EMI, long time YouTube-phobe, has just announced a new music video partnership with Dailymotion. It'll kick off in April, and means Dailymotion users on the desktop and in iPhone apps will get access to EMI's huge video library.
The companies' press release makes a meal out of the bigness of this deal—EMI "one of the world's leading music companies" and DailyMotion "one of the largets online video companies in the world" are partnering to bring music vids to D's website, iPhone app and the "Dailymotion channel on Internet connected TVs." In other words, EMI is trying its best to reach as many of DM's "65 million global users" as it actually can.
As far as Dailymotion users are concerned this is a plus—EMI's back catalog available as a sort of on-demand MTV competitor, with you as the VJ. And as far as EMI's concerned, this is a good thing—though there's no mention of it, you know that the record label is taking a cut of the advertising revenues that'll roll in when people view its music clips on DM.
But why is EMI doing this at all? It's got a limited agreement with YouTube's Vevo already, and it used to let the YouTube itself officially host some of its videos, as long as they enforce a "no embedding" rule, so that YouTube users couldn't simply link the EMI-sourced content in other websites whenever they wish. And YouTube, with guesstimated video viewing figures of over 200 million clips per day, is the granddaddy of online video Web sites. So why didn't EMI simply hack out a better deal with Google?
The answer is this is simply a follow-up to EMI's Vevo deal, and the fact that even before Vevo, EMI had an uneasy relationship with Google. EMI seems to have chosen the shotgun effect for getting its music vids into public view, which perhaps minimizes its risk of losing control over distribution rights and fees to one giant player (thinking of the mighty Google, of course.) Dailymotion's system will also let bands put together dedicated pages, a place where their fans can connect with the band more interactively, and that's definitely a way to build revenue. It's also got global reach, and it has automated filtering to remove "infringing content," which should prevent unauthorized re-upping of EMI material.
From a consumer point of view, of course, it's better in the long run to have several healthy competitors in a broadcasting game like this...though I'm sure Google's execs would disagree. But this is also the sign of a music industry that's in flux, to a degree—its being forced to embrace the new technologies and business models of the Net, but can't make itself stake its future on any one particular online provider. Will this result in each of the various music video providers lacking that special unique spark that'll really make it soar? We can't say.