PSLS Presents – Adrian Workman, CEO of VidZone Digital Media
VidZone, the free online music video streaming service for the PlayStation 3, has taken the European market by storm, becoming one of the most popular music video services on any platform as it rapidly expanded across 18 countries and built up a vast library of music. To learn more about the service, as well as its future, PlayStation LifeStyle interviewed Adrian Workman, the CEO of VidZone Digital Media.
PlayStation LifeStyle: Who are you, and what is your position at VidZone?
Adrian Workman: CEO of VidZone Digital Media. Set the company up in October 2001 having worked for the previous fifteen years in international music video distribution with major record labels.
PSLS: The PlayStation 3’s userbase is generally considered to consist of younger male gamers. Would you say that the VidZone demographic fits that stereotype?
AW: SCEE has just completed some research on VidZone and the average VidZone user is male and 29 years old, so we are skewing older than you’ve suggested.
PSLS: Why did you decide to provide music videos only, and not just music by itself?
AW: Our expertise is very aligned into the distribution of video rather than audio, hence the name, ‘VidZone,’ so we are playing to our strengths. We would like to become the largest music video service globally via PS3
PSLS: What is your primary income earner: adverts, or the mobile phone download service?
AW: The majority of our income is coming from standard media advertising and sponsorships.
PSLS: Over recent years, music videos have played an important role in bringing bands or artists to the attention of the public. Are music videos merely a commercial tool, or do you believe that they enhance the quality of the music?
AW: From a personal perspective, I get more pleasure from watching a music video, as it provides both a visual and aural experience. That is not to say I don’t enjoy listening to music via my iPod, but if I had a choice, I would watch a music video or go to a concert where I’d gain a richer experience of the music.
PSLS: What are your criteria for accepting music to the service?
AW: We like the music videos to be associated to an artist that has had a commercial release on a major or indie record label. We get offered a lot of unsigned artists’ music videos, but generally the production value of the video is poor and would not stand up against the large high quality catalogue of music videos on VidZone.
PSLS: What do you think attracts viewers to your service rather than television, YouTube, or Spotify?
AW: VidZone provides the user with advanced functionality, as you’d expect with the PS3, including pause, rewind, fast forward, skipping to the next video, and creating your own playlists. If you’re a U2 fan, you can watch back to back U2 videos in any order you choose on VidZone…whatever time of day or night you choose. Linear television’s days are numbered as the viewing public is getting much savvier about how they watch their video entertainment and they want to be in control rather than dictated programming schedules. I don’t think you can compare the viewing experience of a high quality music video file via VidZone on an HDTV to the user experience of watching a lower quality file on YouTube via a PC. Spotify is a great audio experience, but VidZone has the added enjoyment of the pictures too!
PSLS: How has your close relationship with Sony, one of the largest music companies in the world, made it easier for you to provide their music videos?
AW: Providing a comprehensive music video service via the PS3 has been something the entire music industry has been waiting for, not just Sony Music. We have therefore had tremendous support from over 3,000 record labels internationally in equal measure.
PSLS: VidZone features Remote Play, how popular is this function?
AW: We can see from the stats that this functionality is being used, but it is certainly not as significant as via the PS3 console.
PSLS: With 3D implementation coming to the PS3 later in the year, would you consider bringing 3D music videos to VidZone?
AW: If the music industry and their artists were supportive of the format and VidZone’s application could support it then we would consider it in tandem with SCEE.
PSLS: Could you comment on the status of the North America release of VidZone?
AW: We receive numerous emails on our blog about launching VidZone in North America and other areas such as the Middle East and Latin America. To date we have launched in 18 countries, which has been a major undertaking, and we’ll look to roll out VidZone in other geographical areas over the coming years.
PSLS: What have been the main obstacles standing in the way of North American VidZone implementation?
AW: We are a UK company based on the doorstep of Europe, so it was appropriate that we launch an ad funded service in a market we know and understand and is close geographically. We continue to evaluate other potential territory releases, but we have only been operational for seven months, and going live in 18 countries has kept us working 24-7, so we are taking this one stage at a time.
PSLS: Finally, on a lighter note, what’s your favourite music video?
AW: The Prodigy ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ – Why? This video was ground breaking and used the music video format in a shocking but entertaining manner.
PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Adrian Workman and VidZone Digital Media for taking the time to hold the interview. Stay tuned to PSLS for more interviews and PlayStation news.