By Anna Sekula Posted December 10, 2009, 7:07 PM EST
In a gathering that felt more like the Grammys than a party to premiere a Web site, music industry honchos and rock stars hit Skylight on Tuesday evening for the launch of Vevo. The Hulu-like site for consumers to view music videos online (for free) is a collaboration between Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Google-owned YouTube, and so the 500-person guest list combined executives such as Clive Davis of Sony, Google C.E.O. Eric Schmidt, and EMI Music C.E.O. Elio Leoni-Sceti with a slew of musical talent, including Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, and Bono.
Consisting of a cocktail reception, an hour-long presentation—which brought Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, John Mayer, and other big names to the stage—and a performance by Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga, the three-hour shindig posed some unique challenges for the event's producers, Harrison & Shriftman. As one would expect, a number of hands were involved in the planning process, including executives from Universal Music Group and Vevo.
A primary concern for the production team was accommodating the scads of high-profile attendees while preventing gate-crashers and making sure invited guests could enter without too many delays. To tackle this anticipated problem, at least 10 staffers manned the check-in tables, with representatives from each of the music labels and Vevo on-hand. The production crew also created a separate area to verify those whose names weren't on the printed guests lists and even indicated on the invitations that the doors would close at 6.30 p.m., just 30 minutes after the event's start time. After the exclusive launch's location and exact address was leaked in a blog on Tuesday afternoon, Meyerson Associates beefed up its security team; the night eventually saw a turnout of around 900 people.
Inside the event, the focus was largely on the new online platform, and to that end the white-walled venue was covered with projections. The content in the entrance hallway was designed to showcase the history of music videos—each projection represented five years of music video history—and images in the main space displayed Vevo's own marketing promos. In keeping with the clean aesthetic of the Web site, the producers employed white couches, crafted V-shaped bars, and utilized mirrored coffee tables and benches to fill the rest of the space.
In fact, the seating was as functional an element as it was decorative; the lounge furniture designated the V.I.P. area, which provided the numerous speakers—Davis, Schmidt, Universal Music Group C.E.O. and chairman Doug Morris, Sony Music C.E.O. Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, and Bono among them—direct access to the stage, while the benches gave guests places to perch during the lengthy presentation.
Marked by an enormous screen and interlocking LED panels, the stage itself held most of the action with an in-depth presentation that communicated the capabilities of Vevo and the official launch of the live site at 8.30 p.m. It was also on this podium that the night's performances took place, immediately after the speeches. Adam Lambert incited the crowd by playing “Whataya Want From Me,” and after a brief interlude that allowed technicians to remove the band's equipment—all of which was set atop rolling platforms to speed the process—Lady Gaga performed “Speechless” on the piano.