Enough already: copyright owners blocking DJ mixes on Youtube

My Youtube channel has never been the main outlet for the mixes and radio I create via Ambient Music Guide. But I appreciate that my work does have some fans on Youtube, and recent developments involving wholesale video blocking have been frustrating.

Over the last 12 months or so, I've noticed that certain independent labels, artists and/or their third-party enforcers are using Youtube's automated content ID system to apply worldwide blocks to any uploaded video - DJ mix or otherwise - that features any music at all from their recent releases. This is rather than choosing to automatically monetize the upload, like many music rights holders do now, so they can receive micro-payments from Youtube for plays.

Now, not that many labels or artists in my corner of the musical universe - ambient and downtempo and electronica - are pursuing this aggressive strategy. That's assuming there even IS a strategy. I do get a sense that a few are being seduced and/or frightened by their 3rd-party marketing and licensing agencies (sometimes called MCNs or Multi Channel Networks), whose pitches to the labels are variations on the same "we protect the rights of independent artists" message. But at least one industry insider told me it's often a conscious choice of the label or artist to block on Youtube. And all it takes is one offending track for an entire mix to get taken down.

Admittedly, Youtube's evolution to include music-only offerings - that is, audio with a static image - was unplanned and largely accidental. It's a video platform, after all. But music listeners have gathered there anyway, drawn in by the platform's enormous gravitational pull.

Neither does it help that Youtube's content ID system is a blunt instrument. It doesn't, for example, distinguish between a track embedded in a DJ mix - which has promotional value if a tracklist is included - and the same track uploaded on its own, or with a full album, or used anonymously to soundtrack a video or a short film. Mind you, if the music rights holders who are blocking DJ mixes are aware of this crucial distinction, I'm not seeing any evidence they care.

Well, I've had it with their shit.

These takedowns have happened to four of the last five mixes that I have attempted to upload to the AMG Youtube channel. l'm not going to pull every mix apart and take tracks out, not after weeks of work.

Instead, I simply won't be playing or reviewing these labels and artists anymore. Anywhere. Period.

I'm not naming names, though curiously most of them are British-based labels. As I said, they are relatively few in number. And they're exercising their legal rights under copyright law, as counterproductive as that may be. I'll just exercise my right to ignore them.

Plenty more fish in the sea, as the saying goes.

Now, let's get back to the music.

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