Google buys Blogger, Google buys YouTube – what is Google up to? Last week everyone thinks Google’s going to get shut down for copyright infringement on a massive scale, this week Google makes deals with Universal and SonyBMG, showing that the majors are willing to work with the rookies rather than sue them into oblivion. And if the record companies are doing it, the movie companies will come, the television studios will come, everybody will come.
Or that’s the idea. The truth is, no one’s really sure what Google is up to. I bet that they themselves aren’t totally sure.
Interestingly, we’ve all become reliant on Google as a service, forgetting that it’s a tech company with Microsoft-sized ambition. So far, they seem to be beating out everybody in some key areas – email, maps, and of course, plain old searching.
Add video to that and someone’s gonna be all up in their face about mp3s. My thinking is, if record labels use their video licensing as a test run for the big G, if it brings in substantial….whatever it is they want – revenue probably – then soon enough they’ll start to hand over the audio files as well. I see a whole slew of things that could happen. For instance, like Magnatune or Creative Commons, Google could maintain a bank of music open for copy, for use in those silly YouTube tribute videos, for instance, or for movies or shorts or whatever. And the major record labels themselves would condone it – hell, they’re asking for it! (Of course the RIAA will continue to sue 700+ every few months…) Or, try this on for size: Maybe the labels are setting themselves up to circumvent all the negativity about downloading music that you get through the traditional online outlets. iTunes has negative associations, like the pricing or the overpriced hardware. MySpace has the oft-bemoaned teenybopper/pedophiles who hunt them demographic. eMusic is great, but it’s pretty indie (a.k.a. no money there) Would eMusic ever pay 1.6 billion dollars for a video service? Of course not, and that’s the whole point. Going with Google is so far an unexpected move. What is Google going to do with license to reproduce all these music videos? Not sure, but the YouTube deal makes a lot of sense.
Now, about advertising. If they start showing those pre-video ads, I’m going to be real angry. The New York Times’ “skip this ad” is a nice feature, and I can handle that, but when I’m forced to watch an ad, I’d rather just forget it and get back to what it is I am supposed to be doing. Then again, I won’t be the one watching these music videos, so maybe it doesn’t matter much.