Youtube: The Death Of Songwriter Censorship

Brandon Drury —  February 18, 2012 — Leave a comment


You may remember a day when a “hit” had to be sanitized by the powers that be to be safe.  This is the   mainstream picture we’ve all been presented.  On the other hand, there have been other media outlets that work on customer demand only basis that have pretty much ENTIRELY driven industries like  VHS and the early web.  You know what I’m talking about.  This industry ends with “orno” and starts with a “p”.  It seems that what goes on behind closed doors is going on behind the majority’s door.  If most people can handle (or even enjoy) the dirty videos, it’s safe to say that we’ve been presented a fake picture in mainstream music, too.

There are two other examples of the non-PC way of life being, not only alive and well, but prevalent.  Did you notice an enormous pyramid of the final season of Sopranos on DVD right out front at your local Walmart?  My bible-belt Walmart had what I’d guess a 1,000 copies of the $60 DVD set right out front.  Sopranos, while never crossing the R-rated line, is definitely R rated.

Take a look at the budget of Martin Scorsese’s next production.  In an era where nobody but Jerry Bruckheimer gets money in Hollywood,  Scorsese got $300 million to make Gangs Of New York.  I wish I could remember the site that showed the budgets for films.   Scorsese always seems to get ridiculous budgets and I’m not aware of a single film of his that ever held back in the censorship side of the fence.

For those of you who don’t see the artistic value in dropping an ultra-explicative or two in extreme situations, don’t bother reading on.  This article is not for you.  It’s simple.  NWA’s “Darn The Police” would NOT have been an effective expression of what it’s like living in South Central LA in the 1980s.  Imagine Boyz In The Hood drawn with Pixar animations with Mike Meyers and Gwenth Paltrow as the actors.  It’s clear that NWA’s use of the fun words had real merit.

Youtube Middle Fingers Clear Channel

Since all of us can take an active role in deciding what we want to listen to and we don’t have to wait for Clear Channel to decide what we hear, we are seeing a change in what actually becomes popular.

A great example is this:

vs this:

Democracy In Action

It’s clear that the people have spoken.  As of this writing, the nasty version has 33,000,000 plays while the “safe for kids” version is crawling at 2,000,000.  The interesting thing here is the clean version has gotten airplay which would normally push its numbers much higher than any alternative version.  It’s safe to say that, at least in democratic terms, the nasty version is the more-effective version.  I didn’t even know there was a clear version for nearly two months.  I just thought that this was a viral video that occurred naturally (with no budget really pushing it).

I believe that music is little more than the selling of emotions.  I know I sure as hell can relate to the conviction of the nasty version.  With all the bullshit a person has to go through as an adult, all the stuff you aren’t supposed to have access to as a kid is what makes keeps a grown-up going.

No More Limitations

Since everyone has full access to Youtube on consumer demand basis, an artist doesn’t have to make decisions based on what a five-year-old is going to hear on the radio.  Youtube is not a public forum for everyone.  Each individual chooses what they want to hear.  An artist doesn’t have to worry about how many commercials Clear Channel can cram into an hour.  They are concerned with simply doing their thing.  The end.

In short, if we accept Youtube as a driving force for getting our music heard (and I do), there’s no reason to ever scrape up utility-based reasons to change your music.  If your music is more intense as eight minute songs, don’t try to cram them in 3 minutes.  If pulling out the middle finger is necessary for your artistic vision, don’t bleep it out just to get on the radio.  If your music is a bit jagged, you are no longer required to sand it down for grandma.  (Besides, you have no idea how many guys grandma blew during the war anyway….har har)

The public will react based on the merit of your music and not because of song lengths or you matched the rating of the last Toy Story movie.

Will We Take It Too Far?

There are going to be those who take pride in their morality who ask what will stop us from reaching a point of runaway profanity where everything is drenched in “filth” and has no substance.  The answer to that is pretty easy.  It’ll work the same way it’s always worked.  When society formally rejects those things it does not like (and it will), we’ll find that very few truly nasty songs will get through.  In fact, I’d bet that we’d see less profanity across the board simply because there will be no standard to rebel from.  It’ll be no different than in Europe where they sometimes show tits in orange juice commercials.

Note:  It would literally be World War 3 here in America if a mammaary gland made it’s way to a Tropicana ad.  Seriously, they’d come up with a Tonkin Gulf equivalent and nukes would fly everywhere.  It would be Kyle’s mom from South Park being the driving force.


If you wrote a song about the Federal Reserve or Haliburton, your rage is only limited by what the law allows.  You don’t have to make it safe for the only kind of movies that Jack Black still stars in.  Make your music as powerful as you want and never hold back particularly when you have real emotions and something real to say.

If you really want to set a record for the nastiest song on Youtube, go ahead.  Whether you get 150 plays or a 150,000,000 it won’t matter.  No one who doesn’t want to see it will ever have to see it.  Just make sure to send me a link.  I want to be 151.


Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

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