Do we still need music videos? It’s a legitimate question that bears a real weight and we could go back and forth on this topic all day. But here at Mosh, we believe the short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer goes something like the following.
There is no hiding from the fact: we are now in the digital revolution. This is especially true where music is concerned, as streaming services such as Apple Music (15 million paying subscribers) and Spotify (39 million) have become king. For the past two years, the official charts have taken streaming figures into account as physical music sales have fallen sharply, despite the current vinyl resurgence.
Although as it goes, the digital revolution may actually be the saving grace of the music video artform with thanks to sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. In fact, every minute, 2.56 million videos are viewed on YouTube (sounds crazy, but it’s true). That equates to more than 4 billion views per day, and a whopping 3.25 billion HOURS of content viewed per annum. In 2015, the top 26 most watched videos were music videos; in the top 50, only 5 were not music videos. With the widespread prevalence of smartphones, this content is instantly accessible, right in your pocket almost anywhere and everywhere you go.
It is likely that this fact is the reason why music channels have become nothing more than constant cycles of reality TV and re-runs of yesteryear’s most popular shows. You would be hard pressed to actually hear any music whilst flicking through your music channel selection, because MTV and the like recognise that TV consumption is in freefall versus streaming sites like Netflix (83 million subscribers, July 2016). So why should bands continue to produce these videos with less dedicated platforms to display them?
It all loops back around to digital platforms and social media. With the traditional avenue of music channels in decline, bands are turning to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. A cool 21.48% of the Earth’s population are on Facebook – that’s 1.4 billion people. With the advent of programmatic marketing and cookies, artists are able to target their key audiences like never before.
Say for instance you ‘Like’ Foo Fighters’ Facebook page. Chances are, you will now start to see ‘Sponsored’ posts inviting you to like similar bands. Whether they are influenced by Dave Grohl and Co, like Royal Blood, or share members of the band – let’s take Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, for instance. You may start to see new content by those bands start to pop up on your newsfeed, because they’re willing to bet you may well enjoy them too. Most of the time, these bands will pay for sponsored posts when they release a new album, or – you guessed it – release a new video. Embed that video into the feed, and all of a sudden a little band who might have shared a festival bill with your all-time favourite artists get some exposure and hopefully, a legion of new fans, thanks to their wicked visuals.
And that’s the Holy Grail now. Marketing. Tie ins. Merchandising. The ability to make a song much more than just a song. Had it not been for the visuals of The Black Parade, would it have taken off quite so much as it did? Without music videos, would Slipknot‘s infamous look be quite so revered without their skulking, broody videos of desolation? Would we be without Babymetal if we could not see with our own eyes just what this band is exactly. If the world was without music videos, then Psy would not have become the global phenomenon that he did. Although maybe that would not have been such a bad thing…
Similarly, you could state that with even the physical act of music being in jeopardy, with beloved, small venues closing across the country at an alarming rate, music videos may not be a priority for bands. But actually, this could not be further from the truth. With more intimate shows and club venues becoming less available, bands are searching for more and more ways to connect with their fanbases.
Musicians and bands spend enormous amounts of time and money on creating visual partners for their latest tracks. One prime example would be 30 Seconds To Mars. Every single music video they released was an epic work of art with stories and characters and interludes; they even managed to turn a 4:08 song into a 13:30 short film (we’re looking at you, ‘From Yesterday‘).
Whilst not everyone has access to the same deep pockets of a Hollywood megastar and the big record companies backing him, they can still hire a friend with a GoPro and a passable knowledge of Movie Maker to cut together a video for them. In fact, it’s the availability of affordable recording equipment that makes music videos so important now. Just last year, the movie Tangerine was filmed entirely on the iPhone 5S, edited and released to critical acclaim. A feature film. It won awards and everything. So if we are capable of making an 88-minute film, then a 4-minute video of a performance of a band’s latest single should be a walk in the park.
Bob Dylan once said “the times, they are a-changing” and that is true. Every day, new innovations propel our world forward bit by bit and our current digital era is on course to bring us great things – tremendous, wonderful things. But what’s to say we need to lose a ~90 year old short art form to make way for it. We asked if music videos are still needed. Not only was the answer a resounding yes, but we think they may be more important now, than ever.