Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Functions of music videos

This post will cover why music videos are a thing. I -had- started a slideshow on this, but my computer which has PowerPoint on it isn't being too friendly, which is an incredibly convenient excuse for me to communicate this information in a practical manner which allows me to clearly lay out my work in a way that lets the reader easily refer back to previous parts, as opposed to an impractical "look mum, I can use interactive media!" manner. But I digress.

So, what is the purpose of music videos?

In short, to acquire this:

This is the incentive behind music video production in general: for major institutions to acquire lots and lots of money from people who have far less money than they do.

This can be broken further:

  • To promote the individual product - producing a video for a song means you have a chance to get your song featured on one of the few remaining music programmes on television, and to get your video a positive presence on video sharing websites such as YouTube (yes, I know someone's likely to upload it anyway, but your song is more likely to be taken seriously if you have a professionally produced video than if you have a terrible Windows Movie Maker lyrics video uploaded by some illiterate kid who attributes the song to the wrong artist... -_-). 
  • To promote the artist's star image - as per Dyer's theory, the record institution can develop a 'star image' for the artist, which essentially functions as the artist's brand. This can be done by implementing some of the conventions Goodwin mentioned, such as lots of close-up shots of the artist, and recurring motifs between videos. 
  • To monetise directly from the video (YouTube) - if the label sets up a YouTube account on behalf of the artist, they can partner the account, upload some entertaining music videos people will want to watch multiple times, and generate revenue from the advertisements on that page (which is amplified if the video receives a lot of hits). (At over 880,000,000 hits right now, I would take a guess and say that PSY's Gangnam Style video is pulling in some money...).
  • To mask the bland nature of the music - this allows the institution to get away with publishing boring tripe that no-one would care for otherwise. It doesn't matter that the track consists of a recycled electronic stock beat, a mediocre synth loop which isn't anything special and auto tuned vocals which makes the vocalist sound like every other performer in the charts at the moment; this will sell because the music video gives us some memorable imagery, which people will remember over all the other music out there which doesn't have this kind of imagery. 
  • To create entertaining content - this on its own is more common among lesser-known independent artists who haven't been swallowed by major institutions and milked for everything they're worth.