Blog Post

What Vevo Gets Right–And What It Gets Wrong

Ty Ahmad-Taylor is the founder and CEO of FanFeedr, a real-time personalized sports feed. Previously he was SVP of Strategy and Product Development at Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and, before that, Comcast.

Vevo, the music video website backed by Universal and Sony-BMG, launched last week with much fanfare. It does a good job of providing access to roughly half of the music videos available in the U.S., but that

16 Responses to “What Vevo Gets Right–And What It Gets Wrong”

  1. Vevo is overall a great site, however, a great disadvantage of the site is that it is not available in all countries. As the number of countries with internet expands, it is important that the service is available for all.

  2. catullusrl

    Dear Rio,
    I have some ideas for you.
    a)Digitally alter popular old videos to insert brand name advertising
    b)Have the vevo blog also include music gossip and advertising (cf
    c)Judging from past music startups,I’m not sure advertising and affiliate sales will generate enough revenue,therefore I would suggest that you go after Apple.There are lots of companies that want to increase their market share of the mediaplayer and smartphone market and Vevo is a great tool to do this.Set up an online store selling music related hardware and use Vevo as a sales funnel directing people interested in music to the store.Remember Steve Jobs uses Itunes to sell high margin hardware, Vevo can perform the same function for Apple’s competitors and you can demand a cut for that.
    d)Play nice with the other Record labels, remember you are all in this together.Use the online store as a shop front so that the majors can sell direct to the consumer.
    Ignore criticism from the blogosphere – it wants you to fail. Good Luck.

  3. Nnamdi from Nigeria

    Hi Rio, really nice of you to drop by here.
    I don’t think it’s a bad business model as ad-based models go. It’s
    essentially an MTV online, without the tacky reality shows. But I think
    it would be unhealthy to ignore the vehement stance of some consumers
    who don’t think promos( which is essentially what music vids are) should
    be monetized and would refuse to watch any with any form of advertising
    embedded in it, either pre-roll or post-roll.
    You could probably circumvent that by creating some original content that’s
    unique to Vevo alone, still based around the artistes and their music. For
    example, you could provide video footage of an artiste recording a song in
    the studio and maybe stream that live. Such content might have the dual advantage
    of driving viewership to the site and as well as creating a buzz for the finished version of
    that particular song upon release. That way people get to come to
    Vevo for more than one reason. That’s my take.
    Other than that, when can we expect Vevo to go international?
    I was wondering when
    Vevo would be available internationally

  4. Funny how companies continue to make things so complicated.

    Ask what visitors want and that is your answer.

    I work in the creation of the music videos that you see… and to not find them on Vevo is mind-boggling (especially when they were #1 hits on Billboard, MTV, and BET and broke sales records).

    Music videos are a promotional tool and they have been from the beginning. Stop trying to make money off of them – you cannot.

    That is your answer.

    (Especially with the budgets these days – I can barely work with what the labels give)

  5. To Rio:

    Thanking you for responding in this space, and the product roadmap you describe is encouraging.

    I would suggest that the approach for winning/dominating the space is closer attention to the social layer, and this is your biggest opportunity, as most firms *don’t* have this right, and the opportunity is largest there.

    To your point, you are just starting out, and thus the beginning is not the end, from a customer, product and business development standpoint, and I look forward to your competition with my colleagues at Viacom and as well as MySpace Music in particular.

    Getting social right is hard work, and getting search better is almost as difficult.

    @Ed: I think that there is space for market segmentation that addresses all genres of music, but I understand your position.

  6. Hello Ty,

    My name is Rio Caraeff and I am the CEO of VEVO. Thank you for taking the time and interest to write about us. I appreciate your thoughtful perspective and insights.

    If you don’t mind, I would like to offer a few comments in response to your post.

    ECONOMICS: The Business of Advertising & Music Videos

    We believe that music programming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment available on-line. In terms of the popularity of music videos, the numbers on YouTube and across the broader internet speak for themselves with many billions upon billions of total views.

    In order to build a meaningful business around music videos, we believe that VEVO can play a role in aggregating a large audience around this form of content everywhere that engaged viewers happens to be – whether it be within YouTube, while at an artist website, within the AOL or CBS networks (recent VEVO partners we announced), at or even on any connected television or handheld platform. VEVO will provide it’s music video experience within all of these environments, providing many hundreds of millions of views and tens of millions of viewers. VEVO will manage the ad sales, ad inventory and underlying audience metrics to create a large scale network of engaged and passionate music fans which is available for the integration of premium brand & advertising partners in a clean and well-lit environment.

    It is early days still, but we are very encouraged by the reaction we have seen in the marketplace so far, and last week we announced over 15 major brand partners (AT&T, Colgate, McDonalds, Infiniti and many others) who are supporting the launch of the VEVO network.

    SEARCH: Giving Fans What They Want

    It is our absolute intention to offer the best music video experience for the benefit of all fans who love music. We are very conscious and aware of our search experience and the challenges that are faced without a full aggregation of all the worlds music videos. We are planning on addressing this on two fronts, both with an ongoing and immediate urgency.

    1) We are continuing to strike licenses with many different music licensors and recently announced deals that will bring in tens of thousands of new, established, major and independent artists into the VEVO experience. We have over 15K videos right now and within Q1 we will have twice that amount within VEVO. These videos will start to flow into our network starting in January and our experience will keep getting better.

    The promise of what VEVO will offer, a high quality experience for fans and for brands across a massively distributed footprint is resonating well within the music community and I feel good about the progress we have made so far.

    2) At the same time, we understand that VEVO may never be able to have EVERYTHING that EVERYONE will ever want – which is why we are working on other search solutions to significantly improve our search results which will simply direct fans to the best and highest quality versions of music programming from artists they love, whether or not those videos are licensed into the VEVO network.

    CONTROLLING OUR OWN DESTINY: Internal vs External Competencies

    You are correct in that YouTube is our partner and we work closely with them in many areas, not the least of which is in the hosting and streaming of music programming on and on VEVO within YouTube. Our partnership is designed to focus on what both of our companies do well and is mutually symbiotic and well balanced.

    Regarding Schematic, yes it is true that we worked with Schematic early in the process on the design of VEVO but that was a relatively short engagement that was necessary while we were in the midst of building up our own internal design, product and engineering competencies. We transitioned away from Schematic many months ago and have been managing all aspects of the business internally with VEVO ever since. This was always our intention from the very beginning as we believe that developing internal competencies is critical in order to control your own destiny and to provide the best experience for our customers.

    We are a very young company, far less than 1 year old – who believed in getting to market quickly to learn what music fans and brand partners want and then to focus on iterating and improving rapidly going forward. While far from perfect, VEVO represents a clear and simple mission which is to provide a high quality and far reaching music video experience for the benefit of all fans who love music.

    Thank you,

    Rio Caraeff

  7. “Rule number one of product development: people are lazy”

    thank you so very much, no really i appreciate it, thanks again.

    it strikes me that the over-arching presumption of vevo is to try and make money from promotion. in watching my kids search and discover music on youtube, this strategy will be a dead end. @ed dunn above does a very good job of explaining some of the background on this.

    my own take is that this further demonstrates the recording industry’s out-n-out failure to understand and embrace the disruption caused to their business by the by now almost universal adaptation of “the internet” and the technologies it runs on by those of us who are, frankly, quite lazy.

  8. I haven’t seen anything that Vevo got right. Isn’t Vevo nothing more than Google attempting to work with the media companies who are complaining about YouTube copyright violations? Let’s not pretend this is some bold and new venture with a true consumer driven purpose.

    If I’m correct, music videos are commodities used by labels to drive the sales of an audio recording – the labels actual business model. In a way, the the record labels still have 20th century hostility towards music video as they protect their audio royalities even with the advent of the Internet…this is how outdated the record label business model are and what they are really out to protect – the audio. This explains why we see unlicensed music videos on YouTube where the “audio” is removed.

    So let’s be honest about the money and content, okay? The reason why Viacom had a hard time making money on music videos is because Viacom/MTV was interested in pushing the young and White persona demographic to advertisers to sell to. It is interesting to note during the same timeframe, there was a user-generated PAID CONTENT music video service called TheBox running in the top cities that Viacom/MTV was targeting and the top videos were rap/urban. Then it came out that the biggest audience of the rap/urban was the stereotype White youth MTV was trying to sell to advertisers.

    So in summary, Vevo does not support a user-generated paid content model of music videos to generate healthy revenue. Most of the artists are successfully promoting themselves on YouTube with millions of viewers that boost their recording sales. I don’t believe Vevo got anything right except to prove once again that mass advertising against a speculative demographic will never outmatch true business-to-consumer social media relationship in the 21st century.

  9. The largest problem (beef) that I have had with Vevo thus far is its search results.

    I have put in well-known musicians and come up empty handed MANY times. This is just unacceptable.

    Not quite certain how they screwed something so simplistic up.

    Give it a try.

    Type in ‘Bat for Lashes’ or ‘Biz Markie’ and see what the results are.

    Once they get that fixed (if ever), Vevo will become my main portal for music videos (because let us face it, until recently, YouTube’s quality was horrible and MTV’s still is)