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Sony Music wants bloggers to promo videos, music

Now you won't have to steal music videos to put on your site. But Sony will still make money.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment wants to give bloggers free music and video--sort of.

The music conglomerate is promoting a new site, called Musicbox Video, that showcases videos, artist interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and other material from a broad portfolio of its artists. Want to see a film clip of Bruce Springsteen singing "The River" from the 1980 movie "No Nukes" or some clips from Franz Ferdinand? The site has it.

But Sony will also actively encourage fan sites and bloggers--who are mostly used to receiving cease-and-desist letters from studios--to link to the material. Links for adding Musicbox content are displayed on the site. Individuals thus could create sites focused around certain artists by linking to video channels on the Musicbox site dedicated to them, or link to several channels which, in the aggregate, comprise the most mawkish artists (in the view of the blogger) that Sony has to offer.

The turnabout largely comes amid a revamp of the company being conducted by CEO Howard Stringer. It is also taking place because the videos, in Flash, can't be pirated, at least not easily.

Sony also sells ads on the service. DreamWorks Animation SKG and Hewlett-Packard have already signed up to show commercials. The ads pop up before the first video plays. Roll-overs, sponsorships and other forms of advertising will likely be integrated into the system.

Thousands of touch points
The partner behind the curtain on the deal is Brightcove, the IPTV start-up founded by former Macromedia exec Jeremy Allaire. Brightcove hosts the service, sells the advertisement and writes the code that allows individuals to link to the material.

Other studios and publishers are looking at putting up similar video deals, he said.

"The media organizations are starting to embrace the idea that their library of assets can be exploited through thousands of touch points," he said. "It is an opportunity to embrace that urge among consumers to post videos."

Music and movie producers currently allow third parties to host their content, but these deals typically take several meetings and ornate contracts, Allaire stated.

Music companies have also not typically made money off videos, which for two decades, have existed to promote songs on MTV. Videos are now available on company-authorized sites, which contain ads, but traffic is sporadic. Linking essentially provides an avenue for syndication.

Brightcove also provides video hosting for the Discovery Channel, Reuters and others. Only some of them, however, are allowing for Web syndication.

Success, of course, will depend upon Brightcove's ability to meet any traffic demands and maintain security.

Customer attitudes toward Sony will also play a part. Individuals do not get to program the content on the different Musicbox channels--just the channels they add. If a site links to the Shakira video channel, for example, the site owner does not get to block out select videos or keep ones around they happen to like: Sony determines what videos will be available during certain days or weeks on the channel.

Once one of the strongest brands in the world, Sony angered customers earlier this year by installing software on consumers' PCs that exposed them to vulnerabilities. The software was loaded onto PCs through Sony BMG CDs.

Sony has also seen its once dominant position in televisions and electronic devices get eroded by Samsung, Panasonic, Microsoft, Apple Computer and others. Layoffs and other changes have been imposed in an effort to right the situation.