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Universal Music Group targets teens online

October 9, 2008 |  1:05 pm

Companytown From bobby-soxers to boy-band groupies, teenagers have always been key consumers for the music industry. Only now, instead of counting on them to buy albums with their allowances, labels are happy to have their attention. 

Universal Music Group announced today that it would license its music videos to teen social networking site Kiwibox.com, aiming to attract young fans beyond Internet haunts like the youth-friendly but not youth-focused YouTube or MySpace.

For now, Universal is the only label Kiwibox has inked a deal with, though Kiwibox Chief Executive Lin Dai says the other three major labels are "very excited about the possibility of working with us."

It might seem like overkill in a crowded music social-networking field — dominated by the just-launched MySpace Music but well served too by sites such as iMeem and Last.fm. But Dai says a teen-only market is the key advantage Kiwibox offers labels.

"Record labels are trying to reach a targeted teen market," he says, "and that’s a bit hard to do through other social networks where the majority of users aren’t teens anymore."

Lin_dai Kiwibox has 2 million members, 20,000 of whom help produce a weekly online magazine on the site. Dai noted that this peer-edited and -produced content — which has always included music-related features like video interviews with artists and album reviews — will set Kiwibox’s offerings apart from purely user-generated and chronologically organized content on MySpace or YouTube.

Like those sites, Kiwibox aims to add links that will let users purchase tracks, since, Dai says, "teens always see music videos as promotional items."

And airing those videos in a social setting has benefits. A Forrester Research study conducted last year found that over a third of social networkers between the ages of 12 and 17 used the sites to discover music, and 72% of them watched videos online.  Other youth-focused sites, including Piczo.com and myYearbook.com, also offer music-related content.

"Providing media in social networks where people are pursuing their lifestyles already is very popular right now," said Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang.

-- Swati Pandey

Photo: Kiwibox.com Chief Executive Lin Dai. Credit: Kiwibox

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