Sony BMG Launches Music Vid Channel With Ads

Sony BMG Music Entertainment has created an ad-supported channel for music video content, courtesy of digital video distribution platform Brightcove.

Called “musicbox video,” the channel will allow Sony BMG to push certain videos out to affiliates, for instance to news and radio station Web sites when they feature an artist, while reserving others for its own Web sites. Part of the company’s plan is to set up pages for individual recording artists, where a fan can view several of a specific artist’s videos in one place.

Additionally, for each video, Sony BMG will have the option to turn on a viral pass-along feature, letting individuals paste the video directly onto their MySpace or other fan pages.

It’s an unprecedented set of moves toward direct online monetization of the label’s music videos, as opposed to the dominant approach of using them largely for promotional purposes. In addition to music videos, the offering will also include live performances and artist interviews.

“What they want to do is empower consumers with legitimate branded program vehicle that can be distributed to those end points,” said Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove. “Many don’t realize the enormous volume of usage that occurs around music video and content on the Web.”

On its own Web sites, Sony BMG will have a customized Brightcove player featuring “top videos” and genre-based playlists. The videos will display “share with a friend” and RSS syndication feeds as well. Through its managed affiliate relationships, the recording studio can share ad revenue with Web sites that present the content. Brightcove, which delivers the videos and handles ad sales, also takes a small cut. The first advertisers to purchase pre-roll and “overlay” units on the new channel include DreamWorks Animation SKG and HP.

In addition to being an unusual experiment for Sony BMG, the new channel marks a departure for Brightcove, whose technology has so far been used mainly for informational and other “talking head” type video content. Allaire said Sony BMG is the first major label the company has begun working with, adding it’s a category Brightcove intends to pursue aggressively.

Perhaps most intriguing about the new distribution model is the decision to allow certain videos to be disseminated to anyone’s Web page, including blogs and MySpace pages. Allaire stresses the heavy controls Sony has on this type of action.

“When Sony chooses to put these viral codes up there, they’re exclusively making a choice for that ,” he said. “You’re likely to see constraints on the programming, [for instance] the most recent hits from the most recent artists.”

While it won’t prevent piracy, he said, it will increase the chance the music videos will be seen in all their glory and in a controlled environment. “Instead of illegitimate piracy, they’ll get… high quality and a rich experience they can stick into those sites.”

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