blackpink youtube shorts

YouTube’s mission to deploy the biggest music stars in support of its short-video format continues. Yesterday it enlisted K-Pop stars Blackpink for an exclusive YouTube Shorts challenge. It’s driven by the video for their latest track ‘Pink Venom’, which debuted overnight.

The inevitably-named #PinkVenomChallenge will see fans recreating dance moves from the video in YouTube Shorts clips. It’s the latest chapter in Blackpink’s success on YouTube, having earlier this year become the first music artist to reach 75 million subscribers on the platform. Meanwhile, it’s the latest top-tier artist partnership for YouTube Shorts following projects with Ed Sheeran and BTS.

It’s not the only YouTube Shorts news this week though, and the second story is relevant to artists all the way down the popularity pyramid. YouTube has announced that from now on, anyone downloading their Shorts clips from YouTube Studio to use on other platforms will now find that those clips are watermarked.

Why? “So your viewers can see that the content you’re sharing across platforms can be found on YouTube Shorts,” according to YouTube, almost as if this is a helpful benefit for those fans. It’s not a new phenomenon of course: TikTok similarly watermarks videos that creators download from its app.

This is all about the intense competition between the biggest short-video services, but its impact is not just about branding. In April this year, Instagram announced that its Reels recommendation algorithm would be valuing “original content more, particularly compared to reposted content”.

At the time, this was seen as a direct reference to demoting Tiktok-watermarked videos, but that may well apply also to YouTube Shorts-watermarked clips now. In related news, The Verge reported yesterday that Instagram appears to be stripping the sound out of videos if people create them in its app using its Reels tools, but try to download them (for use elsewhere) rather than posting them.

Another small and surmountable barrier, but these things add up, especially for communities of creators and musicians who may already be stressed out by the need to constantly feed the algorithms of TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms with new content.

Adding watermarks – and particularly demoting videos that have a rival platform’s watermarks – may make sense for these companies in the context of their heated competition. But it feels like a move that goes against much of the ‘creator-friendly’ public rhetoric of these platforms, even if there are a number of tools to help someone repurpose a video for the various services.

YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and the rest do a lot of really good things to help creators and musicians get the most out of their platforms, from headline partnerships like the #PinkVenomChallenge to educational resources and features at the grassroots end of things. Inserting barriers for creators who want to share their own videos elsewhere jibes with that, but sadly this aspect of the platform’s battle only seems to be growing.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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