Are You Disappointed with the Grown Up Corporate YouTube Yet?

Sometime in early 2010, possibly late 2009, YouTube changed its copyright policies for whatever reason… and lost its edge.

The precise time isn’t important. Nor is the exact reasons why. This isn’t a history documentary. Just a commentary on the state of things.

I first noticed it during the Winter Olympics in 2010, in trying to find clips about which I blogged. There was either nothing, or poorly labeled posts that were taken down sometimes just hours after being put up. I thought the Olympics legal machine had threatened YouTube into temporary submission, but those egomaniacs can go smash their egos elsewhere because this was something much bigger happening.

It seemed YouTube changed conditions of what it allowed to be posted to be something like this.

1. If the obvious true copyright owners of the videos did nothing, they would be left on. That is, you’d have to file a claim of some sort to have any action taken. You’d have to prove it somehow, like if it were a legitimate music video, cut from a show, etc. I’m not sure about just the music track used being copyrighted.

2. The copyrighted videos could be left on with (Google word?) ad revenues in return.

3. The copyrighted videos could be left on but embedding had to be disabled.

4. The copyright videos could be left on with one of several targeted commercials at the start… which is REALLY annoying because they’re unexpected since most videos seem NOT to have one.

5. The copyrighted videos could be removed… en masse. This last change was the killer because YouTube seemed to have done it for entire clients, like Bob Dylan’s videos. I was disappointed a lot of Bob Dylan videos, and performances of his songs, disappeared just like that from YouTube. Not only was I disappointed in YouTube in this case, I was disappointed in Bob. I thought he was cooler than that. Really, does the man need any money? But it’s about the only thing Bob’s done that’s ever disappointed me, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much anyone else I know.

It seemed anything that qualified as “fan creation”, meaning it wasn’t just clipped or taken directly as was continuously from some source, was allowed to remain on YouTube, though. It seemed to also have applied to such fan vids using what should be copyrighted sound tracks. Maybe YouTube was being hypocritical to say it was in the video business so music copyright didn’t apply to it. I don’t know.  But that seems to have been the outcome from certain videos I see and don’t see of the same music tracks that remained or were removed from YouTube.

In doing this, YouTube went from rebel teenager to responsible adult overnight. The company that once posted everything and gave the finger at anyone who complained of copyright was now waving another finger to a different beat at those who posted stuff that shouldn’t be on there.

Worse, not long after YouTube first “took down” the videos for copyright, it even removed the message about why the video was being removed. It left a black screen that did nothing, as if the poster screwed up technologically.

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! You are still an adolescent, YouTube, in behaving like that!

Now, being like many people who got used to YouTube, I still went there to search for videos. However, I kept hitting snags of removed videos that were still searchable. Then YouTube remedied that annoyance and now I just find videos I like, share with friends, only to have some removed just days later. They must have a notification system on because there would be just too many videos to have people actually monitor them for potential copyright infringement.

Recently, however, I hit my breaking point with YouTube. I had had enough of its corporate behaviour. It wasn’t the YouTube that attracted me in the first place. So now I just search for videos on Google, under the “Video” category, and look for alternatives to YouTube first. I admit I still end up going to YouTube half the time, but that’s half the time and a lot less frustration than I used to have because I now have a grasp of what videos I see on YouTube that might not be removed days later.

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So where am I going the other half of the time that I don’t go to YouTube for videos?

No one particular place, really, but I’m finding out a lot of other great video sources.

I like the Chinese youku.com (means excellent and cool) and Tudou.com (literally potato net, thought it sounds like Vietnamese for freedom). Once again, Made in China as trumped Made in the USA. Can you imagine that? I never thought I’d be saying that about Internet services, especially considering the Internet censorship in China. But they only seem to care about Communist propaganda or anti-Communist stuff. They have all kinds of stuff on Youku and Tudou you won’t find on YouTube these days! Furthermore, they don’t have a 20 minute video limit that YouTube had upped from its original 10 minute limit as late as last year. Maybe YouTube did it to compensate for the copyright move. It certainly freed up server space and bandwidth (info flow from loading up videos) with all the videos it removed! Pick your favourite historical massacre and compare the videocide to it!

I mean, really. This is just for sharing and fun. It’s like free preview in poor quality. If the people like it enough, they’ll go buy the real thing from you. You’ll probably sell more copies on that business model. The copyright pundits should really just GET OVER IT! People like me just go elsewhere to find the same things… and then trash them for it.

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But what could YouTube have done?

Well, for one thing, they could have come up here to Canada. Our dollar is still cheaper.

And our copyright laws are so worthless we didn’t even bother copyrighting them!

Anything done politically to try and change them is just a facade. The result would allow a politician to say we’ve got this and that going, but it wouldn’t address the issue and get the money to the right people who own the copyright. Lawyers or organizations fighting on behalf of the people and such would get the revenues. If one does get any revenues, the fees paid to register to get it would cut a lot of it away for most people, or a few would benefit from the lack of gains by the many. Good old capitalism at its best… though without true free market forces. Just greedy bastards out to get you and make themselves look good at the same time.

It’s just a thought. But I’d be stupid to think YouTube would listen. It’s all grown up now and lost all sense of adventure. I just refer to it as BooTube now, even though I know that name’s been copyrighted.

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.4

Lin Yu Chun is NO Chinese Susan Boyle, But Maybe Susan Boy

So, we have our first Internet singing sensation of 2010. He’s a Taiwanese Boy named Lin Yu Chun.

That was the reality show video that got him noticed, singing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You… and sounding incredibly like her! I’ll even give him points for being better cause he’s not screeching like Whitney did. He’s a bit more breathy at the start and in some parts, but he can learn to hold that microphone just a tad farther away at the right moments. That’s the easy part.

However, I have a problem with the moniker the Westerners are giving him, the Chinese Susan Boyle.

Chinese???

Please. Taiwanese.

Things made in China just ain’t that good, K?

As for the Susan Boyle comparison, it was because he was on a reality TV show and didn’t look that great, but sang magnificently. Someone pinned Susan Boyle’s comparison to him cause he’s an ugly duckling that preyed on our judgment of people for their looks, only to sing with the beauty of a swan.

Most Viewed YouTube Clips Ever, as of Apr 17 2009, and still rising by millions per day then (click to enlarge)

But Susan Boyle was, and is still, the biggest Internet YouTube sensation. I don’t see anywhere near 50 million views in a few days, do you? I don’t mean on the video above, but do a search and add up the views on all the duplicates. It doesn’t even come close!

Lin Yu Chun’s video would probably be doing better if it had the electric atmosphere seen in Susan Boyle’s video. Man, that was something!

So sadly, in terms of Internet YouTube singing sensation, sorry Lin. Yu aren’t even close.

However, the way he sings like a woman, and I mean that in a complimentary way, may I recommend we dub him the Taiwanese Susan Boy.

The video below of Lin Yu Chun singing Amazing Grace is a better sample of his singing, in my opinion. I Will Always Love You was never to my liking the way Whitney sounded like a cat in heat for parts of it. Amazing Grace? That’s one of those tunes like a Bob Dylan song where you can mediocritize it and it still sounds great! And Lin, Yu sang it like you believed!

BRAVO!!!

Yu not Susan Boyle yet, Lin. But keep this up and you’re on your way! Hope to hear more great stuff in the future.

And don’t let the Chinese keep you down!

No worries. This blog has probably been banned in China for a long time now.

But when does Britain’s Got Talent 2010 start??? I want to know if they’ve got a British Lin Yu Chun! 🙂

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 4.9

Sidney Crosby Olympics OT Golden Goal Video from Five Broadcasts

There were so many great moments during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yet, there was hardly any footage to be found on YouTube. YouTube had pretty much succumbed to Olympics pressure and I, for one, blogging a lot about those moments, was very disappointed not to be able to show clips with my blog posts.

A bit ironic, don’t you think? An organization that has a generation named after it deliberately blocking out some defining moments lived by that generation! We had a defining cultural moment here in Canada with Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal, and YouTube wouldn’t let it be put online. Canada could have crushed Susan Boyle’s Britain Got Talent audition video in days if YouTube only had that Sidney Crosby golden goal video online… the way our players crushed American hearts. Call it a 100 million hits lost opportunity as I’m sure we Canadians would have watched it 4 times over within a week, easily, to get that total.

However, the screws are loosening. See the video below added much later than this post date. It is a compilation from five broadcasts for five times the glory! Nice stuff!

I love it!

Some Lyrics for Singing Voice Mail Messages

I had written these “voice mail songs” many years ago, when I used to live in Vancouver and we only had answering machines. It was also when I didn’t have to worry about getting “professionals” calling me. If you might have to worry about that, I highly recommend you don’t use these and just enjoy them. The singing messages are about 30 seconds long to sing, which is long for a voice mail, but that’s these lyrics’ “price” of fun. That’s why I recommend no intros, despite some being written as first verses of the songs where you could have the intros.

I sang these lyrics into my answering machines with the real music playing in the background, loud enough so you had the tune, but not nearly loud enough to overpower my voice. Given the recording quality of answering machines then, it was as good as poorly recorded karaoke. That technique can still work today, but given all the tech out there for karoake YouTube videos and recording features right on the cell phones and computers, try recording using the karoake links below with your cell phone or computer recording feature.

Or just record singing solo, unaccompanied.

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Mr Grinch, from the original Dr Seuss Christmas special

This is most appropriate for December, or whenever you feel is appropriate to start having the Christmas theme in your life. However, I don’t think it has to be for December or Christmas. For singing purposes, it is the part from 1:25 in the video below. In the lyrics of the real song in the video link below the lyrics to the karaoke version, it’s the verse that starts with You’re a foul one, Mr Grinch.

Don’t hang up please, like the Grinch,
Leave a message, it’s a cinch!
Leave your number and your name,
And a message if you’re game,
It’s a cin-inch!
The three words that best describe when
Are as follows, and I quote:
“At! The! Beep!”

Mr Grinch Karoake Link to YouTube

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Somethin’ Stupid, by Frank and Nancy Sinatra

This is meant to be recorded straight up from the beginning. To keep your message as short as possible, though, I would recommend skipping the intro and starting at 0:11 of the video below (or the equivalent in the karoaoke video link below the lyrics).

Hello, my friend, you’ve reached (two-syllable name)
But I’m not home to get the phone
And chit-chat with you.
But if you leave a message then, I’m sure that when
I’m home I’ll get in touch with you.
So at the beep please leave your name and number
And why you called me so I won’t be blue.
And then hang up so when I’m home
I’ll know you called and I’ll make sure
I call you…
(I’ll call you –
like at the end of the song)

Somethin’ Stupid Karaoke Link to YouTube

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Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, by Bob Dylan

This one I would absolutely recommend skippping the intro cause it’s 35 seconds long and people will hang up before then, wondering what the heck that music is all about, including if they’ve dialed the correct number. I don’t care if there’s auto-dial these days. They’ll recheck, or think they hit the wrong auto-dial. You’ll have wasted their time, and if it’s long distance, their money. So start at 0:31 or so of the video for a brief lead-in, or the equivalent spot on the karoake video link.

They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to have some fun,
They’ll phone ya when your mind is out to lunch,
They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck,
They’ll phone ya when you’re tryin’ to get a (beep!),
But never will they phone when you’re at home!
(That’s when) Everybody should get phoned!

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 Karaoke Link to YouTube

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Games that Lovers Play, by Connie Francis

I think Wayne Newton has the more famous version of this song, but I was not able to find it on YouTube. However, composer James Last wrote it for Connie Francis, specifically, so this is the original version. The intro is pretty short, but I would still skip it and start at 0:09 of the video below. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a karoake link. If you can find either the Wayne Newton version or karoake link, please do share. Thanks!

There are games that many foolish callers play,
Like how some don’t leave a message come what may,
Never caring who gets hurt along the way,
Let’s not play those games that callers play.

No karoake link was found for Games that Lovers Play

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My First Piano Master Class Audit Experience (Given by Anton Kuerti)

I “audited” my first piano master class today, and here are some things I’d like to share from it because it was an amazing experience for me. First, though, a little background.

A “master class” is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert — the master. In the public realm, at least, a piano master class is a class given by a well-known and respected pianist, to a student or someone less experienced. I don’t know if they call classes from good music professors (who are experts) to be “master classes”, since students would take them regularly from the professors. I don’t take piano or play to know. However, what I’m talking about here the rare and privileged events given by some true masters, sometimes made available to the public.

The one I attended was open to the public, obviously, I not being a music student. Mind you, I’m very particular about my solo piano. I want nothing less than Claudio Arrau playing Beethoven. In fact, I have thrown Beethovenian fits upon hearing pianists rush through the Moonlight Sonata movement #1 (i.e. less than 6:30 long with Arrau taking almost 7 minutes), or commit other such piano atrocities! It’s as if I played and knew enough to be a teacher, but I just know how I like my classical piano music.

Anton Kuerti, pianist

I also like Idil Biret for my Chopin, with Martha Argerich being a fine choice, too. I like Rachmaninov for Rachmaninov, where Rachmaninov is available as there are recordings of him for sale, but Vladimirs Ashkenazy and Horowitz are good complements. And Alfred Brendel for Mozart. And so on.

Anyway, the first piano master class I “audited” was at Dalhousie University, for a small fee that was well worth the admission, and given by renowned pianist Anton Kuerti. They call it “audit” because that’s what you do in classes you don’t take but want to see what it’s like.

Master classes are usually in intimate setting, so you are pretty close to the action. This one had the audience on the stage starting just a few feet away from the piano. Unless you have access to watching someone talented play the piano up close, even front row seats at a concert won’t get you this close to the pianist or his/her hands to see what’s going on. And trust me, even if you don’t play, the hands are pretty amazing to watch!

Of course, master classes are not performance. There are a lot of stop and go, try and retry, and retry and retry, sometimes. If you listened to the music alone, it’d probably be annoying. Watch this sample of a documentary video showing pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim teaching Lang Lang, currently a world sensation pianist. They are working on the Appassionata by Beethoven, and you’ll hear why it’s got that name. See how “interrupted” the music gets as they work on it phrase by phrase.

Poor Lang. Didn’t get too far before he got interrupted and criticized, and he’s a world class pianist! In most master classes you might get to audit, there’ll be real students still learning the trade, not a professional who is a student for life, so to speak, like Lang Lang. Anton Kuerti was much more diplomatic and generous in the master class I attended, but that brings up a great point about the students. As diplomatic as Anton Kuerti was to the four students taking the class, over 2 hours, essentially, those students were exposing one of their strengths in life to constant criticism that nitpicked it apart, under the view of a paying public!

Think about that for a second.

What do you pride yourself in doing well? Now, how would you like an expert to come in and tear it apart for everything not perfect about it, even if still good? And have friends, family and strangers pay to watch and find out everything that’s wrong with what they had admired you for doing well? That’s what those poor students were subjecting themselves to, and I applaud them for handling it admirably. They weren’t like Lang Lang who’s renowned enough to be named some UNICEF Ambassador for children. They were just university students.  See what else Lang Lang was subject to during his master class that has some vague similarities with what the students were subjecting themselves to.

So why would someone want to audit a master class then? Especially someone like me who didn’t play. Do I just like to see students get trashed so much I’d pay for it?

No, of course not! That’s just my warped sense of humour.

My short answer to why one would want to audit a music master class is so you can know more about the music. Whether you  know a lot about the music already, or nothing, you’ll still learn lots. That’s the beauty of good music. It can be an endless conversation of learning. Sure, you’ll learn lots of about playing techniques, and maybe some things about the composer and/or his or her style. Beethoven and Mozart were very different in their markings, for examples, with Mozart having lots of dots on notes whereas Beethoven having lots of strokes, though Beethoven was terribly inconsistent in his markings nobody still knows what to make of what should be what. Anyway, that didn’t need to make sense to you. It’d have made more sense if you heard the demonstration of the difference. More Lang Lang and Barenboim?

Ultimately, it’s the music you learn more about. And you don’t need to be well-versed in music theory or such. Music is its own universal language. You can just “get it” from hearing the differences between what’s played by the student and the master. You learn what to listen for to appreciate the nuances you never knew existed before. You get thinking about the music. Why soft there and loud here? Why choppy there instead of lyrical? What does a little interpretation off tempo does for a piece, or just a phrase? Appreciate all the thinking and consideration of the performance because for a lot of people, I think they just think these artists just play the notes with a little liberty the way someone might strap on a guitar just to play a rock ‘n’ roll song. That’s the sort of stuff you get out of master class. You don’t have to agree with what is taught, of course, but now you know there’s a difference, and the differences.

Aside from knowing more about the music, you also learn things you can translate to life. Again, Daniel Barenboim has an example I can use on YouTube. Here, from the same session with Lang Lang as above, Daniel answers questions from the public about producing a “crescendo (increasing volume) on one note” (on a piano, which isn’t possible because sound fades after you hit a key on a piano). Starts at 1:55 after some interesting questions by a kid.

We didn’t have a chance to ask questions like with this documentary here, but that was fine. Well, I should have stuck around to ask the students how they felt, though. Maybe I’ll write the Dalhousie Music Department to see if any of them would be willing to offer up an interview or quote.

One thing I would have liked to have asked Anton Kuerti, though, was regarding his comment about how no publisher has a version of the Beethoven piano sonatas for which the the dot and stroke markings were well done. He obviously knows the difference, having studied them for years and recorded the complete cycle. Why doesn’t he contribute his opinion to a set, even if just for student use since all the celebrity pianists would want to interpret it their own way anyhow? I mean, wouldn’t you have loved to have known how Liszt would have played them if he could annotate the score as closely to the way he played it as possible? Besides, the first student had a Mozart score which Anton Kuerti criticized as being a poor version immediately and told her to buy some from the Far East (her ethnicity, if not origin) that were magnificent reproductions of the original (meaning staying true to the original score, not some altered version).

Perhaps next time. 🙂

Regardless, I would highly recommend you to see if a school near you have master music classes for auditing. I don’t think you have to be a connoisseur of the music at all to enjoy it, and for the price of a movie or less, it’s well worth the experience. I, personally, can’t wait for another one at Dalhousie, but they’re rare.

Meanwhile, if you like to see more piano master classes, YouTube is full of them. The user who had the videos above has many more. This link has the next one after the ones I have, with David Kadouch as the student. If you’re not a fan of Barenboim, try piano master classes videos by Jorge Bolet, Maria Joao Pires, Artur Rubenstein. Just search “masterclass” as one word on YouTube to see what shows up as there are also classes for other instruments.

OK, if you’ve made it this far, I’ll leave you something a little shallower, but funnier. It is a spoof of a music master class, by Hugh Laurie of House. Hugh is also a talented musician and comedian, from the post I had of him singing a song called Mystery (not sure if he wrote it).

p.s. I’m actually not a fan of Barenboim’s playing. I respect his talent and opinions, though I love a lot of classical musician’s opinions on this music, his playing just doesn’t move me like other pianists’ playing. I like Anton Kuerti’s playing of Mozart best, and I have some of his recordings of Mozart Piano Concerti which I rather enjoy.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.1

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