During a conference call this morning Google and Universal Music Group annouced the upcoming launch of VEVO, a site billed as ‘premium online music hub built for consumers, advertisers, and content owners..’. The site, which will launch later this year, will include UMG’s catalog of music videos, and will be powered by YouTube’s technology. The two companies will share advertising revenue generated by the site. Reports of a joint venture between UMG and YouTube originally surfaced last month, when the two parties were still reportedly ironing out financial details.
During the call, Google’s head of strategic partnerships David Eun said that the deal signifies a shift for “the way YouTube and Google think about its business models”, as well as the way music labels have dealt with tech companies (in the past relationships between the music industry and the site has been fraught with suits – Eun is calling this a “genuine partnership”). Deals with other lablels are currently in the works.
The two companies say that at launch the site will have more traffic than any other music video site on the web. Users will be able to access the content through the main hub at VEVO.com or through a VEVO channel on YouTube through a VEVO branded player (it sounds like you won’t be able to embed the content using standard YouTube embeds). Along with UMG’s full music video catalogue, VEVO is going to offer a social community and original content including behind-the-scenes video and entertainment.
Because users will apparently be able to watch the content through YouTube.com, I question if the VEVO portal will ever gain much traction – why visit VEVO if you can just go to YouTube, which everyone is used to? And the social community angle isn’t unique either – sites like MySpace Music already allow users to connect over music content, as did the now-defunct PluggedIn. Eun says that the YouTube and the content owners are primarily concerned with giving users access to the music videos they’re looking for, whether it be on YouTube or Vevo.com, but given that YouTube and UMG are looking to generate higher ad rates on VEVO they have to be eager to get traffic there somehow.
YouTube has also announced that it extended its deal with UMG that allows users to include songs from UMG in their YouTube videos.