Music Videos: Now Only $99

Lucas Jensen | February 19, 2009 1:00 am

It’s funny that music videos continue to thrive now, when they don’t have many television networks interested in broadcasting them. In fact, with the advent of outlets like YouTube and Pitchfork.TV, I watch more videos now than I have in years—and in my days as a publicist, I found them to be an invaluable publicity tool. They were always a good excuse for another press release! With digital cameras getting cheaper and better, and everybody and their brother fashioning themselves the next Wes Anderson, it’s easier than ever to make a video for not much money. Enter $99 Music Videos, which like Danish woman-haters Dogme 95 wants to impose monetary constraints on bands and filmmakers making music videos:

1. It must be made for $99 (or less). 2. It must be shot in one day (24 hours). 3. It must be edited in one day (this doesn’t include rendering, digitizing, or exporting – just the creative part of editing). 4. It must be a collaboration between the band and the filmmaker.

Also, keep track of the video’s expenses. We want to know how the big bucks were spent.

We know what you’re thinking: “This is crazy! Only one day?? How is it possible to make something awesome for only $99?!”

The site will also make its own $99 videos to post each week, complete with behind-the-scenes documentaries showing how it was done.

Their mission:

Most musicians and filmmakers are unable to spend thousands of dollars on a music video. But in the age of digital filmmaking, you no longer need those kinds of budgets. If fact, amazing original music videos are being made for the web every day for next to nothing. It was in this spirit that $99 Music Videos was born.

We wanted to get back to the basics about what it is to make a music video. It should be collaborative, creative, and immediate. Cost should not be an obstacle.

How about this piece of pre-show-goofing-around poo from Genesis? Back to the basics, no doubt! And it sucks. It looks like it cost $12. Often, the good videos were the ones like “Thriller” and “Sledgehammer” that cost a lot of money, but needed big budgets to realize their ambitions. The artists and filmmakers collaborated and everyone came out (more or less) happy.

Much like Dogme ’95, I admire the purity of the constraints that $99 Music Videos espouses, but I think it hearkens back to some phony ideal that never really existed. I’m afraid that Vincent Moon et alia have created an aesthetic where “stripped-down” somehow equals “creativity,” and that is not the case at all. Worse, that idea sets up a false continuum, wherein pesky things like budgets are anathema to good art, which is the kind of thinking that gave us a glut of mediocre mumblecore movies masquerading as artistic purity and verisimilitude.

Having said that, obstructions can inspire creativity, and the first video on the site, set to the music of Brooklyn (of course) band La Strada, is pretty well-done. It certainly doesn’t look like it was done for 99 smackers, and it’s upbeat and charming, not sullen and dour for extreme meaningfulness. If they keep this level of quality up, my concerns will be unfounded.

$99 Music Videos [Official site]