NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The music industry doesn’t really do subtle, which is why the Vevo launch party in lower Manhattan on Dec. 8 had all the pomp and glitz of an internet launch party circa 1999.
Because three of four major labels are playing nicely in the venture, attendees got to see Bono sharing the stage with John Mayer, 50 Cent, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris, Lady Gaga and Queen Rania, just to name a few.
The difference between now and when Napster was decimating the music business is that the artists themselves fully realise what’s at stake, even if they have a misplaced notion that advertising will save their ailing industry. “Let’s hope Vevo can help salvage something that used to be amazing,” Mariah Carey told the crowd.
One thing Vevo has going for it right out of the gate is quantifiable traffic. Somehow, Mr. Morris persuaded Mr. Schmidt to allow all YouTube views of Vevo videos to accrue to Vevo — a move that will likely make it the No. 3 video site in the U.S. straight out of the gate. “Now we have a platform, and it’s our platform,” Mr. Morris said.
Vevo executives expect it to yield 400 million video views in the site’s first month, including from YouTube and distribution from AOL and CBS’s Last.fm. To put that in perspective, that will put Vevo in a league with Microsoft (451 million views in October, according to ComScore), Fox Interactive (446 million views) and Viacom (407 million), and a bit behind Hulu (856 million).
Following Hulu’s lead
UMG, Sony and EMI videos represented 3.3% of all of YouTube’s views in the U.S. over the past 30 days, according to Tubemogul. As of today, those views will disappear from YouTube’s stats and move to Vevo. YouTube garners about 1.3 billion views every day.
Nearly two years ago, Hulu asked and answered the question of whether people want to watch high-quality network TV on the web. They do. Now Vevo is asking if they want to watch high-quality music videos. The performance of those videos on YouTube suggests the answer to that question is the same.
But while Hulu put many of those shows on the web for the first time, Vevo is taking what is largely already on the web and packaging it differently. Still, it starts with a huge traffic advantage. Hulu needed more than a year to reach 400 million views.
Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff, a former UMG executive, is tearing a page from Hulu CEO Jason Kilar’s playbook, indicating that, like Mr. Kilar, he’ll put the user experience first, even if that means making the labels uncomfortable. “If it’s good for the fans, we will do it,” he said.
Linking artists with brands has long been a difficult process that involved persuading the artists themselves to endorse a product. But UMG and Sony execs have reached out to all their artists to let them know the ads are coming. “There has been remarkably little pushback,” a label exec said.
Indeed, Vevo sales execs are telling agency buyers not to worry: The artists are on-board. Initial advertisers in the venture include Dove, Infiniti, AT&T, Axe, McDonald’s and MasterCard. Coca-Cola has inquired about the first quarter, an exec said.