How illegal sharing actually helped Psy break YouTube

Gangnam style's raging successs is an interesting example of how sharing and illegal use of content can benefit the artist in the long term.

There’s more to the news that Psy’s Gangnam Style video broke Youtube’s view counter. It’s an interesting example of how sharing and illegal use of content can benefit the artist in the long term.

As we all know, music videos generate a lot of traffic on YouTube. So much so, that Google, Youtube’s owner, bought a stake in the world’s largest digital music video company Vevo after persistent speculation that it would pull its content off the site.  

As a result of the sheer amount of traffic they receive, music videos generate substantial revenue for both YouTube and Vevo. In fact, the majority of the world’s most popular Youtube videos are Vevo clips.


South Korea’s Psy is the only artist to break the top ten without the aid of Vevo’s network. He’s also the only artist to have two videos in the top ten.

So what is the secret to his success? Piracy.

As this earlier article from Forbes outlines:

“Interestingly, Psy is making money every day not just from his own video(s), but those of other users from around the world. YouTube has a system for detecting when copyrighted material is being used in a video, and should it be found, the content’s owner has the choice of either taking that video down or getting a share of the advertising revenue. Often record labels will quickly remove copies of new singles, so as to centralise views to the one they have uploaded. Psy chose for others to be able to use his track, and is raking in money from the 40,000 or so parody videos, lyric videos and the like that all use Gangnam Style, though calculating how much is a daunting task.”

This post was originally published in The Ticker

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