ManiaTV, one of the biggest online content studios, has tried to make money in a whole host of ways, from user-generated content (which it pulled the plug on in 2007), to letting brands sponsor skins on their video players, to branded entertainment like the Wrigley-backed Stage 5 show. But the five-year-old studio is about to launch its most ambitious venture yet: it’s jumping into the music business with a new show called Making the Music, which effectively seeks to take over the role long played by the music labels. The original series is focused on hip-hop producer Scoop Deville as he works on a new album — and maniaTV will get a cut of the revenues once the LP is released.
Deville, who has produced songs for artists like Snoop Dogg, will preview potential album tracks during each episode; viewers get to vote on the best beat/rapper combination and the winning track gets uploaded to the site and iTunes each week. maniaTV CEO Peter Hoskins told me the show will serve as a hybrid promotional/market research vehicle: viewer analytics will give the team a better read on the demographics of Deville’s fan base, which will help him decide when and where to go on tour. The studio is also signing up brand sponsors for Making the Music, further “mitigating the down side” of being in the music business, Hoskins said. So while maniaTV has got some skin in the game — the money it invests in Deville could potentially be recouped along the way if his album flops.
I asked Hoskins about how he thought the studio would fare in with ad revenues this year, since maniaTV laid off 20 employees last year and said it would be cutting back its original series output. “There are fewer buys, but we’re getting larger amounts of money on each one.”
Does that mean maniaTV is squeezing out some of the smaller digital studios? “A lot of studios are going to go by the wayside,” Hoskins said. “There are people that could be just as stable in this game as we are, but they’re getting cut out because they don’t have the scale, or the existing relationships in terms of production, distribution or advertising.”
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