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Are music videos worthless?

Why is it that we want to watch 16 and Pregnant instead of current music videos? We ask Sydney musician and music video maker SPOD (aka Brent Griffin) to weigh in on the latest viral clip doing the rounds.

So FL asked me to respond the comedy video doing the rounds featuring a fictional “MTV Executive” and his perspective on why they don’t play music videos anymore. It proposes a funny and clear perspective on what’s happened to outlets such as MTV not playing and breaking new artists anymore, and why that has happened. I think it’s a hilarious, concise and depressing video that illustrates clearly the base level of why popular vendors of entertainment – be it television or radio – pump out such base level garbage. But why is it that we want to watch 16 and Pregnant instead of current music videos?

Now a bit of transparency, I’m obviously biased as a music maker and a music video constructionist, so I can see the value of a music video and believe in the making of music as an artform and a great companion on the highway of life, but is there a reason for people to still bother making music videos if the only guff that gets played on TV is basically Mike Judge’s Idiocracy come to life?

The music video isn’t the problem. Music videos are an ad for a band – they can be explained as nothing more than a marketing tool. I completely understand that, but outside of strictly commercial music, you’re selling people a reason to care about your art, to visually explain your art to someone in a four-minute block that perhaps will gain an understanding of what you stand for, what you see yourself as and an illustration of your musical ideas or point of view. With the infinite possibilities of distribution now, it’s better than ever to make an exciting or interesting music video that’ll draw people to your band, or draw them in closer to what you do. But because of the democratisation of distribution, there’s so much noise in this day and age, and everyone has direct control of curating their own entertainment, so passive forms of entertainment are getting dumber and it’s not in their interests to challenge or inform their audience, as an audience can do that on their own time. We’re in a new era of entertainment self-maintenance.

Mainstream TV and radio has become such a honed nugget of trash, that it serves its purpose perfectly. To mindlessly entertain people for a bit so they don’t have to think about what’s going on around them. Like a cheeky Mersyndol for the soul, it takes off the edges and stops people worrying about the truth of their life for a slither of time. That’s great, but people are still going to search for something that resonates with them more personally if that’s part of who they are. TV has always been that, and the internet is quickly following suit, but the need for something more substantial isn’t going to end just because the river of shit is getting more polluted, but then there’s the shifting nature of monetising art. It’s always getting worse, right?

“It’s better than ever to make an exciting or interesting music video that’ll draw people to your band, or draw them in closer to what you do”

From getting zero royalties for video plays on YouTube and Vimeo to streaming services which are basically condoned piracy, there’s still someone getting rich off art, but it’s still not artists. But whatever, that’s always been a problem ever since mankind has been spoilt enough to have artistic pursuits as a viable source of survival. Ask any artist who can afford to pay rent or buy a house, and 19 times out of 20, it’s thanks to the pocket of someone much larger that they don’t necessarily agree with moralistically. It’s been quite a quick shift since the righteousness of the ’90s into the general absolving of guilt for accepting the corporatisation of society and having a nibble on the teet that can afford to feed them. There’s a wider avenue of forgiveness these days. Let’s not lose focus though, Beck did write ‘MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack’ back in the ’90s, so the problem isn’t a new one, it’s just the angle has shifted. Hey, Australia is lucky, we still have Rage.

But back to the point, there are more bands than ever all still as hungry as ever to become successful, but how will the current climate of total information freedom pan out for artists? Are we in the true oasis of creative freedom or in the static filled corridors of gentrified hell?

Eh, it’s all just entertainment. Some people put a higher level of expectation into it, people who believe music and art can give a satisfying context to life, but I can’t begrudge the throngs of people who look at music, television and art as nothing other than a stream of vibrations to stop their soul from being an anchor to the bottom of the ocean of existence. I just feel bad that we’re so deftly perfecting how to cater to that while losing a grip on encouraging the smaller voice.

SPOD launches his new single, ‘Couple Of Drinks’, this Thursday (December 6) at The Gasometer in Melbourne.

Comments

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berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 3rd Dec, 2012

I usually check out new bands on youtube and it will almost always be a live clip. If they can't play the song well live I usually don't give them another go.

I don't know that this article was a a particularly strong argument for music videos. It didn't seem to answer any questions it raised, seemed to agree with the title question but didn't commit to it and then wound up not really saying anything at all.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 4th Dec, 2012

Mainstream TV and radio has become such a honed nugget of trash, that it serves its purpose perfectly. To mindlessly entertain people for a bit so they don’t have to think about what’s going on around them.

the throngs of people who look at music, television and art as nothing other than a stream of vibrations to stop their soul from being an anchor to the bottom of the ocean of existence.

So long as we're not being elitist about it, or anything...

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 4th Dec, 2012

The funny part is that I know bands that gained new fans by getting their music on 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.
The article is naff really. No issue. MTV has more than 1 channel dedicated to music videos.

lineofbestfit

lineofbestfit said on the 4th Dec, 2012

i don't know hands made me believe that somewhere there are a room of starving chix hanging out with animals.

Piko

Piko said on the 5th Dec, 2012

Aye I am oldschool, i prefer to go to youtube to hear and see a song rather than use spotify to just hear it. Call me old fashioned... but thats just how i roll and all that

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 5th Dec, 2012

I think we are forgetting that two of the three biggest pop songs of 2012 (STIUTK and Gangnam Style) got their fame off the back of their viral video clips.

Video clips still work, just in a very different way. And artists use the success they bring at their own peril. You can either get huge like Justin Bieber, or fuck it up like OKGo.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 5th Dec, 2012

How exactly have OKGO fucked it up? They still amass millions of views for their videos and have a pretty decent following/fanbase etc.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 5th Dec, 2012

[URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MejbOFk7H6c"]23 million for Needing/Getting, [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHlJODYBLKs"]14 million for White Knuckles, [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w]38 million for This Too Shall Pass. I think they're doing just fine for themselves.

spanisheyes

spanisheyes said on the 5th Dec, 2012

i find most videos incredibly silly. unless you're gonna get chris walken to dance & fly in your video, what's the point? posing on the beach...a cliff...a forest...yawn. sometimes you see something really innovative or clever...but rarely. i love however music videos that show the recording process, in the studio. springsteen has quite a few of these, which i quite like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut1manvfghm

i wish we could see more videos showing how a song was created, produced...shameless plug, here's mine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkhtqwzggny

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 5th Dec, 2012



...then half-price tickets for their OAF show in 2011...

ThatDude123

ThatDude123 said on the 5th Dec, 2012

So older still?

Even, the meaning of viral between then and now has changed a lot since then. 5 years ago, the most viewed video on YouTube was still Evolution of Dance with 80 million views.

Gangnam Style got that many views in the past fortnight.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 5th Dec, 2012

Bit harsh to compare ANYTHING to Gangnam Style, though. Not even STIUTK can keep up with that thing.

batdan

batdan said on the 5th Dec, 2012

I still enjoy watching music videos. My dream job would be a music video director but sadly I'm not creative.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 5th Dec, 2012

*on set of Beiber's new video*

Batdirector: Can we get more blood through the sprinkler system? It's meant to rain blood not drizzle. And JB, buddy, raise that severed goat head above your head like you mean it so the leather clad suicide girls gyrating on your legs get as many entrails on them as possible. Jeezus, I'm trying to make a picture here!

lateleigh

lateleigh said on the 6th Dec, 2012

I miss when the 'bottom of the barrel' was something to be avoided instead of exploited for all it's apparent worth. MTV and all the shithouse crap they play may well be a 'distraction' as gumbuoy said, but how low must your attention span be to be distracted by a show about bogan slappers who get knocked up at 16? I think I am more in danger of being bored than distracted.

batdan

batdan said on the 6th Dec, 2012

There needs to more music videos of bands on tour, shot in Black and White with slo-mo montages of the band doing what they love but with cut scenes to backstage or a tour bus to show how exhausted they get being rockstars then to finish with the band on stage rocking-the-fuck-out as the crowd goes wild and the house lights come on.

Yeah thats what I'm talking about. Or what BC said earlier.

crob

crob said on the 7th Dec, 2012

The cost of music video production is pretty intense for something what will predominantly be viewed on YouTube. With YouTube being a double edge sword in that through YouTube a music video is an advertisement that will be there forever, but it is limited in that it has to be sort out by an active audience, what means there not much chance for a small unknown band having their music being heard by new ears through YouTube, unless it has something special to it e.g. OK GO, phy…. Yet small bands are also fucked on Traditional distribution methods such as [V] and MTV, what can reach new ears as it focuses on a more passive audience, as these broadcasters have a number of restrictions to their playlist, as they have to reflect the aria charts, core demographic, what records companies are pushing, etc.

Whilst I agree that it sucks that Artists get zero royalties for video plays on YouTube and Vimeo, & whilst it is fair to say that these sites basically condoned piracy all I can think in response to that was MARTIN ATKINS speech at Face the music this year. ‘IF PEOPLE AREN’T STEALING YOUR MUSIC, YOU’RE FUCKED’

larrybird

larrybird said on the 8th Dec, 2012

i have add. i can't listen to music and watch the clip atthe same time. i listen to music (like right now),whilst typing this and running some background programs. mp3 killed the video star

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 8th Dec, 2012



dude, i didnt say that. i was mocking the original piece for being elitist.