Friday 26 May 2017

Music videos going with flow of stream

Earlier this week, it was 30 years since the video for Michael Jackson's Thriller made its debut on MTV.

It feels longer than 30 years ago, given the changes that both MTV and the humble music video have undergone since then.

MTV still rides the youth zeitgeist with ease through "lifestyle" programming comprising big-ticket award shows, reality TV and all manner of engaging schlock. The music video, meanwhile, is continuing to flourish online. Whether it's Irish artists such as Hozier debuting powerful visuals that find a big audience or Miley Cyrus clocking up 100 million views for a video in only six days, it's a format that continues to endure.

The days of millions being dropped on music videos may not be as common, but between shameless product-placement bolstering big names and ingenuity helping independent artists such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis turn into chart stars, it's a form that has proved surprisingly elastic. There has been plenty of hand-wringing this year about lacklustre album sales as more listeners opt to stream instead of buying.

But the world of digital music and streaming only helps the music video. No need to wait for a TV station to show your next favourite clip: now you can watch whenever you want and dip your toe into all manner of visual treats. The fact that chart titan Billboard now uses YouTube views to count towards the US charts has completely revamped how songs can impact.

It took Baauer's Harlem Shake from a viral video soundtrack to a number-one hit single in America.

And in a year when Blurred Lines raised ire for its nudity-heavy clip, it's easy to see how the music video will continue to be a unique way to sell pop music even when the other pillars of the industry take a tumble.

Conor Behan

Irish Independent

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