Vevo, Major Labels' Video Site, Debuts Today

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Vevo, the high quality internet video channel owned by two major record labels, is launching tonight. 

Vevo’s blog has already posted a few videos, including a welcome message from Kid Cudi and original content from 50 Cent and Wyclef Jean.  As promised by Doug Morris, head of Universal Music, Vevo’s video does seem to be of a higher quality than typical YouTube videos. Mr. Morris also promised they’d be marketing the site, and when the site goes live tonight, it will have 15 sponsors.

The guiding idea behind starting the page is that the labels are not going to give another entity their content to build a corporation with, as happened with MTV.   Vevo is the labels’ own (Sony and Universal) video distribution/promotional platform. Warner Music Group is not part of the deal but recently reunited with YouTube after a long separation/negotiation, EMI will supply content to the site.

In addition to higher quality video, ownership by the labels suggests that original content will drive the site.   Indeed, on Vevo’s first full day (12/9), it will premier the “Vevo Go Show,” featuring a “spontaneous” Wyclef Jean performance at a Timberland store.

With a direct link to artists, and higher quality video, Vevo should have the upper hand on regular YouTube videos and fan-generated content as well. Warner Music Group is the one major that has stayed out of the deal, and it will interesting to see which business model wins. By being on YouTube, Warner has more viewers.

With its own Vevo platform, there may be fewer plays initially, but the labels will take a bigger cut and the viewer has an “enhanced” experience. Vevo’s chief exec Rio Caraeff told the New York Times that ““Vevo will work to restore the premium luster around music video inventory.”

Choosing between the two outlets is the science of the music business.  You have to predict the behavior of the audience based on specific artists or genres of music and evaluate the trade off between amount of exposure versus types of exposure.  To make a qualified decision, you would really have to look at the artists involved. Apparently, Lyor Cohen/WMG are betting on quantity vs. quality. If you are pumping Tila Tequila‘s next solo album, that might be the best way to go.

As a music fan, however, I anticipate spending a lot of time on Vevo.

See Vevo’s very first video after the jump.

Vevo’s first video, its “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by Kid Cudi.  It’s more a statement of intent than actual content, something that speaks to the medium… no big dj/authority figure telling us how great everything is.  Instead, it’s an artist message.  Very clever way to engender some cred for the page.

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