The world’s largest music label—Universal Music—is reportedly in talks with the world’s biggest Internet search and online video profile—Google—to launch a new YouTube-style site that would feature premium music video content from Universal artists…and, eventually, perhaps artists from other labels as well. Currently dubbed “Vevo,” the idea is being pitched around as a Hulu-style site for premium music content, the site would charge higher advertising rates for ads and promos appearing alongside (or, dare we say, in-stream) with video content than those currently offered by YouTube. The higher ad rates—and, thus, in theory the larger revenue stream from the site—would be justified by offering only professionally-produced and licensed content on the site: advertisers wouldn’t have to worry about their pitches appearing next to amateur and potentially inappropriate or embarrassing video submissions, as is the case now with YouTube.
No details of a deal have been leaked, but any Google/Universal service would have to go head-to-head with MTV Music, which offers a vast archive of music videos from all major music distributors. MTV Music is owned by Viacom, which is still pursuing a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google over videos uploaded to YouTube. Although there’s no love between the two companies, something like Vevo might appeal to Viacom if they are allowed complete control over content allowed on the service and how it is used.
Vevo might also be an olive branch Google can hold out to other music labels; late last year, Warner Music Group demanded all music videos from its artists be taken off YouTube—not over copyright infringement, but because Warner Music Group didn’t feel the revnue generated from YouTube was worth its time. A premium service like Vevo—with premium ad rates—might bring Warner Music Group and other labels into the fold.