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What the Hell is Vevo, And Why Should I Care? (The Rebirth and/or Continued Demise of the Music Video)

December 13, 2009

It’s been some time since my last post, and for good reason–a brotha’s been workin.  It’s rough out here.

My man Keith Davis (@keith_davis) posted a tweet from Spike Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Productions (@40AcresBrooklyn), for a new music video that Spike made for the late Michael Jackson’s “This is It,” which was posted on a website called:

The logo just looked so important that I had to look into it.  Spike’s up on it–I’m trying to stay current on what’s happening in the industry.  I started talking to everyone I knew.

“Yo, have you heard about this ‘Vevo’ thing?”  “No.”

“You’ve heard about this ‘Vevo’ thing.”  “…Bebo?”

“Vevo.”  “…’Vee-meo?'”

“…Vevo.”  “The hell is that?”

So then I did some research.

Vevo.com, is a website formed through the partnership of Sony/Universal Music Group and Google/Youtube that was launched just this past week in the hopes of providing a premiere, go-to site for high-quality music videos across the internet in the hopes of creating consistent viewership, and through it, attracting more lucrative advertisers.

The site was released to much fanfare at a star-studded music industry event hosted by Sony/Universal Music Group, one in which the general consensus seemed to be, “gosh, we hope this brings more revenue back to music videos.”

Some quotables from the VEVO press release–

“Overnight, VEVO will become the largest music video network on the web due to its partnership with YouTube. All YouTube traffic and video streams for music videos from 85% of the music market will be assigned directly to VEVO, creating the largest music video audience network online.”

“Music fans drive the VEVO experience, discovering and engaging with original content and music video programming through playlisting, commenting and social network integration. Consumers can also purchase MP3s of their favorite songs through retailing partnerships with iTunes and Amazon, and shortly, will be able to purchase an extensive line of artist-related merchandise through a partnership with Bravado, the world’s leading global entertainment merchandise company.”

“VEVO is launching at a time when Internet users and brands are embracing premium online video as never before. Most recently, comScore Video Metrix service showed that more than 167 million U.S. Internet users watched online videos during the month of October, with 28 billion videos viewed during the month alone, and 84.4 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewing online video. And research firm eMarketer estimates that video ad spending will likely rise to reach $2 billion in 2011, up from $734 million in 2008.”

“VEVO features the most extensive catalog of premium music content found anywhere on the web thanks to deals with such leading music companies as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, ABKCO, Big Machine Records, CBS Interactive Music Group, Concord Music Group, Hollywood Records, Lyric Street Records, Razor & Tie Entertainment, Walt Disney Records, Wind-up Records, Caroline Distribution, Fontana Distribution, INgrooves, IODA, RED and The Orchard, among many others.”

Some Context (As Far as I Understand It):

The business of creating music videos has virtually become a sure financial loss on the part of the artists, management and labels looking to create them mostly as a result of the fact that people have largely stopped watching music videos on what were once the go-to television stations for such media–MTV, BET, VH1, etc. but rather now look to find them as they are embedded and shared and traded and transferred across the internet in all sorts of different sizes, resolutions and formats.  As a result of this wayward content, advertising money has been markedly hard to come by.

Couple this with the fact that (as far as I know) the music industry as we used to know it has been crippled by piracy, making it difficult for artists and management to earn revenue in general and making it doubly hard for people to put money into videos–which are basically just promotions for artists.  Commercials.

So we have — lack of overall industry capital + no known location/site to control and display quality content + mad people still looking for music videos + youtube, vimeo, other free sites still displaying stuff + artists still creating vids = a bunch of free content that’s not making any damn money for anybody.

This has been the situation since the early 00’s.

But now there’s “Vevo.”

Having myself made a video for an artist who I hope will one day help me finish and display it somewhere (lol) I felt it necessary to check this Vevo thing out.

Looking at the website, I’ve got to say, it looks a little wack.  It’s a lot like Hulu.com, which I don’t mind, but the layout just looks so spare and uninviting.  It looks corporate and manufactured.  It feels like we’re being marketed to and I don’t think that modern users will go for it as is.

Logging on as a user, I feel like it’s run by the same people that choose who wins the Grammy Awards, the same people that this year elected to nominate The Lonely Island featuring T. Pain for the best Rap/Sung collab of 2010, the same people that gave “The Carter III” the best Rap Album of the Year instead of “The Cool” by Lupe Fiasco, people that are out of touch with what’s actually good and are instead floundering to find out what’s “cool.”

[Aside — No offense to Lil Wayne, by the way, but he knows he was slackin on that last album.  “The Cool?” That was epic.  No offense to Lonely Island, either, just off of GP.]

Lol @ My Playlists Being Sponsored by McDonald's Dollar Menu

The watchword of modern, new-media focused marketing is “sharing.”  I think that the main appeal behind YouTube is the fact that it feels so casual.  It engenders sharing, which is why I think so many people use it.  There’s something about Youtube that people have come to love–something about its openness…something about the fact that it feels like a free for all.

There’s some appeal to having to search and discover the newest, hottest, oldest (whateverest) videos for artists, popular people or even people that only have niche audiences.  On YouTube, you can find videos for everything from MGMT to Jamaican dudes daggerin chicks to kitschy, esoteric shit like Spandau Ballet’s “True” from 1985 and mainstream stuff like Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”  As a user, you’re not sure if the videos you’re looking for are going to be there, you have to search for it, and that’s kind of cool.

It’s this same sort of appeal that draws DJs and record connoiseurs to forage for vinyl copies of classic records that they love.  It’s the same thing that makes people want to stand in line for the hottest new sneakers–just so they can say that they have something that other people don’t have.  Youtube appeals to niche audiences and to subcultures, which is something that I think we’ll see the increased rise of in the years to come, across industries.

I’m not sure that Vevo is going to give us any of that, not at all.

Don’t get me wrong–as an aspiring director and (I loath having to admit) an independent artist, I would love to see music videos get more money again.  The entertainment industry needs money, damn it.  New artists need an outlet and artists in general need to get paid for the work that they bust their asses to create.  A lot of film directors came up honing their skills on music videos–they’ve always been a great tool for that.  A lot of musicians have gotten their faces out using music videos–they remain a good tool for that.

But I have a feeling that if Vevo only plays music videos by Top 40 artists or artists that, through Vevo’s oh-so thoroughly compiled, researched and analyzed metrics, they’ve classified as “popular,” Vevo will fail to be truly dope and will just end up being something that people watch by default, which I guess is fine, too, at least from the standpoint of trying to create revenue.

— Questions (all mostly hinted at already) —

From a supply and demand p.o.v.–YouTube’s still up, so what’s the reason that anyone would want to go to Vevo in the first place?  Is it because you’ve taken the videos that I know and love by most of my favorite artists that are available on Youtube (Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings,” Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” etc.) and slapped that big ass Vevo logo on it?

Who is going to benefit off of the revenue that is supposedly going to come back into the industry?

Will Vevo create new opportunities for budding directors and filmmakers to experiment and for unsigned musicians to gain exposure and make money or will this just be a more firmly cemented glass ceiling for the people that are already making dough?

Guess we’ll see what happens.  Why do I take this so personally?  Because I’m broke, man, that’s all.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. filmindustrynetwork permalink
    December 16, 2009 9:09 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I am very skeptical about VEVO as youtube has unfortunately ‘destroyed’ the profitability of music videos. Its what napster did to music…

    http://www.filmindustrynetwork.biz/

    Thanks!

  2. Melanie permalink
    December 24, 2009 6:51 am

    I find VEVO annoying as hell! I just want to watch the videos I click on minus the ads first. Now I got to find another site to watch music videos.

  3. December 27, 2009 2:51 pm

    vevo sucks.

  4. Rebecca permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:18 pm

    Vevo sucks! It doesn’t load right on my computer and basically I can’t watch music videos anymore.

  5. January 3, 2010 12:58 pm

    Now its no loner available in my country. Guess I wont use it. EVER

  6. January 3, 2010 9:13 pm

    VEVO SUCKS!!!!! Doesn’t play for SQUAT! Bloody thing is nothing but a herky jerkey POS!

    People have tasted free content on the interent…no matter how much the music (and soon entire entertainment industry) wants to get back to their HUGE, WAY over the top incomes, it’s NEVER comming back again…. If the industry finds a way to protect their profits, within hours, (not days) people will find a way to pilfer the entertainment industry!

    The industry needs to understand one simple rule…. People want their money’s worth….they will pay a REASONABLE amount for entertainment if the want to keep it! Sorry, $16.00 U.S. is WAY too much for music…especially when you see these entertainers living multimillion dollar lifestyles….

  7. March 20, 2010 6:37 pm

    go to hell VEVO …….
    you try to find somthing to stop watching videos for free
    It’s past, too late
    it’s never changes back

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