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MTV loses Web videos from Universal Music

MTV was built on music videos but the company has mostly missed on the online music-video craze. Losing UMG's videos won't help.

MTV, once the king of music videos, has failed to reach an agreement with music portal Vevo, for the rights to Universal Music Group's Web music videos.

Singer Mariah Carey, an artist on the Universal Music label, at the Vevo launch party last December. Greg Sandoval/CNET

Negotiations between MTV and Vevo over videos from UMG, home of such artists as U2, Amy Winehouse, and Lady Gaga, broke down Thursday, according to Vevo. What this means is that most of MTV's Internet properties will lose access to UMG's videos.

That may not be all. Vevo is the online music-video portal that launched in December and is supported by three of the top four labels, UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI Music. So, MTV conceivably may have problems signing deals with the other two labels.

"MTVN has been unwilling to negotiate a fair syndication deal with Vevo to carry our artists' videos and consequently our videos will not be shown on their online properties," a UMG spokesman said.

MTV would only say that it's disappointed a deal couldn't be reached.

"During our recent discussions with Vevo, we were unable to reach a fair and equitable agreement for rights to stream UMG artists' music video," MTV said in a statement. "As a result, UMG has elected to pull their music videos from our Web sites. We are disappointed by this move and sincerely hope that UMG will work with us toward a fair resolution."

MTV has declined to enter into UMG's standard financial agreement and one that has been signed by other companies, such as Google's YouTube. Disagreements between the large labels and MTV are nothing new. MTV's rise to power and profits, beginning in 1981, by broadcasting nothing but music videos, is a sore spot for big music.

The large record companies have always said they didn't get their fair share from their videos. MTV argued that the labels got plenty. MTV says over the years it has paid the record industry billions.

More recently, YouTube emerged and music videos became the most popular segment on the site. Now, record company execs say that since music videos are huge traffic drivers, they want to be the ones who pocket the ad revenues the videos generate.