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Marketing Music Videos and Radio

Randy Lennox is President and CEO of Universal Music Canada. He was inducted into Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Randy Lennox, president and CEO of Universal Music Canada, talks about the importance of using radio and music videos as marketing tools in the music industry today.

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Music videos are a critical part of our marketing plan in Canada, proportionately more so than the United States. One of the reasons is that Much Music has really become in their 20-plus years a top-40 radio station for us, a visual top-40 radio station. By marketing to a top-40 radio station, which, as you know, ultimately sells the most records, Much Music is a very, very beneficial partner.

We also, in Canada, can make professional-looking, world-class videos fairly inexpensively. The cost of a video here is somewhere between $70,000-$120,000 Canadian. We don’t have grandiose budgets of $200,000-$300,000 US for videos, simply because we have to recognize the size of our country. So we’ve become efficient at making music videos for a fairly modest price, because it’s so important.

MTV has just opened in Canada nationally. They are really selling music as a culture and all-around music in terms of a talk format more than they’re actually airing videos in the way that Much Music does. But it’s still a very-positive addition to music as a culture, to the dialogue about music, to turning on new music. Our artists go to Much Music when they’re in town.

I took my kids on Saturday to Much Music, and in one hour, they saw all American rejects of Follow Bar. Much Music and MTV are the stops in town for artists, because of the visual medium. We’re very fortunate to have these, and we recognize that. As you say, MTV in the US plays less and less videos. It’s a big part of our proposition and a big part of an artist’s success.

The other thing that’s very appropriate is that it’s about a part of a commitment. If you don’t really make a video for an artist, it’s implicit that maybe that artist isn’t a top priority, either. So making of video is a little bit part of your making the record, too. I’ll tell you, if there is an artist that’s in the nonadult—in the adult genre, it’s different—but if there is a rock artist that we’ve signed, and we’re not making a video for, that might be a sign of something.

The weighting of radio in Canada is different from that of the United States. We don’t have as much hot AC, for example. We have way less urban radio, for example. We have a little bit less top-40 radio, which is why Much Music has become a surrogate top-40 radio station visually for us. Its relative importance of the purchase of music by consumers is like it is in the United States. There’s no question it’s one of the many driving vehicles to buying music. I think that’s changing. I think that satellite radio, now that it’s here, concurrent with the US will affect them in serious, is also very, very positive for us.

The fact that you can actually see what you heard—that was a big hassle for us, and I’ve complained about it quite vocally here—is the radio playing five or six songs at once, and none of us knowing what the heck those songs are, so therefore, no purchase connection and no association to the artist. That problem is being rectified with satellite. I think that’s a very positive thing and will help us ultimately, whether it’s a buy button or a physical CD, at least there is a connect there.

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RL- Marketing Music Videos and Radio.doc

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