Deaf and dumb

It’s clear that the music industry has learned nothing in its near-death experience at the hands of the internet and its almost-former customers. Universal Music head Doug Morris launches an attack on YouTube filled with as much numbnutty chatter as NBC below.

“What doesn’t work for us are companies trying to build businesses using our content without our getting a fair share,” Morris said.

Well, let’s not talk fair share. How much do your artists get? A fair share? I’d say not. Morris went on to haul out the old whine about MTV:

“They received the software for virtually nothing. We learned a hard lesson. Recently, companies like Yahoo! and AOL started video on demand running ads between our videos. We asked for payment; they said no. We took down our videos and they said yes. Now we share in their advertising revenue.”

Morris said YouTube and other sites “owe us tens of millions of dollars. How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly.”

Mr. Morris: I’d pay to see you face your artists — 50 Cent, Eminem, Elvis Costello, BB King, LL Cool J, Chris Rock, et al — and call them “software” to their faces.

The smartest thing YouTube could do is just take all of Universal’s artists off and watch them scream when suddenly they’re not talked about and bought as much as their competitors. These dimwits just don’t get it: YouTube and MySpace and blogs and the internet are their new distribution and sales channels. Want to cut off your noses to spite your faces? Fine. Here’s the knife.

This is your audience you want to attack, fool. They are marketing and distributing your music for you. Don’t want them to? Fine. Plenty more where you came from.

Morris also went after MySpace. And MySpace’s owner, Fox’s Peter Chernin, went after YouTube as well, arguing that MySpace sends traffic to YouTube and so MySpace should hold YouTube by the balls.

Fool, it’s not YouTube that’s doing this. It’s not MySpace that’s doing this. It’s the people. You don’t control these services; they do. And if you try to control them, they’ll show you who’s holding whom by the balls. They’ve leave. You’ll be left holding the ball and not much else.

: Meanwhile, I got email from an exec of NBBC complaining about my post below. He refused to go into the comments to have his say or get into an open discussion here. Flunked that interactivity IQ test, I’d say. He argues that it’s not NBBC that decides where content runs but the licensor. He also says that the revenue split is a case-by-case matter. Still, I say the problem is that — just like Morris and Chernin — they think they are in control. Sorry, gentlemen. That horse is long over the horizon.

: And there was lots more discussion of the NBBC announcment and my post. Fred Wilson thinks it’s a good move. I disagree. So does Adam Kalsey, who takes it apart step by .

NBBC gets a failing grade on every one of Fred’s four points. They’re trying to build a walled garden. Lazy Sunday on YouTube scared them because they lost control over the distribution. “In the future, when we have a Lazy Sunday clip, NBBC will make a lot of money on it.”

This venture shows that. They’re deciding what content I can see. “NBBC is going to keep a distance from the hottest trend in online video — programs created and uploaded by users. The company wants to work only with established producers.”

They’re deciding where I can see it and how I can consume it. “NBBC is not going to allow the programs it distributes to be inserted on personal blogs or Web pages.”

Scott Karp has a good post identifying the key issue, once again: control.

The key to success in media today and in the future is to recognize that we, the people, formerly known as the audience, are in control. Artists, too, now have more control. Middlemen don’t. Middlemen don’t own content, software, creativity, or art. Middlemen don’t deserve 50 percent of the pie. Middlemen are doomed — unless they learn that they are not in control and figure out how to turn that into an advantage. Get content up on YouTube and MySpace and take advantage of the free — free, damnit! — marketing, promotion, branding, and distribution there to breath new life into our tired acts and TV shows and make money again. Go discover new talent (aka, new software). Listen to the public before you waste millions on products that won’t like.

Man, you can’t teach an old mogul new tricks.