YouTube’s Heel Turn

on Tuesday, Jun. 17th

Apparently 2014 is the year that we are reminded that monopolies, even innocent seeming Internet virtual monopolies, are bad.

The latest company to go from hero to villain: YouTube. From the Guardian UK (who got it from the paywall happy Financial Times):

Independent artists could disappear from YouTube “in a matter of days” after the Google video service confirmed it was dropping content from independent labels that have not signed up for its upcoming subscription music service.

As the Gaurdian points out this means that Jack White and Adele could vanish from YouTube, but its impact is bound to be felt even more intensely by acts with smaller fan bases. This also marks the second time this year that an Internet powerhouse with a stranglehold on mindshare, if not an actual monopoly on a market, has altered the bargain in a Sith-like turn.

I am, of course, talking about Amazon’s treatment of publisher Hachette and Warner Home Video, where the online retail giant has pulled pre-orders as part of a hardline negotiating tactic. Both Amazon and YouTube are seen as consumer-friendly businesses, but they have a habit of treating the people who make what they distribute like [ACTIVATE FAMILY FRIENDLY FILTER].

Both of these companies have managed to become “the only game in town,” at least in a matter of perception. Ease of use trumps just about every other factor in the eyes of so many, and the price we pay for “frictionless” experiences is turning out to be a tightening up of choices.



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