YouTube is sponsoring the 2019 BRIT Awards: its recently-launched dedicated music platform, YouTube Music, has been named ‘Official Music App’ for the ceremony.
Yep, the online video company that is, on occasion, and only through certain bits of its business model, the bête noire of the music business and its representative trade bodies (such as BRITs owner, the BPI), will be front and centre of the UK establishment’s big night as the official partner.
Could this be seen as part of the “ongoing carpet-bombing propaganda” that upset BPI CEO Geoff Taylor less than two months ago? Or is it a sign, that peace is breaking out, and that there is, in fact, more common ground than war zones?
MBW spoke to Azi Eftekhari, Head of YouTube Music Partnerships, UK and Ireland, who explained that, whilst the BRITs deal might raise eyebrows in some industry quarters, it’s actually an extension of an ongoing (and very friendly) relationship…
Can you tell us how the BRIT AWARDS deal came about?
We’ve had a very long-standing relationship with the BRITs. We’ve been the international livestream partner for the previous five years and have delivered some incredible numbers.
For example, 1.5M people live streamed the show internationally [on YouTube], and an incredible 14M watched the video on demand (this includes global and UK viewership through the end of February 2018). In addition, Google Play Music were the official digital partner for a couple of years, raising over £500k for the BRITs Trust.
So we’ve had a terrific relationship with the great BRITs/BPI team for a while, and this is a natural progression of that relationship, which we’re all very excited about.
And why is it an event and relationship that you prioritised and sought?
YouTube is well-known for being a place where artists can break through to the mainstream music scene and find a huge global audience. It’s the beauty of the open platform on YouTube, where you can go from making a video in your bedroom to booking a world tour.
In June of last year, we introduced the YouTube Music app to the UK, so partnering with the BRIT Awards on this year’s show seemed like a wonderful opportunity to lift up both the emerging talent we are seeing in the UK who are rising in popularity and the new YouTube Music app which we think delivers a unique and one-of-a-kind experience to the UK community.
In the lead up to the show, check out our BRIT Awards 2019 playlist as well.
How long-term is the deal?
We’re all busily focused on delivering the best possible result and experience for the BRITs, and all the artists and labels for 2019. We don’t have more to share right now.
What is your view of the changes made to the BRITs in recent years and of Jason’s chairmanship as it comes to and end this year?
The wonderful thing about the BRITs is that their entire team is focused on making sure it stays relevant, exciting and current. The landscape for TV shows like the BRITs has certainly changed over the years, and in my opinion Jason [Iley]’s chairmanship has been notable for a laser-sharp focus on keeping the show evolving.
Needless to say digital innovations play a key part in that, and that’s why YouTube Music is such a natural fit as a partner – the audiences for many of the BRITs nominees grew on our platform.
Do you think the BRITs is as relevant and high profile as it used to be? And do you think that applies to YouTube’s (young) audience?
It’s an absolutely key event in the UK music scene and will no doubt continue to be so for many years to come – serving as a lightning rod for artist successes and showcasing the exceptional talent in the UK. Much of that relevance comes from partnerships like this, that ensure that the BRITs finds a broad and young audience across the globe.
There’s a very clear crossover in our audience, and a glance over the nominees list reinforces that – Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie, The 1975, Little Mix, George Ezra – these are all artists with huge YouTube audiences who have been involved in our YouTube Music launch over the past few months. So we’re absolutely delighted to be the Official Music App for the awards this year.
What would you say to those whose reaction is, ‘Huh? Doesn’t the mainstream music industry spend half its time moaning about YouTube?’ They might even say, Hang on, is this part of the ‘carpet-bombing propaganda’ that BPI boss Geoff Taylor was so offended by last year…
YouTube has a long-standing and productive relationship with the music industry. We’ve had some particularly exciting collaborations in the last year, with the launch of the YouTube Music app in the UK.
We’re always looking for ways we can make YouTube better for artists, and we continue to support emerging and thriving artists alike on YouTube with numerous updates to the platform – one example is YouTube Premieres, which lets artists build anticipation and create a unique moment around a music video release.
While we may not always agree on all points, on one thing we agree: to support and help the music industry thrive. Our partnership of the BRIT Awards underscores this common goal and is an event we look forward to supporting and celebrating.
Music Business Worldwide