of the video as well as blocking broadcast in other countries, disabling fans’ ability to share and embed the video on their own blog or profile.
Since the success of OK Go’s viral video, the four major labels have gone after Youtube as a source of revenue. The agreement works by Youtube only paying the label for views that are streamed from Youtube.com. The result? EMI have disabled all their artist videos as have Sony BMG. So if you want to embed an official Ke$ha video you’re out of luck there too.
Damien Kulash the singer of OK Go has been talking about the situation on the band’s forum as well as in the New York Times . While Kulash says he understands his label’s need to make money in a now tough to make money industry, it’s easy to see why the band are frustrated.
“When EMI disabled the embedding feature, views of our treadmill video dropped 90 percent, from about 10,000 per day to just over 1,000,” he writes. “Our last royalty statement from the label, which covered six months of streams, shows a whopping $27.77 credit to our account”.
He goes on to say that based on an average rate per stream of between $0.004 and $0.008, the label can only expect to earn $5,400 from the video. It’s hardly enough to offset the opportunity for another music video to truly go viral and make the label money as a result. Then again, Ireland-based video site MUZU.TV is major label-approved and allows embeds of artists like Ke$ha and OK Go so why can’t Google and Youtube do the same?