Over the past few years, I’ve spoken with a couple composers who will only record their music via MIDI keyboard with headphones on because they’re afraid their neighbors will steal their song ideas. I’ve heard about songwriters who won’t play new songs live for similar reasons. I’ve talked to artists who won’t sell MP3s because they think the whole world will pirate their latest album. As far as I can tell, these are otherwise rational people.
And yes, there are many musicians out there who don’t want their music available on YouTube because they think it will be stolen by some nefarious character who spends time using evil software (the YouTube-to-Mp3-converter) to rip audio off the internet — audio, I try to remind these musicians, which would already be available on the video streaming platform FOR FREE to anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet. So why would anyone want to go through the trouble to steal it?
Ok, to be fair, there ARE people out there who engage in this illegal practice. So the headline of this article is a generalization; a few folks MIGHT actually be stealing your music from YouTube. But they could just as easily steal your music from a file-sharing site, or burn it from a friend’s CD, or record it onto their computer from some other free streaming platform, right?
YouTube has grown to become the #1 search engine for music in the world. It’s also the #1 preferred listening platform for younger (-18) music fans. Every year, YouTube’s importance in the careers of indie musicians grows. If you have an internet or cellular connection, you can go to YouTube in a matter of seconds and find almost any song. Why would you prevent your fans from hearing YOUR songs on YouTube too? Just to prevent a few bad eggs from ripping the audio? In my mind, that math doesn’t make sense, especially now that you can earn money from the usage of your music on YouTube. (CD Baby has paid over $1.2 million in sync licensing revenue to artists, much of it generated from music on YouTube).
Piracy isn’t the enemy of artists; obscurity is. That old phrase may be a tired mantra in the independent music world, but it’s still true — which I suppose accounts for its frequent use. Music’s most active audience is on YouTube. Your music should be on YouTube too.
Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts about YouTube’s place in the music world of today and tomorrow. Let me know in the comments section below.
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[Music piracy image from Shutterstock.]