VEVO Launch Party, Skylight Studios, New York
December, 8, 2009
VEVO! VEVO! VEVO! From the moment I left the VEVO party last night and didn't run home to "file a story" as they say in serious journalism land, Twitter was alive with VEVO blather. From musical guests to the tools (human and technological) themselves, everyone wanted a piece. Today is no different with the VEVO storyline weaving into random Tweets and follow up stories covering the infrastructure hiccups the platform seemed to be having. With the "I saw VEVO go down first" competition wrapping up, I give you a look into the past - into last night, the night before VEVO WENT DOWN...
Tight list, man! I know that some "real" technology scene journalists had to seriously plead their cases to get in, which I find odd. Being that heavy hitters from the music industry were promoted as special guests, I tried to get the boy in, too, to no avail. Usually his pretty face gets him anywhere, but not last night. I squeezed in, waving buh-bye to my baldy, checked my coat and walked into the red purple wonderland of Skylight Studios, the venue for the evening.
I immediately saw Ryan Lawler, writer for GigaOM and NewTeeVee. He was sipping an old-fashioned (OK, gramps!) and muttering about the scene. Nearby was Adam Ostrow of Mashable. Adam recently moved to the great city of New York, calls the Upper West Side his new home, and according to Twitter, today he found hair in his ears but not on his head. Sporting nearly the same hairstyle was PaidContent's David Kaplan, whom I haven't seen in ages and was pleased as a heavy sneeze to rehash lives with.
While Kaplan and I schmoozed, we spotted Sheryl Crow hanging out by some metal benches. Tiny thing, that one. Nearby was the smooth and mellow Corinne Bailey Rae, who graciously posed for a photo. Raphael Saadiq was hanging out as well, and me in my back-in-the-day starry eyes put my camera down so I could tell him that "It Feels Good" by Tony! Toni! Toné! was my middle school make out song. Exactly, I didn't get a picture. I also found L.A. Reid hugging grey-haired dudes, and various music industry folks were chest-bumping and shoulder-slapping through the event. But let's talk about VEVO, why don't we?
They launched this thing with a veritable buffet of artists. First up, Bono. I stood on one of the benches and pinched myself, mostly to keep from fainting in the sweat lodge the place turned into, but also because, seriously, Bono? He praised Universal's Doug Morris for treating music spiritually; he "sees music as a sacred thing, not a commodity." Google's Eric Schmidt, the legendary Clive Davis, recording artists' career-maker and leader in the music industry, and all lauded VEVO as the "thing" that is going to keep the music industry alive.
They also sang from the hymnbook of social media, only where we all say "customer" and "user" and "client," they say "fan." It's about "fan experience" and how a fan "participates." Thankfully no one said anything lame like "now the fan can join the band" instead of "join the conversation." Phew.
After Bono came the big wigs (a smorgasbord of older white dudes and the Queen of Jordan) who verbally clapped each other on the back for being brilliant. After THEM came the hard sell. The dog and pony show, if you will. Dogs and ponies came in the form of John Mayer, Ciara (wearing boots taller than I am), Mariah Carey (who no doubt always smells like a toffee nut latte and also premiered her video for H.A.T.E.U.) Stop for just a moment. Mariah Carey's speaking voice is like being warmly violated by a soft cashmere Snuggie. I think I want her to read me a bedtime story every night. Moving along...50 Cent also showed up, flashing his "am I a thug or not?" smile, while stating that he is "the only artist with equity ownership in VEVO," looking dapper in his black piped suit.
Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Chairman, took the stage. He got up to the podium in his black cap and winter white scarf, propped his head on his fist as if we had woken him from a cozy nap and he was not happy about it, and read from his script about 1GOAL: Education for all, a campaign leveraging the reach of The World Cup to give 75 million children "a fair chance at life." I like when charities really kick me in the butt. People (like me) gripe that they don't have money to give to causes, but then they'll spend 99 cents on ringtones or apps. It sounds like a great cause, and the video they rolled was incredibly moving. When it concluded, Rio Caraeff, formerly of Universal Music Group, currently President and CEO at VEVO, returned to the stage with an awkward "wow." You can find out more about 1Goal on their site.
Just as I was about to pack it in and head to the Buddy Media holiday party, rumors of Lady GaGa began to swirl, but first - Adam Lambert took the stage with his big melon of thick spiked raven hair and sparkly eyes. That kid has pipes. I don't care about any of his recent drama, he has a gift. He kind of reminded me of old school Jon Bon Jovi as he performed "What do you want from me."
After Lambert, the stage was set for Lady GaGa. After the audience was treated to her Alice in Wonderland on "cheese" (heroin and cough medicine) video for "Bad Romance," the lady herself took the stage with her Bram Stoker's "Dracula" horn-bunned hair. She slowly sank into the bench facing a glossy white baby grand and tickled the keys and our ears with "Speechless." Again, if you think Lady GaGa is just another manufactured artist, all autotune and overlapping vocals, you HAVE to see her perform sans electronics. Her voice is crystal clear and always on the brink of some raw emotion that, if witnessed, you might not live to tell about.
I gotta say - for a music audience it was a little stiff. When 50 Cent rolled his "Vivica A. Fox is stalking me" video, no one was bobbing and, seriously, it's a sin to let a dance beat like GaGa's go without booty-shaking, but that's what happened. Sinners!
With a head full of music, I left VEVO for the almost Upper West Side for the Buddy Media Holiday party, which you'll read about later tonight!
And for those of you playing at home, VEVO's content partners include Universal, CBS, The Orchard, SONY, Ingrooves, Ioda, and soon EMI. Their marketing/brand partners include Canon, Stoli, McDonald's, AXE, Dove, Nikon, Mastercard, Activision, Elizabeth Arden, and more.