Sunday, April 08, 2007

Homebrewing it up in the national news

Just a quick weekend note. Once the mainstream media get a hold of something, you can tell it is no longer news ...

The LA Times did a big Sunday Calendar piece on user generated music videos and fan-based stuff.

This critical mass of contest-generated fan videos has got music video-dom's most in-demand director, Marc Webb, for one, thinking about his career. "A music video is a symptom of the marketplace," he said. "If it becomes about kids making videos and that becomes a viable way to get a song out there, so be it. I'll have to find another job."
It is definitely worth a read, but a lot of it is stuff that has shown up here and on the Ville before - not too much new. The thing that really struck me was that none of these contests - shaking hips like Shakira or digging Incubus would work unless the artist is already very well known. Of course, these artists all got famous enough for them to even have fans to make homebrew clips through using "real" professional videos.

Hopefully Webb saves me a place in the unemployment line.

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First of all, the contest are listed in most label marketing plans, but the actual winning video usually is not. Labels just see these contests as desperate word-of-mouth campaigns to rally hard-core fans and drum up attention. Most winning videos never see the light of day. Secondly, even though the Times article makes it sound like these contests are hugely popular, most of them barely get off the ground. I know of one particularly large user-generated contest right now (for a blockbuster movie, not a music video) that is encouraging low-level studio staffers to enter videos in order to make the site look more popular. Currently, over 60% of the submitted videos are phony, simply because they couldn't garner enough interest (and that's for a huge summer blockbuster movie, how does the average indie-band contest fare?). Finally, the contests that actually do work usually leave fans feeling bitter and confused. The Incubus contest ended in a barrage of angry comments on their youtube group page. Core fans that had spent weeks editing and compositing were enraged when it turned out that the winning videos were made by 1) a professional production company, and 2) an animator who didn't use any of the green screen footage. The idea of user-generated video contests was novel at first, but how many of them have come and gone with little fanfare? Where's the winning Fourtet video? Sondre Lerche? The Decemberists? Placebo? There's not enough steam in this idea, and not enough interest from the general public.
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