Why music videos matter

Forget your staged performances, successful new artists let their creativity free.

 

Ah, the music video. The understated part of the musical universe that people really should pay more attention to. It’s been a staple in the success of many popular songs over the last few decades and, even in spite of digitalisation, that is unlikely to change. If anything, it’s only become more important.

We get sent tons of music videos every day, but we don’t publish too many features. Why is that?

To be frank: they’re either complete shit, or we get so many shit submissions the good ones get lost.

There’s a lot to be gained by actually starting to put some serious thought into your music videos. A lot of new artists seem to think “the art is in the music, man” and go for the typical performance piece. Now that’s great, you know. Nothing brings your song to life like watching a staged performance of the piece, obviously. And don’t get me started on live tracks overdubbed with studio recordings…*shudder*

Music is art. In modern times, where all the senses appear to be slowly merging into one, part of that art is the visual element. David Bowie, world-renowned musical innovator, recently died and there was a colossal outpouring of appreciation and respect. Now if you look back to his early career (in the days before he could just drop an album without a word and people would go nuts), the success largely came from the image and aesthetic appeal of his act. Ziggy Stardust. Aladdin Sane. Thin White Duke. The musical shift wasn’t enough to constitute a new personality; it was all based on what people saw.

Music videos should be treated in the same way: this is how, in their minds, your listeners will envision your single forever more. So do you want them to remember a dry video of a band in an empty room performing? Or do you want them to think “holy fuck that was so great I’m gonna watch that video again now“? Going back to Bowie, just look at the video for his final (ever…*cries*) single Lazarus. That was a major talking point because of the symbollism of the video.

Sure, music is music and it should be able to stand up in its own right. But there is no harm, only benefit, in reinforcing it and helping it along if you can. After all, isn’t that why artists perform? Otherwise an artist might just record tracks and never venture outdoors to support that release.

It’s especially helpful to consider the visual medium when you’re trying something different. If you’re taking a new slant on a sound, a striking video will help to ease the transition. Lots of people find change scary, so something to distract them slightly will help them change with you. If worst comes to worst, at least you can cover up the weaknesses in a single if you drop a really memorable video.

Particularly in the face of increasingly viral digitalisation, are videos not a lifeline for talented musicians?  With the exception of Future Islands (and even that was semi-live and not studio dubbed), performance footage has never gone truly viral. Besides, you’re a creative. You wouldn’t be into the world of composing music if you weren’t creative. So let that creativity come to life and invest something into your video.

Materialise ideas music never could do justice, or maybe just add a new slant onto a single’s value. The world is your oyster, if you have the creativity and willingness to capture it through a lense.

Here’s a particularly good example of a music video we got from Evil Scarecrow not too long ago.

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