YouTube Partners With Universal Music Group to HD Upgrade 1000+ Music Videos — But Royalties Will Remain the Same

In a move that will enhance potentially billions of views, Universal Music Group (UMG) has partnered with YouTube to convert 1,000 or so music videos into high definition.

But according to YouTube, the upgraded videos won’t enjoy an upgraded royalty payment.

Many of the videos that will be updated were filmed then or more years ago when today’s cameras and supplementary equipment weren’t available.

Refinished videos are going to be introduced weekly, and UMG and YouTube anticipate that all the specified songs will be modernized and uploaded by the end of 2020. Moreover, 100 videos, featuring artists including The Beastie Boys, Billy Idol, Gwen Stefani, Kiss, Lady Gaga, The Killers, and Tom Petty, have already been remastered and uploaded to YouTube (see full list below).

These videos can be viewed in 1080p right now, though lower resolutions will also look crisper and more vibrant, according to UMG and YouTube.

The move is somewhat surprising given the heightened tensions between Google/YouTube and major music content owners. YouTube has doggedly refused to pay more than a paltry royalty rate on music videos, despite intense lobbying and threats from label groups like the IFPI.

In that light, the upgrade seems like rewarding bad behavior.  Then again, YouTube does have a lot of heft with music fans and remains one of the biggest music platforms on the planet — if not the biggest platform.

In a back-and-forth with Digital Music News, a rep from YouTube said the videos will be paid at the same rate as the lower-quality vids.

But YouTube also noted that it pays the same as Spotify, at least on its smaller subscription tier.  “YouTube pays the same rates as Spotify for its growing subscription service,” an exec at the platform stated.

The 1,000 remastered UMG music videos will be available exclusively on YouTube. The new versions are have simply replaced the old versions; view counts, likes, and dislikes will not be reset.

It’s difficult to say how many new listeners these upgrades will attract, but it can be safely stated that the improvements will come as a pleasant surprise to frequent YouTube users. A specific release schedule has not been established for the remaining videos, but fans can check UMG’s Twitter on a weekly basis, when the most recently remastered tracks will be specified.

With UMG and YouTube willing to make such a substantial investment to improve the quality of existing music videos, it seems likely that upgrades are on the way for music videos that will be filmed in the near future—potentially including universal 4K support.

Here’s the full list of videos already upgraded.

  • Asher Roth – I Love College
  • Beastie Boys – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)
  • Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
  • Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn
  • Beastie Boys – Root Down
  • Beastie Boys – Sabotage
  • Beastie Boys – So What’Cha Want
  • Beastie Boys – Sure Shot
  • Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself
  • Billy Idol – Eyes Without a Face
  • Billy Idol – Flesh for Fantasy
  • Billy Idol – Mony Mony
  • Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
  • Billy Idol – White Wedding
  • Blondie – Heart Of Glass
  • Boyz II Men – Doin’ Just Fine
  • Boyz II Men – End of The Road
  • Boyz II Men – I’ll Make Love To You
  • Boyz II Men – On Bended Knee
  • Boyz II Men – Water Runs Dry
  • Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up)
  • Commodores – Nightshift
  • DeBarge – Rhythm Of The Night
  • George Strait – Amarillo By Morning
  • George Strait – Baby’s Gotten Good At Goodbye
  • George Strait – Carrying Your Love With Me
  • George Strait – Check Yes Or No
  • George Strait – Heartland
  • George Strait – I Cross My Heart
  • George Strait – If I Know Me
  • George Strait – The Chair
  • George Strait – The Man In Love With You
  • George Strait – Write This Down
  • Gwen Stefani – 4 In The Morning
  • Gwen Stefani – Cool
  • Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
  • Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?
  • Gwen Stefani feat Akon -The Sweet Escape
  • Janet Jackson – Control
  • Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately
  • Janet Jackson – When I Think Of You
  • Kiss – Forever
  • Kiss – Heaven’s On Fire
  • Kiss – I Love It Loud
  • Kiss – I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Studio Version)
  • Kiss – Lick It Up
  • Kiss – Rock & Roll All Nite
  • Lady Antebellum – American Honey
  • Lady Antebellum – Hello World
  • Lady Antebellum – I Run To You [4k]
  • Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
  • Lady Antebellum – Our Kind Of Love
  • Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
  • Lady Gaga – Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
  • Lady Gaga – Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)
  • Lady Gaga – LoveGame
  • Lady Gaga – Paparazzi
  • Lady Gaga – Poker Face
  • Lady Gaga feat Colby O’Donis – Just Dance
  • Lionel Richie – All Night Long (All Night)
  • Lionel Richie – Dancing On The Ceiling
  • Maroon 5 – Goodnight Goodnight
  • Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe
  • Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder
  • Maroon 5 – Misery
  • Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved
  • Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning
  • Maroon 5 – This Love
  • Maroon 5 – Wake Up Call
  • Maroon 5 – Won’t Go Home Without You
  • Maroon 5 feat Rihanna – If I Never See Your Face Again
  • Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
  • Megadeth – A Tout Le Monde
  • Megadeth – Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
  • Megadeth – In My Darkest Hour
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets
  • Megadeth – Wake Up Dead
  • Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • No Doubt – Don’t Speak
  • No Doubt – Hey Baby
  • No Doubt – It’s My Life
  • No Doubt – Just A Girl
  • No Doubt – Sunday Morning
  • OneRepublic – All The Right Moves
  • OneRepublic – Mercy
  • OneRepublic – Say (All I Need)
  • OneRepublic – Secrets
  • OneRepublic – Stop And Stare
  • OneRepublic, Timbaland – Apologize
  • Rick James – Super Freak
  • Smash Mouth – All Star
  • Smash Mouth – I’m A Believer
  • Smash Mouth – Walkin’ On The Sun
  • Smokey Robinson – Being With You
  • Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her
  • Smokey Robinson – One Heartbeat
  • Spice Girls – 2 Become 1
  • Spice Girls – Goodbye
  • Spice Girls – Headlines
  • Spice Girls – Holler
  • Spice Girls – Let Love Lead The Way
  • Spice Girls – Mama
  • Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There
  • Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life
  • Spice Girls – Stop
  • Spice Girls – Too Much
  • Spice Girls – Viva Forever
  • Spice Girls – Wannabe
  • Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are
  • Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are (Director’s Cut)
  • Tesla – Love Song
  • Tesla – Signs
  • Tesla – What You Give
  • The Killers – A Dustland Fairytale
  • The Killers – Human
  • The Killers – Spaceman
  • The Killers – The World We Live In
  • Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More
  • Tom Petty – Free Fallin’
  • Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down
  • Tom Petty – Learning To Fly
  • Tom Petty – Mary Jane’s Last Dance
  • Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down A Dream