My favorite article from the past few weeks is a Vox article on the Department of Justice antitrust suit against seeking to block the book publisher Penguin Random House (PRH) from merging with rival Simon & Schuster. Its title - “Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they’re doing” - reflects the publishers’ defense as “helpless incompetents at the whims of larger companies and an irrational market” against the government’s argument that “the publishers were savvy operators who knew exactly what they were doing with their billion-dollar companies”.
It’s an amusing read that is worth your time, especially if you are interested in the economic concept of monopsony, which is a market with one buyer who can set the price however they like (a monopoly is a market with one seller).
One quote from the trial is helpful for understanding the significance of this week’s YouTube Shorts announcement. The quote is from an internal email from PRH CEO Markus Dohle admits that he “never, never bought into” the argument that a combined PRHS&S would give publishers the leverage they needed to push back against Amazon. Instead, one of the “goals” of the post-merger PRHS&S would be to become an “exceptional partner” to Amazon.
The YouTube Shorts announcement hid a larger story of the music industry adopting the “exceptional partner” logic with YouTube.
There were actually two music industry-related announcements over the past two weeks. The first was from Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube, announcing “In the 12 months between July 2021 and June 2022, YouTube paid over $6B to the music ...