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We respect artists’ creative vision and give them the opportunity to share their work with their fans as they intend it to be seen. Period.

HE LIKES TO WATCH

We Press Play With VEVO’s Doug McVehil

VEVO SVP Content and Programming Doug McVehil has played a key role in helping the music-video outlet grow from large numbers of views to obscene numbers of views, all while fending off our own Todd Hensley’s constant requests for director’s cuts of Izzy Azalea clips. He was kind enough to answer our irritating questions, though he declined to do so while swinging naked on a wrecking ball.

VEVO’s grown exponentially of late, notably on mobile and connected-TV platforms. To what do you attribute this increase?
We’ve made a concerted effort to stay one step ahead of our viewers as methods of consumption evolve. We’ve created high-quality apps and products for iOS, Android, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, Roku, xBox, Windows 8 and many others, with even more to come in the next few months. The development of these products is resulting in a major shift, with more than half of our total views now taking place off of the desktop computer.

Miley Cyrus recently hit the 100m views milestone in less than a week. Can you say a little bit about this phenomenon, and what attributes drive certain videos to these massive numbers so quickly?
Well, I think Miley falls under the category of “meme.” When RCA first showed us the video, we knew it would be controversial and drive massive views, and it immediately did. Miley and her team did a great job of working with us to raise awareness for our exclusive premiere, and her fans really took it from there, using social media to encourage views of the clip with the specific goal of breaking the 24-hour record. Once they achieved that, their goal was to earn Miley the quickest ascent to CERTIFIED level (100m views). They crushed the previous record, which was actually also held by Miley, and “Wrecking Ball” was CERTIFIED after only six days (versus 37 days for “We Can’t Stop”).  Fandriven campaigns like this are becoming the norm, with fans of Rihanna, One Direction, Justin Bieber and many others fighting to help these artists achieve VEVO milestones.

Do you think the fact that VEVO will play “unrated” versions of superstar videos has in a sense made you the equivalent of a cable outlet for artists? Obviously a certain amount of nudity and other “adult content” is permitted; where do you draw the line in terms of the kind of content you’ll show?
We respect artists’ creative vision and give them the opportunity to share their work with their fans as they intend it to be seen. Period. We’re blurring the lines between web, mobile and TV, creating something greater than the sum of its parts.

VEVO Lift has played a role in breaking a number of new artists. What are your criteria for selecting acts for this spotlight?
There isn’t a set of specific milestones. Timing is always a key factor.  Our goal is, like the name implies, to give a project a LIFT.  With a band like The Neighbourhood, that means taking them under our wing when they were virtually unknown. For an artist like Avicii, we timed our support to build on his core EDM following and introduce him to the mainstream pop audience that IDJ needed as they prepared for his full album release. It helps to have a new video premiere during the cycle and to have the album release date set near the culmination of the program. Other factors include the general buzz on a project, social following, touring base and our confidence in the overall marketing plan and the label’s track record with LIFT artists. The program requires a big-time commitment from artists, so availability at the right time is essential.

VEVO is now producing clips as well as playing them, in tandem with Nissan. How did this come about?
We’ve been producing a big variety of original content with and without artists since the very beginning. The Nissan deal in particular was born out of a year-long collaboration between Nissan, OMD, TBWA/Chiat/Day and VEVO’s sales and original content teams. It is a great example of the creative solutions we provide for our brand partners who are looking for something custom, above and beyond a standard media buy. This program ticks all the boxes for our client and drives additional revenue for the artists and labels involved.

Tell us more about your original shows.
Original programming is an important part of our strategy. Since VEVO launched in 2009, we’ve produced over 2,000 episodes of original programming. Our CERTIFIED specials starring artists like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez have been viewed more than 50m times. The long-running Go Shows franchise has been viewed nearly 100m times. Our partnership with American Express Unstaged and YouTube has garnered 60m views. Our Live on Letterman concert series, which is produced in partnership with CBSi, has over 200m views. Some of our current productions, like Hot This Week and Lyric Lines, are being viewed more than 1.5m times each week. Our recent Nine Inch Nails Tour Exposed has been viewed more than 1m times. These are huge numbers that rival broadcast television, and deliver a young audience that is no longer watching TV.

Can you say a little about new initiatives? We know a redesign is on the way. What else should we expect?
We’re continuously working to improve our content, programming and product. You’ll see some great new features roll out in our apps and website starting in November.  One thing I can tell you about is that we are planning to expand the VEVO TV linear experience from one channel to three channels in the U.S. (hyper targeting Pop, Rap/R&B and Country audiences). Full-fledged VEVO TV will also launch in Europe this fall.

In a twerk-off between John Sykes and Van Toffler, who wins?
[VEVO CEO] Rio Caraeff would out-twerk them both, hands down.

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Adele; Adele Adele?
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Adele Adele; Adele.
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(Adele.)
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