Music’s power of engagement is intense. At a most basic level, as embarrassing as they might be, everyone has a favourite song, or tunes that evoke fond memories.
Leveraging that power is what Simon Joyce’s day job is all about. Starting out by streaming radio online, MCM Entertainment Group now encompasses MCM Media, Movideo and design company Igloo and sits across events, TV, radio, online and social media. Back in 2007, MCM Media was the first company globally to agree licensing with four major record labels to stream music video on demand on an ad-funded basis.
Joyce, who has been with MCM for 12 years, recalls: “We knew music has this incredible ability to attract a high quality, highly engaged audience, and we also knew that in the online world, nothing is scaled quicker than music videos. Aan advertiser wants a highly engaged audience, so the model here was pretty simple. We weren’t obsessed with pre-rolls, we just said ‘if you play a couple of videos you’ll get one ad’. No-one was doing this, no-one has a focus on music video – this was pre-Vevo.”
These were also the days when searching for your favourite artist’s latest official video on YouTube was tough. You had to wade through countless videos of wannabes singing into their hairbrushes and dogs skating to the tune before you found the high definition clip. “It was a mess before Vevo,” remembers Joyce. “We invested heavily in the technology and did licensing deals with the labels.”
That was 2008. The following year, MCM launched the Digital Entertainment Network. At the same time, Joyce watched Vevo launch in the States. “We watched them do an incredible deal with YouTube,” he recalls. Vevo high definition clips now rank at the top of searches.
Watching Vevo launch from afar soon led to a new partnership for MCM Media. “Watching Vevo, we said ‘hello, we’re MCM in Australia, we were watching you closely and we’re actually already doing what you’re doing’,” says Joyce. A partnership was announced between Vevo and MCM Media in April 2012.
MCM Media is now reaching 10 million unique browsers a month. And MCM Entertainment has branched out into music front and centre.
Through Vevo Go Shows (semi-spontaneous live shows, the first of which took place last year with Labrinth in Bondi), both artists and brands gain exposure.
But how do the artists feel about being advertised against? “It’s got to be done well,” explains Joyce. “But the most important thing in working with an artist is collaborating with them. Ultimately, they want to be creatively inspired and want to walk away with some great content. When the artist is genuinely part of creating the event, you get a very different result from saying ‘here’s a stage, here’s a big logo on the stage, please play’.”
Last year, the Vevo partnership also launched Vevo Lift, a platform to give exposure to emerging artists.
“2012 was a massive year,” says Joyce. “The growth in online video is huge, it’s the shining light in digital and it’s an incredibly exciting space. We’re getting a 92% average completion rate on our videos. That’s because the value exchange is so fair. There is three or four minutes of great content. To have a 15-second targeted, high quality ad is a very fair value exchange.”
So what’s next?
2013 is lined up to be a year of big things for radio and a greater focus on music’s slightly more mature audience – the 35 to 54-year-olds.
“Our focus on radio continues,” outlines Joyce.” Radio, in my view, will continue to power on. We are somewhat overwhelmed by choice in the digital world when it comes to music, so curation is key. Radio is in for a good year in 2013.”
He adds: “32% of our Vevo audience is in the 35 to 54 age bracket. They don’t stream as many videos as 18 to 24-year-olds, but they certainly stream. We have got a huge audience there, which is very much untapped. That’s the cracking thing about music – everyone’s got a soundtrack to their life.
“We’re currently working through a major audience segmentation piece that drills down and profiles our users, our audience, their devotion to music and how they consume our channels. We know we have got a big story to tell advertisers in the 35 to 54-year-old demographic and it’s a huge focus for us over the next year.”
Joyce also sees a day in the not too distant future when digital upfronts will become the norm.
“Soon we’ll be running digital upfronts in this country, presenting the year ahead, predicting which massive artists that will be making videos all year and announcing all the shows we will be creating,” he says. “That has already started in the US. They did digital upfronts last year with YouTube, Vevo, Yahoo and so on.”
And finally, which artists does a man so consumed by music like to listen to himself?
“Most of my favourite artists I’ve fallen in love with because we’ve shot their gigs,” says the Sydney-born father-of-two. “More recently it’s Birds of Tokyo – their new album is stunning. And Jessie J last year, when she exploded on the scene, I love her music. Jamiroquai is an old favourite, and I liked what I saw last year from Guy Sebastian – he is such a star.”