Exploring the Ultimate Music Video Experience with VEVO’s Michael Cerda
VEVO is making music videos popular again. And that’s a bold statement, coming from fans of MTV’s Total Request Live glory days. Sure, VEVO may not have stylish VJs or a screaming audience located in Times Square, but we think VEVO is an even better music-video-watching experience than TRL ever was.
There are multiple reasons for this, including the fact that you get to pick what videos you want, when you want to watch them and what device you watch them on (desktop computer, Android, iPhone or iPad). It also has to do with how much information you have at your fingertips—11,000 artists’ worth—and how VEVO makes it easy to share your music discoveries and see what your friends are listening to.
But instead of us blabbing on about them, we went to VEVO’s Senior Vice President of Product and Technology, Michael Cerda, who elaborates on VEVO’s mission and reasons for success. Here, Cerda focuses on VEVO’s most recent app launch, its VEVO HD app for iPad, which—if you don’t know from checking out our review yet—is pretty awesome.
- We’re sure you’re familiar with how some refer to VEVO as a modern MTV (in its TRL glory days). In your opinion, what are the major ways VEVO is both similar and different to MTV?
MTV launched on my 10th birthday. I’ll never forget it. I actually ordered it and had it installed without my parents even knowing. I was a musician and a complete music junky, so it played a major role in my life. It contributed to an impressionable time, and really added depth and color to audio music and LP/cassette inserts.
In many ways, I believe VEVO is offering to today’s youth what MTV offered to my youth. I had cable TV, and today’s youth has the Internet. MTV on cable was 24/7 programmed; however, it was limited in choice, whereas VEVO on the Internet is on demand with unlimited choice. It will be interesting to see how the VEVO product experience and audience evolves over time. With continuous play and features such as Airplay and apps such as Xbox LIVE, there’s a growing ability to lean back and reclaim longer-form experiences.
- What are your favorite features about the new VEVO iPad app?
The features I love are based on our ongoing mission to build on personalization, social and continuous play:
Music library matching: This is a part of our goal to personalize the experience. When I launch the app it matches my music library to VEVO’s catalog of over 11,000 artists and 50,000 videos, and it shows me all my matches. What I love is I find videos from artists I know, that I didn’t even realize existed!
Friends: Everything is better with friends, and VEVO is no different. When I register with Facebook, I can easily share the videos I’m watching with my friends, and can conversely view the videos they’re watching. It makes discovery that much more fun and interesting.
Artist pages: Whenever I click on an artist I can view a profile page that includes a bio, the artist’s last tweet, tour dates, and a simple list of all the videos by that artist. It’s contextual information paired with a continuous playing list of all that artist’s videos.
- In your opinion, what’s the key to creating a desirable video-watching experience on a handheld mobile device?
The key is to establish an emotional connection with your audience. In the case of VEVO Mobile, the kinds of things that go into creating that connection are simplicity, fast time to video-view, high quality, personalization, continuous play and the social loop that drives all this through friends.
- Your website states, “Music discovery is an integral part of VEVO. How are VEVO and the VEVO app(s) focusing on the user need for new music discovery outside of playlists?
VEVO focuses on discovery in a few ways:
Recommendations: Whenever a viewer views a video, VEVO uses that video as a “seed” to yield a 2nd video that’s similar, then a 3rd and so on.
Home page experience: VEVO programs the home page experience across the web and apps everyday so that there’s always something fresh and interesting to discover.
Navigation: VEVO continues to simplify navigation, all the while bringing out new content.
Videos browse: At the time of this writing, VEVO is actually building a new Videos browse experience. This will provide a larger, yet simpler lens into our catalog of videos along with original programming, events and news.
- Other than VEVO, what are some of your favorite apps right now and why?
I love this question, and actually, I use it when I interview potential VEVO candidates every day.
I’ve always loved Flipboard, because it represents beautiful design, simplicity and utility. I feel like I can relax and browse it, vs. the various feed news or social media products that make me feel rushed.
I use Facebook multiple times a day, and am real glad the app was reworked. It’s a lot better. That said, I get a great deal of utility out of Google Plus. I use the hangouts features to video with my distributed New York and San Francisco team every day.
In my spare time, I do a lot in GarageBand. I can put together a pretty high quality song in a couple hours and easily share it. That app came straight from Heaven to any composing musician.
I’m intrigued by Everyme, which is sort of a small-group social network. A friend of mine built it, and it’s beautifully designed. Time will tell if they can achieve small-group critical mass.
I’m really interested to see how Vyclone evolves. It’s an app that takes multiple phone video recordings and mashes them up into one piece of footage. I had an idea for something similar once and dubbed it “a moment in time.” I ultimately didn’t pursue it because getting groups of people to do anything together is real hard. Vyclone has a sleek interface and seems to have some nice traction on some use cases.
What’s your favorite VEVO show and why?
I’m not sure how many people are like this, but I always develop a seasonal soundtrack. When I first joined VEVO in late August 2011, I relocated my entire family to New York from San Francisco. It was a major change and transition and as a result paved the way to my Fall 2011 soundtrack. Early that Fall, I was walking past the Today Show on my way to VEVO, and Coldplay was playing in Rockefeller Plaza. They were playing that really killer build-up section during “Fix You.” They also played some new songs from Mylo Xyloto, and I was hooked.
Soon thereafter Coldplay played our American Express Unstaged Program, live from Madrid. American Express Unstaged is a partnership between VEVO, YouTube and of course Amex and has featured artists like Jack White, John Legend & The Roots, Usher and many more. For Coldplay, we live-streamed it worldwide but had it playing on the big screens in Times Square, so I walked down to check it out. It was larger than life. I knew I’d want to relive it. It actually led to my move to make all of our original programs into playlist form, so that viewers could enjoy this and any other shows in continuum. Not a week goes by where I don’t have at least part of that show on.
Apps I Love
Hollywood’s Heartthrob Turns App Investor
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs since his performance in Titanic, and he has preserved his reputation as a worthy actor with other hit films such as Inception, The Departed and Catch Me If You Can. But DiCaprio is switching gears from show business—whether it be for a side gig or a change in career—by investing $4 million in the app Mobli.
Going off of the tagline, "See the world through other people’s eyes," Mobli is a social network where users can share photos and videos, and the app automatically tags each post with a location or major event in the surrounding area. Users can also follow channels that display photos about a particular topic, such as Leo himself.
Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg told The Huffington Post in October 2011 that Leo’s not much of a tech guy, but he is very excited to be involved in the marketing aspect of the app. “He believes in the vision of the company and thinks that this is the future of media. He wanted to get on board in the beginning, influence it, and give his input into the company.”