Have to include some new stuff from Brandon that continues to assume the worst about how OCR is run, including the belief that mixes from popular games were posted in order to maximize YouTube revenue (ignoring all the less popular games we posted mixes from). I want to be sure people can see these accusations. My responses below:
Most of you probably don’t know that recently, OC ReMix attempted to monetize videos to get revenue on YouTube. They started doing this on June 14th, 2016 but recently were forced by public response to take it off until such a time that their ducks are in a row. The monetization had been active for 2 months without any of the artists being informed or asked permission, and none of the remixes were legally licensed so that revenue made would be shared with the publisher or rights holders of the music.
There were a lot of issues with this taking place, but the most glaring issue is that they did this without asking or informing anyone. They did it in a really shady manner, and tried to justify having done it by saying “nobody noticed for 2 months”. When confronted with this betrayal and questions of legality and ethics, some staff shared their opinions, while others — such as site owner djpretzel — became very defensive, and ultimately brushed concerns aside. At the end of the short discussion, I was blamed for “misrepresenting” the situation, or making OCR “toxic” by airing my concerns, speculation, and grievances.
My biggest problem from the start was that they had gone behind our backs — we, the artists, who essentially provide all of the content for OCR — and did this without asking and without permission. Then, when confronted about it, they justified generating revenue on this platform outside of OCR (YouTube) by saying it’s “the same as advertisements on the OCR website.” I personally don’t see it that way. YouTube is a free service, and “remixes” need to be legally licensed so that the rights holders get their fair share of the revenue. If the YouTube aspect had been in the agreement to begin with, or if we had simply been asked if it was alright, this probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal. Site owner djpretzel has stated that the Content Policy will rightfully be updated to reflect changing technologies, as the original policy had been written in 2007.
The second thing that bothered me about the situation is that rather than apologize, and simply state that they’re going to try to work harder to appear ethical and work more diligently to adhere to legality as much as possible, I was demonized and scapegoated by site owner djpretzel. I was, more or less, accused of “poisoning the well” as he brushed aside the negative concerns surrounding the situation. I have often, for multiple years, been critical of OC ReMix’s lack of accountability and transparency. Going forward, I will probably also be critical of their lack of trust and good will. As someone who provides content for the website, and essentially a customer (if you would consider OCR to be acompany), I am in no position to be scapegoated any more than any other customer would be for asking questions. That’s unprofessional, and demonizing me over the situation is embarrassing and shows a lack of character, something that has been coming more to the forefront with how OCR conducts its business.
As a result of this whole disrespectful display, and waste of mytime, I am ready to remove all of my personal content that I produced alone from OC ReMix. However, I decided to do what OCR was not capable of and leave this decision up to the fans. Only 8 people voted in the poll I pinned on Twitter, sadly, which is hardly a sample size worthy of note. But in an age where people don’t really care that much to begin with, this is probably the best I can do outside of running the poll for a month and publicizing the situation in other ways. So in brief: I’m not going to request my content removed from OC ReMix. However, as a result of this petty, inept nonsense, I am going to be seeking other avenues to release and promote my own content — legally, and in a manner that I can’t be exploited in some way. This may mean many less submissions to OCR, and more legally licensed, high quality projects released through Loudr, available on iTunes and Spotify, in addition to original music released through similar platforms.
(ed: I forgot to mention YouTube. I will still put all my new mixes on YouTube unless they’re made for a project.)
I have no intention to end any of my current projects. The only difference you might see is less fresh content going towards OC ReMix from me personally, yet the projects that are currently active (FF3, FF8, others) should ultimately not be affected. I can only hope that the revenue generated by upcoming projects allows the staff to look past their grudges, as the artists involved deserve to have their content heard if they agree to release their content through OC Remix.
Thank you for reading,
Brandon E. Strader
Sagnewshreds, on 15 Aug 2016 - 01:46 AM, said:
Need to be clear that Brandon wasn't blamed for "misrepresenting" the situation, as if it were just a difference of opinion. Despite pages of discussion and details, he's continued with over-the-top conspiracy theories, fake claims of evidence, and conclusions in bad faith that were literally libel. We believe the Content Policy gives OCR the permission to republish the mixes on other sites and present advertising in the context of the submitted materials, that fair use allows us to do this without licensing the music, with the revenue going to OC ReMix as an organization and that all revenue is disallowed from being used for profit. He doesn't agree with that point of view, and that should have been the focus of his issues. But negative concerns weren't brushed aside as he claims, and Brandon wasn't the only person who shared them. He also claims there were no apologies and that no commitment was made to transparency and legality. People can read through this thread and see all of the back-and-forth. Everything brought up was addressed. I will say that Brandon is very good at projection, since demonizing people, being disrespectful, and displaying a lack of trust & goodwill are things he was great at in this discussion.
One thing not mentioned before is that enabling YouTube ads increases the search ranking of the content, the same way that enabling ratings does. Back when we started the YT channel, we actually disabled ratings for everything to match how we didn't do polling or ratings of the mixes. It turned out that disabling ratings made YouTube reduce the visibility of the videos. But enabling those things makes YouTube increase their visibility, so we're trying to get the mixes heard by more people. That may explain why the SM64 mix, which was the first one with monetization turned on, received greater views; YouTube actually gives more weight in discoverability to content that's monetized and allows ratings.
That said, I'm the sole person that decides mixpost order these days (because I'm tagging them up and staging them), and claiming that we were just posting popular mixes to maximize YouTube revenue is silly and needlessly overthinking things. Sagnewshreds called your suspicions "tinfoilly," and he's right. For posting your Chrono Cross mix out of cycle, sometimes I do that. I just noticed you hadn't had a mix posted in about a month and didn't know you had anything else waiting besides some tracks on the FF9 project that were going to be posted on 9/9.
We can't state enough how we're not actually motivated by money and don't profit, but in any case, in the 2 month period where ads were enabled on 43 out of 3,000+ videos, we also had mixes from Gradius Gaiden, Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Yoshi Touch & Go, Skylanders, ilomilo, To the Moon (yours), Global Gladiators, Lufia II, Rollerball, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Tyrian, Vectorman, After Burner, and R-Type for the C64.
Have to say this over and over again: we don't care what game something is from. At all. It doesn't change how we evaluate anything. If the submission is creative and interpretive enough with the arrangement, and produced well enough, we'll post it. We don't post stuff from certain games to boost ad revenue or social media metrics or whatever. Also, all ads were off since the 14th, including when that Chrono Trigger album trailer went up (plus we had already decided not to monetize trailers (which is why you yourself noticed the Esther's Dreams trailer wasn't monetized). Brandon's also saying that even BEFORE YouTube monetization, we were ALREADY strategically weighting mixposts to heavily popular games. This is despite publishing an album from him for the super-obscure game Teen Agent.
As I've said many times, we don't pick what games are mixed, the ReMixers do. And it almost goes without saying that Chrono Trigger or Mega Man 2 or Final Fantasy VII is more of a nostalgia and popularity draw among the ReMixers themselves, which is why they arrange those games more than others. We don't control that or try to steer anything in that direction. If OCR could have 1,000+ more Tim Follin arrangements, that would be awesome.
The last thing I'd say is that I don't know why Brandon put up a poll on keeping his mixes up on OCR. It's very obvious that he assumes the worst about the staff, thinks we're pocketing the ad revenue, maybe buying cars or comics or anything & everything non-OCR related with it, that it's some money-making cabal, that all the staff are complicit in said cabal, and that we'd love to illegally and unethically generate YouTube revenue in the shadows and willingly anger hordes of artists. Since he's convinced it's run like that and unethical like he claims, why would a poll convince him to keep his ReMixes up?
Like I said before, no amount of transparency or actions can make Brandon believe that OCR is run honestly, ethically, above board, and without a profit motive. Weighing that, I can't imagine why or how he'd convince himself not to request removal of his mixes. Due to his overly suspicious, paranoid, and imaginative nature about all of this, I think that's inevitable.