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Industry Loop - YouTube Radio Stations

2021-11-26  NSK

Industry Loop - YouTube Radio Stations
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For some time now, some radio stations have been guilty of playing music directly from YouTube. I know, I know, the ordinary listener honestly couldn’t give a rat’s a** about where the music is coming from as long as they hear their favourites. I know, but as a responsible broadcasting entity, one would think ethical output is top of the agenda. For the sake of those who are not privy to radio ethics and unspoken codes, allow me to explain. 

Playing music directly from YouTube is a practice that is generally frowned upon in the radio world around the world. Namibia should be no exception. If we say we strive for world-class radio presentation and broadcasting, this is not it. This is one of the principles and ethics one should understand and embrace. The practice is generally frowned upon for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, royalty issues. Namibia may have a weak or non-existing royalty collection system, but that should really not mean we (radio broadcasters) should take advantage of that. Another reason why the practice of playing music directly from YouTube on radio is frowned upon, is that it sounds terrible. 

The music on YouTube is in music video format. Music videos, the majority of the time, have movie-like stories where – right in the middle of the music video or in the beginning of the song – there’s pun-intended speech or sound effects of what’s actually happening with the visuals. I feel that is deceitful. That’s not the original version of the song and now you, radio broadcaster, is feeding your listener a knock-off version of the original product. 

However, with norms and ethics that apply worldwide, one always needs to localise these – Namibianise, like I always say. 

And in a Namibian context, I do understand that very few radio stations can afford a licensed play-out system or software. I also understand that very few radio stations can afford to bankroll a music manager; radio stations in South Africa and worldwide can afford to. I also understand that one tends to find oneself in an emergency where a listener requested a song, and your system may not have that song. Because of the competitiveness of the radio industry in Namibia, one avoids “We don’t have that song”, and go above and beyond to get that song off YouTube to play. 

To a certain extent, one can stomach all these factors. However, I believe that if we all want more advertisers and lucrative deals for radio, we all need to, as a collective, raise the standard of our broadcast. And raising standards mean finding solutions to these factors unique to a Namibian radio environment. If you are guilty of playing music off YouTube during your radio station, trust me, I know who you are. I want to challenge you and dare you to prepare your music in advance, that’s if your station is not playlisted. If it’s playlisted but the music sucks, I challenge you to take the fight to the highest authority at your station. But it cannot be the norm and standard to play music videos off YouTube to your listener during the show. I will from this point onwards until next year listen and see if there are any improvements. If there’s no improvement, I will come back with an in-depth analysis in which I will name-drop which radio station and radio DJ is guilty of this. 



Until the next Loop, we say #GMTM                             

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2021-11-26  NSK

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