Vevo: First Thoughts

So Google and the music industry have teamed up to create Vevo, which aims to corral all music videos into a separate part of YouTube where they will be monetized by higher quality (and higher cost) video advertising.

Vevo launched last night and I spent some time on it this morning. At first look, I'm not sure I get this thing.

The first thing I did is search for Arctic Monkeys and I get a response that there are no results for that term.

Second thing I did is click on the link to Kid Cudi and watch the Pursuit Of Happiness video. But before I could watch that I had to sit through a 15 second AT&T pre-roll. That's not a great experience. I wonder if people will really sit through a 15 second pre-roll to watch a music video.

Then I went to YouTube and did a search for Kid Cudi Pursuit Of Happiness. The video I saw on Vevo is absolutely not on YouTube, but there are plenty of Pursuit Of Happiness videos there to watch including a really cool Steve Aoki remix.

Then I went to Google and did a search on Kid Cudi Pursuit Of Happiness and there are links to a bunch of videos on YouTube and but no links to Vevo.

It's probably that Vevo is not completely rolled out yet but it would seem to me that for it to be successful, the Vevo videos will have to show up in YouTube and Google search results. And they don't right now.

It is absolutely true that for many, YouTube is their streaming music service. There is so much music on YouTube. You can get a result for most any song you look for. So it makes sense that the music industry is trying to get its arms around this new form of music discovery and listening.

But I wonder if cordoning off the "official" music videos into a separate site will achieve this goal. We'll see. I'm not that optimistic about this one.

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#My Music#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Patrick

    This seems like an interesting site but like Hulu I am restricted from seeing it outside of the U.S.However a 15-second ad per song would be onerous; maybe they should do like old-school MTV and show a block of commercials after you watch a certain number of videos. Or maybe a weekly/daily show with a host introducing new videos?Are the videos in HD at least? That would make it somewhat more tolerable.

    1. fredwilson

      they claim HD videos will come next year

    2. mydigitalself

      Same for me obviously. This continues to annoy the hell out of me, when will content owners understand that we live in a global world of immediate?IMHO this posture *encourages* piracy. I can’t tell you how many movies/TV shows I torrent because their release dates are way ahead in the US and then all of a sudden you’re being hit by a wave of social (and traditional) media around the particular release and you want to be part of it not left out in the cold. And so off you go to Vuze and download it because it’s not in iTunes or not even available in physical form.I have no problem whatsoever paying for content and so it annoys me that the industry is making me into a “pirate” because of their own stupid policies and their failure to recognise the needs of their audience.

  2. im2b_dl

    no,. fred, people do not sit through a 15 second pre-roll for a music video…or many other videos for that matter. in my experience …that comes with a company/people who prioritize the ad sales team instead of the product in the ad or the audience they work for… a forced pre roll ad almost never helps a product …imho.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree. if they showed an ad after several videos, that might be more tolerable

      1. im2b_dl

        totally we schedule every 20-25 minutes (2 reason bathroom break and product discovery) and make sure their is choice for actionable interface

  3. mediaeater

    ummm yes… plus these market place factors in the sound and vision world.+ Lowest production number of videos by labels in years – The hey day saw 120+ clips coming out of a major label. I would venture the number is well below 50 now.+ Budgets and production support at a all time low. 50k used to be the bottom cost for a clip now it is the top.+ The good stuff comes from the streets now, creative, favors, friends, art for art sake. Not the trailer for the album. Big budget (50% + recoup) clips are not the main course of today.+Your comment on the advertising experience will be the deal breaker. You can not lock town big add deals and then not deliver the impression. Thats’ fine but that can not come at the cost of user experience.+ Lastly you should not have a party before you launch. Parties are to celebrate a successful launch and reading the Twitter stream of last night’s debut, vevo + fail nearly became a trending topicthis list goes on – but the day calls.

    1. fredwilson

      well few know this world better than you mark. the point about the “good stuff comes from the streets” is so true. that steve aoki remix of kid cudi is way better than the official Cudi video

      1. David Gillespie

        Love that point too – it’s the web all over. Not only have we gotten by on “amateur” content, we have come to a place where a lot of the time we prefer it. The notion that somehow the “professionals” are coming to give us the content we always wanted is skewed, and only pushed by big media.

    2. Greg Solovyev

      “+ The good stuff comes from the streets now, creative, favors, friends, art for art sake. Not the trailer for the album. Big budget (50% + recoup) clips are not the main course of today.”Word!

    3. Greg Solovyev

      “+ The good stuff comes from the streets now, creative, favors, friends, art for art sake. Not the trailer for the album. Big budget (50% + recoup) clips are not the main course of today.”I guess, the point of Vevo is to drum up content from Universal, Sony and EMI. Which I think is a big mistake. The reason I will still listen to and watch is because they have the good stuff. The stuff that you get on Vevo is the same that you can get on TV anytime you turn it on.

  4. ErikSchwartz

    Music videos have always been a loss leader. They’re marketing for albums. What happens to a loss leader art form when the product they were supporting becomes free?

    1. kidmercury

      now they’re marketing for the musician’s brand. (i.e. fashion lines, bottled beverages, instruments, etc)

  5. PKafka

    The big thing in their favor is that if you go to YouTube you may very well end up watching a Vevo video anyway, without “going” to the site. The thing that works against them is that, as you noted, they don’t have all music videos, just ones that are associated with (and approved) by the labels they have deals with. So it will never be an all-inclusive location.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s what i was expecting Peter, that youtube would send me to vevobut that was not my experience this morning.i assume they are just working out the kinksbtw – i love your disqus avatar. that rocks

      1. PKafka

        The way I understand it, they don’t actually need to “send you” to Vevo: Youwill end up watching Vevo clips without ever leaving YouTube, and Vevo getscredit for the view. Like this Britney clip:

        1. Adam Wexler

          if it’s not an all-inclusive destination why would people spend their time there? if a particular record label wanted to do something similar, the only reason i would visit their site is if i had a particular artist of theirs in has been great because you can find almost everything you’re looking for

          1. PKafka

            Sure, that’s a big and obvious problem. But they have 3 of the big 4 labels,and they are betting that they will get the last at some point, and at thatpoint they should be able to get just about everyone else on board, too.There will still be rogue and unauthorized stuff, I assume, that you’ll findon YouTube but not other places. In the meantime, they are betting that theywill do just fine with the best-known and most popular clips, which are theones the advertisers want to be associated with, anyway.

          2. Greg Solovyev

            I think Vevo has two big problems. The first is that they are trying to achieve three conflicting goals at the same time. First goal is to promote the content of 3 labels, the second goal is making money on product placement within the videos, and the third goal is to monetize content views via pre-roll advertisement. Goal #1 requires that content is limited but easily accessible, goal #2 also requires that content is easily accessible (more views of the same videos). At the same time, goal #3 requires that content is abundant, but access to content is obstructed by advertisement. As a result, you get obstructed access to limited content and user reaction is “meh…”. In the extreme case, the only way they will make the viewer sit through the preroll is if the content is so rare that it isn’t available anywhere else, but this contradicts goal #1 – popularizing the content.Second problem is the model of prerolls. It is ineffective advertisement by design. Users learn fast, and they will very soon learn to subconsciously tune out for the first 15 seconds of the preroll. IMHO, a text ad that is somehow related to the content of the song will be way more effective than a preroll.

          3. ShanaC

            not neccessarily- you’re asking how a hype machine works. sometimes limiting access works really well. Look at Rolex, then look at ebay for Rolex for the jump in the list price. Artificial scarcity and a good name can work. It is just extremely difficicult to do in media, because you need to either A) hook it up to some other objector b) control flow, and with media like all information, once it is out there, it’s out. you are correct in saying that control issues create meh experiences for this reason. Control is not bad, it just often is poorly executed.Definitely right about the pre-roll. Contextual text ad that makes you puzzle out the video might be much better, because then you have to look to understand it.

          4. Greg Solovyev

            ShanaC, I am not sure which of my points you are referring to. I agree with you about how hype machine works. However, when you build hype, you either limit access to an artificially created circle which then quickly expands, or time-constrain access to create windows of high demand. What I meant to point out in Vevo’s case is that they obstruct access with ads, which is different from how hype machine limits access. On the contrary, it de-hypes because it distracts from the content.

          5. ShanaC

            a hype machine is a metaphor. Clearly there are other methods of making a hype machine, otherwise how would Rolex be doing what it is doing on ebay…The ads are definitely annoying, but there has got to be a third way, where you can open supply and have a flood of hype. (Vis a vis the rolex problem on ebay)

          6. fredwilson

            Or worse, they’ll go elsewhere

  6. smartone2

    Funny MTV has quietly had a music video site up for the past year or so is pretty good quality streams and nice selection.Youtube is great but the elephant in the room questions is – — I wonder how many music videos that are on Youtube are there without the copyright holders permission?

  7. lazerow

    Not a fan at all. I searched for Phish and got “Didn’t find what you were looking for? Please try again using another search term.” Frankly, I don’t like “Hulu for [insert industry]” business models. Hulu worked b/c of its exclusive, high-interest content. Not the case with Vevo. Are the cookies gone yet?

    1. ShanaC

      depends, what kind are you looking for (me, gingerbread cookies, and I eat them headfirst)

  8. andyswan

    When you don’t have Biz Markie, you’ve crossed a line in my book.Just have all the videos and make it so that I can buy the song/album with a single click….for physical or digital delivery, depending on my preference. This isn’t that fucking hard.

    1. Keenan

      Simple and sweet, well said.

    2. LeBron

      True Dat – What about my favorite music video of all time though? The Allen Iverson press hop. We sittin here talkin ’bout practice!

      1. fredwilson

        that’s an amazing remix.

    3. kidmercury

      intellectual property rights disaster….who has digital distribution rights, who has physical distribution rights, who has physical distribution rights for asia, for US, for africa…..

  9. Dan Lewis

    The music labels:* have always (since the labels’ existence and until Napster and other digital solutions) had a monopoly on mainstream music distribution;* have always used that monopoly to sell the music, be it via licenses to radio stations, records/8tracks/tapes/CDs, or concert tickets;* have NEVER themselves sold ads against their content.This is a totally different world for them and one they’ve been fighting against entering for a decade. Even the MySpace Music deal was a per-stream licensing deal (except maybe with Warner Music).Unfortunately, the end result is that the labels (a) try and use their old leverage and “standard terms” in a new world, and (b) end up insulting the consumer in the process.

    1. jlrussell

      It is also important to remember that play on AM/FM radio is considered to be promotional, so only song writers are compensated (not performers). IMHO, the display of a music video on youtube should be considered the same by US law, and therefore all those “illegal” copies on youtube should have the promotional element recognized more fully. Of course, I’ve gotta attain a copy of the video in some legit way (I can’t play pirated music on any radio station, for example). Music videos are ads, plain and simple, the same as a play on the radio is also an ad.

  10. Bas

    A pre-roll for videos that are going to be shorter than 4 minutes on average. Lame. That will simply not work.

  11. Keenan

    This is what happens when the old guard (the music industry) gets a hold of a new medium. They throw old ideas on to it.The premise is sound and makes sense. It needs some creativity to make it fly.

    1. Aaron Klein

      I think you’re exactly right. That’s where the TV networks pulled this off correctly (at least initially) with Hulu. Fresh team with a startup mindset.These guys put this together over a five-martini lunch where they left the number of the restaurant with their secretaries and think a BlackBerry is the garnishment on their cheesecake.

  12. kidmercury

    this is still interruption advertising, which IMHO is on its way out. the future is blurring the line between advertising and content. a harder model for sure, though that only makes it more lucrative for those who can pull it off.15 second pre-roll….lol

    1. David Gillespie

      Agreed – the post a couple days back on the Lupe Fiasco HP mixtape was key – there’s a way forward there. Who knows what kind of $ HP put up for it, but the idea is there all the same.

    2. ErikSchwartz

      Of course a music video was created as the blurred line between content and advertising.In the beginning MTV got music videos for free.

    3. Greg Solovyev

      “the future is blurring the line between advertising and content” – couldn’t agree more!

  13. Jeremy Arnon

    I agree about not being optimistic, mainly because I’ve rarely seen the music labels do much right, at least from a long term strategic perspective, over the past decade or so. They’ve helped kill the value of numerous music startups with restrictive licensing agreements and to think that they can come together to get something right is a bit of wishful thinking. The potential saving grace is Google’s involvement.Eric Schmidt has said that merchandise and ticket sales are part of the revenue stream mix. That makes sense but I think that LiveNation has a better shot of leveraging merchandise and ticket sales in the music space since they are often the direct source to the concert locations. I guess time will tell but when there are this many cooks in the kitchen I wonder about how they all stay aligned on strategy moving forward.

  14. Harry DeMott

    If you want people to go to a separate specific site for a single activity – that site better be meaningfully better than any other opportunities you have to consume the same content. The Hulu website is a better experience than many of the other streaming media sites for long form content, but people consume so much 5:00 or less content at Youtube, why leave unless Vevo is meaningfully better. Give me the videos and band information, with links to all the different music streaming services – and the ability to see showtimes and link out to buy the music and wrap it all in a better looking screen without a pre roll – and you have a chance to get attention. But as it is? I don’t think so.

    1. ShanaC

      You seem to be asking what is Vevo’s message beyond being a platform for the music industry. I agree with this. You could make entertainment out of advertisements and do a platform for that with the thought process we are functioning with.

  15. julieallen

    where oh where is spotify for music videos?!better still where’s the service when you can search for any music vid – find it and watch it – along with all the associated mash-ups? official videos could be marked and non-official creatives can be recognized for their great skills.labels are putting so much effort into stopping these things happening – but the reality is they would help them…

    1. ShanaC

      I’m not sure why I need one: what is the purpose of the video? I use them to stream everything- but I’m not going to sit and watch entire ballets that I actually just want to listen to. So what’s the purpose?

    2. fredwilson

      Youtube is what you are asking for. It is awesome

      1. julieallen

        i just read rio’s latest comment about remixes. that’s awesome. turns out vevo is what i am asking all i need is for it to go global, and for labels to see this as the great promo opportunity it is – and let their content be played.

  16. chartreuse

    The problem is not just the pre-roll ads.The problem is that music is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. The vevo platform is not.I know there are a few smart people at the major labels but this idea isn’t. They are polishing up a 20th Century idea. A 21st Century idea would be to include all videos that include a certain song in Vevo. That would include mashups, homemade videos, etc. And then let let the search be ranked by viewer popularity.

    1. fredwilson

      right, like the steve aoki remix. that was awesome.

  17. Kevin Li

    I went to and got an almost blank page with only a word “Vevo” in the corner 😀 It’s not redirecting to an amateur mistake.Besides higher CPM, spinning off music videos into a separated site does give them more room to build music related features and to better compete with myspace music.

  18. Ryan Swagar

    Spot on Fred!I did the exact same thing – Searched for a few bands and found none of the videos I was looking for. Then went to YouTube and found them…The pre-roll is a horrible experience – they should think more of the skinning / pandora approach.So much buzz about this launch – and I can say I won’t be visiting Vevo again….

  19. riozilla

    Fred,My name is Rio Caraeff and I am the CEO of VEVO.Thank you for visiting our site. Please allow me to inform you and your readers that VEVO is NOT trying to cordon off any videos or to create any form of scarcity around videos for the fan. Our philosophy is to improve the quality and experience while embracing ubiquity for the benefit of the fan but to create more scarcity, larger aggregated reach and a better experience for brand partners. In addition, our integration into, across and between YouTube is not yet complete at all by any stretch and as you may be able to understand, it is a complicated endeavor.Our main site was hammered last night beyond our expectations, causing some problems as we did experience some launch pains and are working to ensure greater scalability and stability throughout the day.I understand and thank you for all of your points raised. All of them are on our very near term roadmap.Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond.Rio

    1. fredwilson

      excellent!!!i seriously appreciate the fact that you took time out of a very busy day toleave a comment here Riothat is fantastic and so very much appreciatedand i am very pleased to hear that some of the experiences i had today arenot likely to last as you get this rolled outi wish you the best and will be happy to post again on this subject once theVevo/YouTube integration is completedone thing i would point out is that remixes and user generated art aroundmusic videos is quite prevalent on YouTube and while there may be rightsissues around this activity, it is also wonderful to experience as a musicfan. it would be a shame if that stuff were to be taken down. the steve aokiremix of Kid Cudi’s song that i linked to in my post is a great example ofthat

      1. riozilla

        In reference to your advise re: remixes/user-generated art & videos, VEVO will be taking nothing down other than duplicate lower quality copies of the official videos.

        1. fredwilson

          Awesome answer rio. You’ve made me a fan in two comments. That’s excellent

    2. Aaron Klein

      Impressed. I retract my earlier comments about the five martini lunch. 🙂

    3. Mark Essel

      Social media all star move, showing up when your business is discussed :D. Nicely done Rio, wish you and Vevo all the best and look forward to additional options for music video (without extended intro delays)

    4. ShanaC

      thank you so much for stopping by (this is so nice when this happens)I have some very large questions because like many people here I am a music lover. I do use youtube for music discovery. That being said, the music I sometimes listen to tends to have very little in the way of anything that is visually compelling. They come with labels like Naxos (classical). A lot of the videos that are made for this kind of music is peer produced (when do you go make music videos of orchestras or quartets?) Seeing Vevo in practice, as someone interested in design, I would be annoyed if you interrupted the Dharma at Big Sur (John Adams, and you can’t get a video for it) Same with Bach-listening to some of this kind of music is about the comparative experience as well.How does Vevo feel it will position itself for premium offerings for the long tail of music, which rarely relies on the video as a means of marketing to start with, but is now being used as a method of listening. Do you see yourself closer to radio, or television? With long tail items, how do you see yourself creating a business off of them beyond being a hype machine?Though you do have a lovely site design…

    5. Richard Bauer

      Bravo Rio. Btw, it has been quite awhile since a new media event has created such cross media awareness. Nice job.

  20. jengroff

    I think the roll-out party last night was more successful than the product roll-out today. I have experienced many of the same issues you note here, and I’m getting 404 errors every third time I visit the site. Logging / signing up are also difficult. Given the amount of media hype around this launch, these scalability issues were foreseeable and avoidable. I hope things get better, but so far this is a pretty lackluster product launch.

  21. jkaljundi

    Seems like all of you are living inside a new voluntary Berlin Wall, built by VEVO. The walls around it are so thick. Strange someone still builds these single country limited sites. Hope VEVO doesn’t have the border guards that were shooting people in Berlin 🙂

  22. Jon Vanhala

    no surprise that Rio popped in to comment right away – he’s a smart guy and on point. interesteing to watch how the vevo UX really is when they get thru these issues,

  23. Mark Essel

    Last time I bought music was about a year or two ago, I picked up a couple dozen CDs on mixed ambient, electronica, drum & base, etc.I’m sorta getting burned out on listening to the same few gigabytes on my iPhone, and am very interested in super simple solutions to pick up new mp3s.In the meantime I stream for variety on, Pandora, etc and have a growing need to pickup Sounds from the Ground, and Sonanaut.

    1. bombtune

      If you like Drum N Bass and electronica you should check out Boomkat store. They are specialists.

      1. Mark Essel

        Thanks bombtune will do 🙂

    2. ShanaC

      Actually the last CD I bought was fairly recently. I think one of the two albums offered was on Itunes. But otherwise it would have been impossible to get in the states. It was a Brechtian Punk Klezmer cd. Plus, i got the artist to sign it and call me a sheyne maidel 😉 (This is only funny because my name is Shana, and that’s what you get when you listen to yiddish punk music from an artist in Berlin….)For me, that CD though was a pure scarcity issue. There are very few Punk Klezmer Bands to begin with, and they have very limited distribution. The internet makes finding them a bit easier, but it is very hard to find actual music of these people without buying a cd or something…

  24. Greg Solovyev

    Looks like only hits and major label content. I could not find anything to watch/listen to on Vevo.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. it looks like the front page of itunes. UghThe blogs and nice music sites are where the good stuff is

  25. bombtune

    There have been two attempts to democratize music this week, one with Vevo and the other with iTunes acquisition of LaLa. There is no doubt that the music search and instant access is the future, it’s just a matter of paying the artists for their creativity. Thankfully, the major record labels are involved and taking back some control, as we see with Vevo.I tried Vevo as well and became too impatient so I went to Youtube where I knew I could access videos instantlyy. But there’s no reason that one day this couldn’t be flipped. I know Vevo will make the effort.

  26. Scott Gatz

    I too tried a number of searches and my favorite artists weren’t there. When faced with such a problem, it surprises me (but not too much since this if google) that the experience seems focused on search and the basic top lists.It would have been great to see them do something like Pandora for videos – Yahoo Music did that well and I was a fan. And I would have loved to see them take a risk and have a music video playing when you land on the page with a “don’t like this? skip/rate for better”. Really play off music discovery within their limited catalogs.Fred, I also like your idea (in the comments) of pulling in remixes, fan videos, etc onto video/artist hub pages. could be quite interesting if this becomes a better way to organize music than search.

  27. Adtweety_com

    it crashed for me! 🙁

  28. Jeff Judge

    Yeah, no Luna or Yo La Tengo found! I agree with your lack of optimism.Your comment about many people use Youtube as their streaming music service reminded me of, a site built a few years ago by Aza Raskin (use to have a company in Chicago, now at Mozilla) and Scott Robbin.

  29. GraemeHein

    Sad that yet another media startup ignores the long-tail and global nature of the internet.

  30. charltondon

    wow..tried out tonight , pretty cool then went into an infinite loop..i will not be back…sad

  31. ShanaC

    A lot of the questions on here just make me think, what is the purpose of the music video if you are not watching it anyway, but using it as a means of a methods to getting at the music. or are you watching it? Should sound and video be separated as content and that is why we run into this problem?(BTW, interesting and likeable choice of music, subtle for a hip hop guy…)

    1. fredwilson

      Music streaming is often going to be minimized, even when its video

  32. Terry J. Leach

    I despise ads on video websites. It’s the old broadcast model which I use a DVR to get around, but I like Google text ads. In order for ads to work along side video their needs to be some innovation to make them more relevant to the video.

  33. ivospigel

    There are four Zemanta-suggested related articles at the bottom of this blog post. Guess which one I’m not inclined to click on (can you spell “paid content”)?

  34. Ben & Roger

    Replying to the calls of “where oh where is spotify for music videos?!” and I kindly ask Fred and contributors to forgive me for a bit of self-promotion, but we’ve imagined what YouTube would be if it were made specifically for listening to/watching music. Think YouTube meets iTunes, we’ve made TubeRadio.fmI reckon this is pretty much what a lot of people on this discussion are asking for. We’re a team of 2, development time of 4 months, launched 2 months ago, self-funded.

  35. Prokofy

    Fred, why oppose an effort to get a dime off videos that everybody is grabbing for free? How do you suppose record companies and artists can go on producing music if they can’t get paid? We’ve been over this. It’s one thing if you want to keep funding your stone soups and hoping they will get the big radish, but you shouldn’t knock others’ efforts to try to get this stuff to pay. It has to pay out sooner or later or the party will be over. How long can Google go on subsidizing Youtube just to sell ads — it doesn’t sell the videos and it doesn’t sell enough ads from this demographic that doesn’t click on them.