The New York Times wrote today about how three of the largest music labels in the U.S. are joining forces on a new video site called Vevo. Vevo, from Sony, EMI, and Universal, (they are still wooing Warner Music, apparently) will feature artists' music videos available for viewing by the masses like you and me.
They're making some bold-yet-vague claims, such as this one by Rio Caraeff, Vevo's chief executive:
"It will be a higher-quality experience around music and videos than anything else that's currently out there.”
Awesome… assuming that actually means something. And it may not. According to the New York Times article, Vevo's videos will be—drum roll—hosted and streamed by YouTube.
Later in the article it's revealed that Vevo plans to syndicate videos to other sites… such as YouTube.com.
What?!?!Am I the only one getting whiplash reading this article? Vevo has been in the works since the Spring, and launches for U.S. Internet users Tuesday, December 8, 2009 (tomorrow as I write this), and you mean to tell me that the best they can come up with in describing the site is this muddled mess?
Let's recap: YouTube will host and serve the videos, which makes Vevo sound like a glorified music blog to start… simply embedding YouTube videos is not a launch strategy. But then, Vevo's also going to take their YouTube-hosted videos and syndicate them back to YouTube.
I'm not seeing why we need the middle man. I can already find tons of music videos on YouTube.
Oh, Vevo also says they'll eventually offer some original programming from artists. That could be cool, I suppose.
Look, I'm being pretty harsh on Vevo. Perhaps that's not fair. I promise to eat my words should Vevo turn out to be the coolest thing ever. For now, color me skeptical.
I know the industry is suffering, largely due to file sharing. I get it. And I have nothing at all against them doing what they can to protect their artists. I think that illegal downloads are a problem and I applaud the labels for trying something new for them. They've been watching YouTube rack up the views on music videos for years, and they finally decided to get in on the action. Fair enough. I have no problem with that.
In fact, I'm quite sure this is all about rights management and advertising. This deal is basically just a transfer of broadcast rights from YouTube (who has been showing these videos under a legal agreement) back to the rightful owners—the labels—who will undoubtedly sell some advertising on the new site to help their artists make some money. As the new owners of the broadcast rights, Vevo will then allow YouTube to keep showing some of them.
That sounds like pretty much the whole picture right there. And if so, I'm not sure why they can't just come out and say that… there's nothing wrong with that. Instead we get this somewhat confusing flowery language about a new transcendent music video experience.
Of course, Hulu was just as much about rights management and advertising themselves, but they might have been a bit better at hiding it.
Anyway, if you're a music video fan, and you're used to going to YouTube to watch your favorite music videos… um… I guess nothing will change. Or you can check out Vevo. You never know, it might be cool. People scoffed at Hulu in the beginning too.