Posts for 'Music'

  • VEVO President/CEO Rio Caraeff to Speak at ELEVATE; Early Bird Discount Expires This Friday

    I'm pleased to share that Rio Caraeff, President and CEO of VEVO, the leading online music video destination, will be speaking at ELEVATE: Online Video Advertising Summit on Tuesday, June 7th in NYC. Rio joins a morning panel titled "Content Publishers Crack the Code on Video Success" along with Kevin Krim (Global Head of Bloomberg Web Properties), Doug Knopper (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, FreeWheel), Adam Singolda (CEO and Founder, Taboola) and a moderator TBD.

    I'm especially pleased to welcome Rio to the list of all-star speakers at ELEVATE because VEVO epitomized how a strong concept for an online video destination, executed well, can generate successful results. VEVO, which was only officially launched 18 months ago, garnered over 52 million unique visitors in March, 2011 according to comScore, making it the 5th-highest rated video site. VEVO has strong relationships with major record labels from which it sources its music video library. YouTube is also a key technology and distribution partner. VEVO has apps for the iPhone and Android, and also recently announced an expansion into the U.K. market.

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  • YouTube Surges to Almost 15 Billion Views in May

    comScore has released its May online video rankings and at the top of the list, as usual, is YouTube. In May it racked up a record 14.6 billion video views, up 11.5% from April. YouTube's market share actually dipped slightly in May, to 43..1%, still its 3rd-highest monthly share since comScore began releasing this data in Jan '07. Total video views were also at a record high of 33.9 billion views in May.

    The chart below shows how remarkable YouTube's growth has been since Jan '09. YouTube has more than doubled its monthly views from 6.3 billion. Meanwhile, YouTube's market share has hovered right around 40% each month, with its lowest level at 37.7% in Oct '09 and its highest of 43.5% in April '10. YouTube is generating more than 10 times the monthly views it was when Google acquired it.

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  • Smartphones Poised to Move to Cultural Center Stage?

    Yesterday's note in the WSJ's Digits blog about 22 year-old South Korean singer Kim Yeo-hee's move from YouTube viral star to her own record deal is a reminder of the brave new world that aspiring singers now find themselves in. Of course, getting noticed on YouTube as a viral star has been a rage for years now, but what's different for Kim is that what got her noticed online is her use of music apps on 3 different iPhones as her as accompaniment.

    It's a somewhat awkward scene, but you have to give Kim credit for being ingenious. And it's a lesson to other up-and-comers - having good pipes is still table stakes, but new technology and devices can help you distinguish yourself in the sea of online performers. That got me to thinking - with smartphones becoming a bigger and bigger part of our culture, what other creative ways might we see them start seeing them appear in performances?

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
  • Brightcove Lands EMI Further Fueling Music Videos Online

    Brightcove is announcing this morning that EMI Music has chosen the Brightcove platform to power its online video initiatives corporate-wide. According to Brightcove, the EMI deal means that all of the big 4 music industry groups, including Sony, Universal, and Warner, are now using its platform. Shifting to a heavy-duty platform like Brightcove is further proof that the music industry is getting more ambitious about its online opportunities.

    While there has been much coverage over the years of illegal music downloading, online video on the other hand has become a big friend to the music business and to artists in particular, opening up new monetization and promotion opportunities. Music videos specifically are a key revenue opportunity for labels, through advertising and by licensing to 3rd parties for their distribution. Live streaming concerts, complete with behind-the-scenes extras have become extremely popular.  Social media, online playlists and video sharing have all contributed to music purchase/download behavior.  Going forward, the growth of video-enabled mobile devices (e.g. iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) that make on-the-go playback and shared viewing the norm provides more momentum.

    According to eMarketer, consumer spending on music is set to increase 11.4% annually over the next 4 years to $4.56 million in 2013, with all of the growth forecast to come from online. Most of this is assumed to come from a shift to subscription, cloud-based music services, and I would anticipate music videos and concerts playing a larger role going forward as well.

    Though the specific business models are still evolving, I think that music videos have a long way to run. The recent launch of Vevo, by Sony, Universal and YouTube, and its almost immediate rise to the top 10 most popular video sites (32.3 million unique viewers in January according to comScore) is fresh evidence of how much users like online music video access. Music videos are the perfect format for today's online video user because they are short-form, can be played while performing other tasks and can be shared easily. When convergence devices that bridge broadband all the way to the TV become widespread, then longer-form programs will increase in popularity; until then music videos are in the sweet spot.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

    Note: Fred Santarpia, GM of Vevo, will be on the April 26th VideoSchmooze panel in NYC. Early bird registration opening soon, stay tuned.
  • Vevo Launches: Decent Start, Lots of Work Ahead

    Vevo, the much-heralded "Hulu for the music industry" venture backed by Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Abu Dhabi Music Company and Google/YouTube (and with video provided by EMI as well) officially launched late last night. I've been browsing around the site this morning and my first reaction is that it's a decent start, but has a long way to go if it is to fulfill its lofty mission.

    Conceptually, I like the idea behind Vevo. The music industry, which has suffered multiple blows over the last 10 years, is getting together to create a destination site where music videos are distributed legally, with a coherent ad strategy. YouTube's participation means that videos that have been watched in the labels' YouTube channels can be branded Vevo, giving the new site tons of visibility, and helping migrate traffic over time.

    From a design standpoint, the Vevo site has a similar feel to Hulu: large, wide-screen images on the home page promoting certain videos/artists, thumbnails below, of top videos, playlists and artists, quick links to most popular today, and search/navigation. A nav bar at the bottom of the screen invites users to easily create new playlists by adding up to 75 videos with one click. Videos are embeddable and shareable, and there are quick links to buy the music at Amazon and iTunes. The site was periodically very slow to load and occasionally even gave me a server error page. I don't know how much of this to ascribe day 1 hiccups that will be worked out over time or really poor capacity planning.


    Less clear to me is how Vevo distinguishes itself from a user experience standpoint from YouTube itself. This has been a question that's nagged at me since the Vevo concept was first unveiled - how do the partners plan to make 1+1=3? The partners have made references to being indifferent to whether users watch at or YouTube, presumably because there would be similar advertising on both with similar splits. Yet, my experience going back and forth between the sites, albeit very limited, reveals lots of inconsistencies and a lot of promotional leverage left untapped.

    Focusing on U2, one of my personal favorites, I found only about a dozen of the band's music videos on Vevo. Switching over to YouTube, I found many more tracks, such as "Beautiful Day," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Where the Streets Have No Name," all in the Universal Music Group's channel. All of the videos were monetized: the first was preceded by a 15 second pre-roll ad for Chevy Malibu and the latter two carried an overlay ad to "Play Free Games" which was accompanied by a companion ad in the right column (the overlay was incredibly distracting, but that's another story). None of the videos had any Vevo branding whatsoever. It's also worth noting that even the UMG channel in YouTube has no Vevo branding or promotion.

    Conversely, a search in YouTube for "All Because of You," a video that is available on Vevo, loads in YouTube with full Vevo branding. Above the video window are options to "Watch with Lyrics," "View Artist Profile," and "Create a Playlist." Clicking on any of these carries you over to the Vevo site. However, none of these actions are well-executed. "Watch with Lyrics" restarts the video, whereas a much slicker implementation would resume playing on Vevo from the point of drop-off. "View Artist Profile" simply displays a list other videos available, without any real artist profile information offered (background, upcoming concerts, etc.). And "Create a Playlist" just brings you to Vevo's home page, without any prompts for what to do next if indeed you want to actually want to create a playlist.

    Elsewhere, the Vevo team hasn't even bothered to update its blog to officially announce the site's launch (it still says "Launching Tonight!" at the top). That's a missed opportunity, especially considering there was a splashy launch party in NYC last night (attendees ranging from Google's Eric Schmidt to Rhianna, Bono and Mariah Carey) and pictures and video from that event would have been a big drawing card. Come on - where's the Vevo PR team here?

    How much of this should be forgiven to it being early days of Vevo's launch is a subjective call. From my vantage point though, I think the Vevo team could have done a lot more to think through and execute on the user experience. Back in November '07, when I looked at Hulu in its private beta, I gave it a solid B+. The Hulu team had clearly obsessed about each and every detail of the site - and have continued to do so. Hulu's user experience isn't perfect, but it has set the bar very high for those seeking to emulate it. For now Vevo probably rates around a C; much work is still ahead.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.
    Update: Vevo's blog post that "It's awesome that millions of people are checking it out, but the response has been orders of magnitude larger than even our highest estimate" suggests poor capacity planning by the Vevo ops team. I mean,"orders of magnitude larger"? If that's really the case then the ops team gets serious demerits for a ridiculously big miss.
  • 4 Items Worth Noting from the Week of September 14th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 14th:

    1. Ad spending slowdown continues - TNS Media Intelligence reported that 1st half '09 U.S. ad spending declined 14.3% vs. a year ago, to $60.87 billion. Spending in Q2 '09 alone was down 13.9% vs. a year ago, the 5th straight declining quarter. The only bright spots TNS reported were Internet display ads (up 6.5%) and Free Standing Inserts (up 4.6%).

    Rupert Murdoch and others in the industry have lately been suggesting that advertising is starting to improve and that the worst is behind us. But TNS SVP Research Jon Swallen was less sanguine, saying only that "Early data from third quarter hint at possible improvements for some media due to easy comparisons against distressed levels of year ago expenditures." While the online video ad sector has held up far better than most, the ad spending crash has caused many in the industry to re-evaluate whether ad-only models are viable, particularly for long-form premium content online. Subscription-oriented initiatives will only intensify the longer the ad slowdown lasts.

    2. Veoh's court victory is important for all in the industry - I'd be remiss not to note the significance of U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz's granting of Veoh's motion for summary judgment, effectively throwing out Universal Music's suit alleging Veoh had infringed UMG's copyrights. Judge Matz articulated the specific reasons he believed Veoh operated within the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA.

    As a content producer myself (albeit at a completely different level than a music publisher or film studio!), I've generally been a huge advocate of copyright protection. But the fact is that DMCA - for better or worse - set out the rules for digital copyright use and they must be enforced clearly and forcefully. Anything less leaves the market in a state of confusion, with industry participants wary of inviting costly, time-consuming legal action (Veoh has said the UMG suit cost it millions of dollars in legal fees). For online video to thrive the rules of the road need to be well-understood; Judge Matz's ruling made an important contribution toward that goal.

    3. Digitalsmiths announces new senior level hires - This week Digitalsmiths announced that it has brought on board Josh Wiggins as its new VP, Business Development, West Coast and two others, who will collectively be the company's first L.A.-based presence. They'll report in to Bob Bryson, SVP of Sales and Business Development.

    I caught up with Digitalsmiths' CEO Ben Weinberger briefly, who explained that with tier 1 film/TV studios and other content owners (news, sports, etc.) the company's major focus, it was essential to have a full-time presence there staffed with people who know the industry cold. Ben reported that the company has honed in on target customers who have very large files, have video as their core business/revenue center, require sophisticated metadata management and often need a rapid video capture, processing and playout workflow. Digitalsmiths is proving a solid example of how to effectively differentiate through product and customer focus in a very crowded space. Announced customers include Warner Bros., Telepictures and, others are in the hopper (note Digitalsmiths is a VideoNuze sponsor).

    4. New site is a worth its weight in gold - On a somewhat lighter note, this week the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation unveiled, which offers thoughtful, introspective video interviews with a wide range of TV's most influential personalities. If you have nostalgia for the classic TV shows from your youth, or just appreciate the amazing talent that has made the medium what it is, this site is for you. It is remarkably well-organized and accessible and brilliant proof of online video's power in presenting invaluable material that was previously available only to a lucky few.

    I happily got lost in the site listening to Alan Alda talk about the fabulous writers of M*A*S*H and Steven Bochco describing the magic of "Hill Street Blues." I searched by "Happy Days" and quickly found the exact clips of Ron Howard talking about the role of his "Richie Cunningham" character in the show's arc and Henry Winkler revealing the influence of Sylvester Stallone on how he developed the voice of "Fonzie." Mary Tyler Moore is irresistible discussing specific scenes of the Mary Tyler Moore show and her poignant memories of Mary Richards navigating the working world. Kudos to the Academy, the site is a gem.

    Enjoy the weekend and L'shanah tova (Happy New Year) to those of you, who like me, will be observing Rosh Hashanah this weekend!

  • Holiday Week 2007 News Wrap-up

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2008!

    With many of you taking last week off, a quick review of what you might have missed is in order:

    1. iTunes-Fox download-to-rent movie deal rumors

    The FT (reg. required) reported that Apple and Fox are close to announcing a deal under which Fox movies would be available for download-to-rent on iTunes. This would be a deviation from Apple's policy of download-to-own only. Call me a skeptic, but while some analysts think this deal is a big breakthrough, for me it's more of a ho-hum, for at least the following reasons.

    Download-to-rent offerings have been around for a while (e.g. Movielink, CinemaNow, Amazon Unbox, etc.) and none have been grand slams. Admittedly none have enabled playback on an iPod. Yet, while many think iPod ubiquity is a killer advantage for iTunes rentals I disagree. It's one thing to watch a 30 or maybe a 60 minute TV show, but watching a 2 hour movie on an iPod? That's only appealing for a tiny minority of iPod owners. Further, while the rumored $2.99 or so price point is attractive, download-to-rent movies will come with the same cumbersome business rules (e.g. 24 hour viewing, window limitations, finite device sharing, etc.) that cause significant customer inconvenience. And DVDs, available for rental or purchase still offer superior portability and flexibility to any download model. Movie downloads' time will come, just not yet.

    2. Wal-Mart Folds its Video Download Store

    And speaking of download challenges, Wal-Mart decided to unceremoniously close its video download store less than a year since its launch. While it pointed its finger at its vendor HP, which decided to discontinue support for the technology underlying the Wal-Mart store, there are certainly other white label platform alternatives available if Wal-Mart had conviction about the download store's potential. It clearly didn't and so it folded its tent. More evidence of the challenges facing paid downloads.

    3. YouTube's Top 2007 Videos Announced

    Meanwhile over in YouTube land, the hits keep coming. YouTube released its top 10 list and the year's most popular video, with almost 23 million views, was "Battle at Kruger", which shows the fight to save a baby water buffalo from a group of lions and a crocodile. It's fascinating if you haven't seen it. Other top videos on the list were "Chocolate Rain", "Obama Girl" and "Leave Britney Alone", among others. If nothing else, this diverse group of videos shows that UGC is alive and well.

    4. Queen Elizabeth and Roger Clemens Seek Out YouTube

    And UGC wasn't for pure amateurs either. YouTube's reach was once again recognized as 2 celebrities, Queen Elizabeth and Roger Clemens posted videos serving their individual purposes. In a first for the 81 year-old queen, she posted her popular Christmas message on YouTube, augmenting its traditional broadcast. The Royal Channel - "The Official Channel of the British Monarchy" - also launched on YouTube.

    Clemens, who's been fingered in baseball's steroid controversy, saw fit to post his proclamation of innocence on YouTube. Clemens is adamant in his own defense, and clearly believes that reaching out to fans with video instead of the usual press release is more compelling.

    Trivia question: whose video do you think drew more views?

    Answer: It's not even close: 741,000 for the queen vs. 274,000 for Clemens.

    5. MTV Delivers 1.2 Billion Streams in '07

    MTV self-reported that, and delivered more than 1.2 billion video streams in '07, an increase of 30% vs. '06. It also reported the top 30 music videos it streamed, and number 1 was Gimme More by Britney Spears. Broadband is offering MTV an opportunity to return to its brand roots as the go-to destination for music videos even as more and more of the on-air experience is dominated by non-music video fare. As I wrote a couple months ago, music videos are becoming a sought-after new revenue stream for labels and aggregators. We'll see more emphasis on music videos in '08.

  • Music Videos are Another Example of Broadband's Ability to Create Unforeseen Revenues

    On my flight home last night I was thumbing through my hotel-provided USA Today and happened on this interesting piece about how record labels are transforming their music videos from promotional tool to a bona fide new revenue source. Chalk up another unforeseen win for broadband's ability to enable new business models.

    Rio Caraeff, EVP of eLabs, Universal Music Group's digital division says that licensing its music videos to the likes of Yahoo, AOL, YouTube and others now generates over $20M/year and is growing briskly. Supporting a forecast of solid growth ahead, Ian Rogers, Yahoo Music's GM believes that viewership of music videos will expand by "10 to 100 times over the next one to two years."

    According to comScore, Yahoo is the web's #1 music destination, pulling in 23.4M uniques in August. Caraeff also noted that streaming accounts for the lion's share of the revenue, with paid downloads of music videos still miniscule. He cites the best-selling download of all-time, a Justin Timberlake single as generating only 58K buys, which, at $1.99 apiece, adds up to less than $120K.

    None of this is to say that music videos won't continue to be used as promotional fodder. But these nascent, growing licensing and ad-sharing revenues show broadband's power to mine content value that was previously inaccessible. Sports leagues, particularly, have been masterful at this as well, driving successful broadband-only subscription businesses. I expect others to sprout up as well.

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