Licensing talks with Vevo broke down

Universal Music Group has yanked its musicvideos from MTV’s Web sites after licensing talks between Vevo, the musicvideo site operated by UMG, Sony Music Entertainment and Google, and Viacom’s MTV broke down.

A statement issued by UMG said bluntly that with the standoff, Vevo would become the primary Web outlet for its musicvideo output from superstar acts including the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Eminem and Justin Bieber.

“MTVN has been unwilling to negotiate a fair syndication deal with Vevo to carry our artists’ videos,” UMG said, “and consequently our videos will not be shown on their online properties. 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.”

UMG’s videos have been scrubbed from MTV.com and sister sites VH1.com and CMT.com.

The dispute between Vevo and MTV renews a controversy that dates back to the early days of the cable music channel, when record labels sought to claim a piece of revenue generated by the music videos they produced. With MTVnow mainly a reality programming outlet and the Web — especially Vevo and YouTube – the locus for music video, the labels have some muscle to flex.

The schism came at the end of a week in which Vevo, launched in December, demonstrated its online clout with its biggest event to date: Thursday’s live streamed concert from Madison Square Garden by Canadian indie rock act Arcade Fire, directed by Terry Gilliam, mounted with YouTube and sponsored by American Express.

UMG’s statement continued, “In less than eight months since its launch, Vevo has already become the web’s No.1 rated video network with over 49 million unique visitors monthly, dramatically eclipsing those on MTV’s online properties, while attracting scores of major advertisers and tens of millions in advertising dollars.”

The company noted that it has signed video syndication deals with AOL and CBS; a source said agreements are in the pipeline with Univision and Yahoo as well.

MTV issued a statement that said it had been unable to reach a fair and equitable agreement for rights to stream UMG artists’ musicvideo content during discussions with Vevo.

The statement continued, “As a result, UMG has elected to pull its music videos from our web sites. We are disappointed by this move and sincerely hope that UMG will work with us toward a fair resolution.”

It remains to be seen if Vevo partner Sony will follow suit and withdraw its video product from MTV.com.

The breakdown of talks between Vevo and MTV came a little more than a month after MTV Music Group pacted with Warner Music Group — the lone Vevo holdout among the four majors — to sell advertising for WMG’s online musicvideos (Daily Variety, July 1).

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more