YouTube shows record labels how to profit from viral videos

Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz probably just wanted to do something different for their wedding. Rather than adopt the traditional processional "Here Comes the Bride," the dance-happy couple from St. Paul, Minn. scripted an outrageous entrance by the members of their party set to the thumping dance hit "Forever" by Chris Brown. The video features Jill and Kevin's closest friends strutting their best stuff down the aisle with varying degrees of grace and coordination. The effect is both hilarious and touching, a picture of how much fun a wedding really can and should be. The masses discovered the video on YouTube recently and traffic skyrocketed, with over 10 million views logged.

YouTube has a sophisticated content rights management and protection system that made it easy for Chris Brown's label to identify what by current law was a clear copyright violation. But rather than slap Peterson and Heinz with a lawsuit, Chris Brown's record label, Zomba Recording, instead purchased a "buy" button overlay from YouTube and sought to capitalize on the good fortune of Jill and Kevin's surprise hit.

The result? According to YouTube's Business Blog, during the week of July 30, over a year after the song's original release, "Forever" clocked as high as #4 on theiTunes singles chartand #3 on Amazon's best selling MP3 list.The click-through rate for the buy button was roughly twice as high as the average rate for similar music buy button's on YouTube, and those who clicked through were 2.5 times more likely to actually make the purchase.

On July 31, a Federal Court in Massachusetts ruled that a Boston University graduate student must pay a $675,000 fine for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs (although he also admitted that he had done so with hundreds of songs in total). Under the law, the violation of Jill and Kevin was not dissimilar to that of Joel Tennenbaum, the defendant in the Massachusetts case.

While suing Tennanbaum might deliver a message to the millions of people who still download songs on file swapping networks, it also serves to dissuade people from creatively using music in ways that could actually benefit artists and labels alike. Jill and Kevin were not afraid of getting sued. Thank goodness they weren't, because the record labels need a thousand more people like them, who share the music they love with the world in amazing and surprising ways, to restore the battered industry back to health.

HT to BoingBoing.

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