Vevo and Music Videos Delivering Scale, Cultural Relevance and Big Screen Impact

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To quote LL Cool J, "Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years" — and such is the case for the music video industry. What's sometimes thought of as a nostalgic, bygone MTV era has made a massive resurgence led by Vevo, a digital video distributor that reaches 148 million Americans a month. And despite everything 2020 has thrown at us, this year is proving to be one of the most opportune times for music artists and the video industry, as discussed on the latest installment of Jack Myers Leadership Conversations. Watch the full conversation here.

The Conversation's featured guest was Vevo's Kevin McGurn, President, Sales & Distribution who explained, "Music doesn't stop. All of the TV shows have gone on hiatus and sports leagues are postponed. The music business is able to continue and generate new content for distribution on all these new platforms, as well as continue to monetize it."

Music Viewers Return to Television

Vevo has seen a 40% increase in viewership the past two years, and numbers continue to rise as we stay at home to quarantine and work.

Vevo data shows that:

  • Connected TV increased 30% since March 1st (in addition to the 40% growth). Mobile rode a rollercoaster, dipping and only rising as high as its average.
  • March-May saw growth in OTT viewership, with March recording the highest growth percentage vs. the previous month with 19.3%.
  • Co-viewing nearly doubled, which may be attributed to parents and kids watching together during stay-at-home orders. Increased linear viewing is also related to the high-quality production of today's videos. They're so rich and vivid, a small screen doesn't do the artistry justice.

"There's a flight to quality, particularly when you're watching on TV," says McGurn. "HD and 4K videos are the things that get chosen, and the star power these celebrities represent is really what rises to the top. So that's where we [Vevo] come in."

And this power is something the advertising community needs to be reminded of.

"We had to make a big effort to remind them of the music videos' place in culture. The linear programming of music videos really disappeared from the TV screen with the onset of YouTube. The advertising community, which is so anchored in TV, had disappeared as well."

A Reflection of the Times

Music has always provided a soundtrack to match the culture and societal change. Rap and hip-hop, especially, reflect today's culture, and, as Myers pointed out, these music forms appeal to a wide cross-section of society. "Hip-hop's popularity [on Vevo] sometimes exceeds pop on a monthly basis," said McGurn. "So that's a massive audience from a cultural standpoint. We need to do a great job monetizing and socializing its impact and relevance."

Getting Creative Beyond Videos

Social distancing has forced the media industry to get creative. This year, Vevo held its Upfront, titled Homecoming, in a digital format and added the star power of Katy Perry — but with a twist.

"For the first time, we don't have to rent out Carnegie Hall or Radio City to have an Upfront with a highly-produced video and celebrity appeal," says McGurn. Rather, Vevo took a more authentic approach by interviewing Perry who spoke at length about her involvement in the video industry. This concept offered fans real insight and more than just a glamorous quick peek at a celebrity.

McGurn noted that Perry, the #1 female artist of all-time on Vevo, is a true innovator in the industry and proved it with her recent video, Daisies. "She was able to shoot Daisies on a Super 8 with just her assistant and a camera person. And it's a beautifully-shot video — cinematic and in high def."

Eighty percent of Vevo's 450,000 video catalogue is rated PG-14 or better, which is beneficial to advertisers wanting to protect their brands. However, both McGurn and Myers see relevancy in brands taking risks and being seen in the other 20% of videos that may be more mature in nature, but also more culturally relevant.

Although music videos are short in length, linear viewing often turns into long-form viewing, with viewing times averaging 60 minutes on the big screen. However, long form on mobile decreases greatly, only averaging a span or two-three videos.

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