Vevo, the video streaming service, has undergone an end-to-end reboot of its products complete with a string of new features to position the brand as a one-stop shop for music video content, setting the tone for further developments to the service, with a subscription tier on the cards.
The logo and design of the Vevo brand has been updated to be “more distincitive, less intrusive, and put the artist front-and-centre”, according to Vevo’s head of Europe John Gisby. Where in the past the brand acted as a watermark on Vevo’s projects, moving forward it will be “a distinctive endorsement” of the artist that is being profiled.
The reboot also includes the addition of multiple services spread across Vevo’s site, tablet, mobile and TV app to position itself as “a music company that does tech as well”, Gisby said. It’s largely a response to the disruption digital has made in the music industry, with the rise of streaming services helping digital music revenues surpass physical sales for the first time this year.
“Everyone is competing for the same 24 hours in the day.” Gisby told The Drum, “I think what we are introducing in this upgrade will make it easier for people to listen and watch at times that suit them.”
The app has been designed with mobile viewers in mind with videos calibrated in vertical mode. This move is in response to a growing trend in vertical video formats, with industry research suggesting that mobile phones are used in portrait mode 98 per cent of the time. Vertical will be the automatic format on mobile, but users will have the option to switch to horizontal should they wish.
Shareability is at the core of the offering. Where users signed into Vevo previously had an “isolated personal experience” in that they couldn’t interact with other users, artists and curators of the content, the update works to make the product “inherently social” to align it more with the shareable nature of music generally.
In fact, Vevo's Music Audience Report suggests that people are twice as likely to share music video than an audio stream, so making that process easier is fundamental to the update. Sharing will actively be encouraged both in-app and out-of-app on social platforms. This shareability is why Vevo has no plans to do a marketing push for the new product offering, with Gisby saying: “if you get the product right the marketing can take care of itself”.
The service will apply machine learning for a personalised experience. Logged in users are asked to choose genres, artists and curators so the service can provide recommendations specific to each user. Artists are organised in clusters which get smarter the more the user inputs.
This provides Vevo with a huge amount of first party data. The user’s profile by default is private, but Gisby said “there are benefits” for a user if they choose to make their profile public. While the data is being used first and foremost to make the service better for users, Gisby assures, it opens up opportunities for brands to target their advertising.
Vevo’s business model is ad-funded so advertising will play an integral part in the new design. This will include standard ad formats to be placed within the app and site, as well as opportunities to do branded video to sit natively on-site or in-app. Gisby did not rule out exploring native similar to Spotify, which allows brands to create playlists in its service, but said “there are no immediate plans to let brands curate playlists directly”.
By adding extra services and personalised layers to its platform, Vevo has essentially positioned itself as a one-stop shop for music video streaming, eliminating the need for users to jump onto other services. It works to benefit Vevo; keeping eyeballs on the platform builds a more attractive offering to advertisers; users who can stream, discover and share music video; and advertisers who know they are reaching an engaged audience.
Where this leaves Vevo's partnership with Youtube, its rival streaming service, is yet to be made apparent. "Youtube is clearly a big partner" Gisby said, asserting that the two will "serve different needs" but "sit alongside each other well".
"There are times when you want to use a supermarket and there are times when you want more of a specialty store" he added.
All this lays down the foundation for Vevo to introduce a paid-for layer to its service, which chief executive Erik Huggers confirmed the company is looking at in February this year, but it will likely take a few more iterations of the product till subscription is slowly introduced.
“You hear throughout the industry about the move towards subscription, a more premium product. It’s very much something we’re interested in and working towards.” Huggers said at Re/Code’s Code Media conference in February.
The question is will this new offering be enough to lure Warner Music Group to make music video available on Vevo? The ball is in Warner’s court, according to Gisby: “As and when they are ready we are interested”.