Majors to rival Youtube?

Following Warner Brothers‘ demands that all videos of their artists be removed from video sharing site Youtube, it was reported in Sunday’s Financial Times that the big four major record labels are going to put together a central hub for their artists’ work.

The FT reports that: “Plans under discussion include: a partnership with Hulu, the online television and film joint venture between News Corp and NBC Universal; the creation of a premium service on YouTube, Google’s video sharing site; and a stand-alone venture between some or all of the four largest recorded music groups.”

This coming together of some of the biggest companies on the planet, letalone in the music industry, opens up several intriguing subplots.

There are many other video sharing sites rivalling Youtube. Vimeo, Veoh and Metacafe are all trying to wrestle watchers away, brininging with them an increased spend on advertising. Where these sites will lose out is not on content, these guys mainly rely on UGC. Their problem will be that advertisers will automatically head straight to the honeypot – if they see big companies forming a partnership which is guaranteed to get exposure and people, their cash will go to the big boys, leaving the other video-sharing sites with a smaller revenue stream.

This would be one of the first projects of its kind which would see the major industry players work together; I can’t imagine BA, Virgin and American Airlines forming a super-group offering flights to the States. Not only would the competition commission probably forbid it, they’ve got their own brand and reputations to think about. It signals to everyone out there watching, that they’re prepared to co-operate for the sake of dollars.

The move would also signal another stage in the fightback of the music industry against the whole P2P thang. By taking back ownership of one part of the content pie, the music industry is saying ‘Ok, you’ve had your fun, now we’re playing hardball’ and it could be the first step towards reclaiming the actual recorded music for the artists.

Would a new service be run on a paid for subscription, a one off fee, or completely free?

It would seem sensible to suggest that the majors would almost certainly look to make their money through advertising. If they were to charge for the service it would surely just antagonise music fans even further into sharing content illegally.

The other option mentioned is to team up with an existing content host, such as Hulu. They already have the software, hardware and know-how in place to run the project smoothly and would save the record labels time and money in setting up their own site.

I personally think that a take-over or partnership with someone like Hulu is the most feasible way for this whole idea to occur. It just depends on whether the video site would want to be swallowed up into the huge music industry machine coming their way, or if they want some of the money they see rolling in.


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