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Vevo, with another revamp, wants to be the Vice of music videos

The company is trying to reimagine itself as a nerve center for music video culture, overhauling its app (again) to give its identity more edge.

Vevo is trying to refashion itself into a service cool enough for you to remember what it is.

The online music video company on Thursday launched a sleeker app -- its second revamp in less than a year -- that adds firepower for personalized recommendations, puts artists on greater display and aims to hone the edge of its original content.

"This a big bet," Erik Huggers, CEO of Vevo, said in an interview Thursday. "There is a real opportunity beyond...just dropping a song or video in a playlist."

vevo-player.gif

Vevo's new app introduces a video player that favors "vertical" viewing, the way most people naturally hold their phones.

Vevo

The revamp is the latest attempt by Vevo to establish its own identity apart from the little logo in the corner of YouTube's most popular videos. Vevo is a bedrock for music videos on the internet. It offers 200,000 official music videos that draw 18 billion views a month globally on its popular YouTube channel and its own site and app. Yet most would struggle to recall its name.

Similar to how Vice has become synonymous with edgy alt-news for the mobile age, Vevo is aiming to become the go-to place to revel in music video culture. But competition is fierce for music lovers' attention: Audio-first services like Apple Music and Spotify are adding more video. Apple Music has even begun funding music videos from artists like Drake and financing other projects to secure them as exclusives for a period of time.

Vevo updated its app with a more personalized video feed that previews videos with a 15-second silent autoplay, all shown in vertical, "portrait" orientation. When you tap a video to start rolling, the app's new player stays in vertical mode. That leads to some instances where important text or images on the edges of the frame are cut off, but users can swipe up to shrink the player so nothing is obscured, which also reveals a playlist of recommendations below the clip. You can always rotate the device to watch the video in a traditional horizontal mode.

The app also adds the option of making your activity on Vevo a public profile, giving it a more social network flavor.

Vevo's original content arm is adding a roster of hosts for short-form videos to come, and it is hiring curators who will work with a team of data scientists to create and direct people to playlists relevant to their tastes. Vevo is planning to make short films and foster more live productions that users can watch on-demand later.

The look of Vevo got an overhaul as well. Its black-and-white logo is sharper, and all of its "sub-brands" -- like live-event series Vevo Presents and emerging-artist showcase Vevo Dscvr -- fall in line with a similar style. As a result, their thumbnails look more natural sitting next to one another.

Vevo is a joint venture of two of the three major music labels, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Outside investor Abu Dhabi Media and YouTube's parent, Google, also hold stakes in Vevo.