By Curtis Campbell–

Artists are maximising financial returns from online music videos by taking steps to own their YouTube content.

The artists claim that random uploaders are benefiting from their videos on YouTube. To counteract the practice commonly called bootlegging, artists are now signing up with the international YouTube content providers, VEVO, to monitor their work.


At least one recording artist has gone as far as to stipulate in his videos that bootlegging will not be tolerated.

Director at Guzu Musiq, Keona Williams, firmly supports the move by Jamaican artists to own their YouTube content. According to Williams, it is an international standard that the Caribbean should catch on to.

“Artists will be better able to supply their fans with their material instantly when they subscribe. When you have your own VEVO channel, you are able to control your content better,” Williams said.

Williams also pointed out that local artists have lost revenue and millions of YouTube views because of uploaders who have breached YouTube’s terms and policies.

“For Tommy Lee Sparta, there were persons who uploaded his videos and received millions of views. However, because they did not adhere to the rules, their channel was blocked by YouTube and the artiste ended up losing millions of views. So owning your own channel is a matter of safety because other channels can be shut down at any time,” she said.

Tommy Lee Sparta

She says Guzu Musiq only stands to gain from owning its own channel, citing that there are benefits from Google ads and through copyright and publishing laws.

“It’s not a fight against the popular channels. But this is a business, and it’s the right thing to do. We have to protect our music. It’s not a significant amount of money, but we do earn from YouTube and can’t afford to lose our publishing to other uploaders,” Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.

protect against exploitation

Dancehall artists Danielle D.I. and Tiana recently joined the list of artistes who now own personal VEVO YouTube channels. Tiana’s channel is promoting songs like Bruck Out and Wine, My Life, and Mad Ova Me. D.I is promoting her Sly and Robbie-produced My Man through her channel.

Tiana, who recently collaborated with D.I. for an effort called Talk It Out, says the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of persons capturing music online and uploading it to YouTube as theirs.

Like Williams, Tiana believes owning a YouTube channel will offer her protection against exploitation.

“It is one of the means by which we earn money, and uploading our work on other channels is a form of exploitation, and we are trying to maintain an international standard,” Tiana said.


Artist manager/publicist Carlington Wilmott is in full support of the artists who have taken the necessary steps to claim benefits from their YouTube.com videos.

He disclosed that he received an email from a booking agent who revealed that his (Carlington’s) artist had received more than three million views on YouTube.com. However, there was uncertainty as to who was getting paid by Google for the traffic.

He said this motivated him to sign up for a VEVO YouTube account for the artist, citing that VEVO has no known credibility issues.

“With VEVO, you get an ISRP video code. With that, you can track the performance of the video. You give this code to the publisher and it will make it easier to get payment.

It also shows ownership. All Jamaican artists and producers need to know this because it’s an avenue to bring income from productions,” Wilmott said.

The manager also said he was now working with several local acts to create their VEVO YouTube channels, alongside an agent based in the United States.

In 2011, dancehall single Love My Life, performed by Demarco, received more than 14 million views on YouTube.com. However, amid Demarco’s celebration, the video was deleted by YouTube, the company saying the uploader of the song had violated its terms and conditions.


Demarco has since uploaded the song on his own channel called DemarcoStarKutt. The song has since received more than two million views.

Tommy Lee Sparta, who also lost millions of views courtesy of YouTube breaches by unethical uploaders, now stipulates on his more recent videos, that copying and re-uploading is not accepted by Guzu Music.

“DO NOT COPY THIS VIDEO AND UPLOAD TO YOUR CHANNEL! Fair Use does not allow unauthorised promotion,” an annotation on his video for Di Creature, featuring Destiny Sparta, Jimbo Sparta, Tabeta and Stylish, read.