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Are the Labels Ready to Face the Digital Frontier?

VEVO_logoUniversal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have both put a foot in on the boat that is VEVO. And now VEVO looks set to sail into the bright horizon as investor Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) pumps in a strategic investment, declaring itself a shareholder and a big part of this venture.

VEVO is branded as upcoming state-of-the-art music video and entertainment service powered by YouTube, with music content exclusively provided by UMG and SME, whose artists include Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga for the former, and Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and the late Michael Jackson for the latter. VEVO is the next natural step in the long-term rollout of digital plans, according to the shareholders. “It illustrates our partnering approach with innovators in digital media services and technologies,” says H.E. Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of ADMC.

Rio Caraeff, CEO of VEVO, seems to have big plans up his sleeves. Having dealt with digital c ontent for 4 years in Universal Music Group and another 3 years in Sony Pictures Entertainment before that, Caraeff seems determined to steer the entire industry in the digital direction.

However, reticence to embark on digital projects is something the labels cannot seem to shake off. Red tape, protocols pertaining to physical products, inertia to recognize the obvious dawn of the digital age, are just some of the things that prevent labels from investing in the right research to find a digital music business model. Though Universal Music had led the way with their fondness for little digital projects all over the world (read: UMG-Webtv Europe’s deal in 2004, UMG and UK telco Orange’s mobile music deal in 2009, UMG and Singapore leading telco Singtel’s mobile music deal in 2009, UMG and Virgin Media’s ongoing deal, among others), impact made on consumer trends are arguable, and besides, none of the other labels seemed to have taken notice of what UMG has been doing. Or, rather, they probably could not care less.

Sony Music has apparently, however, woken up from the deep slumber caused by the messy and very recent separation from Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), and has expressed interest in foraying into the digital music market. Just a few days ago, it was announced that Sony’s electronic arm has involved itself in a project called “Club Dates”, which is in fact a series of digital concerts planned to encourage music lovers to embrace what Sony calls “alternative content”. Concerts filmed ‘live’ will be shown on the various Sony platforms, including its 4K digital cinema projectors. The first act called upon to headline the series is none other than the band Third Eye Blind, whose latest album “Ursa Major” received the major honor of #1 Digital Album on the Billboard charts. Aside from “Club Dates” and the gentle stakeholding duties that are called upon by VEVO, Sony Music has yet to prove its interest in the global digital market.

As I type, Virgin Media and UMG have yet to reach a conclusion on what “unlimited DRM-free” downloads should mean. It seems simple – downloads that are untethered and are available readily without clauses in your contracts. Yet it isn’t really all that easy to implement. The question now remains: how can the labels protect their content and yet embrace a digital world completely?

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21/10/2009 Posted by | Music News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” Leaked Online

This Is It

Yeah right, as if MJ’s newest track is actually ‘leaked’, which by definition gives us a sense that it’s all accidental. News here.

It’s only a matter of time before ‘leaks’ become simply a marketing strategy in the digital market. At the same time, it’s heartening to see the labels using this’ as a strategy to generate hype. That only goes to show the amount of importance everyone’s putting on digital content, more and more.

We shall all be waiting to see more ‘leaks’ for future A-list releases.

13/10/2009 Posted by | Music News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment