Is Google Trying to Expand Its Smartphone Domination Using Our Music?

Some of you may be aware that Google and Microsoft don’t like each other (which probably explains why Eric Schmidt didn’t include Microsoft in his gift to antitrust regulators–the Gang of Four cartel interview).  They have been involved in some extensive wrangling for some time now.   But check this out: It seems that Google is purposely blocking the YouTube App on the Windows Phone, Microsoft’s smartphone.

Yes, when artists post your videos on YouTube, Google uses access to all of our videos through the YouTube app as a stick to beat up on competitors for Android–from which we do not benefit at all. (Granted there’s an iOS YouTube app, but Google also gets to be the default search setting on iPhones–which I’m sure they don’t get for free.  There’d also be a revolt if artists couldn’t get their own videos on artist-friendly Apple products.)

Bear in mind that Google has essentially created YouTube as a monopoly in video search (mostly using music and movies):

Artists need to be particularly concerned about inadvertently creating monopoly-like companies that leverage our music to their own benefit.  We’ve had lots of experience with what happens to our take home pay when in practice you end up with “one of everything”.  MTV? Clear Channel?  Live Nation?  Pandora?  and now YouTube?  We don’t need to make the Anti-Artist,  Wifi-spying, data gobbling,  privacy sucking Google any more powerful.   It’s particularly ironic that back in the day Microsoft was prosecuted for using similar tactics with Internet Explorer while Google gets away with it with Android (as well as search, YouTube, maps, Safari shenanigans…shall I continue?)  Artists should also note that Microsoft has a long history of respecting artists’ rights and paying us fairly.  Xbox music is one of the highest paying music services per stream on my statements.

Of course, Google will come up with the usual Google-de-goop, slow no answers to explain themselves–we know all about that since Google got over 200 million take down notices for links to infringing sites in search last year alone.  You would think that after telling someone 200 million times there’s something wrong with their product, they’d get it?  Not Google.

Here’ another beef on Google’s leveraging our music so that YouTube can’t be played on a whole class of smartphones:  We aren’t getting paid the YouTube crap royalty on those phones.  Not because of anything we did, but because Google wants to screw a competitor!  I don’t recall ever telling Google they could withhold my music on YouTube to line their own pockets–maybe that’s what Google’s famous “permissionless innovation” looks like.

Now I’m not a lawyer but I think I understand some of the basic purposes of anti-trust law.  It isn’t fair to use your dominance in one market (online video search/YouTube) to leverage your dominance in another market (Android OS).  Isn’t this what Google is doing by blocking YouTube on the Windows phones?  Why does Google get away with this kind of blatantly anti-competitive BS?   Is it their political connections?  Is it those frequent dinners at The White House?   Or we could call it what it really looks like:  Political Corruption and Crony Capitalism.

About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.

9 thoughts on “Is Google Trying to Expand Its Smartphone Domination Using Our Music?

  1. Seeing how Google interests have repeatedly overturned hundreds of years of legal precedence respecting copyright leaves me resigned to accepting that we live in a “Citizen’s Untied” America. Today buying laws is known as “free speech.” Unfortunately song writers and authors and other content creators can afford far less “free speech” then Google. If only Teddy Roosevelt or Ida Tarbell were alive today……..

  2. YouTube has such a widespread user base that the inability to distribute content on a single platform shouldn’t really affect the overall reach. I mean, how many Windows phones are even in use? In the third quarter last year, 81% of smartphone sales were Android, and less than 4% were Windows phones (! With that kind of disparity, I can’t imagine a very large dent being made.
    Also, I don’t mean to nitpick, but you said you “don’t recall ever telling Google they could withhold my music on YouTube to line their own pockets…” Well, you *did* agree to the Terms & Conditions when signing up for a Google account, and nobody is forcing you to *use* YouTube to distribute music. Google is offering that service to the online public and they truly have the right to do with it whatever they please. If you are dissatisfied with how they are operating it, stop using it!

    • The point is they are using dominance in one market to leverage dominance in another market. This is what anti-trust law tries to prevent.

      I don’t mean to nitpick back. But I don’t have a YouTube account. Nor do I have an artist deal with YouTube. Some of my songs are on their because of label deals. But mostly that’s fans and video “scrapers” uploading our songs and illicitly generating revenue without my permission.

    • Turn Google black. In the early part of last year I decided to block them from scraping images from my site. It has taken a while but I think that we are entering the home straight, and 1000s of images have now been removed from their search engine.

      Others could have a click thru popup when they detect an android device accessing the site. Something along the lines of:

      [Android device detected! This artist does not support Google and their tax avoidance activities. Link to further explanation.]

      [Android device detected! This artist does not support Google and their support of human trafficking. Link to further explanation.]

      [Android device detected! This artist does not support Google and their exploitation of content creators. Link to further explanation.]

      Additionally one could do the same with referrals from Google search.

      [You have arrived here from a Google link: This artist does not support Google and their tax avoidance activities. Link to further explanation. How to change your search setting.]


    • But that’s not the point.

      The point is that google is using its dominance in online video to make life difficult for a smartphone competitor.

      I don’t understand how this complies with the spirit or even letter of anti-trust laws.

      And to be not nitpicky. I don’t have a YouTube account so I didn’t agree to any terms. Fans and labels have uploaded videos.

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  4. If Google owns You Tube, I don’t understand how it’s an anti-trust violation in preventing Microsoft phones from downloading the app. Google could choose to license the app to Microsoft or make Microsoft phone users pay for the app instead of getting it for free. I think you are confused about what is called “bundling,” where you can’t make someone who wants to buy your product also have to buy another product (which is a commonly violated anti-trust law). Google not allowing Microsoft phones download a free You Tube app is akin to you not allowing Spotify to use your music.

    The reason You Tube is a monopoly is because it quickly filled a void in the internet (BTW — Google owns You Tube, but it was created by some former PayPal employees — Google bought in in 2006) and, certainly with the help of being owned by Google, became ubiquitous. There is no barrier to entry to compete with You Tube, but Google is a merciless competitor.

    • Your comments while interesting are irrelevant (For instance it doesn’t matter who owned YouTube in 2005). I stand by my fundamental Anti-trust critique. In the vernacular: You can’t use your dominance in on market to beat down competitors in another market. This is no different than the Landmark Standard Oil case. Landmark Piggly Wiggly case. (sorry not piggly wiggly that was broken up for a stock cornering scandal). When we have a DOJ and FTC not politically controlled by friends of Google you will see this pursued.

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