Vevo Begins Its Long-Brewing Transformation, Releases 'Ones to Watch' 2017

AJ Tracey

AJ Tracey

Just under a year ago, Vevo announced that Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" was the platform's most-viewed video of the year, followed by Taylor Swift (who appeared on the top-ten list three times), Adele and Sia, among others. Major artists like Ronson and Swift won't be displaced from the view-count vanguard by nascent independent artists, but the release of Vevo's "Ones to Watch" picks for 2017 (full list at bottom) is the latest mile marker passed on the road towards a fundamental shift in strategy from the major-label owned (and partnered) video platform, a shift from immemorable content repository to emerging artist greenhouse -- and possible heir to MTV's abandoned throne.

"We generally believe that, as a platform, we have to celebrate the new as well as superstars -- we have to try and bridge that gap," Tom Connaughton, Vevo's senior vice president of content and programming, tells Billboard. "Without investing in new music, there's no future for all of us."

"Ones to Watch" 2017, as funneled through Vevo's dscvr platform (which had a soft introduction in the U.K. and U.S. earlier this year) is one result of many changes that the company announced earlier this year. Taken together they represent a renewed ambition (and in many ways, a hail mary) following the appointment of Erik Huggers as CEO in early 2015.  So, in addition to its core value prop as a music video hub, the company now has an overarching focus on original programming, artist discovery, and spotlighting that burgeoning talent through editorial the company will, and is, producing for them. 

The question remains -- seven years after Vevo's debut -- whether, now with a forthcoming subscription service, original programming, curation and discovery of emerging talent, Vevo can finally take "more ownership over the conversation around music video," as Connaughton puts it and which should've been somewhat of a birthright for the company. 

For those in the business of art and editorial, it's hard not to see opportunities in every fissure left unexplored by the traditional, and new, media industries. Vevo itself is just now jumping through a gap it had left open for years.

Ones to Watch 2017

AJ Tracey
Nadia Rose
The Big Moon
The Magic Gang
Jorja Smith
Will Joseph Cook
070 Shake
Maggie Rogers
Young M.A.
Kiah Victoria
Big Jesus
Tkay Maidza