The Future of Music Videos

November 19, 2008 at 11:51 pm 5 comments

It’s common knowledge that music videos are a dying breed. They make no money, they’re shot on barely nothing, and unfortunately, they don’t really advertise new talent unless their video is stellar. Even then, we barely see them. 

These past two years have shown us some radical changes for what may just be the future of our beloved shorts, namely, the commercialization of bands and the products they place on screen. While music videos may be an ad for the artist, advertisers have realized that they can be ads for other products, too. Products that will pay for the cost of the video and promote the band at the same time, of course.

The first major fusion of the two; singing and advertising, is, I felt, with the Three Doors Down “Citizen Soldier” videos. Sure, tons of bands have their songs IN commercials, but rarely do bands make their entire music video a commercial for an organization. Yes, we’ve seen videos that include the movies they belong to the soundtrack of, but that’s different. Turning their entire music video into an ad not just for a product but for an entire organization marked the first transgression of music video purity. See the filth here

In 2007 we saw the appearance of the the “Where U At?” Boost Mobile campaign, featuring Jermaine Dupri, Young Jeezy, and the seriously flamboyant Mickey Avalon:

I don’t care if this music video is for a cell phone and with tons of bad rappers: the titling is awesome. This is one ad I would weirdly look forward to every day, despite Mickey’s heavy eyeliner. Although the 30 second version is the one they’d broadcast, it’s still pretty important in a sense that it looks like these rappers made their song for the product. Featuring cell-phone beeps and the words “Boost” in the lyrics, they not only sold out, they fucking signed away their dignity in the blingest way possible. But hey, it works. 

Finally, we’ve got the Christina Aguilera target commercial. Using an already established song on her album, Christina goes full out in making a proper music video with Roy Lichtenstein-style graphics (and yes, more eyeliner!) I think this one is more important because, unlike Boost mobile’s song made for a product, Xtina here turned her song into a product and a whole new video, gladly prostituting herself for what is undoubtedly a very profitable deal with Target:

 And yeah, I’m calling this commercial a music video because their official “Behind the Scenes” video for this spot  calls it that. This music video is completely different for the original music video for the song. In fact, I’d say that the commercial version is actually way better, thanks to its well-done graphics and lack of douchebag producer-performance a la Timbaland. Christina, didn’t you know? Music videos aren’t made on iPhone-based graphic equalizers! It’s entirely too bad, because I actually really liked her Candy Man video. (But that’s just because I want my life to look like a slutty Normal Rockwell painting, also. Sigh)

Either way, with so little money being poured into these (shitty) videos, you can see why artists are feeling more and more pressure to get product placement or even direct corporate overhaul of their own music-based marketing. And frankly? I’m okay with that. The two we’ve seen were high production quality, and if that’s what it takes to make huge, big-budget videos, then fine. The entertainers who choose this path are too unimaginative to come up with something really great with a lot less cash, so they have to take the stupid way out. But hey, show me a well-executed gimmick video on a shoestring budget any day over the graphic spawn of consumer giants.

It seems that the more polarized this medium becomes, the more interesting it gets. What’s next? Artists directly singing about a product’s greatness? Or maybe companies will get smart and finally move to features, explicitly.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Betty  |  November 20, 2008 at 10:50 am

    It’s so funny because music videos essentially ARE commercials. When they’re given air time, they’re pretty effective too. We found so many new artists watching E4 Music in Dublin! With the record industry tanking, though, they have to sell out even further.

    What do you mean companies will move to features? Do you mean they’ll do product placement only in features, or that production companies will stop making music videos? I think that as long as there is music and there are huge companies needing to advertise, we’re going to see more and more of this, especially because of YouTube making everything so available. I just hope it doesn’t kill music videos altogether. Internet Killed The Video Star?

    Reply
  • 2. parkrangerolivia  |  November 20, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    What I meant by features is that there will no longer be product placement of the kind we know now. Instead of subtly saying “hand me a drink,” and seeing the bartender pour a coca-cola bottle, we’ll hear “get me a grey goose, on the rocks.”
    Instead of “pull the car around,” it’ll be “valet, fetch me my S Class Mercedes”.

    I predict that plots will begin to revolve around brands we are familiar with, also. “Pfizer is saving the world from a biochemical attack, but we have to make it to their headquarters in time!” I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump is writing a feature about someone applying for his job as “The Apprentice”, featuring all of his estates and branding logos, as we speak.

    Rather than “Being John Malkovich” with the ACTUAL John Malkovich, it’ll be the same kind surrealism, only for things that you can buy. I think TV shows are already kind of ahead of the curve on this, eg. the Gossip Girl Vitamin Water party episode. Should a feature go down the same path, tanking movie theaters could get comfy sponsorship packages for stocking the same product in the flick at their same concession stands. In fact, I can’t believe these things haven’t happened already!

    Reply
  • 3. Betty  |  November 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Well, there was Cast Away. I, Robot was pretty blatant with its “vintage 2002 converse” or whatever. I think you’re right, it’s definitely creeping in more and more. Sometimes it makes sense, because being vague can seem awkward and forced. Inserting brand names everywhere instantly dates a film, though, so even though more commercial productions will incorporate it, it still won’t penetrate films with ‘integrity’ as much. But yeah, the record industry will totally buy into it because they’re grasping at straws right now.

    Did Gossip Girl really have a Vitamin Water episode? That’s retarded.

    Reply
  • 4. alisaurus  |  November 20, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Seinfeld has been selling me Snapple for over a decade!

    Reply
  • 5. parkrangerolivia  |  November 22, 2008 at 2:31 am

    so has Roswell! Snapple is a corporate slut.

    Reply

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