Monday, 30 March 2009

Meet the YouTube Symphony Orchestra

In approximately two weeks, the members of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra will travel from around the world to New York City, where they will meet for the first time for the summit and performance at Carnegie Hall. In anticipation of this gathering, some of the winning musicians have created video introductions that reveal a bit about who they are and where they're from (there are even a few family member cameos). This reel of hellos gives you a glimpse of the musicians behind the instruments:







For the full collection of introductory videos, from Costa Rica, Malaysia, Bermuda, Israel, South Korea and beyond, watch this playlist:







Finally, don't delay in securing your seat to the debut YouTube Symphony Orchestra performance on April 15. Tickets are on sale now at the Carnegie Hall Box Office. It isn't that far to travel, is it?



See you at the Symphony,

Michele Flannery

YouTube Music

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Release Notes: 3/26/2009

Traditionally after site maintenance we've only shared information about the most significant new features. But after witnessing the discussions about what else has changed, we figured more frequent, casual "release notes" would be good to publish as well. That way you can get a broader sense of what's new on the site, from major features to cosmetic touches, as well as background on the thinking or motivation behind some of these items.



* Upload Progress Bar: A new Flash uploader is up for all supported browsers and it comes with a long-awaited (and much-requested) feature: an upload progress bar that lets you know the status of your upload. Our next step will be providing the estimated video processing time for your upload.



* Simpler HD Parameter: We want to give you more control over how your video looks, including the option of it being eye-blazingly clear (HD), so we've now added an official URL parameter (hd=1) for sharing HD links.



* Tweet Tweet: Everyone's on The Twitter these days, so we've added a "share to Twitter" button under the Share options so you can easily send a video into your Twitterstream. (Feel free to change the prefilled text, if you like.) This was a big internal request, but we know many of you asked for it, too. We don't currently shorten the Video URL automagically but hope to get to it down the road.



* Do You EDU? Educational Hub Launches: Using YouTube as a vehicle to democratise learning is one of the coolest, unintended outcomes of the site's existence. YouTube EDU is a volunteer project sparked by a group of employees who wanted to find a better way to collect and highlight all the great educational content being uploaded to YouTube by colleges and universities. We'll feature some of these videos on the home page on Friday and elaborate further in a separate post on that day.



* Mobile Improvements: We're working hard to develop apps and a mobile Web site that enables the best possible video experience on as many devices as possible -- we recognise that mobile is a key component of how people will consume video in the future. So in addition to launching a new mobile landing page, we've cleaned up the upload flow from phone-to-YouTube so this should be a lot more smooth and intuitive now. More on this in a post this weekend.



*Easier to Log In With Google Credentials: If you have your YouTube account associated with your Google account, you no longer have to go to a separate page to log in to YouTube with your Google account information. It's all in one place at sign-in.



* Neater Watch Pages: Yes, sometimes YouTube can feel a bit cluttered, so last night we took some time to "clean up" the presentation on the watch page. Generally, we've heard from you that the action area on this page has been a bit confusing and should be made simpler. So we're streamlining the space beneath the player to better use the available real estate and to present all of the actions more consistently. Some changes you'll notice: a) the action links are a bit smaller and more condensed; b) we've eliminated the tabs for Comments, Statistics & Data and instead made all of these available in expandable sections (which you can collapse/expand using the little arrow), making it easy to expose or hide information in a consistent way. As a side note, we've begun work on a broader watch page redesign to incorporate all the things we've learned since our last major change. Expect to see some ideas and concept sketches on the blog once we're further along.



* A Little Help for Your Friends: The process of connecting with your friends on YouTube will see some bigger improvements soon, but in the meantime, we've added the ability for you to send an invite and personalised note to a username or email address. There's also an instant friend link to instant message if that's your preferred mode of communication -- go to: http://www.youtube.com/my_friends_invite.



* New Names for Sponsored, Promoted and Featured Videos: We've done a bit of spring cleaning with regards to some of the nomenclature on the site. This post from yesterday tells the story.




As always, let us know what you think in the comments below.



Thanks,

The YouTube Team

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Few Name Changes on the Site

It's time for a spring clean at YouTube, so you might notice that today we've renamed a few modules on the home page, watch page, and on the search results page, and we wanted to explain what the changes mean and why we're making them.



Like all spring cleaning exercises, you might ask "Why bother?" Well, in part because we want to help you discover videos on YouTube in lots of different ways, so it's important that you know where they came from and why we think you'll like them. But also, we just think these names make more sense. Here's the rundown:



* Spotlight Videos: We like to highlight videos we think you'll want to watch; videos that hopefully inform, inspire, and entertain. We think "Spotlight Videos" is an appropriate title for this section, and soon we are going to take a more thematic approach to showcasing some of the best videos our community and partners produce. When you see these videos, they will have top billing on the page -- a true spotlight.



* Promoted Videos: Our search advertising programme is about helping anyone promote their videos to a larger audience on YouTube (right now this is only available in the U.S.). Whether you're a start-up band trying to break out with a new single, or an advertiser showing off how to use your cool new product, this programme is a great way for you to promote and drive traffic to your content. We think "Promoted Videos" more accurately describes this programme than "Sponsored Videos," the original name.



* Featured Videos: Featured Videos will be primarily populated with videos from YouTube's thousands of partners, but they might also include select user videos that are currently popular or that we have previously showcased in Spotlight Videos. We will automatically rotate these videos throughout the day to keep them fresh.



We'll be making a few other changes to the homepage in the weeks to come; until then, we wanted to share these developments with you.



Best,

Curtis Lee

Product Marketing Manager

The YouTube Team

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Adopt a Feature: Round #1

Recently we launched a programme called Adopt a Feature, in which we asked you to give certain features some TLC by making videos explaining how they work. Just over two dozen of you took us up on it, with the majority choosing to talk about AudioSwap and Insight. We're collecting these clips on the adoptafeature channel, and as you can see they're a mixture of straightforward instruction and comedy -- there's even some bile, a fake corpse, more than a few bleeps, and a bit of innuendo... In other words, you are indeed taking these features and making them your own, which is exactly what we were hoping for. Here are some highlights so far:



* SteveDutzy lets you in on a fun (if perverse) game he plays with Insight

* BelgianDann employs annotations (and the undead!) to promote AudioSwap

* Petercoffin broadcasts from space to explain how Insight can contribute to inspiration, monetisation and, um, you'll see

* Thecomputernerd01 stops talking about batteries, GameBoy, his mum's shades, his new knit hat, and an ace of hearts card long enough to explain how the country/language pulldown menus work

* The dapper Bobby SoFamous shows how AudioSwap can mask a foul mouth (and, of course, make you a better YouTube participant)

* BeanerLaRue's mother, Lola, makes her third cameo to impress the kids with her knowledge of AudioSwap



While these videos continue to work their magic, and as new ones are added, we'll continue to watch how usage of these features evolves with your adoptafeature uploads and we'll report back on any significant shifts. So take a look at what's been created so far and consider this an open call to produce something even better, particularly for some of the features that didn't get as much love this round: Country and Language Options, Playlists, QuickCapture, and Subscriptions. (If you feel compelled to make a video about a feature not on the list, go for it -- just include "adoptafeature" in the tags. We might use it in a future installment.)



Anyway, get those cameras rolling. We want to have a lot more to talk about come March 31, the next adoptafeature update.



Best,

Hunter Walk

Director, Product Management

The YouTube Team

Friday, 20 March 2009

Watching Video on Windows Mobile and Nokia S60 Phones

Our goal is to provide you with a great YouTube experience wherever you want to watch videos -- whether it's on your computer, on your television, or on your mobile phone. While YouTube has been available for many mobile phones for over a year, today we're taking a big step forward with a new version of our mobile YouTube application. It's optimised for most Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60 devices (a list of supported Nokia S60 devices is available here). In addition to providing YouTube on more phones than ever before, it's also much faster -- up to 90% faster starting up, searching, and video loading -- and gives you better video quality that's automatically optimised to your WiFi or 3G network.



To download the app, visit http://m.youtube.com from your device. More cool features and app improvements are on the way, and the app will alert you as updates become available and allow you to upgrade with a single click.









Best,

David Stewart

Product Marketing

The YouTube Team

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

New YouTube Insight Feature: Do People Like Your Videos?

YouTube Insight, our video analytics tool, is full of useful information about your video views. You can find out which state or country your views come from, the websites that send you the most traffic, or the parts of your video that keep your viewers' attention. But while views are an important indicator of popularity, they are not the full picture: you know people are watching your video, but do they really like it?



Since the beginning of YouTube, many of you have been looking at the community's feedback to answer this question -- reading comments, looking at ratings, and checking favorites. Today, we hope to make it easier for you to find out who likes your videos (and who doesn't) by launching our newest YouTube Insight feature: a "Community" tab that allows you to see how YouTube users engage with your content over time and depending on their geographic location. You can see total numbers related to ratings, comments, and favorites (or all of them combined), as well as the average number of actions the community takes per view of your video. For example, if it looks like your rating is 3/5 stars, but the average Japanese viewer is giving you 2, while the French tend to give you 5, you'll now know where your real fans are located.



We think this new feature will be useful to many of you, whether you are an advertiser trying to figure out what users think of your new product (not just whether they started to watch the commercial), or a professor curious whether your Plato lecture is starting conversations among users in Greece.



We hope this feature will answer the question du jour: is he (or she) just not that into you?



Tracy Chan and Kenny Stoltz

Product Managers

The YouTube Team

Saturday, 14 March 2009

An Update On Our View Counts

Video view counts reflect the YouTube community's interests and the grassroots popularity of videos. We periodically make changes that allow us to display consistent view counts and accurately reflect a "real" view based on video consumption, video streaming and spam filtering. Unfortunately, a few people still try to artificially manipulate their video's view counts. Some people game third-party view counts as well. That can make things unfair for everyone.



Recently, we found spamming issues associated with the view counts on a small number of videos. The inflated view count number on these videos will be frozen until actual views catch up to the published, artificial, view count. Also, a few people have commented that their view counts are updating more slowly. Occasionally the speed with which views update changes -- sometimes it’s faster and sometimes it’s slower. But we are always working to make sure that the final view count numbers are an accurate reflection of the community's interest.



Michelle Schlachta

Community Manager

The YouTube Team

Friday, 13 March 2009

YouTube UK Does Something Funny For Money

Red Nose Day comes but once every second year and this time around it has been exciting to see what YouTube users have made of the challenge to “Do Something Funny For Money”. As a result, we have turned the homepage over to videos uploaded by the good people at Red Nose Day and the YouTube user community.


Maybe the best place to start is in congratulating Music From Blue Skies, Little Radge and Random Prod Inc for putting together a three-pronged callout for videos related to Music, Vlogging and Film/Sketch work. Their efforts were designed to create a content web which would spread the word on where to head to donate to Red Nose Day online. Great work, gentlemen.






Alongside user efforts, Red Nose Day itself has been busy uploading great videos to both the Red Nose Day channel and a special channel that focuses on the Red Nose Climb, which saw Alesha Dixon, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh, Denise Van Outen, Gary Barlow, Ronan Keating, Ben Shephard, Chris Moyles and Fearne Cotton launch an attempt on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.


The current takeover offers a glimpse of some of the videos on offer, but head for the related channels and dig in. For that matter, dig deep and contribute what you can to a charity effort that both raises a smile and raises millions for worthy causes worldwide.


Have a great Red Nose Day,

Jamie, YouTube UK

Monday, 9 March 2009

YouTube, the UK and the Performing Rights Society for Music

We have invested a lot of time and effort trying to ensure that our community can find and enjoy the music they love, and we have strong partnerships with three of the four largest record labels in the world, as well as many independent labels. But copyrights in music can get pretty complicated. For example, there may be several different copyrights in a single music video, controlled by different organisations with different interests. The visual elements and the sound recording of a music video are typically owned by a record label, while the music and lyrics of the song being performed are owned separately by one or more music publishers. These publishers often designate organisations called collecting societies to issue licences and collect royalties on their behalf. In the UK we've had a licence from the collecting society called PRS for Music to make music videos provided by our record label partners available to our users in the UK.



Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we've been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us. There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency. We value the creativity of musicians and songwriters and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before. The costs are simply prohibitive for us - under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback. In addition, PRS is unwilling to tell us what songs are included in the license they can provide so that we can identify those works on YouTube -- that's like asking a consumer to buy an unmarked CD without knowing what musicians are on it.



We're still working with PRS for Music in an effort to reach mutually acceptable terms for a new licence, but until we do so we will be blocking premium music videos in the UK that have been supplied or claimed by record labels. This was a painful decision, and we know the significant disappointment it will cause within the UK. And to be clear, this is not an issue with the record labels, with most of whom we have strong relationships.



While negotiations continue, we'll still be working to create more ways to compensate musicians and other rights-holders on YouTube. In addition to various advertising options, we recently introduced a click-to-buy feature that enables fans to purchase downloads of their favourite songs. We're also proud of our Content ID tools that help rights owners identify their content and even use the power of our community to increase advertising and revenue potential.



We will continue to seek partnerships that benefit our community, music publishers, music labels and, of course, musicians and songwriters, and we will work hard with anybody who shares this commitment. We hope that professional music videos will soon be back on YouTube for our users in the UK to enjoy, and if and when that time comes, you can be sure that you'll be the first to know.


Yours,

Patrick Walker

Director of Video Partnerships, Europe, Middle East and Africa

Friday, 6 March 2009

YouTube On A Good Day

Here at YouTube there is nothing we like more that to see people using the site as a way to encourage, facilitate and share the creativity of our users. Which is why we have turned today’s homepage over to Trance trio Above & Beyond, who invited their fans to fashion videos for Oceanlab release “On A Good Day”.


Promoted exclusively through their channel, the boys ended up with some 50 efforts from around the world to sift through, and have now settled on a winner:






Submissions to the group that Jono, Tony and Paavo set up to run the competition range from the polished to the personal, but all reflect a real love of the music and – dare we say – a sense of connection with the band. Either way, enjoy the music and check out the videos: they’re impressive.



Have fun,

Jamie, YouTube UK

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Won't You Adopt a Feature?

Raise your hand if you've watched a YouTube video. Cool, the "play" button definitely works but that's just the start of where the YouTube experience can begin. Every week we release new tools, or enhancements to current ones, to help you make better videos, connect with one another, and understand your audience. We tell you about them in this blog, but now we want to take it up a notch and ask you to (puppy-dog eyes) adopt a feature.



It's not to say that the features on the list below are unloved or unlovable; it's just that we believe that many of you could help spread the word more broadly about their usefulness -- and, more important, in a way that's fun to watch.



So here's how it would work:



1. Select one or more features from the list below.



2. Make a video about that feature (of course, it must adhere to our Terms of Service) and be sure to use the precise tags we've indicated for each feature.



3. We'll start tracking how your videos are impacting that feature's performance and offer a play-by-play in this blog, notating which users are making the greatest impact with their videos. Our first update will be on March 17, so get cracking!



4. The most successful video(s) will be featured on our home page and live for all eternity in our Help Centre, and you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you helped the feature live a long and productive life.



And with that, here are some features that could use your loving touch:



* AudioSwap (use tags: audioswap, adoptafeature)

* Country and Language Options (use tags: countrypulldown, adoptafeature)

* Insight (use tags: insight, adoptafeature)

* Playlists (use tags: playlists, adoptafeature)

* Quick Capture (use tags: quickcapture, adoptafeature)

* Subscriptions (use tags: subscriptions, adoptafeature)





If you're looking for inspiration, watch this video that LisaNova created about subscriptions and why she can't live without them:








Think you can do better? Let's see! And if you have a favourite YouTube feature that we haven't included on this list, let us know in the comments.



Best,

Hunter Walk

Director, Product Management

The YouTube Team

Monday, 2 March 2009

YouTube Symphony Orchestra Winners Are Announced!

Today we are proud to announce the winners of the world's first online collaborative orchestra. The global YouTube community and a judging panel containing members of the world's most renowned orchestras have selected over 90 talented musicians to be part of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Together, these professional and amateur musicians play 26 different instruments and come from 30+ countries and territories on six continents.



To grasp the level of talent we’re talking about, just take a look at the stellar string section:







The selected musicians will travel from around the world to New York City to participate in a collaborative summit for classical music on April 12-15, 2009, concluding with a concert at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony Music Director, New World Symphony Founder and Artistic Director, and London Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor.



All the winning audition videos are on the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Channel here; please share your congratulations with these musicians in the comments section, and don’t forget to stay tuned as we follow them on the road to Carnegie Hall. (If you’d like to cheer them on in person, tickets are on sale now at www.carnegiehall.org.)



Cue the congratulatory strings,

The YouTube Team