The Wall Street Journal (which for some reason has become the best source for music business news) reported a few weeks ago that Universal music group and Google have reached an agreement that will allow Universal video content to be broadcast on You Tube and on a new stand alone site called Vevo, in return for a split of Google’s ad revenues.
This is genius and points the way that the music industry should be heading, a recognition of not only the ubiquitousness of technology but also of a shared interest. It also means that, in contrast to my own smug incorrect appraisal, the music video is not dead….far from it. The audience has simply moved away from cable television (why did MTV and VH1 stop playing videos? I can’t remember) and on to the internet with everyone else. All I had to do to confirm this was to observe my daughter watching Rihanna videos on You Tube with the same obsession that I had when I discovered that you could find old Small Faces and Stones videos on there.Google is certainly the most interesting paradigm shifter- from its audacious Google library project to the ongoing litigation with Viacom, there is no end to its impact on our contemporary culture and our evolving understanding of the nature of intellectual property rights. This new model also shows how it might help save record companies in the same way that Apple did, by overcoming perceived obstacles, then defining and properly exploiting a shared interest.