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Music video audience migrates to Web

On November 1, Internet media giant Yahoo will launch two music video services, and both efforts illustrate the Internet's growing dominance among music video media.

One will feature the online debut of a different music video each weekday. The videos will be available online at Yahoo exclusively for 24 hours. Most will be world premieres, though some will have simultaneous TV releases. The focus is mainstream acts.

Yahoo's other new music video service is StopWatch, which will highlight emerging acts. Each week, it will recommend one of three videos from newer artists based on a user's music-listening history and stated preferences.

"The Internet is now leading where the music video business is going," Yahoo head of programming and label relations Jay Frank says.

By and large, label executives agree.

"If you look at some of the big projects we've done of late," EMI senior VP of strategic marketing Ted Mico says, "they've pretty much all launched online."

Even MTV has embraced the Internet. The network launched its Overdrive site to help keep music video fans engaged with the MTV brand. In addition, it recently began offering online streaming of its campus-based mtvU channel in an initiative called mtvU Uber.

"We took it very seriously that our audience's experiences around music have shifted to the Internet," says Amy Doyle, senior VP of music and talent programming for MTV. "There's no question it's an amazing platform to showcase music videos."

Making More Videos

Label executives equate featured placement of a video on AOL or Yahoo with appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone, in terms of exposure. For instance, Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" video received 2 million requests in the first 24 hours it was available on Yahoo Music, compared with 500,000 requests on MTV's "TRL."

The result: More music videos are being made, and watched, than ever before. The number of videos made in 2004 and 2005 so far outpaces that of the prior three-year period.

One reason labels may welcome this development is that videos made with the Internet in mind can be cheaper to produce than those aimed at TV audiences. Videos viewed on PCs, with their smaller screens and lower resolution, do not need high production values. This allows newer artists with little cash to use videos as effectively as superstar acts.

"The one amazing thing about the Internet is that it is a great leveler in many ways," Mico says. "If you have a killer idea and can do it cheaply, it can be just as successful as one with a million-dollar budget."

More important, the Internet is where the viewers are. About 3 billion music videos were viewed on Yahoo's portal last year, and AOL says it receives 3 million-5 million music video requests per day at AOL Music.

Why do fans prefer to watch music videos online, where the visuals are less sophisticated than on TV? Because the Internet lets users choose from an unlimited library of content for on-demand viewing. TV remains a popular medium for discovering videos, but once fans know what they want to see, they tap the Internet to do so.

"MTV is clearly not the place to watch music videos anymore," Yankee Group analyst Nitin Gupta says. "On-demand is really a compelling way to enjoy music videos, instead of just having them thrown at you on a couple of music channels."

This on-demand advantage is augmented by the ability to track viewing patterns and make customized recommendations, as Yahoo will do with StopWatch.

"One signal by one TV channel will unlikely be able to fully entertain a broad audience," Yahoo's Frank notes. "We're serving millions of individual video streams every week, (and) hitting the mark 98% of the time because we know exactly what that person wants. A TV channel will never be able to replicate that."


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