Category: Warner Music Group

Warner Music wants to strike chord with Generation Y on YouTube

The Warner SoundThis is definitely not your father's MTV.

Warner Music Group on Thursday unveiled plans for an online video channel on YouTube that will feature more than the usual music videos.

Instead, the New York music company is producing a host of original shows for the online channel, called The Warner Sound. Rather than highly produced cinematic shots of musicians lip-syncing their latest songs, Warner is taking a quirky, more experimental approach to video.

One series, called "Staged," takes lyrics from top Warner songs and presents them verbatim as the scripts for a video drama. Another show, "The Live Room," takes the cinema verite style to recording sessions with Warner artists.

"Finding Cody Simpson" is a variation of "Roger and Me" but with a technology twist -- viewers are able to decide where they want to go next in the main character's search for Cody Simpson, an Australian pop singer signed to a Warner label. It uses a "choose-your-adventure" feature offered by YouTube that lets viewers click on several options that would queue up the next video segment of the story. (Simpson, coincidentally, started his career by posting videos of himself singing "Cry Me a River" and other ballads on YouTube, where a record producer "discovered" him.)

Warner tapped television and cable TV veteran Ocean MacAdams to helm the channel's programming efforts. MacAdams was previously senior vice president of programming for Current TV and, before that, was senior vice president of editorial operations at MTV News.

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Jac Holzman: The day Bob Dylan switched to the electric guitar

The history of music, it seems, is replete with rocky transitions.

Jac Holzman, who founded Elektra Records 60 years ago and is now back in the swing of things as senior advisor to Warner Music Group's Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman on the company's digital strategy, has seen quite a few.

For Holzman, one of the most memorable occured in 1965 and involved Bob Dylan. The place was the Newport Folk Festival, and Dylan was headlining the event. Described by Time magazine as one of the top 10 music festival moments, the broad details are well-known.

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Warner Music Group aligns with MTV Networks in music video ad deal

Nickelback Warner Music Group hears music in MTV's online advertising network.

The music conglomerate on Wednesday announced a multiyear, nonexclusive deal to let MTV sell the ads for thousands of Warner's online music videos.

The music video business, which MTV pioneered three decades ago but has largely abandoned, has migrated online in recent years to sites such as YouTube, Vevo and on artists' individual home pages. The diaspora, however, has meant that artists and labels have collected very little advertising money from the videos because the clips have been spread far and wide across the Web.

That's now beginning to change. Universal Music Group, Sony and EMI are pursuing one strategy: Combine all the videos to get critical mass though a company called Vevo and charge more for ads.

Warner appears to be charting a different course with its MTV alliance. Instead of pooling the videos into one online destination, Warner wants to keep the stuff on its artists' individual websites. All told, Warner's music videos garnered 26.3 million unique visitors in May, according to comScore, an online tracking firm.

Such an audience can command several million dollars a year in online advertising revenue, a substantial amount when the industry is struggling against massive declines in CD sales. Warner last year outsourced the ad sales for its videos to Outrigger, an independent Internet ad sales company. But advertisers prefer to sign a handful of deals with companies that have access to large audiences, rather than pursue a large number of deals with smaller outfits such as Outrigger.

Warner is hoping that its shift to MTV would allow it to command higher ad rates and sell more ads, using MTV's online advertising sales force. The agreement also gives MTV the option to contract Warner artists to appear on the network's shows or provide licensed music for its TV series.

If things don't work out with MTV, Warner maintains the option to go elsewhere, including Vevo, according to an executive familiar with the discussions.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Warner Music Group represents a number of groups, including the Canadian metal band Nickelback. Credit: Chapman Baehler.

Warner signs distribution pact with Nettwerk

The Weepies Who says you don't need traditional music companies in the digital era?

Nettwerk Music Group, a label that specializes in indie bands such as Ladytron and Delerium, has signed a multi-year pact with Warner Music Group to distribute albums for all of its artists. The deal with Warner's subsidiary, Alternative Distribution Alliance, includes physical and digital distribution.

For Warner, the deal is an endorsement of its relevance in a cutthroat market where independent labels and artists can strike out on their own and sell music directly to fans via the Internet. The lesson, it seems, is that technology can only get you so far, and that a well oiled distribution machine -- with hooks into a vast array of retailers -- still counts for something. 

One of Nettwerk's best known acts is a folk pop band called The Weepies. Of all bands,The Weepies would be among the most likely candidates to succeed without the help of a traditional music company; 82% of their sales in 2008 were digital.Their debut album "Say I Am You" sold more than 2,500 full-length digital copies 3 months prior to the physical CD release in 2006.  Their second album, "Hideaway," debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at  No. 31 in 2008.

Nettwerk, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has released more than 400 albums over the years, including music from Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan and Old Crow Medicine Show.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: The Weepies' Deb Talen and Steve Tannen. Credit: Nettwerk Music Group.

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Warner Music signs deal with ringtone company Myxer

Myxer If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Warner Music Group on Tuesday said it signed a deal with Myxer, a make-your-own-ringtone company whose popularity has been a thorn in the side of record labels.

The deal calls for Myxer to sell Warner's catalog of about 10,000 ringtones for $2.99 a pop. In July, Myxer will also sell song downloads, iTunes-style, from a Warner catalog of 200,000 songs, according to Steve Spiro, vice president of marketing for the Miami website. Myxer already has a similar deal in place with EMI.

Why is this interesting? Because it presumes people would rather pay $2.99 for something they can get for free. Myxer's success has largely been built on giving away ringtones. Last year, visitors to its site downloaded 700 million ringtones, and 99% of them were free, Spiro said. The lion's share of those were given away by up-and-coming artists such as the Raveonettes and Trina, who offered their songs as a way of marketing themselves.

But about 3% of those, more than 21 million downloads, came from Myxer's make-your-own tool, which lets people upload any digital song on their computer, select a 30-second snippet and send it to their phone to use as a ringtone -- for free. Myxer makes money by serving up ads while people wait for their songs to upload. Best of all, it's perfectly legal for people to do this.

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