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MTV service seeks revenue from fan remixes

In a nod to the ever-evolving world of Web 2.0, MTV is turning to a new source for cutting-edge music videos — fans. The company in June quietly introduced its free Video Remixer service, which enables users to create their own version of select videos using clips from the original video, archived MTV footage, photos and other media. MTV then airs the top-rated submissions.

The first video available was Kelly Clarkson’s “Never Again” on June 5, followed shortly by Nelly Furtado’s “All Good Things (Come to an End)” June 29. Additional artists are being lined up for the coming weeks.

MTV joins a growing cadre of video services that give users increased creative control over an artist’s vision, among them Eyespot, Gotuit and, soon, Sony Music Box. These are not to be confused with services that simply add background music to photo slide shows.

Their goal is twofold: Provide labels and artists with a new promotional tool and increase revenue potential for ad-supported online music videos. The strategy for both relies on raising the value of videos online.

“It seems so wasteful to spend all this money on music videos that have a six-week life cycle,” MTV executive VP of digital music and media Courtney Holt said.

In Clarkson’s case, the official version of “Never Again” was a top 10 video on MTV and was streamed “hundreds of thousands” of times, according to Holt. The remix contest, meanwhile, received more than 750 submissions in less than a month. About five of these were viewed more than 1,000 times, with the most popular surpassing 2,000. Approximately 30 gained more than 100 viewers, while 360 received less than 10.

Meanwhile on Eyespot, more than 1,500 members have submitted remixed versions of Lil’ Mama’s “Lip Gloss” since April 16, with new entries added daily. Collectively, the remixes have been viewed close to 40,000 times; one alone has had more than 10,000 hits.

From a promotional view, it’s difficult to draw a direct cause-and-effect relationship. But from a revenue opportunity standpoint, more spins, plus a longer shelf life, equals more money. It has become standard practice for record labels to demand a cut of the revenue for ads sold around online music videos. The more videos watched, the more money the labels and the remix services get. And as traffic increases, so do ad rates.

Eyespot CEO David Dudas said, “The message is this: ‘Take your back catalog, put it online, let people make mashups and then sell advertising around it.”‘

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