So, those billions of views which the majors lost on YouTube? Billboard thinks it can account for them:
The company recently decided to remove view counts for videos that are no longer live on the channel, or so-called "dead videos." For Universal and Sony, that meant thousands of music videos that over the past three years slowly have migrated to the VEVO channel, which is jointly owned by the two companies. A senior label executive confirmed the migration.Aha - so the major labels are in the clear. This is merely tidying away the views for videos which are no longer visible, right?
In a strategic move, Universal, Sony and EMI in 2009 jointly put their music videos in the VEVO basket with the belief that by aggregating the videos, they could command better advertising rates as well as grow viewership.
That meant high-profile videos that once lived separately on the Universal and Sony YouTube channels have been relocated to Vevo. As a result, the views that those videos received during their time on the dedicated label channels were taken away in YouTube's latest "clean up" effort.
In other words, those views happened; they weren't "faked" or even double counted when they went on to Vevo. But because the videos are no longer on the channel, YouTube considers them "dead videos." They still live on in YouTube, just under a different channel.
As Billboard admits earlier in its piece:
A YouTube spokesman confirmed that the company routinely adjusts their view counts in two ways. The first is by " de-spamming" the data, which takes out things like videos that automatically play without intervention from the viewer or pop-under videos that viewers may not actually see.Notice how "de-spamming" is given quotes, as if it - hee hee - hardly counts as spamming at all. And lest anybody wish to spend more time thinking about what happened to cause these dubious spam views, Billboard plays that figure down further:
In the latest "de-spam," YouTube subtracted 1.5 million views from Sony and Universal's channels.
That may sound like a lot, but it's just a fraction of the 1.3 billion it subtracted throughout its entire video library.See? Nothing to see here... move along, everyone.
Except 1.5million doesn't just sound like a lot, it is a lot. Yes, compared with the figure for all the videos on the site, it's small - and compared to the larger number of views which apparently were taken down for videos now on Vevo, it's small. But 1.5million is still rather a lot, and not the sort of thing reputable companies should be doing.
Indeed, were it another two companies with that many of dodgy views - companies not in partnership with YouTube, for example - it'd be surprising if Google allowed them to remain on the site.
But, of course, Billboard isn't going to bother about that question.