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Vevo gives its video app a new look and new hosts to talk about its videos. Still to come: A subscription service.

Is there vertical video? Of course there’s vertical video. It’s 2016!

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Last year, Vevo got a new CEO. Now it has a new look.

Still to come, it hopes: A new business model.

The music video service — part-owned by Sony and Universal Music, two of the music industry’s biggest labels — is showing off a new design today. It includes a neat feature on its iOS and Android apps that lets users “stretch” a video so it will play vertically, Snapchat-style.

It also announced plans to update its programming and said it has hired actual human beings who will host the videos, on and off the service.*

All of this is meant to get people to consume more videos on Vevo’s own properties instead of watching Vevo videos on YouTube and other sites/apps.

Vevo wants that to happen because it makes more money from ads on its own real estate. And also because, at some point this year, it wants to start selling a subscription service that will only work on its own properties.

The move to launch a subscription service — which Vevo CEO Erik Huggers announced at the Code Media conference in February but has yet to flesh out — is part of Huggers’s overall plan to reduce the company’s dependence on YouTube. YouTube not only supplies Vevo’s biggest source of traffic, but is also a part owner of the service.

Vevo and YouTube’s relationship is a fraught one, and always has been (tl;dr: Both sides need each other and resent each other). It’s theoretically possible that Vevo, and the music labels that own it, may bail on YouTube/Google altogether and take their talents to Facebook. But that’s unlikely.

More realistic: Everyone sucks it up and carries on.

If that’s the case, then Huggers, who joined the company in April 2015, and his team will have to convince video viewers to think of Vevo as a music site they can hang out on, instead of a place to go and watch a specific video, like they do on YouTube.

That’s a tough sell, since we’re in a world where the biggest platforms — Facebook, Snapchat, etc. — keep increasing their audience and engagement numbers at the expense of everyone else.

Huggers says he’s going to try anyway, comparing Vevo to a record store, which was a physical place where humans would visit and purchase discs of recorded music: “We are the platform that is the specialty store.”

* Good litmus test: If you read that last bit and thought, “Just like Martha Quinn!” you are old. Me too!

This article originally appeared on

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