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Couldn’t Find an Official Clip of ‘Fast Car’ After the Grammys? You’re Not Alone., The Grammys made it impossible to share videos of the night. Here’s why., Here’s why you couldn’t find an official clip of Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs singing ‘Fast Car’ at
At this year’s Grammys, a lineup of veteran artists blessed the stage at Crypto.com Arena: Joni Mitchell gave her first-ever Grammys performance, Billy Joel debuted his first song in almost two decades, and Tracy Chapman broke a yearslong performing hiatus to team up with country star Luke Combs, who’s found massive success with his Nashville-twanged cover of Chapman’s signature hit, ‘Fast Car.’ But if you didn’t catch Sunday’s ceremony on either CBS or Paramount+, it was—and still is—difficult to find good clips of any of these highlights; the Recording Academy still hasn’t shared any full performances on its YouTube channel.
So it wasn’t surprising that people flocked to a string of video clips posted on X (formerly Twitter) by user Craig R. Brittain. His post with the Chapman-Combs video traveled especially far on the platform, gaining more than 29 million views and earning a boost from both a Chapman fan account and X CEO Linda Yaccarino (who appears to believe that the notoriously offline Chapman runs the fanpage, but I digress). Astute observers quickly pointed out that the Grammys-tweeting Craig R. Brittain was the same Craig R. Brittain who previously operated a revenge-porn and victim-extortion site, waged a few long-shot Senate campaigns in Arizona, and has a long history of racist, sexist, scammy, and conspiratorial posting.
Brittain wasn’t the only tweeter to put up the Chapman-Combs performance; popular posters like Trung Phan and Yashar Ali also shared the full video. As of Wednesday, however, none of those videos are visible thanks to ‘a report by the copyright owner.’ (The same even went for the Hollywood Reporter’s tweet of Billie Eilish’s performance.) The copyright ax also fell upon Brittain’s clips of performances by Burna Boy and Joni Mitchell. Whatever the legal merits, it seems strange that, given the massive audience demand for the special Chapman-Combs ‘Fast Car’ duet—a one-time, unique event that doesn’t have an audio equivalent on Spotify—the Recording Academy hasn’t made a full video more widely available across the internet.
There are accessible videos for all the Grammys performances, but they’re all hosted on the Recording Academy’s official website and are almost impossible to share elsewhere. While the YouTube videos for acceptance speeches are embedded on the site, the videos for the live performances are hosted on a different digital streamer altogether, one you can’t spread as easily. Those videos are native to the Grammy website’s Nomad content management system, so if you try to copy a link to any of the videos, the resulting URL will redirect you to the particular webpage on which the video is hosted—which means you can’t get those videos to play on any platform except the Grammys’ own website.
This wasn’t always the case. Back in 2011, Peter Kafka noted in the Wall Street Journal, the Grammys site didn’t host any performance footage from the CBS broadcast. A spokesperson for the network told him that such clips ‘aren’t typically available online due to rights clearance issues,’ which certainly makes sense: All recorded songs (even live covers) have various strands of ownership, like publishing rights, public performance rights, and the composition and master copyrights. At that moment in the early 2010s, when music streaming services were beginning to supplant the previous decade’s downloads-and-piracy trends, legal tangles over the free availability of music posted online were only just getting sorted out. Alternative video platforms like Vimeo and Dailymotion hosted bootleg recordings of Grammys performances, though they didn’t escape the major labels’ notice.
Today, it’s an entirely different ballgame. In 2022, Billboard reported that ‘the Recording Academy signed a two-week exclusive’ deal with Facebook, on which performance clips would ‘live for a limited time … on individual artist pages’—a deal that reportedly ‘all of the artists’ agreed to, as did CBS and the record labels. That appears to have been a one-time deal, as there are no such videos on Facebook artist pages this year (outside of some clipped Reels). It seems that in general, all stakeholders are fine with directing viewers back to the Recording Academy’s website.
As for Brittain and his Twitter clips? Early Tuesday morning, Brittain blamed ‘a copyright vandal who doesn’t actually have any right to remove any of this material,’ claiming that a ‘third party‘ activist affiliated with a video-tracking company was behind the takedown. Brittain added that he’d countered the deletion and that his ‘Fast Car’ video should be back on Twitter in the coming weeks. In the meantime, he appears to have set up a novelty account, @FastCarGrammys, that offers an MP4 recording of Chapman and Combs in its bio. That file, naturally, is hosted on a website named for Brittain.
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