YouTube as Distribution Model?

Where some see a threat, Warner Music Group apparently sees an opportunity.

Today the record label announced a partnership with the consumer media site

Warner said it would distribute its music videos and other produced content over YouTube’s video-sharing network.

Also, YouTube users can now incorporate Warner-owned music into their uploaded videos without fear of getting zapped by network administrators for copyright infringement.

That means lip-synch away, YouTubers.

YouTube and the record label will share revenue from advertising sold around both Warner’s produced content and from member videos that use Warner music.

Expect to see the produced content hit YouTube by the end of the year, when YouTube rolls out its new “advanced content identification and royalty reporting system.”

A YouTube spokesperson told that YouTube is open to similar arrangements with other labels. But it might be difficult finding another partner right away.

According to published reports, Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris last week told investors that businesses like YouTube are copyright infringers to be dealt with.

So to some in the recording industry, it might look like Warner just struck a deal with the enemy.

But Forrester Research Analyst Brian Haven thinks Warner should be applauded for their “progressive” business strategy.

“It shows they’re really embracing and trying to understand how the actual individual wants to interact with this content.”

And interact, they do.

One YouTube user recently uploaded a music video from Warner Music Group artist Craig David called “Unbelievable.”

Since, YouTubers have watched the video over 298,331 times.

That’s a lot of page views to drive up advertising revenue for YouTube and Warner, but it’s also a lot of exposure for a new artist.

“Craig David is one of the artists who create what we called great music — the voice is great and the songs too. Its just so great!!!” wrote YouTube user avizala in the site’s comments section.

The video is linked to profiles on Friendster, MySpace, and hi5, popular social networks among the target demographic for much of Warner’s music.

It’s Universal Music Group’s target demographic too. But some record labels view user-generated content that incorporates copyrighted music as nothing more than a way for potential customers to listen free. It is piracy.

Haven thinks maintaining such a consumer-alienating view is a mistake.

It’s far better to generate loyalty by getting behind the inexorable move toward social media than to stand in the way of it.

It’s why Warner will succeed, Haven said.

“With this young audience that”s very interactive and very social in online communities, to see a company like this participate and enable them work with this content in the way that they want is going to be a big benefit to them.”

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