Reaction videos on YT
November 17, 2020 8:28 PM   Subscribe

When you have a channel with regular "hosts" reacting to songs heard for first time... a few different questions about this.

Hey there guys!

1) So how do these get allowed? A vast amount of the video is copyrighted music, and often the music video as well. Is it a crap shoot at the whim of the original music publisher?

2) Do the people running the channel make money? I guess they must or it would not exist... but like why doesn't ASCAP or BMI or whoever just grab all the YT $$$ from the channel creators?

3) It seems pretty low effort, if you like these what is the appeal?
posted by Meatbomb to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
3. The days of hanging out for hours with your friends, smoking weed, and grooving to new records, is but a memory. For lots of people a big part of enjoying music is sharing something new. Back in the olden times, friends would get together and share listening to newly discovered records and we'd watch each other's reactions. I guess this is a modern version of watching someone get blown away when they hear something you love. It's especially delightful when it's a genre previously unknown to the listeners.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:43 PM on November 17, 2020 [7 favorites]

1) Yes, it's a crap shoot. Some of the videos get blocked, and members of the music reactor community often pay attention to each other's set lists and try to avoid artists whose publishers are known to dispute, or post the full reactions on sites other than Youtube. Some make an argument that it's fair use because it's in essence a review, but generally that would require using the bare minimum instead of the song in its entirety. However, a lot of rights owners also recognize that someone talking over or pausing a song isn't a replacement for buying or streaming the song, and that these videos can serve as advertisements, encouraging new audiences to seek out an artist's work. In some cases, the artists themselves have even commented, pleased to see new people discovering their music.

2) Some make money, but the vast majority of reactor videos aren't monetized. Some reactors have Patreon accounts to cover costs like recording equipment, but others just do it as a hobby or at most to help gain an audience for other videos and other creative projects that are monetized: their own music, comedy, or vlogging. There are a lot of pursuits online that exist without making money, where the reward is just undertaking a project and talking about it with other people.

3) Music reactions are appealing to me on a few fronts. I enjoy getting to listen to an old favourite for the first time again by hearing it through new ears. I like seeing what stands out to the reactor, what they like or dislike, what strikes them as new or unusual - and sometimes having a chat in the comments about some of the history or context around the song or musical style. I like being exposed to new music myself, especially when followers have gotten a sense of the reactor's tastes and I know that some other song that's been recommended for a reaction is likely to be up my alley. The short format is also nice for times when I can't settle in for a full show but would enjoy spending a few minutes on something fun and positive.
posted by northernish at 10:23 PM on November 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: If you are interested in a musically and legally informed person talking about music copyright for Youtubers - then I'd recommend music producer Rick Beato's various rants. He makes "What makes this song great" - which is, I suppose, a sort of sophisticated reaction video. In summary - it appears to be crap shoot caused by a battle between publishers and authors who want to promote fair use of their music - and others who are seeking to get copyright money from successful youtubers.
posted by rongorongo at 11:15 PM on November 17, 2020 [8 favorites]

As for the appeal, I agree with a humble nudibranch as in these quarantine times I've really become addicted to reaction videos, not just of music but for movies/tv shows as well. I find it delightful to see people connect to things that I love and occasionally make observations that never occurred to me before. On top of which, participating in the comments as people offer information, suggestions, and memories can be a lovely experience, particularly for less popular reactors where your contribution isn't buried among thousands of comments. But of course, some reactors are boring or irritating and you have to find the ones you like. I totally understand why someone would be baffled by the whole thing and I certainly never expected to enjoy it like I do. I only started watching these videos after seeing a post on the blue containing a bunch of reactions to Bohemian Rhapsody and I was charmed.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 11:25 PM on November 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but just to say - I also got into this watching the stuff you did, NotTheRedBaron. And I also like them, generally, but wanted to hear others' opinions. Thanks so far for all the answers.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:37 AM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love watching reactions to Queen's "Somebody to Love" live in Montreal, and the righteous Brothers' "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling," to name a few, because the first-time listeners are shocked by the voices, the talent, the music, plus the fact that there was no autotune.

There are a few who have reacted to classical music pieces for the first time ever listening to any classical music, and their reactions are charming and heartwarming. One fellow was in tears by the end of the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. It was lovely how it moved him.

I enjoy seeing people enjoying music.
posted by Dolley at 6:20 AM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: the beauty of a good reaction video for me is that it takes me back to the first time I heard a certain piece of music -- the surprise, joy, pleasure of it.

Lately, the Youtube algorithms have been tilting me toward this young man whose tactic for avoiding takedowns seems to be never letting the song play for too long before interrupting it to discuss lyrics and whatnot. I know that some of his stuff still gets taken down but his batting average feels higher than others.
posted by philip-random at 8:46 AM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe this guy has found a way to address Question 1, by reacting to reaction videos of other people reacting:Reacting to reaction to Rush: Xanadu.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 10:50 AM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Question 3: What is the appeal? In a word, vindication. Watching someone, who has never (well maybe not never) heard your favourite band/song/video and they react by saying how awesome it is, gives you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling; however, with these Patreon requests, what's the chance of someone reacting by saying your suggestion sucked, or was just ok? Call me cynical, but I doubt very much that a 'negative' reaction would ever be given; it's not a good business model.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 12:16 PM on November 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Although I loved the idea when I first saw it (I was more interested in the comments tbh), I now find them quite cringey because the reactions tend to be forced and they give the audience what they want. It's a bit sinewy but doing that gets the ratings up and they can make money from ads. I don't know how many subscribers or views they get so not sure how much they earn. Outside of ads I think it would be hard to monetize unless they get sponsorship from Crossley or whoever makes Gramophones or Phonographs... maybe even a hi-fi. Boombox?

Low effort? Sure. Lots of YT content is. It's easily digestible. They don't have to think up ideas for content either because people in the comments always make suggestions ("oooh listen to 'Splish Splash' by Bobby Darin and make me feel 15 again") and the music is easy to gain access to.

As for ASCAP... I work for a similar collection society in a different country and we don't get much YouTube reporting at all. I can't tell you why that is but there is no reported data to match to and therefore no writers or performers to claim for. I am surprised the record labels or publishers have not taken those videos down but perhaps it's because they are embedded in the video and don't make up the entire video that they don't 'ping' on their radar?
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 4:02 PM on November 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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