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Can Google Bring Back the Music Video?

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The search giant brings labels together to create a Hulu-like partnership for videos.

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It's been quite a week for Google (GOOG).

The search giant unveiled real-time updates, providing up-to-the-second results from news sites and social media groups. Android phone users are one step closer to holding the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in their pocket with Google Goggles -- an app that photographs landmarks, books, business cards, etc. and spits back the subject's pertaining info. And, through collaboration with Verizon (VZ) and Morotola (MOT), its Android mobile platform is featured in Time magazine's Top Gadget of 2009 -- pushing tech nemesis Apple (AAPL) down to the four-spot.

Now, the company is playing host to a new site which provides full-length music videos via a Hulu-like partnership between major record labels.

Spearheaded by Universal Music Group, Sony (SNE), and Google's YouTube arm, Vevo.com serves as one of the few digital outlets where music videos are uploaded and officially approved by the studio backer.

Along with Universal and Sony, Britain's EMI Group has signed on to provide content with AOL (AOL-WI) and CBS (CBS) waiting in the wings. Warner Music Group (WMG) remains as a major holdout, already having a spotty history between itself, YouTube, and a slew of pulled unauthorized content.

In an interview with CNET, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group Doug Morris stated that the companies behind Vevo aim to regain control of content distribution and eliminate third parties.

"Vevo enables us to provide consumers with about 80% of all the music videos in the world. So, this is really like MTV on steroids. We're starting with that kind of audience. But now we're in control of it. We don't have to go through a middleman anymore."

As kinks are still being ironed out, YouTube is steadily redirecting all licensed music videos back to the Vevo site and hopes to eliminate any duplicates -- which is highly celebrated by anyone who has clicked through to find the highest quality clip.

Advanced features like synchronized lyrics, playlists, Last.fm integration, and direct purchase links to Amazon (AMZN) and iTunes are welcome additions. While HD isn't yet provided, it's on its way.

Managing all ad sales, Vevo hasn't had much trouble garnering sponsors. For the site's launch, backers include no less than AT&T (T), McDonald's (MCD), Nikon, Mastercard (MA), Dove (UN), Colgate (CL), Axe, and Infiniti. The site is ad-supported, though every selection won't be preceded by an ad -- aggregate usage will determine the rate.

Last night, at a star-studded gala event marking the launch of the site, U2's outspoken singer Bono had some choice words about the record labels' past and the bitter pill they must swallow to remain relevant: "We've come here to mourn the death of an old cash cow that was the music industry."

But with Hulu, Netflix (NFLX), and now Vevo, media companies are starting to learn that striking deals and legally hosting ad-supported content is preferable to both the producer and viewer than continually pulling every user-uploaded song, show, or movie. If and when a solid revenue stream is forged, all corporate media will fall in line.

As of now, Vevo continues to be plagued by heavy launch traffic and displays error messages rather than videos. Vevo's Twitter page states that its team is working on the launch overload.

Better hurry, because you're currently showing about as many music videos as MTV (VIA) does now.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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