It's interesting to see the different ways that artists handle copyright infringement and illegal downloads of their music.
Metallica sued Napster over people "sharing" their music, a band who is clearly against piracy. Radiohead pioneered a "pay what you want" deal to download an entire album in 2007, and tweaked that with its latest release. Music labels and artists, meanwhile, are constantly swatting down YouTube videos on copyright issues, while file-sharing sites are constantly being shut down as new ones pop up.
One band who not only doesn't mind the copyright issue on YouTube, but actually rewards fans for it, is blink-182. On August 2nd they released their first single ("Up All Night") in eight years, and the video (above) has already had more 200,000 views. The catch? The video is comprised of footage uploaded onto YouTube by fans, whose amateurs videos illegally used ... blink-182's music. Why did they do it?
Money and reach, for starters. AT&T's sponsorship of the band's comeback sees a blink-182 track being used in AT&T's commercial for the HTC Status:
More details from AT&T's press release:
AT&T has teamed up with blink-182 as the band’s new single “Up All Night” hits the charts — leading up to the official release of their album, “Neighborhoods,” available September 27. Using the dedicated blink-182 tab on AT&T's Facebook page, fans can access special content from the band’s 2011 Honda Civic Tour, throughout which blink-182 will be using the HTC Status™ to post daily updates.
“We are looking forward to returning to the stage and bringing some amazing new music to our loyal fanbase,” said blink-182. “Since our last tour and album in 2003, social media has become such a critical part of day-to-day life – from checking in on our families from the road – to connecting with friends and fans in a highly interactive way. With AT&T’s support, via the HTC Status™ and Facebook programs, this tour is really going to deliver the most in-depth experience for our fans.”
It's in the spirit of the Beastie Boys' fan-shot concert video in 2005, although that project involved the audience as active participants; this one is unwitting. According to the clip's YouTube page, AT&T coordinated the YouTube search for the illicit videos, scouring the Google-owned video site for every instance of fans using blink-182's music without permission (there is software, of course, that handles this task).
Will fans that break copyright laws pull the "But blink-182 was okay with it!" get-out-of-jail-free card? The band congratulates fans in the video by saying "Thanks for being a fan. The blink-182 Film Festival You Didn't Know You Entered." With a sub-line that reads, "presented by AT&T."
Is this a smart socially-based comeback for blink-182, which is re-entering a pop world with socially-savvy stars such as Lady Gaga, Drake and Katy Perry? Or are they just selling out by aligning their band's brand by shilling for AT&T?