Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Friday, 10 November 2017

REPRESENTATION INDUSTRY Swift tailor-made case study

Taylor Swift’s reputation: will her new album silence her critics?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

INDUSTRY Vevo the music video giant

Vevo is an entity you need to engage with to show a good grasp of the industry, a case of the music giants combining to monetise and control the distribution of their videos through YouTube.
See Lifewire, Wiki for simple explanations, and look into your own artist for Vevo links.

They're the major music industry force behind the Tory attempt to enforce age ratings on music videos, voluntarily engaging in the BBFC scheme. See this Guardian Music tag for more on this.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

SFX CONVENTIONS Green screen examples + layering

Not performing IN a bar but ON the bar top!
Here's a simple example of the power of the green screen - one from 30 years ago, long before you could achieve instant green screen keying on a Mac as you can now (there's a term for that, a very important one, linked to digitisation: CONVERGENCE).

Once you have green screen footage - especially if it incorporates full body movement (as opposed to the maximum MLS dictated by using a single sheet unless you're very careful) - you have incredible creative freedom over how you use it.

LAYERING - which isn't always through green screened footage - is one of the fundamentals of music video, a very common device but not one seen much in TV drama for example.

I'd welcome your suggestions (as blog comments) on useful examples to add to this post from your own knowledge/research.

Here's a simple example from a Thai dance-pop artist.

Monday, 16 October 2017

INDUSTRY MONETISING And the brand played on

No alternative: how brands bought out underground music

Thursday, 12 October 2017

AUDIENCE WEB 2.0 Is going underground still feasible?

This might turn out to be a highly irritating Grauniad exercise in uber-hipsterdom, proudly proclaiming awful bedroom acts adored by some London clique as artistic giants ... but it could also be an invaluable discourse on the still evolving disruptive force of new technology and how it impacts music marketing and artists' relationship with audiences and industry alike....

In the coming weeks, we’re going to run a series of articles examining what, if anything, it means to be an underground artist in 2017. We’ll be exploring whether it’s possible to find a meaningful audience for your music while avoiding the glare of publicity, the complex relationship between art and commerce, how technology assists and impedes artists who want to find new routes of promoting and disseminating their music, what the value of remaining underground is, and whether Britain is host to any thrilling and vibrant music scenes that exist entirely off-grid.

Where is the musical underground in 2017?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

GENRE INDIE BBC doc on history of Indie

As you study genre theory you'll come to realise how loose a concept it is - but one that is absolutely vital for marketing and retail purposes, even in the streaming age when shelf space is not an issue. As 'consumers' (such a loathesome term, but still widely used) we do still tend to think along genre lines, which is why these are so important whether its Netflix, Spotify or (gasp!) a physical record/music store.

BBC3 and BBC4 (often replaying BBC2 content) are worth keeping an eye on through iPlayer as they often feature some great music docs. This is a good example, a thorough grounding in the evolution of the Indie genre - a genre which has both some easily identified stereotypes and such a wide range of music that it becomes a very, very loose concept. Further complicated by the Americanism of alt-pop or alternative rock, which is essentially the same. In both cases, there are acts seen as Indie who are signed to major record labels, while many on independent labels are having their work distributed by majors so even the original linkage is debatable.

Thanks to Richard for the link - I'd mentioned this specific doc series many times and he spotted it on YT.


Unlike the cheesy old school techno classic, there are limits with the tracklisting ... the maximum running time of a CD (while it still remains a mainstream delivery platform).

You need to approach this simple detail of your work with caution - and thoroughly back up your decision with multiple examples.

Here's a simple (its far from precise on CD length, quite inaccurate on that!) pointer from Dave Taylor - as the saying goes, if Dave says its true, it probably is...
As I've blogged many times before, you should be looking to create a value proposition for what is usually a best of/greatest hits (or B-sides etc) compilation of previously released material ... by adding (and highlighting with a cover sticker) newly recorded bonus tracks. Some past students (see Atomic Kitten example) have even gone the extra mile and created their own lyrics for these new tracks to include in a digipak lyrics booklet!


WEBSITE ALBUM SAMPLER Suede's non-music vid video!

An example which highlights three points:
  1. Websites are routinely updated to centre on the latest album release
  2. Bjork, The Pixies and many more are trailblazing a growing trend of creating videos for ALL album songs, not just the singles, recognising this boosts revenue-gaining YouTube hits ... but the importance of additional videos (unwrapping, lyric, live, UGC etc) is growing faster still, and Suede's "album sampler" is a good example. It would have Vernallis jumping up and down screaming I TOLD YOU SO given its narrative-free (is that possible?!) nature
  3. Its another reminder of the convergence between film and music video - bear in mind that the 1964 Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night [Wiki] is widely considered as having created the music video template (archetype) with its video-like scenes ... and MJ's Thriller! While you will generally be creating youth-targeting productions with bands' existing (older) audience now the secondary target for you, Suede are possibly reinforcing their mature adult appeal with an entire feature-length arthouse movie released with their album. Its nature might also suggest an oddly upmarket (ABC1) audience for an Indie band. Read more here.
Here it is so you can judge for yourself - you should be thinking of this as an easy, but creatively free, extra (like the single shot video, lyric video...), so long as you remember to keep it MUCH shorter (or it'll just get blocked).

The website splash/landing/home page on 10.10.17:

The "album sampler"


Saturday, 7 October 2017

GENDER QUEER China's female boy band

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

FRANCHISE MUSICALS Bored bards' Broadway badinage

Bruce takes Broadway: Springsteen's stage show is a risky business

Friday, 29 September 2017

UGC WEB 2.0 Fan album art, track listing

Faux real: Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and the ‘leaks’ that are too good to be true

Thursday, 28 September 2017

FEMINISM + TWEEN AUDIENCE Spice Girls counter-hegemonic titans?

Spice World: the feminist movie? When girl power hit the the big screen

Monday, 14 August 2017

WEB 2.0 Social first, UGC, me too memes, cashtags key to promo

Short and snappy overview here from Wired of how 'social first', trying to seed interest and stimulate sharing and UGC before paid-for campaigns kick in, has become the industry norm.

Some contrasting examples of 'organic' underground successes and notable failures by the likes of Katy Bloody Perry - hit or flip the common key is some degree of replicability, whether dance or ... spraying water on your face (KBP).

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

VFX Shins layering that'll stick(er) in the mind

LAMAR + NIK is a joint name you may have seen from your research into video examples, and nofilmschool here compare them to Michel Gondry, high praise indeed.

The specific stop-motion technique they use here isn't necessarily what you might take away as an inspiration - look at the seemingly mundane mise-en-scene they add these stickers (you should be thinking greenscreen to achieve a comparable effect) to: stacks of coins, 'checkers' chips, cheese slices, all quirky and interesting when shot in tight close-ups.

No need for a narrative in a video as entertaining and visually busy as this, though the likes of Sledgehammer manage to incorporate this.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

STREAMING Warner soars past $1bn digital revenues

The conglomerate giant doing fine, artists less so...

Ed Sheeran’s Divide puts Warner Music’s streaming income on track to cross £1bn

STREAMING 2.4m YouTube views to earn months minimum wage

CONVERGENCE Metal Gear...Video game group's hit single

Pentakill: how a metal band that doesn’t exist made it to No 1

Sunday, 6 August 2017


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Viral car lip sync hits 120m views

This would be a good idea for an additional video alongside your main effort (live, lyric, unwrapping vids are also useful additions).

The infamous Wayne's World Bohemian Rhapsody inspired James Corden's Carpool Karaoke which in turn has inspired this couple of performers (he's a comedian, she appeared on America's Got Talent) to create a series of car-set lip sync vids.

With 120m views already, they're making money from that, but they are also add for their services as hireable entertainers.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

DIGITAL strings up boxset racket?

(Theory link: Simon Reynolds' Retromania)

'The Beatles or Radiohead can forever flog key works to consumers prepared to pay £100 for unheard sessions on picture-disc vinyl. Icons like Morrissey can keep on reissuing even the unlamented likes of Maladjusted as part of their bigger story, safe in the knowledge fans want to buy into that idea too. But digital closes the door on nostalgia as much as it mucks with the album as a format. Will the 2026 reissue of Solange’s A Seat at the Table meet with the same ripe whiff of remembrance from a generation who recall where they were the first time they opened Spotify and it was algorithmically recommended to them? If not, Our Love to Admire may be one of the last albums in history to make it to its 45th anniversary super-deluxe box set.'

The reissue racket: how many more ‘classic’ albums will be repackaged?

Friday, 21 July 2017

WOMEN still controlled by men, Instagram only space for genuine expression?

A good look here at how patronising patriarchy, an assumption that women are more pliable and will do as instructed, remains ingrained in the music biz, and an interesting side note on how being 'woke' (Katy bloody Perry's farcical attempt to show her socially conscious side leading to that garbling of language) is seen as important for branding and the opportunity to land marketing deals with brands.

A perhaps too uncritical, but useful, highlighting of Instagram especially as social media being the only space where female artists are permitted to freely express themselves - ignoring the product placement rife in these platforms and other forms of artifice.

Pop’s glass ceiling: why new female stars can’t break through

Thursday, 29 June 2017

VINYL new plant points to continuing growth

Records come round again: Sony to open vinyl factory in Japan

Saturday, 24 June 2017

GENRE 40 sub-genres of metal

An example I've used before, a useful one to highlight the need to take care in defining genre. Each of these 40 (and there are still others - no grunge here for example) have some distinctive features that a videomaker should be aware of.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Female gaze of Torres, Mitski and female directors

A quick note on the Torres video: mostly very dull, but 2 elements that might inspire some useful ideas
the David Lynch-like unsettling intermittent red lighting, and playing with darkness (possible Twin Peaks influence there)
the stoney-faced singer continuing to lipsynch with shower water flowing over her (wind effects have been used in other vids, anything like this adds visual interest and impact to a key convention, arguably bringing a postmodern deconstructionist approach in revealing, and revelling in, the absurdity of lipsynching). In practical terms it would be better to try and rig a shower head to a hose - or even point it out of a bathroom window if the external wall framing works (as bathroom framing would be very limited)

This is desire: Torres, Marika Hackman and the artists redefining the female gaze

Saturday, 10 June 2017

DIGITISATION labels aren't needed can do all from bedroom Run DMC say

Some strong language in this article, but coming in the week when Taylor Swift announced an end to her 3 year boycott of Spotify (to 'celebrate 10m album sales' for her latest...and undermine Katy Perry's album release), here's a great quote summing up digital disruption:

Run-DMC have about 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, that’s not bad is it? (1)

That’s not bad – that’s really good! We still get our royalty. You do a deal now, the labels get ownership of this and that – but these days you don’t need a record company, you don’t need a lawyer, you don’t even need a studio. You can do it all in your f***ing bedroom.

Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels: 'We lived sex, drugs and rock‘n‘roll – but never put it in our music'

Like to make music? Turn your tunes into an income stream