Universal Music Group Pulls Videos From MTV Websites In Ongoing Licensing Dispute

Kanye West And Lady Gaga Are Just 2 Of The Superstars Under The Universal Umbrella Whose Videos Will No Longer Be Available On MTV Sites

Universal Music Group pulled its music videos from MTV’s websites starting earlier this week, the two companies said Friday, as talks over new licensing terms broke down.

As a result, fans of Lady Gaga, the Black Ey** Peas and hundreds of other acts were left looking elsewhere for their favorite acts’ clips, or watching live-performance footage to which MTV retains the rights.

While many details of the breakdown weren’t disclosed, MTV Networks has been in negotiations with Vevo, the Hulu-esque video service owned by Universal , Google and Sony Music. MTV previously licensed music videos directly from record labels for use on MTV.com, VH1.com and CMT.com. Now Universal, Sony and EMI want websites to let Vevo “syndicate” its videos through their sites. Under that arrangement, which is already in place on YouTube and several other sites, Vevo sells its own ads and delivers its members’ videos through a branded player. Website owners like MTV parent Viacom Inc. get a cut of the advertising revenue.

In a statement, Universal said: “MTVN has been unwilling to negotiate a fair syndication deal with Vevo to carry our artists’ videos and consequently our videos will not be shown on their online properties. We believe that using Vevo as our online music video syndication platform is the best way to maximize revenue for our artists, our songwriters and ourselves.”

The dispute doesn’t affect the ability of MTV’s cable channels to air videos from Universal artists.

While it’s not clear what the sticking point was, it probably relates to the attempted insertion of a new entity in the value chain between consumer eyeball and content owner. In other words, it’s not hard to imagine that MTV balked at the possibility of making less money so that a new company controlled by the record labels could get cut into the deal. Representatives of MTV and Universal declined to comment on financial details.

In a statement of its own, MTV Networks said: “we continue to seek out new and innovative ways to connect artists with their fans that are mutually beneficial to everyone. However, during our recent discussions with Vevo, we were unable to reach a fair and equitable agreement for rights to stream UMG artists’ music video content.” The company added that it was “disappointed” by Universal’s decision.

Also notable: MTV recently entered a partnership with Warner Music Group, the other major-label group, that represents an alternate—and competing—approach to selling ads that run with online music videos.

For now, the impasse applies only to Universal videos, because that company’s previous licensing deal with MTV expired last month. But Sony’s deal comes up for renewal in the fall, and if no deal is in place by then, Sony’s clips good be next to go dark at MTV.com. blogs.wsj.com

This entry was posted in dispute, mtv, music, online, universal, videos. Bookmark the permalink.

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