Online video service Vessel is keen to work more closely with music labels and artists, expanding its focus beyond simply offering their music videos to fans a few days ahead of YouTube.
“Every musician has a passionate following, and it’s going to be up to those entrepreneurs – and they are entrepreneurs, not just musicians – to think ‘what can I do for my passionate following?’,” Vessel’s chief executive Jason Kilar told Music Ally.
“Clearly going on tour and playing is one thing, and clearly releasing music videos is another, but the world is open to them in terms of what they are able to do, and to translate those fans’ passion for their craft into other kinds of videos.”
Vessel launched earlier in 2015 with a roster of YouTube creators and music labels – UMG and WMG included – offering their videos at least three days ahead of YouTube and other free video services. It plans to charge a $2.99 monthly subscription for access to this ‘premium’ content, while also carrying ads from selected brands.
YouTubers like Ingrid Nilsen, Shane Dawson, Connor Franta, and Rhett & Link may have been the most prominent faces of Vessel in its early days, but the company sees potential for musicians and labelsx§ to learn from the kind of content that those vloggers have built their fanbases with.
“If you’re offering early access to fans, it’s natural to step back and say ‘what are people passionate about?’ because what you’re passionate about is what you tend to value early access to. Music as a genre – not just music audio, but music video too – is something people are very passionate about,” said Kilar.
“There’s something about it that causes your heart to flutter! So the reason we wanted to work with the music industry, between Universal Music and Warner Music and Sony through Vevo, was to start working with them and helping them to be exposed to windowing, and to understand what that could do for their businesses.”
There is competition for these kinds of videos, not least from the newly-unveiled Apple Music, which is hoping musicians will start posting behind-the-scenes videos and other kinds of footage through its Apple Connect service. Other venues for this content might include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine and musicians’ own apps and websites.
“I think you’re going to see a tremendous amount of experimentation: you’re going to see a lot of stuff on Apple, a lot of stuff on YouTube and other platforms. But I think you’re going to see a lot of stuff on Vessel too,” said Kilar.
One possible advantage: labels and artists may see Vessel as a more guaranteed source of income from these ancillary videos, since fans will ultimately be paying a subscription to access them – something they can earn from, as well as an additional fee for every fan they drive to the platform who subsequently signs up.
“It’s early days, and the good news is we have a history with these folks in the music industry, and I think it’s fair to say they respect us and we respect them,” said Kilar.
“Any music label is thinking to themselves ‘how do I make this transition digitally in a way that can really be accretive overall to my business as opposed to disruptive in value to my business?’. I think we can help.”
Talking more generally, he stressed that Vessel does not see itself as cannibalising other platforms like YouTube. “We didn’t create Vessel to suddenly go head-to-head with existing players. When you look at most well-run industries in media, they actually have an ecosystem of folks that serve creators,” he said.
“I think that the ecosystem of web video is going to be a number of different players that serve creators. I think we’re going to be one, clearly YouTube is one, Facebook is one, Twitter is one and you’ll see others like Vimeo etc. But as I said, it’s early days: we are 11 weeks into this, but ultimately this is going to be decades in terms of what we want to ultimately build and dream.”