Monday, March 10, 2014

What To Expect From Music Videos In 2014

In 2013 Miley Cyrus broke the VEVO record for views in a day with over 16 million with her single “Wrecking Ball,” and we saw Psy’s Gangnam Style become the first music video to surpass a billion views (currently with 1.8 billion). According to ComScore, the number of online videos watched in the U.S. has increased more than 800% over the last 6 years. At the forefront of online video consumption are music videos. The top 30 most watched videos on YouTube, ever, are music videos and in 2013 the top 10 most watched videos were music videos. The once struggling genre of music film making is in the midst of a revival.
A major contributing  factor to this growth in viewership can be attributed to mobile platforms. Faster streaming capabilities and larger screens have given people the opportunity to watch a video virtually anywhere at any time. This year VEVO increased its audience by 184%;  half of its views comes from mobile. Two years ago, 6% of Youtube’s traffic came from mobile devices, this past year it was 40%.
Jay Z on Set of Picasso Baby
Jay Z on Set of Picasso Baby
Alongside its meteoric growth in consumption, this last year saw bounds in the evolution of the music video formats and platforms. Everything from how they’re produced, to the way we view them, is changing. With so many different trends emerging, I took a look back at some of the more notable innovations from 2013. I also got a chance to chat with a group of veterans in the video industry — executive producers and directors from venerable production companies like RSA Films andPrettybird– to get their take on the newest trends, as well as what they’re excited about in regards to music videos’ promising future.
Expansion of Format:
Artists across genres are breaking the mold when it comes to video formats. Everything from long-form and or documentary pieces to interactive, real-time streams. Although long form pieces are nothing new (the Beatles’ debuted feature film musicals connected to their album’s Help and A Long Days Night) last years’ changes saw a few innovations that have expanded the conventional idea of longer form videos.
The debut of Beyonce’s “Visual Album,”  last December was the first time an artist has ever released his/her songs and videos as one multi-part but, cohesive, package with 14 songs accompanied by 17 music videos, and a subsequent 5-part documentary which discusses the inspiration for the album. Her unannounced launch through iTunes created enormous demand  and established a previously unseen expansion of the format and distribution method.
Pharrell’s 24 Hour Music Video. No matter the time of day, you can tune into the 24 Hours Of  Happy, the world’s first 24-hour music video. Utilizing interactive, streaming capabilities you can scroll to any time of day to watch people (famous and unknown) dancing to Despicable Me 2 hit track. The website gives the viewer an option to share any moment throughout the 24 hours via Facebook and Twitter.
2013 saw the Grammy category “Best Long Form Video” altered to “Best Music Film,” thus giving more credit to the film-making and documentary component of lots of these pieces. For documentary films to quality, the film must contain over 50 percent music-based performances. The presence and utility of documentary videos for musicians is increasing in importance.
Jay-Z’s Picasso Baby filmed over the course of 6 hours in a Chelsea studio included a selected group of onlookers to contribute performances for the video.
We even saw our first video shot in space:
Evolution Of Platform And Recognition:
Where and how we watch videos is changing.  The platforms are constantly evolving, and the lines between broadcast and web are becoming increasingly more blurred. The wide spread adoption of Smart TVs have given people a reason to pay less attention to traditional broadcast. This has in turn forced major networks to adapt to this disruption.
Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake premiered their Anthony Mandler directed, Holy Grail video, on Facebook – on their propriety video player. Using Facebook for a video premiere had not yet been done by such marquee artists.
This year saw the launch of Diddy’s RevoltTV in partnership with Time Warner Cable, a new network television station, whose goal is to revive broadcast music videos in the age of social media.
The metrics for Gold and Platinum plaques now include video streams, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 100 video streams is equivalent to one song purchased. This gives more credit to the impact of the video and ties it directly to the benchmark of a recording artist’s success.

Videos have more recently begun premiering on major networks.  Eminem’s Berzerk was shown on ESPN during Saturday Night Football and Jay-Z’s Picasso Baby premiered on HBO and is now available on demand. Although this is not an entirely new approach, it is something we are seeing with major artists and will likely see more of in 2014.
Sites like VideoStatic have developed a strong following from the music video community. This kind of platform, which is emerging as the standard for the genre, catalogs the years’ videos, trends, news and the creative people behind the productions that previously have not gotten much recognition. It gives onlookers a categorized stream of new materials from an insider’s perspective.
VEVO now credits the director. The birth of the Youtube Awardsgives the creators of videos, who may not have otherwise had a platform, a place to gain recognition as well. During the The Youtube Awards, they also live streamed videos that were being created on the spot. The audience was seeing the creation process happen in real-time. This was lead by director Spike Jonze, and showcased not only live music performances but also live film making.
Looking Forward:
Ultimately, these trends mean one thing: more eyes are on music videos now, more than ever, and brands have taken notice. With the average CPM on VEVO somewhere between 25$ and 33$, a video viewed 1 million times will return roughly $30,000 to the content owners.  But, those 30-second ads playing before the editorial or music content are often tuned out or immediately skipped by viewers. The question that rose after speaking with some industry experts is – what is more valuable for a brand: a 30 second pre-roll or being an integral part of the content creation?
Kerstin Emhoff, co-founder of PrettyBird says, “It’s a pretty amazing time to be in music videos,” or “music content” as she calls them.  “I’m very excited about the innovation happening in the field because there is no one way of doing music videos anymore.” Many of today’s bigger artists are using videos to “make a big statement, which puts a priority on the content.” It also means bigger budgets, for these select circumstances.
And for the artists that don’t always have the funds to execute the big ideas, some places like Prettybird will often take it upon themselves to help to broker a deal with a brand that may be able to fill in the remaining costs and also benefit from the widespread exposure of “music content.” Many of the videos that Emhoff oversees will have a budget that has been contributed to by a few parties: the label, the artist, and possibly a brand. Just like investors on a feature film, the goal is to satisfy all parties and their respective interests, whether it be traffic numbers, an innovative video for the artist, or a brand’s association with a catchy song. “As brands become more comfortable with this idea it becomes easier to make these collaboration’s happen.”
Barry Flanagan, a commercial director for Smuggler and formally MTV, notes a similar opportunity for brands to get more involved in the music space. Barry points out that the growing number of sponsored live music sessions has grown since his days at MTV. “VEVO has extended the opportunity to advertisers to sponsor live music sessions, similar to MTV unplugged. Mountain Dew, Converse, Doritos all offer similar experiences for various events.”
Through these approaches, the artists don’t have to compromise their image to fit with a brand and the brand can reap the benefits of popular music, without getting too involved with the creative. Collaboration between an artist and brand can be more fulfilling than stamping a live performance with a brand’s logo. “To be a part of the content creation and potentially deliver a strong message with a longer lasting impact is a small investment for a big brand, with a big payout.” 
Phillip Fox-Mills, Executive producer formerly at RSA Films (Ridley Scott’s production company) agrees, “The typical time frame of a song is a very attractive length for brands to get their message across.” A great example of this was the Black Dog Films produced-video, “Washed Out” (Black Dog Films is a subsidiary of RSA Films).  The video, partly funded by Urban Outfitters and launched on their YouTube platform, features their products and adds another layer of “coolness” to their brand, while telling an interesting narrative.
Last year, Fox-Mills also saw “the independent film world and music world coming closer together.” We saw a bit of this with feature length documentaries on major stars such as Justin Bieber and Katy Perry but, Fox-Mills suggested we might see more feature length-length narrative films born out of an artist and their music. This presents potentially more uncharted territory for a big brand to get involved.
Coleen Haynes, who runs Black Dog Films, says today musicians’ need to constantly be reinventing themselves and seek out different and unique opportunities to make money. “In recent years product placement had become so obvious for viewers it became frustrating, so what it has evolved into is the entire video features a product, but not so blatantly. If for example, a beer company is sponsoring a video, we don’t necessarily have to see the label of the beer in plain sight for one to three seconds but it can be featured more naturally and consistently throughout.” Additionally, if a brand funds a video sometimes the deal doesn’t only revolve around product placement, but often times the artists will have obligations to perform at certain events, or give the brand fair use of their song for commercials or other purposes.
Haynes mentions that “while the social media phenomenon is driving enormous traffic and massively influencing the video industry there are still many question-marks” surrounding sustained profitability.
This article was made possible, in part, by, Kelly Appleton.

Full Article in Forbes

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