For all the progress that the music and television industries have made in the last several years, the ways they approach digital content still need to change – and in a big way. Case in point, last night’s Emmy Awards broadcast. As this article from PaidContent.org suggests, NBC can’t/won’t promote some of the best elements of last show because of issues related to music rights:
Another odd chapter in NBC’s mixed viral video history: it can’t post two of the clips that have the best chance of catching on from the 2010 Emmys. Host Jimmy Fallon knocked it out of the park with an energetic Glee-esque opener to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, a mixed pre-taped and live-action number featuring Jane Lynch, Glee kids, Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, and a cameo by Tim Gunn that quickly got social media buzz. The clip should have been online before the next commercial break for NBC to take advantage of that buzz—and to take ownership before others started passing it around.
Another number paying tribute to the end of 24, Law & Order and Lost, part of it with Fallon channeling Elton John, seemed destined to catch on, at least with fans of those shows. But @NBCLA tweeted back when I mentioned that the videos has yet to post: “Wish we could, but we have restrictions on what we can post online.” A spokeswoman later suggested by e-mail that music rights are the issue.
Now, I understand there are some complex issues at play here, most notably what’s legal and who gets paid. But as a member of the audience I want to make sure the television and music industry people recognize that I don’t understand those issues, nor do I particularly care how they get resolved. You see, I don’t consider it my job to figure out how to make the television and music industry money. For my part, when I I tune into the broadcast of something like the Emmy Awards and see something I think is funny, or really creative, I want to share it with my network/friends.
If I blog or tweet something about the Emmy Awards, that helps NBC. If I share a video of Jimmy Fallon singing, it helps the musician that he channeled (in this case Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Boyz to Men, and Green Day). The easier that NBC, the musicians, their labels, and everyone else make it for me to share those clips… and maybe consider buying a song, or a related piece of merchandise, the more likely I am to pull the trigger.
The TV and Music industry should be looking for ways to capitalize on the buzz created by something like the Emmy Awards… and collaborating on ways to make sure people like me, who want to promote and share their content, can also help to generate new, or additional, revenue based on that interest. The content is there to feed the system. The technology is available to facilitate any conceivable set of actions required. The only thing missing is an understanding and commitment by the television and music industry to making it happen.