In the 1980s and early 1990s, music videos on television captured the imagination of a generation. New levels of music fanaticism, discovery and imagination were born. We could finally see what bands really looked like, what their interpretations of the music were, what story it really told, and even the latest fashion trends! Then it ended. Music on TV went away and the Internet showed up, ushering in a new paradigm and a new generation of everything. Long gone were the days of just turning on the TV and watching music videos.
In the 2000s, broadband Internet and smartphones captured the imagination of the incoming generation, who were exposed to an enormous collection of user-generated content and music videos online. Music videos were inherently lower quality and certainly smaller in screen size, but viewers still viewed more music videos than ever before due to the always on-demand access. As much of an access revolution as this was though, it lacked any sense of curation or automation, err… lean back mode of viewing. Viewers had to search for what they wanted to view, and when they did it was ridden of low quality user-generated versions.
In recent years, higher quality, official music videos emerged online. The official music videos became easier to find and more pleasurable to view. And, more recently, there’s been a gradual migration from the search-and-snack experience to a more personalized, social and lean back experience that encourages music discovery. There’s also been market migration from desktop viewing to mobile viewing — one that opens doors to new contexts of viewing. For example, videos can be viewed on the go, on a train commute, or on a TV with Apple Airplay. We can now view on the go; anywhere we are, at anytime, with anyone — digitally or virtually.
The digital living room began to emerge in new ways, with apps on gaming consoles, set top boxes, and smart TVs — where contexts and use cases could expand even further. Leaning back, viewers today ever so appreciate the beauty of a music video playing in their living room — some are seeing it for the first time and some are seeing it just like they remember. In any case, viewers are watching more music videos at a time in the digital living room than anywhere else.
Now the onus is on content providers to tune into these evolving contexts and use cases. The shift from short form to long form consumption is at hand, but so is a continuous experience; one that never really ends. For example, Netflix continuously plays episodes from a given season, and even keeps track of where you last left off, regardless of device. Pandora has persistent login across devices so that your radio stations are consistent anywhere you go. There are and will be more developments that will play into this trend.
One very new development along these lines is today’s launch of VEVO TV — a new curated, long form-oriented experience across desktop, mobiles and digital living room devices. Like it sounds, and like TV itself, VEVO TV is something that can be turned on anytime day or night, exclusively within any VEVO app. There is a variety of programming throughout the day at every hour on the hour, so there’s something for everybody to tune into.
This is not just a product feature; it’s an entire living, breathing soul of an experience. It’s something that can’t be found anywhere else. It addresses the paradox of choice, it addresses the emerging viewing patterns in the living room, it provides a fresh experience to millennials and a reminiscent experience to those of us that were here in the early ‘80s and ‘90s. As an industry and an audience, we’ve kind of come full circle from our parent’s living room to our computer and now into our living room, done our way. Instead of a single screen it’s every screen. Instead of just the living room it’s every room, anyplace, and with everyone. For the first time in a long time we’re all watching the same thing, together — physically and virtually. This is effectively, the return of music television.
What’s next? As programmed, longer form experiences emerge across the various digital parts of our lives, we’re going to spend more time viewing. And we’re going to find new reasons and ways to view, both passively and actively. Much the way viewers binge on seasons of TV shows on Netflix, people are going to binge on music videos. Much the way people have the TV on to keep them company, they’re going to do that with music videos. Much the way 2nd second screen interactive experiences are emerging on TV, they’ll now emerge on music videos. Much the way people get together to watch the GRAMMYs, the Oscars or the Super Bowl, they’re going to do with music television. And anytime you put something in the hands of an audience, they’re going to do things none of us have even thought of yet — and that’s the beginning of the next inflection.
We have a lot to learn yet, but those of us trying to make it happen have certainly developed some insights along the way. Viewers are telling us they can’t get enough of it, that there’s a certain kind of magic when they don’t have to think about what to watch all the time. There’s a certain kind of magic when they can watch a higher quality music video on a larger player or screen than anywhere else. There’s a certain kind of magic when something’s been handmade by a human.
Algorithmic entertainment won’t go away, but programmed entertainment will take on a larger role, again. There will be more ongoing consumption and more immersive behavior within programmed entertainment than with on-demand entertainment. The on-demand offerings will always co-exist, but programmed offerings will captivate audiences and will emerge as the leading feeding ground for viewers, content providers, and advertisers alike.
VEVO TV is the basis for the return of music television. It’s not so much a channel as it is a network with one channel to start. It’s not hard to imagine multiple channels in multiple countries with region-specific programming, live events, news, personalities, and interactive experiences, accessible from any device, anytime. It is both daunting and exciting knowing that’s what’s next, but today, we’re going to celebrate the return of music television. Long live music television.
Michael Cerda envisions and executes on VEVO products and its supporting technology, having a long career in breaking new ground for startups and bringing larger companies through major inflections.