Universal takes a giant step into the blogosphere
There has been a significant rise in the number of deals done by music and media companies involving music blogs and website.
Universal Music Group has invested $25 million in Buzznet, the company which recently acquired high-profile music blogs Stereogum and Idolator.
UMG see the new partnership as an opportunity to be “directly involved in developing editorial programming”.
It remains to be seen, however, if this means UMG artists will get preferential treatment in reviews.
In recent months, there has been a huge number of buy-outs, takeovers and investments involving music companies as they seek to diversify their portfolios. This includes Sony-BMG's purchase this week of Gracenote, the company whose technology is used by iTunes and others to ID tracks and titles.
This, though, is the first move by a major label into the hitherto uncharted waters of music blogs. As a result, the UMG-Buzznet hook-up will be watched closely for conflicts of interest, reader unease about the lack of editorial independence and how releases on other labels are treated.
Other sites in the news this week were the excellent RCRD LBL, which is joining forces with print mag Fader, while magazine announced it was bringing 11 music and movie blogs, including Pop Matters and Virb, together under the Paste Nation banner to pitch for advertising. Meanwhile, a
profile of the Pitchfork (credited with breaking Arcade Fire, among others) site estimated its annual ad revenues at $5 million.
Some sites have capitalised on their ability to attract bigger audiences by adding self-generated audio and video streams to their sites and turning into quasi radio or TV channels.
For media industry investors, though, the real appeal of music blogs lies in how they act as filters to attract a highly targeted audience.“Sites like MySpace are so overarching and so mass, this (RCRD LBL) is much more of a targeted community,” said Fader Media’s Andy Cohn about the rationale behind their deal with RCRD LBL. Expect more of these deals in the coming months.