YouTube, Bob Marley and Following the Money Trail

Everyone likes cheap. Get a deal on something and you feel good. More money for maybe something else. The only thing better than cheap is free. And so I pondered the economics of YouTube videos, especially how you can listen to just about any track made since the beginning of recorded time on YouTube. For musicians and the public alike, this is simply amazing. For free, you have access to an amazing wealth of music. Download a YouTube to MP3 ripper, and you can claim to be a pirate way beyond the skills of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Ted calls Google, which owns YouTube, “a company that has done more to impoverish musicians and other creative professionals than any entity on the face of the planet.”

Ted Gioia from

For example, I was checking out the music of Bob Marley and noticed that just one of the YouTube videos had 15,514,525 views. 15 million views! I also noticed that before the video there was an advertisement. How does the licensing of this music on YouTube work and whom gets paid out? Does the estate of Bob Marley get a cut? Does the person who uploaded the video get something? How much does Google get paid?

After searching on the web for an answer I found very little. The best article states that the deals are private but one recent stat for a popular video got just $38.49 for the 2,118,200 views. Something seems terribly off here. Google is a company worth 78 billion dollars paying the creatives chump change.

Google/YouTube deals are covered by non-disclosure agreements – and do not allow independent labels to demand audits

So you really have to ask the question, who is the robber baron here? Much of Google’s acquiring of vast wealth is simply based on the exploitation of content and ridiculously low payouts. If the estate of Bob Marley got just one penny for each of that videos views, it would amount to $150,000 dollars. Larry Page. Seems like it is time to pay the band.

I would also like to add the copyright notice for this article. Seems like this is always on all the recordings and books I have purchased.

If anyone has more complete information, say how much does the estate of Bob Marley make on the vast amount of copyrighted material available on YouTube, please email me or add a comment below.

Copyright © 2014 by Paul Lyons

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