Chris McLellan catches up with Ciaran Bollard, Co-founder and CEO of Muzu.tv, Europe’s premium music video site, to discuss Vevo’s recent move into Europe, the nature of video advertising and the future of music television.

Ciaran Bollard, Muzu Founder
Ciaran Bollard, Muzu Founder

CM: You’ve stated that you welcome the competition that Vevo will bring. Haven’t things just got a lot tougher for Muzu?

CB: No and ideed the business is going from strength to strength. Traffic and revenues are up and as you can see from the recent announcement with Metacafe we have just significantly expanded our reach into Europe and the US.

It’s important that there are alternatives in the market – monopoly is no good for anyone and the greater the number of legally licensed providers of online music content globally, the harder it will be for anyone to hold the music industry to ransom. The music industry has certainly seen enough monopolies in the past…

CM: Muzu has just done a content deal with Metacafe. What does that entail?

CB: The Metacafe deal is a big one for us as we will be integrating our entire catalogue for consumers in Europe and in the US. Metacafe reaches 50m consumers (unique monthly visitors) and we will essentially be powering music video through our player for this audience.

We will also have an editorial partnership to enable us to feature exclusive content and competitions. It’s the marrying of two of the fastest growing video sites in the world and offers a great opportunity to extend the reach for MUZU.TV and for our music content partners – i.e. the four major record labels and thousands of independents.

CM: Muzu has always prided itself on offering better impressions and payouts than YouTube. How do you anticipate the commercial landscape in Europe will change now that Vevo is launching?

CB: We are a premium site and artists get typically £2.50 net to them for every one thousand streams, which is about 5 times higher than has traditionally been earned from the same streams on youtube. As 80% of the streams that are reported by Vevo are on also Youtube there isn’t going to be much difference to the landscape as these streams exist already.

One difference though is that consumers have to watch pre-roll on Youtube. It will be interesting to see how music fans react to this in the UK.

CM: In your heart of hearts, do you feel that a European launch of Hulu (the US broadcast TV video site) would have been a more popular event than yet another music video site?

CB: According to the recent Nielsen report, 60% of the 25,000 users polled said they streamed music video online in the last month, so clearly there is a huge demand for ad-supported free music video streaming services.

Muzu Homepage
Muzu Homepage

CM: Pre-roll ads in music video are pretty lame. Nobody wants to be sold Redbull every 3 or 4 minutes. Is video advertising going anywhere more interesting than this?

CB: There are ways of balancing the need to generate revenue from advertising with ensuring the user isn’t forced to watch pre-roll advertising. For example people watching MUZU.TV only get served a pre-roll in one out of every 3 videos – and they have the ability to close the pre-roll ad, unlike most other sites.

We are able to do this as we an exclusive arrangement with InSkin media which enables us to wrap an ad around the player – this technology doesn’t interrupt the viewing but commands similar ad rates to pre-roll.

CM: How will music videos fit with the new generation of web-enabled TVs ? Is a new MTV likely to emerge, or are those days gone?

CB: The competition for ownership of the screen in the living room is certainly hotting up with lots of the major vendors re-inventing models to ensure they get their share of the pie. I believe that manufactures and ISP’s should learn from the mistakes of closed environments on mobile platforms and ensure that their platforms are not walled gardens but are open platforms.

Over the next two years I believe there will be a further shift in how consumers use their TV sets. Technology is moving fast in this space, and the processing and storage power of some of the gaming consoles and set top boxes will allow for more innovation. As for MUZU, we are certainly innovating in this area and were the first to do a deal with Samsung internet-enabled TVs, and we’ll have more deals to announce in this area soon.

There are very few traditional TV formats that are showcasing music video and live performances so accessibility to music content on Internet TV’s can only be a good thing for music and certainly music video.

CM: Ciaran Bollard, Co-founder and CEO of Muzu.tv, thanks for chatting with The Music Void today.

CB: It’s been a pleasure.

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