Vevo, the premium music video site developed by major labels Universal and Sony in conjunction with Google, said this afternoon that it will launch its service on Dec. 8th. The news comes less than a day after another major label, EMI, began using Hulu as a distribution channel for high-quality videos. Neither EMI nor Warner Music Group, the fourth major, has reached a deal to participate in Vevo’s launch yet.
While Vevo is often touted as a “Hulu for music,” a premium alternative to YouTube’s comparatively lo-fi music video offerings, it may find itself competing for consumers’ attention with both Hulu and YouTube, as well as MTV and MySpace. Google-owned YouTube is already many people’s first option for streaming music, whether they’re interested in the video element or not, and it may continue to be a “good enough” option for many music fans. What’s more, any new music service that launches without all four majors on board is necessarily handicapped by a library of content that won’t satisfy user searches, all the more so if it’s lacking independent label content as well. (YouTube was missing Warner Music’s songs for several months after a royalty spat, but the two settled in September.)
In theory, the labels and Google can reap greater advertising revenues from a higher-quality music video destination site than from YouTube, where user-contributed videos (and everything else) sit side-by-side with clips distributed by record labels and other content providers. Will consumers find it as compelling as existing alternatives? We’ll find out in less than three weeks.