The battle for online music destination dominance continues between upstart Vevo and veteran MTV.
Just three weeks after MTV formally announced its Music Meter discovery tool for new artists, Vevo has unveiled its artist development program Lift. The program will be formally announced at tonight’s People’s Choice Awards, but Vevo shared a few details in advance with Billboard.biz.
Over the course of the year, Lift will select eight artists to give special promotional attention to, with the first being Jessie J. The program will get a special landing page on Vevo, where the artists will post daily video updates. Vevo proper will air exclusive music videos, interviews, live concert footage and more.
Vevo is also engaging viewers to lend their support through social media. Vevo created a Facebook app to help fans spread the word, and included a Twitter feed on the Vevo Lift page where fans can leave questions and view video responses. Fans earn points when their friends clink on Lift-related links they send — including T-shirts and downloads — to help engage them in the viral effort.
But Vevo will also push the program into more traditional channels, such as introducing selected artists to top promoters. And it will provide traffic data from Vevo to radio promotions staff to convince them to add Lift artists to their playlists. This includes regional traffic, fan demographics and data comparisons to other artists.
The Lift support will last six weeks for each artist, after which Vevo will move on to the next act. It’s not clear exactly how the artists will be selected.
Sponsoring the program is McDonald’s, which was a launch sponsor of Vevo that has now elevated its involvement to completely owning its own program on the service. No one is disclosing just how much McDonald’s is paying for the honor, but it’s probably large enough to make this a significant feather in Vevo’s cap as it continues to prove out the theory that ad-supported music can work when paired with video.
As more music services try to carve out a space online, the battleground is becoming less about user interface, or even catalog available, but rather discoverability. With more music being created than ever before, and being released at a faster clip than ever before, it’s the service that does the best job of introducing new artists that will rise above the fold.
How they do this is varying by the service. Pandora uses its Music Genome algorithm. Spotify and Rdio aim for a more social networking angle. And sites like Vevo are taking an internally curated approach.
The last one has its ups and downs. Exposing eight exceptional artists in a year can certainly set up Vevo as a tastemaker if the music is right. But it could also pretty easily devolve into a self-promoting corporate boondoggle.
Based on Jessie J as the first offering, artists will likely be acts that the participating labels in the Vevo joint venture are eager to promote. Jessie J is signed to Universal Music Group. Sony Music Entertainment is the other label in the joint venture, with EMI Music Group simply licensing its catalog to the site. Warner Music Group remains the sole major label holdout.