Universal Music Group continues to bolster its Internet profile via digital video.
The largest of the four biggest recording companies is expected to announce on Friday an agreement with Kyte, the video-streaming start-up. Under the terms of the deal, Kyte is to provide the mobile and online platform for the label's artists, including 50 Cent, All American Rejects, Lil Wayne, and Lady Gaga. Financial terms of the deal aren't being released.
Universal Music and Kyte have also agreed to develop new mobile entertainment applications. The question with a deal like this is why any of the labels need a video platform other than YouTube?
Ted Mico, the digital chief for Interscope Geffen A&M, one of Universal Music's subsidiary record labels, says Kyte's live-video streaming has impressed nearly everyone in the music industry. The service enables artists to shoot and distribute live video to fans from their dressing rooms, their limousines, or even from the stage. These aren't meant to be the glossy, heavily produced videos.
"Kyte offered artists and fans a fantastic value proposition," Mico said. "If you like the big budget stuff, this is really zero budget, but just as engaging in its own way because it has that immediacy and authenticity. We've waited a long time for technology that delivers on that and I think the Kyte platform does."
This kind of live Web TV will appeal to bands and artists who can engage an audience just "by being themselves," Mico said.
The deal comes as Universal Music--like the other top record companies--is in talks with YouTube about renewing its licensing agreements for music and music videos. YouTube pulled Warner Music Group's videos last month after talks broke down between the Google-owned video site and the third-largest label.
I reported last fall that Universal was considering building its own video site, and now my sources say the labels are considering working together with YouTube-rival Hulu.com on a jointly operated video offering. Could a new site offer live streaming? We'll see.