Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Package

Every year, after the VMAs, someone I know will mention it is frustrating and insulting that MTV gives their “best pop video” or “video of the year” to the artist rather than the director. Not really, I say, the world is supposed to believe that videos are the direct expression of the artist. The industry needs the world to think that.

Music videos are there to connect the artist to the viewer in a way that will make them want to go and pay money for the record/CD/iTunes file. If the customer believes that the latest Lil Scrappy or Hilary Duff video is straight from their heads to our TV, all the better.

David Byrne wrote a nice piece about this issue, by way of album artwork:
There are those who mourn the vanishing of the nice big cardboard packages that vinyl came in. The format allowed fairly large images, credits, and photos. The usual assumption is that much of this imagery, like music videos, is a reflection of, and extension of, the music creator’s sensibility. As if the packaging and the videos were usually under the direct control of the author. This is absurd. Though pop artists attempted to wrestle control of the way they were presented from the distributors beginning in the 60s, most LPs design, and music videos as well, are directed and designed under the control of the record companies.
Until they started putting the directors credits on the screen along with videos on MTV, most viewers didn’t even know videos had “directors.” Anyone reading this blog (or the mighty antville) does care about who directed what clip – but we are definitely not the norm.

All entertainment has become more process oriented with behind the scenes content on DVDs for theatrical movies, “Making the Video” episodes on MTV and Monday morning box-office numbers. People want more from their entertainment – more info, more secrets.

But the biggest consumers of music (and by “consumers” I mean people who actually pay for music) are and will be kids. Kids like to think that the cars in music videos are owned by the artist and the sexy dancers are their girlfriends. They like to think that their favorite singer picked out the image for the CD cover and the latest video is a home movie. Who are the dream-sellers to reveal that the dreams are less than real?

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