Tag Archives: YouTube


20 Nov


DickturpinTaylor Swift seems a highly unlikely Fair Pay for Artists Warrior, but she explained her breakup with Spotify surprisingly cogently (for her), in the context of an unsurprisingly current concern:

“I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

Before you start sarcastically playing the tiniest sad violin in the world for a poor little rich girl who just happened to have a new album to shill that week, be aware that all artists whose music is featured on Spotify or other streaming services receive a paltry $0.006 to $0.0084 (i.e. 3/500ths to 21/2500ths of a US dollar) per play of their song. Plus, when Taylor Swift has got somebody bang to rights then they should know they’re making a horrible mistake with their strategy. By deliberately gaming this system with an album of short silent tracks (Sleepify), the band Vulfpeck still only made about $4 per person per day even when their fans colluded in playing the silent tracks all night, every night until Spotify realised what was happening and kicked them off. Spotify claims 70% of revenue goes to “rights holders”, but this is a slippery argument because the rights holder isn’t necessarily the musician.

Likewise, an official partner of YouTube earns between $2.50 and $5 per thousand views, with only the most popular YT stars making the top whack. An upper band YT partner who managed a very creditable ten thousand views would make a pathetic $50. A million views– which sometimes happens accidentally but is not easy to do on purpose– nets you $5,000 (about €4.000 or £3,200). This might seem like a lot until you realise how few million-plus videos there are on YouTube compared to the morass of other content, how notoriously fickle and volatile the internet’s lumpenproletariat is, how long it may take to creep over a million views, and how rarely any one independent creator consistently churns them out unless they have the resources of a traditional media organisation behind them and can afford to devote themselves to it full time.

Continue reading


14 Oct

CatSharkRoombaVia Le Guardian.

1) Marc Kirschner, founder and CEO, TenduTV/Cultureband
Plan ahead (more than you think): Where a lot of the arts organisations we work with are going wrong is that they don’t plan long-term enough. A lot will post a video related to an upcoming performance two weeks or less in advance, which is simply not enough time to generate interest in the video or to maximise the potential long-term benefits of that piece of content within YouTube’s algorithms.

Can everybody who does PR, marketing and audience development for galleries, public talks, readings, gigs, festivals and venues please pay very close attention to what Marc is saying here? It’s nice when your friends spontaneously call you or send you a message about doing something, having a coffee or a swift pint, just hanging out and catching up, or whatever. Shoestring, artist-run places can be somewhat forgiven for this one because they usually work bloody hard and don’t have full time staff or very much money. Major commercial or publicly funded spaces can’t be forgiven for it. A MAJOR ART GALLERY IS NOT MY FRIEND. I’m not at its beck and it doesn’t get to call me up when it’s in the mood or because it’s having a last minute flap that nobody seems to be interested. Maybe it’s because they never tell people anything or get their shit together until it’s too late. The first I know about an exhibition or event shouldn’t be two weeks (or worse, two days, and worse still two hours) before it’s happening. Two weeks, two days and/or two hours before is when I should be additionally getting a reminder. I don’t even know how many times I would happily have gone to things if I’d had more than twenty seconds notice. In many cases I would have bought a ticket, i.e. given them money, which is the whole point of your marketing job, Mr or Ms Marketing.

On the other hand, many galleries seem not to care if nobody sees the art. Indeed many of them seem more comfortable if nobody sees the art, so I don’t forsee many of them rushing to accommodate YouTube’s audience-maximising algorithms.

2) Simon Walker, chief strategy officer, Rightster
Influence: What we are seeing is the emergence of a new set of influencers…  it was only last month the rest of the industry noticed that sitting on the front row next to Anna Wintour was a bunch of YouTube kids who have suddenly got the same kind of editorial power as the editor of Vogue.

The question for the arts sector is: who are the new influencers?

My emphasis on the last sentence. This gentleman is from Rightster, beneficiaries of a £1.8 million Arts Council grant for a new arts video network. (Previously on Career Suicide…) The team working on that project seriously need to take Rightster’s own advice if they don’t want the ACE MCN to turn into another pointless money pit, or the art world equivalent of a shark cat riding a Roomba. The latter is a particularly big trap lying in wait, because most contemporary art that gets covered in the mainstream media already doesn’t have any more depth than a video of a shark cat riding a Roomba.

There definitely are new influencers in the visual arts, and they most certainly ain’t critical darlings like Ryan Gander, Ai Wei Wei, or Grayson Perry, critics from national newspapers or big art magazines, or dead horse floggers like Emin or Hirst, despite the fact that they and their ilk are still constantly pimping their dreary old work and flapping their dreary old mouths in the mainstream media. Mainly because the mainstream media and mainstream galleries are too fucking lazy to even follow an artist they don’t know on Twitter, let alone to go outside their own postcode and actively cultivate artists who are doing interesting, original stuff.

“Influencers” sounds too much like influenza (and comes from the same Latin root), by the way. Nobody wants that. It’s an autocorrect mistake in waiting: “Up to 100 million people died during the influencer outbreak.” These people are paid enough and they’re meant to be good with words; they should be able to come up with a better one.

PS: Talking of influenza, this blog has more readers per month than most of the printed art magazines in Britain. Just saying…


1 Oct



“This video work is an ontologically complex vehicle for the exploration of domestic space, oscillating between the predatory subtexts of the manufactured consumer sphere and its products, and an ironic postmodernist subversion of so-called “innocence” in nature.”

The Arts Council has just awarded a “seedcorn investment” £1.8 million grant to Rightster, the “global b2b video network for distribution, content-sourcing, audience engagement and monetisation”, via the National Lottery. That’s a large seed corn, approaching inexplicable James and the Giant Peach proportions. It’s in aid of a new YouTube-based multichannel network (MCN) for the arts. You never know, it may be brilliant. It may open up opportunities and wider audiences for lots of previously undersupported, excluded or underappreciated artists who deserve more recognition and reward. Stranger things have happened. Maybe they’ll genuinely bring in people other than the usual suspects and the same boring old brand name artists who really don’t need any more help. They need to do some proper research and outreach, look properly at what artists are really doing and really interested in right now instead of just going straight to the established galleries who don’t have a bloody clue about either of these things. They’re always 5-10 years behind the actual practice of most artists. Bypass institutional curators entirely, because they only know what and who they like, not what’s really happening at ground level. The AC’s previous effort, The Space, seems well-intentioned and appears to be doing something even though to me their website is such a usability horrorshow and so sparse in its content that I can’t tell what exactly they’re doing or what they’re hoping to achieve. I’m not even being sarcastic. Seriously, if anybody can explain it to me, feel free.

I really fear, though, that MCNACE* will simply favour an art world version of the lowest common denominator trash that racks up the views everywhere else on YouTube, facilitated by corporate interests like Rightster– unknown to most people, who still somehow manage to delude themselves that there’s any kind of indie, grassroots creativity or spontaneity to million hit+ channels. I’d love them to prove me wrong, but at the moment I really don’t see how it makes sense to tackle an inherently minority interest aesthetic realm like the arts with the same toolbox as uncomplicated, zero-subtext, zero-craft virals about people wearing GoPros as they leap off a cliff, or cats riding Roombas.

The biggest clue to the purpose and mentality behind these MCNs is in the very name: “channel”, like on your TV, programmed, commissioned, corralled and controlled in exactly the same way except that the investment in production and artists’ development is a fraction of what broadcasters have been accustomed to. It’s what they’ve been trying to do with varying degrees of failure since the internet became a genuinely mass medium. Does anybody remember “web portals”? And if so, do you know anyone who liked them? Start planning your new video art practice now, but only on subjects like kittens, pugs, various other pets in costumes or boxes or otherwise doing human-like stuff, screamingunhingedrunk commentaries while you play video games, what you bought when you went shopping, your dinner, reactions to or parodies of other YouTube videos, setting fire to things, cruel and psychopathic pranks, unfunny skits with you wearing a wig, drippy low-fi ukelele or piano covers of pop songs, etc.

Also, from the same link and presented in the same no biggie, FYI, just-thought-you-should-know spirit as the press release:

“Rightster applied for the MCN grant commission in May 2014. In July 2014 they bought Base79**, a company in which Arts Council Chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette, had a shareholding (declared in the Arts Council’s register of interests in November 2013).  Rightster’s purchase of Base79 is a cash+shares transaction, the shares dependent on Base79’s future performance, so Sir Peter Bazalgette has a potential interest in Rightster. He has not been party to the decision to award the grant to Rightster.”

* Somebody from Rightster should contact me privately to discuss licensing this name for use on all the channel’s branding. <Tony Soprano voice> I’d like a taste of that £1.8 million, just like Baz… you know… POTENTIALLY.

** Base79 is an existing MCN, which seems fairly ghastly.


22 Aug

I’ve mentioned Christian Marclay’s overrated, beloved-of-the-bourgeoisie art gallery video collage The Clock before, but another YouTube supercut has surfaced recently that grants us another new perspective on the slavering art world enthusiasm for Marclay’s massive and extremely lucrative (as in bought for the permanent collections of several art museums) act of intellectual property violation, the kind of thing that gets lesser mortals sued or at the very least kicked from YouTube. If you’ve seen The Clock, I invite you to compare it to Dondrapersayswhat (NB: probably a pseudonym) and his or her mining of the same corpus of Hollywood films to stitch together a rendition of Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s already hilarious 90s hit, Baby Got Back.

… and now, bearing in mind that the research, craft and almost autistic attention to detail in Baby Got Back are easily equal to Marclay’s celebrated work (albeit in the service of silly laughs rather than a high concept), I invite you to contemplate whether this video would be art merely as a result of being put into a gallery context, or because its maker has an art world track record. Not everything an artist does is automatically art just because it’s been made by an artist, and some things not claimed as art by their makers actually are art. If it’s not art, is it not art because it’s funny or silly or accessible? Couldn’t contemporary art be these things sometimes, even if it doesn’t involve Sir Mix-A-Lot?

%d bloggers like this: