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YOUTUBE: THE NEW STANDARD IN ALL THINGS MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT

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For nearly the last decade, YouTube has stood as a true success story on so many fronts, but especially in the area of breaking emerging and indie music artists, and sometimes turning them into overnight success stories. Think the likes of Justin Bieber, Karmincovers and the latest artist to benefit from YouTube’s famous viewing and sharing platform, Carly Rae Jepsen. All of them have found their success from basically being discovered after having posted their music and videos to YouTube, to the tune of being signed by some of the biggest music labels in the world.

And this idea has caught on like wildfire with so many other hungry and struggling artists looking for that big break, ever since the founding of YouTube in 2005. Wanna become a star? These days, it’s not only about continuously playing local shows, traveling to famous festivals and hoping to fit the bill, and networking your butt off. It’s also a matter of having a sound, strong strategy in terms of working and reworking social media, and YouTube is arguably the main tool for today’s artists, and should be at the foundation of every artist’s master plan.

But so far in 2012, YouTube has begun to go far beyond just being an artist best friend in terms of spreading the word about their music or the favorite place for fans to go and see their favorite bands newest release. The fact is, it can’t only be the place that “provides a platform for you to create, connect and discover the world’s videos” (as their mission statement says), what with growing competition from streaming video and social outlets such as VEVO, and even WorldStarHipHop.com. Yes, YouTube has to do a lot more, and continue to please all kinds of populations, at many different levels and in many different areas.

And the folks at YouTube know this all too well. That’s why the company recently announced the YouTube Partnership program in April of this year. YouTube began this concept by paying a percentage of ad revenue to a small number of its top video producers. Now, the program is open to basically nearly everyone that has a YouTube account. All users would need is to have a new or existing YouTube account, with the main stipulation being that participants in the YouTube Partnership program, users must own all the necessary rights to commercially use all audio and visuals. Basically, it’s a matter of people owning all the rights to be able to make money from their content. This program is now available in 20 countries, including the United States, the U.K., Canada, Mexico and Japan.

But YouTube isn’t stopping there. The company recently re-launched their own iPhone application to claims of better ability for discovery, sharing, music videos and apps. After the announcement that the YouTube iPhone app would be off of the iPhone with the launch of iOS6, YouTube launched a newer, beefed up version of the app that is now available on the Apple App Store. One of the biggest changes made to the YouTube iPhone app is that it will now show pre-roll ads ahead of mobile videos, which many people will not like.

But the claim here is that more monetization by YouTube will mean more content. Backed by new capabilities of it’s app, YouTube will now allow tens of thousands of music videos VEVO that were previously not viewable on the older YouTube app. And that means more chances for an artists’ biggest fans to see and hear their music in an easily sharable format.

Additionally, iPhone owners that have the newly updated YouTube app will now be able to share the content that they love more easily. The YouTube app now has more connections with Facebook, Twitter and Google+, which will make it easier for people to share videos via text and email right on their mobile device. And not only has YouTube taken a huge step in creating a better iPhone experience, the company has also rolled out new apps for Google TV, Xbox Live and PlayStation 3, expanding their reach so that more people can share more videos more easily, which means more monetization for YouTube and maybe even its partners.

What YouTube has done for itself in 2012 thus far is to create a space for itself where it’s not only the premiere place for users to discover and share some of their favorite content, but it has also made a lane where users can do so more easily and in so many different formats. One thing that the company has realized is that music fans are no longer in a place where they are just passive consumers. They are advocates. They are participants. They are sharing, creating, remixing and remaking content at such a rapid pace, and YouTube (with the power of Google to back them up) has grabbed hold of this ideal to the benefit of music fans and the original content creators that those fans follow and interact with.

Music and media have become a sociable, interactive process, and YouTube continues to be at the forefront, standing as the major outlet for music and entertainment discovery, but also for artists to begin carving out a lane for themselves that will hopefully lead to their prosperity. I commend the company for making efforts to stay on the cutting edge as the music and entertainment space continues to go through a seemingly never-ending and rapid metamorphosis.

Ron Grant is a freelance journalist and blogger originally from Detroit and currently residing in Orlando. He is a contributor at HipHopDX.com, is the lead writer for Orlando-based indie music label Conscious Mind Records and runs his own independent music blog, The Music Nerdvocate. Follow him on Twitter @RonGreezy.