Negotiate This: Universal Music Yanking Videos from MTV

The old MTV – on cable – hardly plays videos anymore.

But the new MTV – online – plays more videos than ever.  Except, starting Friday afternoon, Universal Music Group has yanked its video catalog from the collection of MTV Networks sites.

Why? You see, there was this negotiation involving UMG-backed Vevo, which unfortunately hit a snag.  Instead of direct-licensing videos from UMG, MTV is now being asked to structure its video licensing through the Vevo joint venture.  MTV Networks appears unwilling to accommodate certain demands related to that syndication arrangement, and one executive pointed to an “out of industry norm” showstopper.

UMG executives defended the structure. “We believe that using Vevo as our online music video syndication platform is the best way to maximize revenue for our artists, our songwriters and ourselves, while bringing our videos to the widest possible audience,” one Universal executive told Digital Music News.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is far too common in label negotiations, but removals are often used to show seriousness.  On the other side, Vevo holdout Warner Music Group just signed a far-reaching deal involving MTV Networks, though a clear connection to the latest development is difficult to draw.  “We are disappointed by this move and sincerely hope that UMG will work with us toward a fair resolution and allow their artists to once again connect with the millions of music fans who visit MTV.com, VH1.com and CMT.com every month,” an MTV executive offered.