You may have heard of Vevo. It is an online music-video site owned by two music industry heavyweights, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Also onboard the corporate gravy train is Google, and Abu Dhabi Media. Think of Vevo as a Hulu for music videos; the money comes from advertising revenue from sponsors like AT&T and McDonalds.
Apparently, times are good at Vevo. According to its CEO, Rio Caraeff, the number of music videos streamed each month has risen nearly 50% from a year ago. In real numbers, Vevo is averaging about 6 billion videos per month. That’s a lot of Justin Bieber
But here is the interesting part: about 65% of the videos are being watched on mobile phones. Speaking at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami, Caraeff said, “On the global stage, it’s really all about mobile.”
Yes, the 65% statistic that leaves 35% for TVs of some sort, probably via devices such as Roku, XBox, and Apple TV. But clearly phones and tablets get the lionshare of views. Judging by the titles featured on Vevo, the site skews toward youthful viewers, not surprising considering that youth has traditionally been in the driver’s seat of music sales. That means we have a new generation of viewers who may prefer small screens over big ones.
You don’t find a lot of tower loudspeakers in living rooms anymore; that market was slowly eroded over several generations as technology permitted more mobile playback. From cabinet stereos, to portable radios, to Walkmans, to portable CD players, to iPods, to phones, we slowly moved from loudspeaker playback to headphone playback. Much handwringing has been done regarding the presumed effect on people’s appreciation of playback quality. (MP3 also plays a villainous part.)
What’s interesting is that the transition from big screens to small screens has been so startlingly fast. The technology is moving faster, and that has encouraged a faster migration. We could argue that whereas previous generations certainly aspired to big screens; our younger generations may aspire to small screens, exemplified as the latest and coolest phone.
Our viewing habits are changing as inevitably as our listening habits changed. Vevo isn’t to blame; it is just another canary in our coal mine. The big question (or maybe it’s a small question) is what this shift in viewing habits means for the future of big screens. Certainly, jackbooted thugs will not crash into your home and seize your 80 incher. Likewise, big screens will always be available. But just as earbuds doomed corporate incentive to promote audiophile formats such as DVD-Audio and SACD, will phone viewing send a chill into the development of future, bigger and better screens?