Its all gone Pete Tong (Wrong) Part 2

As a follow-up to my first post on music subtitling here, I wanted to make sure you check out That Deaf Guy’s blog where he has posted some great examples of good and bad music subtitling on UK TV.  He also makes a passionate point about the importance of access to music through good quality subtitling.

Sticking to the topic of music subtitling there has been an interesting discussion started by a subtitler over at the Deaf 4 Life forum.  He/She wants people’s views on what their preferences are as to how music is subtitled on UK TV so please go over there and have your say if this is a topic of importance to you (I have).  In this discussion I was shocked to learn that the subtitlers are often not provided with copies of the lyrics to songs by record companies because of copyright reasons.  This means the subtitler has no choice but to research online where accuracy cannot be guaranteed and/or try to work out the lyrics just from listening to the music track.  Now I’m not an expert on copyright law but this strikes me as completely bonkers.  Would the record companies rather their artists be misrepresented because of an error in the subtitling of the lyrics that they could easily provide but won’t for copyright reasons?  It strikes me as a very narrow-minded attitude. Surely there is a better resolution to this issue.  If it’s just about money then consider this –  If I watch a music video that is subtitled I am more likely to enjoy it because I can follow the song more easily and guess what… then I might buy the song or album! Result for them!

It is not just hard of hearing and deaf people who use subtitles. In addition, what if someone mutes the telly in a hearing household – phone rings, conversations starts – if the video is subtitled they can get a much better idea of the song than they otherwise would have with the sound off but the video still playing in the background. In my local gym the music channel is on mute – now I often recognise the artist in the video but not the song – had the lyrics been subtitled I’d of possibly kept watching and tracked down the song to listen to later.  Another missed opportunity of  a sale from me, and other people in the gym.  You get my point I’m sure.

It seems as this is an issue for anime fans as well – I found an article discussing how Crunchyroll had been unable to subtitle the lyrics of the opening and closing titles of the series Bleach until very recently:

Crunchyroll has announced that they finally have been given the rights to subtitle the opening and closing songs to Bleach. Song subtitles have been one of the most inconsistent things with streaming rights in the last couple of years because music rights tend to be far more restrictive, especially with anime where popular musicians and bands are involved and have some say over it, though mostly it comes down to royalties which makes it very cost prohibitive for foreign markets with small margins to manage it.

SOURCE: Mania: Beyond Entertainment

Ah, so it’s about money?  Here’s the thing – if you make your music accessible to all through subtitles – you’ll gain a wider audience and with it the potential to make more money.   If there’s anyone who disagrees or can shed more light on the copyright issues – maybe I’m missing something – please comment.  Mainly though – making all content accessible (including music) – It’s  just the right thing to do. Surely you can’t argue against that?