No one feels sorry for you Mr Music Producer

Does YouTube owe Pete Waterman for its rickrolling joke?

Pete Waterman feels exploited. He received a royalty cheque for just eleven quid from Google for use of Never Gonna Give You Up on YouTube last year. The video had 154 million views from rickrolling victims and he has complained that this is a derisory fee.

Take a moment for that to sink in. Pete wants to be paid every time someone gets rickrolled.

There is of course the whole argument about whether songs played on the internet should be treated the same as songs played on the radio. Should those 154 million views be treated like 154 million separate plays or 1 play to an audience of 154 million people? Airplay royalties use an incredibly complicated formula that was designed for commercial radio stations and doesn't apply easily to the different delivery mechanism of the internet. That's an interesting debate. But I'm not going to have it here.

The real issue is that the listenership in this case is unwilling. Tricking someone into listening is not the same as having an audience. That would be like the US Marines billing the Taliban for the scrap value of any lead they receive to the chest. The top search result for Never Gonna Give You Up on YouTube currently has a little over 16 million views. I Should Be So Lucky by Kylie Minogue has 740,000. Both songs were co-written by Pete Waterman, both spent five weeks at number one. Only one of them was used as the payload for an internet bait-and-switch prank.

Pete Waterman should count himself very lucky that he is not required to pay rickrolling victims.