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Vevo Kills The Internet Star?

Sony, UMG, and YouTube have announced plans for a music video site, called "Vevo." It's bringing back memories of how MTV "killed" the radio star.

Sony, UMG, and YouTube have announced plans for a music video site, called "Vevo." It's bringing back memories of how MTV "killed" the radio star.I didn't actually see MTV for the first time until sometime in 1982, when I visited a college friend in New York who had cable. I was blown away by that image of the astronaut on the moon facing an MTV flag, and the crunchy guitar theme song. Watching music -- remember, lots of those videos were pretty goofy -- changed the way all of us interacted with artists and their creative output.

The brilliance of the MTV concept was that videos had been available for a long time, but mostly as promotional tools for the labels to share with radio stations, concert promoters, and the rare technology-enabled bar. MTV monetized something it could get for free (or close to it), as drawing eyeballs meant it could sell ads.

They way musicians look is now as important as how they sound, if not more so. If nothing else, I'm convinced that MTV led to the extinction of ugly artists, but that's another conversation.

Anyway, now we have the Internet, on which most band sites show video for free, and lots of listeners still steal and/or share music without paying for it. Vevo promises to aggregate video content and then sell ads around it...just like MTV did over 25 years ago...and, I assume, share the revenue between labels participating in the service.

The problem is that it's not 1982 anymore.

For Vevo to succeed, it has to do things that can't already get done via other means. Just being better isn't enough; it has to be different, along with more of it, and still free. Those are high hurdles to jump. I question what exactly Vevo can change, in the same way that MTV changed how we consume music.

My guess is that one of the foundational steps will be to make video content from UMG, Sony, et al unavailable on YouTube or other distribution platforms. So forget better and replace it with only; maybe undoing the ubiquity of content on the web (for participating artists) will be a selling point for Vevo?

And maybe that's how it'll kill the Internet star?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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