Interview: Vevo Says No MySpace Deal But Hopeful On Warner Sale

The music videos service Vevo is not in discussion about an alliance with for-sale MySpace (NSDQ: NWS), as recent reports suggested, its CEO Rio Caraeff tells paidContent.

“It’s not something I can really talk about,” Caraeff said, when asked if there was an opportunity regarding the ailing social network. “I’ve seen that reported. Our strategy is to focus on growing organically, building a global brand. We’re not in conversations to make that (MySpace deal) happen – it’s not something that there’s any substance to.”

News Corp is seeking a whole or partial sale of MySpace after failing to turn it around. A Vevo-MySpace deal would have united the music industry’s self-anointed online video distributor with the social site on which the industry and bands alike used to rely for artist marketing and A&R. Caraeff’s denial could suggest that reported talks happened but came to nothing.

Caraeff was speaking in London on Tuesday, when Vevo, 18 months after launch, finally became fully accessible in the UK, where it is growing a team of 10 to 25 people under former Channel 5 digital MD Jonathan Lewis.

Owned by Universal, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Company, Vevo also plays EMI acts’ videos under license but still has no repertoire from Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG), which Caraeff describes as “the lone holdout”, under such an arrangement. Yet Caraeff senses an opportunity. “Anything’s possible,” he said. “Basically, the company (Warner) is up for sale. We don’t know what’ll happen with its new owners – we think that’s a fresh start and a new conversation.

“They’ve had their own historical direction they want to go in and it hasn’t affected our revenue or growth or trajectory. It’s not optimal for the consumer, but, we have mutual respect for each other’s strategies. They have a different perspective.” Vevo tries to compensate for Warner acts’ absence by pointing its users to videos on other sites.

It’s not just WMG for sale – the calamity around one of the other majors, EMI, could, in theory, result in a similar opportunity. Vevo’s equity make-up may be open to change…

“For the right strategic partner, we’re always interested in having that conversation,” Caraeff said. “If EMI or Warner Music wanted to have that conversation, of course we would be willing to have it. But we’re not actively in the marketplace shopping equity. We’re not looking to raise money, we’re not actively soliciting new joint venture partners. I have enough board members as it is!”