Current Media: All About The Pipes

It’s all about the pipes -- whether oil runs through it (the Keystone Pipeline) or video entertainment (pay TV and digital platforms providers).

The licensing legality of YouTube, one of music’s longtime distribution “pipes,” is now being questioned by Irving Azoff, personal manager for many bestselling music performers.  While YouTube is launching a music subscription service, Music Key, Azoff says he believes YouTube hasn’t done all its necessary licensing deals.

Free music content, such as individual songs, can still equate to big-time promotion for an artist. An isolated “free” preview of a TV show may appear digitally as part of some bigger marketing plan, though few want to give away premium TV content without some remuneration -- subscription fee, advertising revenues, or any combination thereof.



As its deadline nears with Dish Network, CBS has issued warnings about the satellite pay TV provider -- an entertainment pipe owner --  calling out Dish’s behavior concerning carriage disagreements, which has resulted in blackouts: “Dish is notorious for going dark.”

TV seems to have more options (over the top services, cloud-based platforms) than music to long-term monetization.. So you have major music star Taylor Swift,and other artists -- Garth Brooks for example -- looking to find other ways of distribution. Brooks called YouTube “the devil."

YouTube doesn’t get the same label  from big media companies these days. But it wasn’t long ago companies like Viacom believed it was a major copyright infringer.

We should want an entertainment distribution system to work fairly, with as much equal access as possible. But it’s not a perfect world: different valuations and the relative scarcity of the entertainment content make for a pretty fuzzy formula.

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