Thursday, March 11, 2010

Record Labels, Old Media Don't Get New Media, Online Videos and Embedding

I came across this op-ed by Damian Kulash ("WhoseTube?", NYTimes), lead singer and guitarist of the band OK Go. And then this morning I received this article from Fast Company:

"OK Go Ditches Label Over YouTube Embedding Rights" by Dan Nosowitz

The article basically covers Damian's prior piece and tells about the conclusion of their conflict with EMI, who wouldn't allow them to have the embed code active for their YouTube videos. Once EMI blocked embedding their video views went from 10,000 per day to 1,000 per day. After OK Go left EMI and turned back on embeddable videos "digital album sales tripled and digital tracks sales have jumped more than sevenfold."

This brings me back to my days at GoingOn Networks when we were working with on various projects. In early 2007, our first project was to help them with an online video contest. It was going to be an "office pranks" contest where people could upload their videos and get rated by the Forbes' readership and a panel of judges.

Since I was leading this project and the product development, one of the first issues I had with was that they didn't want to allow video embedding. I remember strongly warning them that they would limit the viral effect if they didn't offer this. As typical old media people, they stated that they didn't want eyeballs off their main page and lose ad dollars. Our team explained that ads could be inserted into the videos and it would be a greater loss in terms of the video views. We didn't have hard numbers, such as OK Go's 90% drop-off rate, but it was clear anecdotally it would be a major hindrance to their viewership and audience growth.

Working hard to please our client and make this is a successful contest, I introduced to our contact at CAA, who was extremely helpful. One of their talent agents introduced them to a couple film producers and they seeded the Office Pranks site with some great content. We launched and their numbers weren't great. In my eyes, it was a flop and as a startup we were hoping for a home run. There were a couple other issues we warned them about, but the driver was that they weren't willing to allow the blogosphere to run with their content. They thought people would run away with their content and their ad dollars. This was 2007, but today is 2010 and it's amazing to me that many old media companies still don't get it.

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