Sales Chief Out at Vevo

David Kohl departs as music video brand approaches NewFront

Is there trouble at the top at Vevo?

David Kohl, the top sales executive at the music video company, has left. He was hired as evp of sales and customer operations in 2009 to get the fledgling music brand off the ground. Vevo officials confirmed Kohl’s departure but declined to comment at this time.

By most measures, Vevo has been a tremendous success. Billed as a Hulu for music videos, the joint venture between Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Abu Dhabi Media has become one of the most trafficked video destinations on the Web over the past four years—largely on the back of YouTube (Vevo serves as the default destination for music video searches on YouTube).

The site drew close to 50 million unique viewers in February, according to comScore. During Kohl’s tenure, Vevo has attracted hundreds of top brand advertisers while building an eight-figure global ad business. "This is crazy to me," said one source close to the situation. "There's no way you could argue with their growth."

But according to those with first-hand knowledge of the site’s business model, Vevo has serious challenges. For every dollar earned, half must be shared among the various record labels and a third goes to YouTube, according to All Things D. That’s led Vevo to flirt with ditching YouTube for Facebook, consider joining forces with MySpace, or possibly negotiate a new partnership with YouTube that would include a significant investment from Google.

Last month, Vevo rolled out the linear Web network Vevo TV, a clear sign that the company is looking to lessen its reliance on YouTube. There’s also been some speculation that Vevo might explore building out a "media content network" on YouTube. Under that scenario, Vevo could also handle ad sales for other music content producers on YouTube.

The timing of Kohl's departure is awkward, given that Vevo's NewFront presentation to advertisers is just a few weeks away.