Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on the potential pitfalls of fan-made videos, those D.I.Y. clips that turn music fans into auteurs, and that, for the most part, drive us crazy. Because the contests are imagined as a way for the artists to connect with their fans, the inevitable grumbling arises when professionals try to horn in on the action:
Take Ramon Boutviseth, who was one of two winners in a recent contest from the alternative rock back Incubus. The band asked fans to make a video for its new single “Dig,” about a couple’s stormy relationship. “I’d heard of them. I mean, I heard a few songs, but I don’t think I was as hardcore of a fan as the other guys” who entered the contest, said Mr. Boutviseth, a 24-year-old video producer in Huntersville, N.C. His video, which starred two of his friends as the protagonists and wove in performance footage Incubus provided to contestants, has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube. Mr. Boutviseth has produced music videos before for independent artists, and has since entered another video contest for the band Papa Roach…
Some fans bristle at contestants who don’t appear to love the artists as much as they do. Eric Perry said he wished more die-hard fans had won the Incubus contest. He said he spent about 30 hours editing his own “Dig” video. “Half of me wants to say, ‘Get out! You aren’t welcomed!’ The other half knows that this was a contest,” said the 21-year-old in Shelby, Mich., who has seen the band perform three times and has his cellphone ringtone set to the Incubus song “Favorite Things.”
We’re pretty sure that the 16 Papa Roach fans left in the country won’t be anywhere near as passionate. But the labels are also facing the wraith of directors:
But not everyone sees the contests as a good thing for fans. Jason Boyce says the record labels are the only beneficiaries. “People are doing these projects, sending in all this stuff and basically giving them hundreds of hours of work for free,” said the 26-year-old San Francisco video director, who has worked on music videos. “The industry is just absolutely desperate for ideas. This is kind of like mining the population.”
Okay, so maybe the labels are only facing the wraith of this one guy. But hey, does he sound steamed! Meanwhile, we keep going back to our main gripe about these clips: They’re not ridiculous enough. We grew up in an age of over-budgeted, over-produced, over-sexed music videos, and we never thought we’d miss them as much as we do now. Giving the power to the people is an admirable gesture, but do you really think a thousand fans with a thousand digicams are ever going to come up with something as good as this?