Friday, December 09, 2005

Music Videos - the new frontier?!?

The music video industry is in a downturn in 2005. The amount of major label videos being made is staying relatively level for the last few years. The "down" part comes from the budgets. They are way down.

Lower budgets mean less ability for the directors to create their vision, or waste the record company's money on pointless effects and explosions - depending on how you see it. Lower budgets also mean less profits for music video production companies, producers, directors and the like. Many production companies have gone under - leaving a few at the top of the marketplace and dozens of mini-shops with just one or two directors that might make three videos in a "big" year.

For a while, there has been talk that the music video industry is going to die. I don't believe this to be true. Things are changing, but labels will always want to promote their artists and videos are here to stay.

There are suddenly many new places to watch videos and that has led some people to declare that videos are "back". Rolling Stone Magazine even wrote a piece on this:
For the first time since MTV went on the air in 1981, videos are no longer free promotional tools for CDs -- they're the product. Twenty days after iTunes made music videos and television shows available on October 12th, Apple had sold 1 million downloads (top sellers included the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" and Kanye West's "Gold Digger"). "[iTunes] is hopefully going to prove that there's such a demand for video that people will pay for it," says music video director, Dave Meyers.
I'm not convinced that the industry is "back," at least not back to where it was in the late 1990s. Things never go back, they just change as they move forward. Kids watch videos on the internet and now are even paying iTunes or their cell phone provider to download them. How will that affect the budgets and numbers of videos made? Well, I'm not scheduling the parade just yet.

Labels may be able to sell a few thousand copies of a Hawthorne Heights clip over the internet and people will certainly try and watch them for free on places like Launch, AOL and MTV as much as they can. I don't believe that this is going to prompt a renaissance with labels pouring money into production. As previously discussed, individual videos are now spread out to so many outlets, they don't reach enough people to justify spending half a million dollars to produce. Music videos will definitely get made, but I believe they will start to look more like cool little home movie/art projects for bands/artists rather than the splashy visual extravanganzas of the glory days.

Universal started the trend of charging a fee for websites that let people watch videos and this is the first of many steps in the label's efforts to take back control of the marketing tool (videos) that they are paying to produce, and had been distributing for free. If labels make money off videos, will they pay director's residuals like TV and film people get? If labels make enough off a popular video, will that prompt them to make more videos, or spend more money on the clips on that artist's next single? My guess is that additional money the labels bring in will largely stay in record company pockets. That is what record labels are best at. Ask Chuck Berry or any of the old Motown artists.


Any chance you would know where to find information on the typical salary of a music video director for an average video (for an artist of maybe Beck's stature). I now it's off topic but any info would be very much appreciated.
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