A Clipped Future: Will YouTube Kill The Music Video Star?

Nov 15th, 2006 // 3 Comments

Sure, YouTube’s stuttery bandwidth issues may cause the above clip, by ex-Catherine Wheel frontman Rob Dickinson, to look a bit lo-fi, but it was in fact shot entirely with a cell phone. Shots Ring Out’s James November uses the clip as a springboard into the current state of the music-video industry, and
his conclusions aren’t pretty:

The use of empty space is all but negated when that empty space is full of a bunch of fluctuating compression pixels. Vision is lost. Subtle expression is lost. Personality is lost.

Pay a lot of attention to that last bit, record labels, as it shows how this is not just a problem for music video nerds. The subtle emotion that an artist exudes, the very thing that defines their personality and thus defines their charm and money-making ability, may be lost. The polish and shine you paid all that money for gets thrown right out the window when I see it in a compressed 320 x 240 box.

This distribution method is making your artists look bad.

Yet because of anemic add rates for video outlets, a release on YouTube–and subsequent embedding on Web sites–effectively serves as the launch platform for those clips that aren’t touched by TRL‘s rarefied air. November cites his site’s video-posting method–which links to both YouTube and high-quality, downloadable versions of clips–as a solution that will allow directors and other people in the video-production world to showcase their art properly; unfortunately, executives’ consistent misunderstanding of technology makes us think that the gatekeepers to major artists’ clips will be very slow to realize the realities of the music video market’s current, narrower state.

Distribution Killed The Video Star [Shots Ring Out]

  1. Chris Molanphy

    Three years ago I bemoaned the total lack of care being paid to music videos, and it’s only getting worse. I naïvely thought that the Beastie Boys Criterion DVD set, a half-decade ago, would spawn a new era of music video curation, but instead the whole art form has been debased, marginalized and now, shrunk.

  2. FunkyJ

    Does anyone else see the parallels of this to the demise of cover art?

  3. drjimmy11

    This argument doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most kinds of art will always be subject to the medium the user views it with.

    What good is your multi-zillion dollar Phil Spector-esque song production when someone listens to it on a compressed mp3, or a shitty transistor radio, or in their Camaro with the three blown speakers?

    Filmmakers have their work butchered when TV networks edit for content and chop it down to 4:3. And so forth.

    There’s no reason music videos can’t still be works of art (if they ever were)- if it’s good enough to merit it, put it on a DVD and people will seek it out.

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