Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

OK Go Wants You to Watch Its Video on Vimeo. OK Go’s Record Label Is Suing Vimeo. Confused? Welcome to the Music Business.

OK GORemember OK Go, the band with the really popular treadmill video a couple of years ago? It has a new video and would like you to watch it on Vimeo, the video-sharing site being sued by EMI, the band’s record label.

What gives? It’s sort of simple: The band would prefer that you watch the video via Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, but EMI won’t let Web users like me embed the YouTube version of the clip.

The band explains why this is so here, but it’s a story we’ve heard before–in a nutshell, it’s harder to sell ads against embedded videos.

That’s supposedly going to get better with Vevo, the “Hulu for music videos” joint venture that EMI is licensing its stuff to, so perhaps this kind of thing won’t be necessary in the future.

(That said, the band’s account is well worth reading, as it is a clear and even-handed assessment of the music industry’s attempt to wrestle with Web-era economics. Excerpt: “We’ve got this ridiculous situation where the machinery of the old system is frantically trying to contort and reshape and rewire itself to run without actually selling music. It’s like a car trying to figure out how to run without gas, or a fish trying to learn to breath air.”)

Meanwhile, the Vimeo situation is a bit confusing: EMI is suing the site because it encourages users to upload “lip dubs”–what you and I would call “music videos”–that use copyrighted songs without authorization. In this case, OK Go is the entity uploading the songs/videos, so I suppose that makes the legal situation more palatable (note the big copyright notice at the end). But I’m still not sure how or why the licensing/advertising issues that put the kibosh on the YouTube video don’t come into play here.

In any event, here’s the song, followed by a YouTube version of the one that made the band sorta famous:

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.