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OK Go Explain Viral Video Woes in "New York Times" Op-Ed

February 22, 2010 12:00 AM ET

OK Go's very public fight with their label over the fate of their music videos reached the pages of the New York Times this weekend as the group's lead singer Damien Kulash penned an op-ed piece detailing how EMI's "no embedding stance" has affected the band's popularity and income. As Rolling Stone previously reported, at the heart of the battle is OK Go's desire to make their upcoming music video for Of the Blue Colour of the Sky's "This Too Shall Pass" an embeddable YouTube clip, even though EMI bans embeds because the label only gets royalties when viewers actually visit YouTube. Kulash previously authored an open letter to EMI objecting to their policy.

OK Go's first hit was their video for "Here It Goes Again," which the band filmed with their own money. The clip went on to become one of the most viewed music videos of the decade, thanks in large part to the blog community that embedded it on their sites. However, EMI eventually changed course and yanked the embeds. "The numbers are shocking: When EMI disabled the embedding feature, views of our treadmill video dropped 90 percent, from about 10,000 per day to just over 1,000," Kulash writes in the Times. "Our last royalty statement from the label, which covered six months of streams, shows a whopping $27.77 credit to our account."

The band will debut their second video for their single "This Too Shall Pass" on March 1st. (Watch a behind-the-scenes clip of the viral video here.) The single's first video, which featured the group walking through a field dressed as a marching band, is currently posted on YouTube, but remains unembeddable. "In these tight times, it's no surprise that EMI is trying to wring revenue out of everything we make, including our videos. But it needs to recognize the basic mechanics of the Internet," Kulash writes in conclusion. "Curbing the viral spread of videos isn't benefiting the company's bottom line, or the music it's there to support. The sooner record companies realize this, the better — though I fear it may already be too late."

Related Stories:
OK Go Hire Big Brains for "This Too Shall Pass" Video: Watch a Clip
OK Go Struggle With Label's Rules Banning Embedded Video
OK Go Channel "Purple Rain" On Funky January LP "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky"

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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