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Vevo President Rio Caraeff Is Bringing Back Music Television

  Self-portrait photographed by Rio Caraeff

"Man, remember when MTV actually..."

Yes, even those raised on The Real World know that there once was something called "music television," which guzzled record labels' marketing dollars and destroyed the attention span of Generation X. But for a younger generation more likely to stream their entertainment over the Web, the television part of music television has become anachronistic.

In comes Vevo TV. This March, the three-year-old online music video platform announced a 24-hour programmed channel, with music-themed original shows supplementing blocks of videos grouped by genre. The service is already available on desktops, mobile devices and Internet TV receivers like Roku and Xbox; executives hope to eventually move into cable TV. "There are times when you don't know what you want and choice is paralyzing," explains Vevo's president Rio Caraeff. "Being programmed to -- whether it's on radio, whether it's on television or whether it's with videos online -- is something I think we all crave."

The Los Angeles native founded his company as a teenager, doing visual effects for commercials and films. ("I did some of the ice falling off the rocket on Apollo 13.") But Caraeff, whose father is an accomplished rock photographer, says, "At the end of the day music and technology are my passions." He claims to have sold the first music download, Duran Duran's "Electric Barbarella," while working at Capitol Records in 1997. Vevo started as Universal Music's in-house project; EMI and Sony soon signed on to share content and advertising revenue. "Music videos used to be the movie trailers of the music business -- to get people to buy the album," says Caraeff. "Now they're promotional, but they're inherently revenue-generating."

As Caraeff imagines Vevo soundtracking house parties and trips to the gym, you start to wonder whether his ambition for music distribution transcends video. "We're not trying to be the best audio experience. We think the video's alive and well," Caraeff asserts. "Artists spend more time than ever before on making videos, and we think that more people are watching them than when they were only on television."

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