The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Puzzles  |  Sports  |  Television  |  Videogames

Get it while you can

Will sites like YouTube and The Hype Machine go the route of Napster?
By MIKE MILIARD  |  June 12, 2006

Avalanche of downloads
sion and movie studios aren’t quite sure what to do with YouTube. While they sort it out, music fans and pop-culture addicts are in hog heaven. 

A couple of months ago, a man with the screen name x-amount logged on to, the blog he maintains with a few of his friends, and made a pronouncement. “YouTube’s obviously blowing up. We’re living in that Napster-like magic moment where you simply can’t believe the kinds of historic stuff available to you with just a simple search. Which means of course that it’s all gonna get shut down ANY MINUTE.”

His fears are understandable. For any pop-culture junky,, barely a year after its launch, may just be the Greatest Site in the History of the Internet. On a recent afternoon, guided by nothing more than capricious free association, I watched about two-dozen clips. The Sex Pistols’ infamous, profanity-laced appearance on Bill Grundy’s Today show. Hüsker Dü chatting with Joan Rivers. Crispin Glover, allegedly on LSD, frightening David Letterman. The only episode of Lookwellthe cop-show spoof written by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel, and starring original TV Batman Adam West. The only episode of Heat Vision and Jack, the story of a man and his talking motorcycle, created by Ben Stiller and starring Jack Black. Pudge Fisk’s homer over the Monster in the 1975 World Series. A PSA from a dead-serious Pee-wee Herman warning children about the dangers of crack cocaine.

That’s only the stuff I’m interested in. And it’s not counting the amateur material — game six of the ’86 World Series recreated on Nintendo’s RBI Baseball, or footage of the world’s second largest Tetris game, played out using the lights of a Brown University campus tower — that’s all over YouTube: the many millions of self-produced video curios posted to the site daily, almost one every other second.

Meanwhile, over on The Hype Machine, the hits just keep on coming. The site is an aggregator and search engine that scours the limitless galaxy of mp3 blogs that have cropped up over the past couple of years. You know: those sites with clever, lyrical names like Largehearted Boy and An Aquarium Drunkard? Sites curated by die-hard music fans who deal entirely in rare soul or underground hip-hop or twee indie pop, and who delight in writing music criticism alongside — free for download — the best track from the new Band of Horses album? Or the latest Diplo remix. Or live radio performances by Belle & Sebastian and the New Pornographers. Or tracks from not-yet-released Sonic Youth and Mission of Burma records.

These days, the songs and video clips that people once depended on file-sharing programs like KaZaA and Limewire to unearth are right there online, ready for download. No software installation required. No fear (for now at least) of a subpoena from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group representing major labels. It’s a new world. Again.

Television and movie studios aren’t quite sure what to do with YouTube. The big record companies have been, on the whole, uncharacteristically quiet about the blogs, which are now more widespread and easier to search than ever. And a few even seem to see them as friends, not foes. While they sort it out, music fans and pop-culture addicts are in hog heaven.

“When you go [to YouTube], it’s kind of like going to a music store, when you know there’s a bunch of stuff you want, but you can’t quite figure out what it is,” says x-amount (whose real name is Beau). “But once you hit the right search term, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah!’ and ‘Oh, and then I could search for this!’ and ‘They might have this!’ It just explodes from there.”

Video stars

Crispin Glover on Letterman
YOURS FOR THE TAKING: Crispin Glover on Letterman, Jack Black in Heat Vision and Jack, and the only episode of Lookwell can all be found for free on YouTube.

When Chad Hurley, 29, and Steve Chen, 27, founded YouTube in Hurley’s garage in February 2005, their plan was for it to be a personal video-sharing network, sort of a Flickr for home movies. It can still offer that function, but it’s also a lot more. “What we’ve become in the last several months,” says Julie Supan, YouTube’s senior director of marketing, “is an entertainment destination.”

And how. By allowing clips to be streamed in lightweight Adobe Flash animation, YouTube made watching online video much more user-friendly than the traditional download-and-wait model. Uploading is a snap too. And by allowing users to insert YouTube videos directly into their blogs and MySpace pages, it helped ensure that its popularity would spread like kudzu. Once Saturday Night Live’s instahit “Lazy Sunday” video found its way onto the site last December, it positively blew up. Since then, says Supan, people have watched “billions” of videos. Nowadays, about six million unique visitors are watching about 40 million clips every day. And every day, about 35,000 more videos are being uploaded to the site. All told, that’s 200 terabytes of data per day — roughly a third of Google’s or Yahoo’s traffic. And it’s all handled by 26 employees headquartered above a San Mateo, California, pizza shop.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |   next >
Related: Plunder, pillage, and profit, Funny business, Is the RIAA inoculating itself against viral video?, More more >
  Topics: Ultimate Lists , YouTube, Music, Napster,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print
Get it while you can
What a small world! As the internet grows, it is amazing how we all gravitate towards the same entertainment. My students have shown me dozens of video clips that they said I just "had to see!" And, I find myself directed to this article by BNL front man Stephen Page on, a fansite I frequent due to my own interests. As the world gets bigger, it gets electronically smaller.
By bnl_teacher on 05/12/2006 at 2:14:20
Get it while you can
The Andrew Meyerhoff Project, featuring a variety of singers ranging in styles from the Eagles to Alicia, will be having their premier release early March. Sample tracks to wet your taste buds can be heard at and Note: "Gypsy", which was up for a Ben E. King album and a few other tracks will not be on the release, so there may be more coming in the future. This time around it will be a hybrid mixed sound of many genres. Please listen, and spread the buzz. Enjoy, and peace...Andy
By ryukyuminyo on 02/18/2008 at 7:11:40

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SOX TO WIN 98 IN '09?  |  February 27, 2009
    Statistically Speaking
  •   IN YOUR FACEBOOK  |  February 25, 2009
    Facebook is already giving away personal information. And at least one data-miner is nervous.
  •   MASTER P'S THEATER  |  February 20, 2009
    Local video editor Paul Proulx has built a following by paying homage to Hollywood's coolest directors. So why is YouTube all up in his grill?
  •   MYSTERY SOMERVILLE THEATRE 3000  |  February 19, 2009
    Hey, Up in Front!
  •   FILLING IN THE BLANKS  |  February 04, 2009
    New art galleries pop up in Boston, but how long will they last?

 See all articles by: MIKE MILIARD

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group