"This Video Is Not Available In Your Country".
But why I ask? What's wrong with my country? I live in the UK and the last time I checked my country wasn't in the governmental practice of internet censorship. Sure, I can understand wanting to protect me from certain things like, let's say "terrorism" or other things that the majority of society deems as evil propaganda, but really, promotional music videos? I can't watch them because I live in the UK?
How fucked up is that?
Ok so let's look at the issues here. Why would a record or publishing company not want me to watch a music video they own the copyright to which was made ONLY for a certain geographical market? The answer is this – they don't want to lose their "piece of the pie" – and if they open up access of a promotional music video outside of their broadcasting license – they won't make money from it…pure and simple.
Why don't they just say this instead…
"We don't want you to watch this music video because we don't want you to get excited about this artist yet – until we have a publishing deal in place to make money from you watching this music video…"
Yes, a little long-winded – but essentially this is what the music industry is saying.
If you ask me – this type of geo-coding that the music industry is enforcing on YouTube and other video sharing websites is one of THE BIGGEST reasons why the music industry isn't making any money anymore. How the hell could you even justify denying someone living in another country the opportunity to become a fan of your artist just because you won't get "a few pennies" for their view of said promotional music video? You might as well say:
"Fuck You Potential Fan And Customer – We Don't Want You And Your Country To Watch Our Music Video."
And what happens when you oh evil country dweller receives this type of message…you find some other way to watch the music video and you know what, there isn't anything that the record company can do about it and in the end, they have just ended up pissing you off for making the process of falling in love with music (and a product) that much more harder and difficult – when we live in a day and age when the internet is supposed to make that process so much easier.
Let's look at the options here that could potentially alleviate this horrid and general waste-of-time practice.
Import distribution models worked pre-internet
Why wouldn't they work now? In the days of yesteryear, quality retail music stores (remember those) used to have what they called "import" sections where the best music cds from other countries were gleefully there just waiting to be purchased by enthusiastic music fans who actively searched out music that was not in front of their face – with a markup price for such a luxury which was often two to three times more expensive than normal CDs. Why couldn't this work today on YouTube? Think about it. There you are trying to discover new music and you come across a promotional music video which was intended to be viewed by it's target market – but you really really want to watch the music video…why not pay an import fee to the broadcaster of let's say 5p to watch and/or embed the content on your music blog or other hype machine? Or how about this? In order to watch the content, you tick a box which seamlessly transfers your verified email address over to the content owner so they may later contact you about purchasing the EP, album or local concert ticket for said artist. For those of us who went to college – that term is called "target marketing". Yet target marketing doesn't seem to have caught onto content owners yet, who still insist on blocking content in certain countries for fear of losing their minuscule piece of the pie…And we are supposed to feel sorry for the record companies that are losing money and dignity faster than a whore with a gambling problem…I don't think so.
Let's look at this from another angle shall we? A company makes widgets in America. They spend about 5000 to 10,000 USD on making a promotional advertisement for such widget. They put promotional advertisement on YouTube and don't geo-block it. Someone in a small province of France really needs said widget in their life – they CRAVE it. Said person contacts widget company who does in fact offer international shipping and both parties agree to a premium to send such widget to small province in France. Widget arrives. Customer and widget company very happy…and, OMG the promotional advertisement wasn't geo-coded…Why make promotional music videos if you don't want certain countries buying your product or telling their communities about it. Very EXTREMELY STUPID. The only way you are going to make a killing on your product is if you open it up to as many distribution channels as possible, and that includes – gasp, internationally!
In order to watch this video, you must tell us what you think of it…
Now really, is that so much to ask? I don't think so. So let's say you want to watch a geo-coded promotional music video, but before you get to, a little un-intrusive message comes up before and after the video asking you for one of two options. Did you like this music video? Yes or No? If they get enough "Yes" answers from a particular geographical region, then content owner then knows that hey – there IS A viable MARKET for their product in let's say Bolivia or Latvia and maybe they should start to formulate a marketing plan and budget for launching said "local celebrity" in that geographical area – or at very least, make that song available to download in that area. There are tons of new pop stars in America (some of which I know personally) who will never make it there – but if the record and publishing companies would just find those markets THAT ALREADY EXIST then maybe they'd be making some fucking money. That is what we who went to college call "market research".
I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I wanted to buy something on iTunes and have been told "oh no, this product is only available in our other store which, ha ha, you can't shop in because you aren't a resident of that country." Fuck you content owner for making iTunes have to say that. Let's look at this from another angle shall we? Do you think The GAP is going to deny a PAYING customer with product in their hands at the till just because they live in Switzerland and this type of fashion isn't being marketed yet there. The answer is "NO". The Gap aren't stupid. Whoever came up with the concept of geo-coding music videos on YouTube really is a useless idiot and should be FIRED along with the other suits who democratically voted this shit practice into place. Where exactly did you get your business degrees from?
The alternative message.
Instead of saying "Fuck you potential customer, we don't want you and your country to watch this promotional music video", why don't you try saying this instead…"Although we can't show this video in your region yet, here is a link which will allow you to learn more about this artist". It's a little nicer isn't it? And at the very bare minimum, it shows that the content and copyright owner cares about you as a paying customer to let you know there is a reason why they can't show you the video just yet in your country. It's kinda stupid yes, but a little kindness goes a long way when it comes to you parting with your hard earned dollars and pounds. But that is another moan that I have about the current digital music industry that will be another topic of discussion another day. I don't know about you, but I quite like it when I go into a retail shop and am directed to another place to get my product – despite whatever reason they have which won't let them sell me a product I want to buy. For those of us who went to college and who spend money, that term is called "customer service".
So there you go – the reasons why promotional music video geo-coding is bad for artists, for record and publishing companies and why it's insulting to you as a consumer. It's not a solution and it's hardly even a band aid for the gargantuan losses in the music industry. Did you hear EMI has lost 1.5 billion recently? Someone very wise who used to work in the music industry told me that the businessmen in the biz are really stupid for the most part – I almost thought that what she was saying (about the industry that brings me so much joy and definition to my life) was borderline insulting, but the more and more I think about it – the more I am beginning to believe her. Thank you Sarina for opening my eyes.
As a final word on this matter, please note that these views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and my thoughts alone and do not represent the views or opinions of anyone featured on EQ. But this topic has been eating me up inside and it had to be said. I am so tired of getting promotional music videos sent to me by record companies (through PR middlemen) that give me the "fuck you" message whenever I try to watch them. It's mega insulting not only to me as a music blogger, but to me as a music consumer. All I do when I receive the "fuck you" message is pure and simple…check-mark and delete.
I can't write about something I am not allowed to experience – because of where I live…it's like turning away the child at the gates of Disneyland…fuck you, you little Czech Republic dweller, we don't want YOU to see what WE have inside. It's for AMERICAN kids ONLY.