Latin Conference: Vevo's Rio Caraeff, Google Play's Adrian Harley Discuss Creativity, Catering to the Consumer

Billboard editor-at-large Joe Levy (L) discusses Vevo's expanding global reach with the company's president and CEO, Rio Caraeff (R).

Michael Seto

Can Rio Careff save the music business?

That was a question readily floated around industry circles in 2009. That year, Caraeff -- who raised Universal's mobile division to nearly half (45%) of the label's digital revenue before going on to head all of digital -- launched Vevo, the high-profile partnership between YouTube, Sony Music Entertainment, and UMG designed to extract profits from online music videos. 

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Four years later, at the Views on Vevo industry Q&A on Tuesday morning at 25th Billboard Latin Music Conference, the 39-year-old Vevo president/CEO told a gathering of music executives and aspiring musicians that the industry has to make its audience feel a sense of exclusivity in the future.

“We have to make the music audience [feel] as valued as the people that love the World Cup, Super Bowl, sports,” Caraeff told Billboard editor-at-large Joe Levy. 

Caraeff noted that 93% of music consumers act on emotional response, as opposed to 90% of sports fans. He added that  the U.S. Hispanic (music) consumer is "the most engaged, watch the most videos, and they’re the most passionate. They share more, they watch more and music is just the most important thing in their lives -- most important than sports,” he said.

In the past two years, Vevo's numbers have risen dramatically. The digital access powerhouse rose to 5.5 billion monthly views in 2013 from 4 billion in 2012, became available in 13 countries (up from four in 2012), attained about 80% of their monthly views from outside the United States, and signed a multi-year deal with YouTube last year after a $150 million profit in 2012.

Those numbers will continue to grow, according to Caraeff, if he can make good on another priority: generating revenue beyond the United States. Caraeff wants to expand Vevo into over 20 countries by the end of the year while ensuring that over half of the service’s revenue comes from outside the states. “We need to continue to monetize international consumption,” he said.

Catering to the consumer and getting a bit more creative to entice music enthusiasts that use smart phones for their listening pleasure was the consensus theme at the Latin Music Takeover: One Mobile Phone at a Time, a panel earlier in the day that also took an educational turn.

“Just knowing how to put the entire catalog in [your phone] is a good thing," said Adrian Harley, head of music partnerships at Google Play. “But we have to find a way to be more creative with what we offer the consumer.”

While discussing every viable option from daily consumption plans to small catalogs for as little as $10 a month, the panel also talked about the importance of educating the artist that is making the music.

“A lot of the times we’re not only educating the consumer, but the artist as well,” said Herb Payan, Sony SVP of digital business development. “We’re always teaching them how they can make money using their music.”