YouTube to upgrade a large number of old music videos to high definition

Videos by Billy Idol, Lady Gaga and Beastie Boys are just some that are getting an upgrade

YouTube have announced that they’ll be upgrading a large number of old music videos to support high definition.

On Wednesday (June 19), the streaming giant and Universal Music Group announced that they would be upgrading more than 1,000 popular music videos to high definition, releasing them through to 2020. The first 100 to be upgraded will include videos by Lady Gaga, Tom Petty, Boyz II Men, The Killers, Lionel Richie, Kiss, George Strait, and the Spice Girls.

With six of his own videos featured in the first wave of upgrades, Billy Idol said of the digital enhancements: “Once that dirty colouring is removed, it’s a lot more vital somehow…It gives these videos a chance against the modern high-quality definition. And I’m forever that age in these videos – it’s kind of fantastic.”


Upgrading the clips meant undertaking a lot of archival work sifting through an array of formats, including “everything from original film to Digibeta, HDCAM to one-inch Cs and Betacam SPs to D2s,” David Moffitt, Universal’s executive vice president of content strategy and operations, told The New York Times.

Universal wanted to make sure they remained true to the original artistic intentions of the videos. When it came time to upgrade the video for Beastie Boys‘ ‘Sabotage’, the label contacted the remaining members of the group as well as director Spike Jonze to make sure they weren’t interfering with the video’s cheap 1970s cop show aesthetic.

“The graininess of a tube television set, which is what they were going for, is not the dithery compression artifact that you can see on a highly compressed video, so cleaning it up went more to the retro intent,” explained Moffitt.

Meanwhile, Beastie Boys have shared 12 rare tracks as the band celebrate the 15th anniversary of ‘To the 5 Boroughs’.


Posting on social media last weekend (June 14), the band wrote: ” To the 5 Boroughs came out 15 years ago today. For the occasion, twelve rare tracks have just been released digitally in addition to the original 15 songs on the album.”

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