Why Music Videos?
It’s an interesting question when you think about it. Why are there music videos? Why do they exist? Why should artists invest in a music video? If this were the 1980s the question would mean something very different because there was a lot of resistance against music videos (I’m looking at you Morrissey). If you haven’t already guessed; music videos are here to stay so the “why” of music videos has a brand new meaning.
The Visual Representation
Be honest, when you think of a song you think of the video. “Justin Bieber’s song ‘Sorry’? The one with those girls dancing against the white background?” or sentences like “Jodie Abacus ‘I’ll Be That Friend’? Oh the one where he’s playing the piano in the middle of the road!” are very common, but that’s what music videos do; in this way video and song are inseparable. Don’t get me wrong feel free to imagine any visual you want when listening to your favourite song, however the official music video (you know, the one that says “official” next to the title) is the definitive visual interpretation. We are a progressively more visual community opting for video “how tos” over complicated instruction manuals that are probably only printed in Swedish. So you may love music but sometimes audio stimulation just isn’t enough…
Music videos create a multi-dimensional experience. We are no longer just hearing; we are seeing too. At first it was a new sensation, now it’s the only option for serious artists “You can listen to my song or you can listen and watch the video”. Be honest, you’d choose both.
It’s not just about sensation, it’s about the content. When you watch a music video you are watching the song’s visual representation. It’s the artist’s way of saying “This is my song visualised”. Now this is where things get interesting. How is it visualised? It could be a live performance like The Beatles ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, a cool dance video like Haim’s ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’, the song turned into a story like R Kelly’s ‘If I could Turn Back the Hands of Time’, a video that seemingly has nothing to do with the song like Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, it can be anything! Isn’t that what makes it so interesting?
How an artist visually represents their song says a lot about them and their music. What direction would you take?
Promotes the Song
This is the most obvious reason I think anyone can think of. Songs need promoting and, in this oversaturated world of musicians sometimes (okay actually a lot of the time), good artists are easy to miss. This is why artists need to use EVERY available method to get their music out there, so where do people search for new music? Youtube (but I’m sure you already knew that). You hear a new song and naturally missed your chance to Shazam it but you remember a few lyrics; well it’s over to Youtube. A song in your head that you haven’t heard in ages – hello Youtube. That song that’s so old your parents were young when it came out – you better believe that’s getting Youtubed. We use a visual medium to look for music and for this reason, as well as many others, video is the best option for serious artists.
Having a music video boosts artist’s visibility and exposure exponentially. You very rarely get millions of plays for just a song but you know that a great song with a kick ass video will. People want to see the song AND the video, they want to learn more about the artist based on the type of video they have, people want ear and eye candy to watch and share.
Say you’re a Director with a favourite band or a song you love, maybe you’re an artist who admires a certain film maker, then music videos are the best way to combine forces to create something beautiful. I once saw a gig where the artist sang a 1980s electropop influenced song and I immediately had a rush of ideas. I had to make the video to his song. I spoke to the artist afterwards about his set and mentioned that track in particular with lots of enthusiasm over what visual direction it could take (you know, if he chose to make a video for it). That artist was Kane, the song was ‘Remedy’ and you can see the video we made right here.
If you’re a film maker but also have a passion for music, then music videos are the way to express both. This goes both ways though. If you’re an artist and you’ve seen the work of a director and really love it then maybe you’ll connect, maybe you’ll really hit it off. Take our Portfolio Page for instance, often we get people saying they like the style of a particular director. Music videos open the world to new possibilities and gives artists the opportunity to see their music inspire a video in incredible, and sometimes unexpected, ways.
It's a movie, sort of, it actually is...
Come on be honest. Wouldn’t you want to make a movie? Who wouldn’t? Well music videos count as short films too; so your song wouldn’t just have a music video but also a film. Okay so you might be wondering what the relevance of this is – if films are bigger than music videos and your music video is a short film then you have a much bigger, more legitimate product.
Remember when I was talking about music videos being a visual representation of a song? Waaaay back in the beginning music videos were really just performance videos recorded live, then they evolved into performance videos with concepts behind them and then they became something bigger. The best example is the legendary ‘Thriller’ Directed by John Landis, a movie Director. All of a sudden the song is seen as bigger, the video is bigger and the possibilities become, you guessed it, BIGGER. Now you can have videos that appear like movies such as Roger Sanchez’s ‘Another Chance’ or tricks us with scenes from a non-existent movie like Pat Benatar’s ‘Love is a Battlefield’ full of what looks like shots from a movie complete with implied background. Clever.
What's your Brand?
Good question to ask if you’re an artist. How do you want you and your music to be perceived? In this sense the music video becomes an extension of yourself. Your choice of style, approach and content will reveal elements of who you are – even things that aren’t clear in your music. Yeah you can have pink wigs and inflatable hearts for a bubble gum pop song or a band in a field at sunset for a folk song but what about those artists who go in a different direction? My favourite example has to be Rudimental. For their song ‘Feel the Love’ they subvert all preconceptions and expectations. For a liquid funk drum and bass group you’d expect something more typical for their music videos – not these guys. Their video features the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who are a group of black horse riders of all ages that ride in towns instead of fields. I bet you didn’t see that coming, I bet you didn’t even know these people existed, well you do now – and guess what Rudimental aren’t even in the video! What does this music video say about Rudimental? They want to show you something you’ve never seen in a way you’ve never seen it and most impressively that they are 100% behind their music; fame, recognition and exposure are not important.
So why music videos? The ideas, themes and concepts are communicated from the artist to the viewer through the medium. You’ve connected through their music then connect through their video with a new level of understanding and with some artists – respect.