The Problem with YouTube from One Artist’s Point of View

East Bay Ray, the guitarist with the Dead Kennedys, has an issue with YouTube. He wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Observer.

YouTube (owned by Google Inc.) is a remarkable platform for the sharing of videos and music by both fans and creators. Many artists have used it to start careers and achieve a form of stardom, which is wonderful. But what’s behind the curtain? How is the “monetization” income shared with content creators, filmmakers and musicians, by the businessmen who operate YouTube?

I am the guitarist, co-founder and one of the two main songwriters for the band Dead Kennedys. We’ve been called “one of the most popular and important American hardcore punk bands” by the Rough Guide to Rock, and “the undoubted kings of U.S. punk” by the Encyclopedia of Popular Music. We are proud of our Do It Yourself independent ethic and have negotiated our own recording, song publishing and other licensing deals. As an independent artist, we attained the extraordinary achievement of Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death earning a Gold Record in both the United States and the United Kingdom.


With YouTube, it’s take it or leave it, there’s no negotiation. And if you leave it, the businessmen at Google still make big money because they do not have to get your consent to “monetize” anyone’s files. Or photos. Or life. Yes anyone, including you. There’s a loophole in the law.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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