News broke yesterday that YouTube is in talks with major record labels with the express goal of offering every music video ever created for free. They want to get this done in a mere 18 months. A poet once said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” I certainly hope this was the intention behind YouTube co-founder Steve Chen’s comment. A company should have an awe-inspiring goal and then strive for the lesser goals below it, always nearing the impossible dream.
But what of hubris? Does anyone else think YouTube is biting off more than they can chew? It seems doubtful that YouTube can convince the RIAA and all the record companies to give away thousands of music videos for free. Even if the site hands over a percentage of the advertising profit, it may not be enough to make everyone happy. The music industry will ask for more money and ask YouTube to install a subscription service–and that would completely defeat the point of the video site. I hope they stick to their guns and get the videos up free for users, even if it is only half of all music videos ever made.