Universal Music Group has long had bold ambitions in visual content – with its Globe Production arm being the most obvious place to point towards in terms of what it has been doing here over the years. But there is more being planned.
Barak Moffitt, EVP for content strategy and operations at UMG, appeared on the AdLib podcast and suggested where the company could move next. He explained the broader strategy was tied up in “this need for our company in 2019 and beyond to evolve from this product-driven music company to a music-based media company”.
While podcasting is obviously part of that expansion and diversification, Moffitt said it must also include “linear broadcast television and paid television which are still the largest segments of the screened entertainment market combined”.
He talked through some projects that he and his team are working on – including Ice Cold (which explores the history and symbolism of jewellery in hip-hop) as well as a evolution of the mixtape and how it shaped hip-hop as both a genre and a commercial enterprise.
“As a company whose responsibility it is to effectively connect artists with the fans and deepen that emotional bond, we need to embrace the opportunities that other forms of entertainment provide for our artists to connect with fans in a more meaningful way,” says Moffitt. “Screened entertainment is the obvious one just because there’s so much consumption of it. The latest stats I saw in the entertainment category of how people spend their time, [streaming video on-demand] and television together accounted for half of the time people are spending with entertainment, whereas music is somewhere around a quarter of the time.”
It is interesting to set this interview against what the major DSPs are currently doing in terms of their moves into (and investments in) original content. Spotify and Deezer are going heavy on audio outside of music (i.e. podcasts) while YouTube has been spending enormous amounts of money on original long-form video. The labels, it appears, are taking a spread bet to be across everything – but they are also not just seeing the music DSPs as their key partners for the future. Netflix and Amazon Prime – and their need to plump up their offerings with as much original content as possible – are also where labels need to be orienting themselves. Plus, as DSPs move away from exclusives for audio, the giants of on-demand video can be pulled into bidding wars for label-led video content.