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YouTube (s GOOG) and Universal Music Group (s VIV) are in talks to create a music video site called “Vevo,” according to reports by CNET and the Wall Street Journal. The destination site would be an attempt to make UMG’s video assets more valuable, with the assumption that advertisers will be more willing to appear alongside a site devoted to high-end music videos than on YouTube with the masses.
Creating a labels-only music video site would shatter YouTube’s would-be role as a single searchable hub for all the world’s video. However, YouTube is under pressure to make money, and it doesn’t want to lose what little premium content it has — Warner Music Group content vanished from the site after a licensing spat in December, and NBC still hasn’t come back after yanking its YouTube channel in 2007 in preparation for Hulu’s launch. UMG has long been YouTube’s most-viewed channel of all time, with nearly 3.6 billion views.
UMG had previously let it be known it wants to build a “Hulu-like” portal for music videos. Meanwhile YouTube has been trying to please music video publishers by amping up curation tools on its music page and offering features such as muting infringing music in other people’s videos.
The new plan, if it goes forward, would be much more drastic, because it would involve the creation of an entirely different site with a different brand. YouTube would provide technology and ad sales support for Vevo, according to the reports, while UMG would provide the content, including editorial, merchandising and webisodes in addition to music videos. Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI may join the venture as well.