“Don’t get signed,” might be the perfect rallying cry for a new generation of indie-by-choice musicians. The words come from Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, speaking from the homepage of YouTube’s newest initiative, MusiciansWanted.
Jack and Nataly are telling artists not to sign with a major label. Instead, DIY kids can generate their own revenue streams through indie resources like MusiciansWanted.
What’s the Deal?
YouTube announced the launch of MusiciansWanted this week at SXSW. The service allows indie bands to apply to the YouTube Partner Program, which has been doing amazing things for video posters ever since its launch two years ago. The YPP allows people who post videos on YouTube to earn nominal revenue off advertising. The more people watch a video (and the accompanying ads) the more money a poster makes.
Now, YouTube is offering indie bands the chance to become a major part of this program. If an artist’s application is accepted, they’ll be able to add tour dates and sell merch on their video page. And the sweetest plum of all? according to Wired, unlike regular YPP members, MusiciansWanted artists will receive the majority of ad revenue earned from people watching their videos, paid out on a monthly basis.
All MusiciansWanted videos will also be fully embeddable on other websites and blogs, and artists will earn revenue from their videos being shared, too. Make it rain, YouTube! Of course, MusiciansWanted is being promoted as a resource that will allow indie bands to earn a ton of money, and quit their day jobs. We’ll see about that.
The YouTube Label
MusiciansWanted sounds suspiciously like YouTube is starting its own record label. They’ll be carefully vetting all the applicants to the program, so it’s not like anyone with a guitar will be able to make money. An artist can’t just submit a 3-minute image with their song playing over it. Bands have to make real music videos to qualify, making YouTube – if you want to call them a label – the first fully integrated multimedia label on the market.
I have to wonder if this isn’t YouTube’s (and Google’s) way of taking a shot at major music labels, which are guilty of being one of the site’s biggest buzz-killers. Not only do labels prevent their artists’ vids from being embedded in other sites, they have some team of monkeys working around the clock to mute any video with the audacity to use copyrighted material therein.
Now that YouTube is gearing up to promote its own roster of talent – with the ability to sell their music on the website, for the first time – major labels might have to rethink their hardline approach.
The OK Go Story
Not surprisingly, one of the first bands to sign up for MusiciansWanted was OK Go. You remember the guys who got super YouTube-famous for their treadmill video? After that, they signed on with EMI, but broke the contract after the label became all tyrannical and bossy about what they could and could not do with their music.
Since their rejection of major label slavery, OK Go have started their own label and released another successful video, this time playing their new single “This Too Shall Pass” with a truly spectacular Rube Goldberg machine. Lead singer Damian Kulash told Wired that the experience has been incredibly liberating because they can,
“Now distribute our work however we want to, and we can look for new and interesting ways to make a living off of it without constantly chafing against the constraints of a big label with a rat’s nest of conflicting agendas.”
As resources like MusiciansWanted continue to pop up in ever-greater numbers, it’s no surprise that the words “don’t get signed” are beginning to sound like a mantra. Maybe signing on to a major label isn’t a fate worse than death quite yet, but the alternative – earning your own way by writing, touring, playing music, marketing yourself, and keeping the profits –sure sounds a lot more like life.
Would you apply to be a part of MusiciansWanted? Let us know what you think of YouTube’s latest sugarbaby!