Friday, February 20, 2009


If you read this blog, I am sure you have heard about the new music video site 99dollarmusicvideos. I realize I am a bit late to the game since the site has been getting talked up on Videostatic, Idolator and the Ville (where 99$V has drawn less commentary than the ‘controversy’ about Kanye and data-moshing).

The idea behind 99$V is a clever one and will surely draw attention to a few interesting directors and recording artists. This kind of site is not the ‘cause’ of anything bad, but it does indicate where the music video industry is right now – and that is no place very good. This is essentially a video contest, and (as I have written before) those do attract some attention but usually don’t make the best videos.

My first thought was that the glossy intro graphics package on the site (you can see it at the head of a ‘making of’ video) cost way more than the video that followed. Heh, irony.

Any video created within the constraints of the website’s rules – one day shoot, one day edit, spend only $99 AND make a video of how the shoot went down to prove the budget was followed) – is destined to have limitations. That is fine in theory, but for a director, putting an artificially limited video out there for all to see might be problematic – even if doing it in a day for less than a hundred bucks IS an accomplishment. Kind of like going on a job interview after strictly allowing yourself just 15 minutes to shave, shower AND type up a resume – that rumpled and harried person is you, but maybe not the best way to get hired in the future.

The triangle. Good, fast or cheap – you can pick two but not three. Guess which one is gonna get left out of the $99 videos shot in 24 hours?

The formula on the site works great – if you want to see the drama of 'the struggle' like a reality TV show. Watching the designer-contestants on 'Project Runway' rush to make a cocktail dress out of recycled plastics and $17 worth of buttons in less than four hours is much, much more interesting than seeing the resultant garment. Or wearing the half-junk dress, for that matter.

The goal of the 99$V site is to get viewers for Verizon ads – which is a fine and noble goal. The best way to do that is to show us the drama of a harried director grinding to get the video done in the allotted time for the tiny budget. If the resulting music video helps the band's (or the director's) career very much is secondary.

The ‘behind the scenes’ videos are more intriguing (at least to my drunken eye) than the actual music videos. More than anything, maybe that shows us where music videos are at these days.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where are you?

Good news, DJ Khaled is still alive, and nowhere near the white Bentley roaming LA in a slow speed pursuit. But, the Miami based DJ/producer might have been depressed because the best-ever Khaled music video got made – and he wasn’t even in it.

On Saturday Night Live, the Lonely Island guys did a digital short for a song of their new album, Incredibad. The song “I’m on a Boat” is just about the best Khaled song ever with shouty ultra-obvious raps and Auto-tuned choruses from T-Pain. Yes, T-Pain.

It speaks to the state of the music industry when Khaled, Gil Green and all the other Miami-philes can’t muster a budget this big for a ‘real’ music video, but these comedy guys can. Damn, Sandberg even got a helicopter shot.

It will really be something if Incredibad punks the new U2 album opening week.

Watch the "I'm on a Boat" video here.

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