Thursday, 7 April 2011
Video Art: A New Means of Promotion for Musicians
In the last decade it has been said that the music industry is changing. These days it feels like the transformation is nearly complete. It is now possible for musicians to produce a track at home, produce a quick and totally inexpensive video and send it off to the blogosphere the next day. Blogs will then post and others will re-post, punters will share on their facebook, press “like” buttons and generally spread the word thusly. This is especially useful for us “fringe artists”.
Music markets all have similar abilities now to get out there and make themselves known. Audiences can choose what they want to consume, so even though the interwebs may seem cluttered with anything and everything, we as consumers still choose where we go on the web and what we want to follow and consume. So while mainstream artists may have big budgets and sizeable PR teams behind them, underground artists now enjoy and have access to all the same web-related tools that help promote one’s work.
As cheesy as it may sound, people have the power. It’s refreshing that we now have a choice, as opposed to merely being consumers of what mainstream culture tries to ram down our collective throats. Of course the vast majority of people are still happy to consume what they might see on the television or what they might hear on the radio, but even these are a dying breed as a traditional media. Everything is migrating online in our time, including TV channels and radio stations. I’ve dispensed with my telly box and I don’t own a radio. But I do still choose which programs I want to watch or listen to online and on demand, but that’s just me, although I’m certain that I wouldn’t be alone there.
There has always been a clear distinction between markets: you’re either an underground artist or a mainstream artist. It really is as black and white as that, for better or for worse, no matter how many sub-genres or signifiers you may incorporate. What’s interesting is that now the platforms for promotion are shared, regardless of which of the two boxes you find yourself in. It used to be that some people couldn’t get on the radio or on MTV. These have always been elitist channels of promotion. You would need your label to have sufficient budget for payola, or in other words, to be able to pay them off to play their artists’ music or video. Music that was harder to market easily fell under the cracks. Alternative culture does not need said channels of promotion any longer.
So this paints a picture of how music PR has changed in the past few years and where we are now. However, there is still the problem that precisely because of the web, consumers tend to have decidedly shorter attention spans. I feel it is no longer enough to record a track and send it off for the world to hear. I wouldn’t take full credit for this idea, but my collaborators and I devised a plan to promote our music. For each track we produce, we will produce a promotional video to accompany the music. We feel this will demand people’s attention by submerging them more into the music than just passively listening.
In keeping with the independent DIY spirit, we don’t need a big corporation’s budget to produce or distribute our art. Obviously what we do is directed at a niche market, but this is one that is now easily catered to, enabling us to reach out in ways that were previously impossible. And with this new concept, our combination of music and video art brings a multimedia experience to your screen and speakers, and a generally more immersive listening experience for our music, with it’s accompanying images. We also have no need to adhere to what certain channels might sensor and we don't have to make the videos be 3:00 long in accordance with a channel's sponsors' space to advertise. Our videos are more like short films accompanied by long suites of music.
We make the videos ourselves, by collecting found footage and bits of old cult films. Technology has enabled us to have access to video-editing software that allows us to creatively edit these clips and apply effects to the visuals to suit the music. Films may be re-arranged to tell a different narrative than that of the original story. It is all done to compliment the music and we are no longer hung up on making albums and expecting people to listen to them all the way through as would be our intention.
Clearly the days of “Dark Side of the Moon” are long behind us, and we can now bring out new singles with accompanying videos as we bang them out. We hope to eventually produce a video album in the form of a compilation DVD, the sort of thing you can watch with your gathered friends, in an attempt to bring back the now defunct ritual of making a party to enjoy a highly anticipated, newly-released record – only in modern style.
-Memo Guerra, March/2011