An open letter to Universal Music Group


Dear Universal Music Group:

I am the proprietor of a music blog ( We have a small but (I hope) devoted following–in April 2009 we have averaged over 800 hits per day.

Yesterday I published a post entitled “The Best of Music of 1980,” which is exactly what it sounds like–I highlighted the very best albums of that year.

One of the albums I highlighted was by a band called Blue Angel. I was excited to be able to draw attention to this band, because their self-titled and only album is unknown except for to the most hardcore record collector. This is an unjust fate, not only because it is a terrific album, but also because it is at least somewhat historically important as the first appearance on record of future pop star Cyndi Lauper.

The album was out of print for twenty-five years before being brought back into print by Hip-O Select, a label for collectors, in a limited edition of 5,000 copies in early 2005. I bought one, but in the ensuing four years, they have failed to sell the remaining 4,999. The album deserves better.

The reason no one is buying the album is because almost nobody has heard a single thing off it. I wanted to change that, so I planned on highlighting a song from the album, “Fade.” I made an amateur video and uploaded it to YouTube, intending to embed it in my blog post.

When I went to embed the video, I found that YouTube had blocked it at your request.

It’s your content, and your right to block it. However, this strikes me as counterproductive. Almost no one has heard Blue Angel, and almost no one can hear Blue Angel. I can tell people all day long what a great album this is, but no one is going to buy it based upon my say-so. But I think many would if they could hear a song or two. Sites like YouTube and blogs like mine are the only places that could happen. No one is going to play Blue Angel on the radio. If a video even exists, MTV is not going to play it.

There are no official Universal Music Group videos for Blue Angel at YouTube. However, if there were, I couldn’t showcase them at my blog anyway, because all Universal Music Group songs at YouTube have embedding disabled. This baffles me–how does it protect your copyright to force people to go to YouTube rather than viewing the exact same thing embedded in the context of a positive review on a site such as mine?

My suggestions are as follows:

  • Enable people like me to embed videos from Universal Music Group on blogs and other websites.
  • If an official Universal Music Group video for a song does not exist, create an easy way for people like me to request permission to create a fan video. Require that the video highlight that the music is copyright Universal Music Group so there will be no question who owns the rights.

I am a lover of music, and when something is unjustly obscure, I want to promote it. I want the whole world to run out and buy this wonderful album that has brought me such joy. There are thousands of people out there like me, who want to help deserving music, some of it owned by Universal Music Group, reach a larger audience.

If you will give us the tools to showcase your songs, artists, and albums, I believe it would be beneficial both for your business and for music lovers all over the world.

Please consider this. Thank you for reading.


Gordon Winslow
On Deaf Ears


One Response to An open letter to Universal Music Group

  1. musiclover says:

    I had a similar experience with UMG. Call me crazy, but isn’t a music video supposed to be a promotional tool!? Why then, would UMG, in their intifinite wisdom, supress embedding on almost ALL of their artists’ videos? Why wouldn’t you want bloggers and other music lovers to spread the word about a particular artist? Are you retarded UMG? I guess they just make videos because it’s something fun to do.

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