What do Iron Maiden, Rick Astley, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Marilyn Manson, Sublime, Shania Twain, Limp Bizkit, and Abba have in common?
Are you surprised? Perhaps on the basis of the wide variety of musical genres represented by these artists, yes. However, with regard to current trends in music consumption, online and elsewhere, Vevo makes perfect sense – which is why it’s taking over how America receives its music.
Vevo to the rescue?
According to Credit Suisse analysts, YouTube only makes 0.4 cents per video view. This garners a measly $240.9 a year for a venture whose bandwidth, licensing, and operation costs will run upwards of $700 million. In other words, “Google will lose $470.6 million on YouTube, for which it paid $1.76 billion in 2006.”
Vevo may provide the solution to Google’s online video woes. Launched on December 8, 2009, with the slogan “Music Evolution Revolution!,” Vevo overcame MySpace Music as #1 music site in the US within its first month. The company represents a collaboration between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media. Vevo has domain over music videos from three of the “big four” major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI. (Warner partnered with MTV Networks.)
Today, approximately 23,000 videos are available on Vevo. Vevo’s near dominance of the major music labels is allowing it to approach monopoly status. According to Wired Magazine, “there could soon be no other game in town.”
How does this help Google? Well, Google and VEVO share the advertising revenue, and the institution of Vevo ended Google’s licensing difficulties with Universal Music Group. “The purpose behind Vevo is to sell advertising at higher rates than YouTube does now.”
Changing music as we know it
Now, we’re not saying Vevo has single-handedly sparked the renaissance of the music video, but it has helped give the format a kick in the you-know-what.”
The stats from Vevo’s own YouTube page don’t lie: with 10,205,342 upload views, and 523,738 subscribers, Vevo’s channel is the #1 – Most Viewed (All Time and This Month).
In many ways, Vevo provides an important promotional launching pad for today’s artists. With music sales being hit hard by illegal downloads, concerts are quickly becoming many musicians’ leading source of revenue. Vevo specifically labels which artists are on tour on their website, providing direct links to concert ticket vendors. Besides the live music angle, Vevo’s role as a propagator in and of itself certainly provides a convenient online platform for artists to promote their work.
In other ways, Vevo may play harmfully into the existing trends, even exacerbate them: “In the increasingly fragmented music industry, many artists can only hope to share a sliver of the spotlight for that first week of an album’s release.” (source) Do the soundbites that music videos provide project artists to prolonged stardom, or simply offer them a brief peek at the top?
Also, who really wins on Vevo? Vevo’s own rankings of its top ten videos suggest that it may fuel the rise of superstars but leave others out in the cold. In the overall 2010 listing, Justin Bieber took 1st, 5th, and 8th place (Baby, One Time, Never Say Never), with his number one video receiving 422,908,147 views. Sheesh. That’s a heck of a lot of preteen girls. (Though I must sheepishly admit that a bowling alley dance-off would actually be pretty fun.) Lady Gaga claimed two more videos (Bad Romance, Alejandro), as did Rihanna (Love the Way You Lie, Rude Boy). That means that three artists took 70% of the top videos of 2010 – leaving little room for newcomer breakthroughs.
But maybe our past metrics are no longer valid for a changing music industry. According to senior VP of MuchMTV Group Brad Schwartz, “I think people are consuming and engaging with music more than any time in history. Whether they’re actually buying a product that charts on a Billboard, I just think that we have to measure the industry differently.”
Protégé overtaking the master?
Vevo has come out with new iPhone and iPad apps that insinuate direct competition with its mother YouTube and her earlier monopoly of iPhone video apps. Also, in 2010’s rankings of online video providers, Vevo is nipping at the heels of Google (#1) and Yahoo! (#2). Indeed, “Vevo was second only to Google in monthly minutes per viewer, at 85 to 271.” (source)
An increasingly commercialized society
The major downside of Vevo’s services is, obviously, the near exponential increase in ads on YouTube in recent months. American viewed more than 5.4 billion online video ads in November 2010 (source), and video ads reached 49% of the total U.S. population in 2010 (source). This brings about an interesting economic debate. Does being forced to watch 30-second advertisements constitute a form of payment? Does such a “payment” throw into question Google’s commitment to “free” services online? How do you feel about watching a 30 second ad to see a 3 minute music video?
With Vevo pioneering the way of online music video advertising, the waters are thus far uncharted – which means it may have to tread lightly around the issue. “If [Vevo’s increasing influence] means loads of overlays, pre-roll and post-roll advertising, users might revolt.” (Wired)
Vevo’s Top Ten of 2010
1. Justin Bieber – Baby feat. Ludacris
2. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
3. Shakira – Waka Waka
4. Eminem – Love the Way You Lie feat. Rihanna
5. Justin Bieber – One Time
6. Eminem – Not Afraid
7. Rihanna – Rude Boy
8. Justin Bieber – Never Say Never feat. Jaden Smith
9. Lady Gaga – Alejandro
10. Usher – OMG feat. Will.i.am