Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Monday, 16 July 2018


Yeah, it's another mystery intertextual ref - try adding the words Alice Cooper to a Google (or, hey, a privacy-friendly DuckDuckGo)

Sunday, 15 July 2018


Tuesday, 10 July 2018


A post I'll add to over time if I remember. I have scattered a few archetypal vids across the blog, not sure if I used any tag though.

Read Austerlitz' superb history of music video for a fuller sense of how the form was established long before the 80s MTV boom that made it a routine part of promo and marketing efforts - or just watch the movie A Hard Day's Night to see The Beatles establishing the core of the media language still used over half a century later!

DISTRIBUTION CONVERGENCE Instagram album release

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

VISUALIZER VIDEOS another alternative format

Evie brought this format to my attention, another to consider alongside the lyric video, unpacking video, live video, and additional narrative or concept videos (eg Pixies' 2 Bagboy bids, U2's 3 for One!)

Here's another format that could be great fun to adapt for evaluation Q's or earlier audience/genre conventions research:

Saturday, 30 June 2018

FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM music and lip sync features

Convergence continues...

With Facebook recently tieing up rights deals with multiple labels their subsidiary Instagram has announced an add music option for their Daily Story feature ... and a Lip Sync Live feature is rumoured for a Facebook launch soon

Wednesday, 27 June 2018


(TBC) I've previously provided an extensive list of themes to consider, with notes on each of these. Having reviewed these, I've come up with a more streamlined list of 10, combining these and some additional aspects. These will help you evidence research/analysis/applied understanding of all 3 CIA (Conventions, Industry, Audience) and go a long way to preparing for your 4 evaluation Qs.

You can gather and build your research through any combination of posts so long as this eventually includes posts titled:
GENERAL CONVENTIONS1: Lyrics/visuals; Narrative 
GENERAL CONVENTIONS2: Genre characteristics
Intertextuality + postmodernism   
GENERAL CONVENTIONS5: Cinematography + Editing
GENERAL CONVENTIONS8Distribution, social
GENERAL CONVENTIONS9Branding/promo package 
That's 10 research themes. For each one you need to indicate ideas/aspects you've seen that might influence your work (and then sum this up).
1-5 are conventions focused (+ incorporate Goodwin's 6 conventions), 6-9 go further into industry and audience, and 10 is simply an overall summary of which points are more likely to be reflected in your idea.

You will have some posts, including from class and homework, on individual videos, titling like this:
GENERAL EG1Artist 'Track Title' (year) 
This phase of pre-production is to help inform your initial pitch development. You will repeat the process with a similar list for GENRE conventions research.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

YOUTUBE faces EU music video rights hike

Spoiler alert ... the tech giants won this battle:YouTube and Facebook escape billions in copyright payouts after EU vote

'YouTube faces paying billions to music stars after copyright vote'

Great article + big news, as this impacts YouTube's distribution of music videos - it could lead to a mass deletion of music videos from the site, pending clear + specific agreements being signed with labels/rights holders.

NB: there is no change in law YET; this initial requires a further vote in the European Parliament in July before it takes on legal status, and it seems likely several states will object to it.

The quotes below contain some killer stats, the type I've often cited before:
  • YouTube pays out about 67¢ per its 1.3bn music video-watching users ($856m/£650m annual)
  • that's less than half the total royalties payout for 25 BILLION streams than is generated by just 4.1m vinyl record sales!!!
  • Spotify pays out about $20 per user (272m users, annual total $5.6bn royalties)
For years the music industry has argued that YouTube exploits the lack of legal protection around music videos being viewed on its service to pay minimal amounts to artists and labels when they are viewed. The music industry has lobbied that this “value gap” between the true worth of the music videos and what YouTube decides to pay needs to be addressed with legislation.
On Wednesday, a crucial vote by the European parliament’s legal affairs committee went the way of the music industry with an agreement to adopt copyright laws that will force platforms such as YouTube to seek licences for music videos.

YouTube has an estimated 1.3 billion users who regularly watch music videos and it paid $856m (£650m) in royalties to music companies last year – an estimated 67 cents per user annually. In the UK, record labels and artists earn more than double the royalties from the sale of 4.1m vinyl records than they did from the 25bn music videos watched on YouTube last year.

By contrast, income from the 272 million music fans who paid for ad-supported services such as Spotify, generated $5.6bn in royalties, or about $20 per user annually.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

MONETISING Meet and greets replace store signings

Has the meet and greet replaced record signing appearances? Apparently so...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

STREAMING free People offers artists alternative

People: how the National and Bon Iver's streaming service frees musicians

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

ANIMATED LYRIC VIDEO of lesbian male gaze? Rita Ora controversy

Rita Ora apologises after LGBT criticism of her song Girls

Sunday, 6 May 2018

SOCIAL MEDIA key to marketing

Not exactly a revelation, blogging on the basis of a simple, sharp quote from Lily Allen (who in the same article says it's the 360 deals for branding, endorsements that make money now, not the music):

Lily Allen: ‘We need to fight back against these forces’

Allen responds to a question asking how she can face going on her social media daily when she gets so much abuse through it:

Well... a) Social media, what it’s for, is to partake in conversations. Just because my conversations are amplified or misconstrued, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to express myself, and that’s what we’re talking about, really, freedom of expression. b) Every marketing budget now takes social media engagement into account. So if I didn’t tweet and I didn’t do Instagram I wouldn’t be here right now – we literally wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

MUSIC INDUSTRY stats summary CDs behind streaming


Guardian: UK record labels' revenue grows at fastest rate since 1995.

The disruption from digitisation is now a long established phenomenon in the music industry - the outdated chart below fails to distinguish the collapse of the digital download market, and its near-complete replacement by streaming.

You can see the enormous impact of digital disruption here:

Here's a calculator.
I tried the Astrid S example of the 47m streams of Such a Boy:

In this post I blogged on multi examples, including One Direction, a big mainstream pop band's estimated $50m from a hit album ($36m sales, $14m from streams) ... just a sixth of their $300m touring income over the same time period (2015), not counting merch! Revenue directly from music sales/streams is falling overall, though labels are finding new ways to keep their overall revenues up.

Here you can see the staggering difference in how many sales/streams it takes for an artist to earn $1,260, ie the US legal minimum (employers cannot pay any lower!) monthly wage, which of course they want more than!!! You need 1m Spotify streams, or 4m YouTube streams to earn this!!!


Saturday, 14 April 2018

DOWNLOADS DEAD? iTunes ceases from 2019

I've blogged on this before, predicting the digital download would all but disappear in as little as 2-3 years ... and here we go.

The market-dominating iTunes will cease to offer downloads to 'own' (the legal status is controversial, but ownership is clearly restricted compared to physical media) from 2019, as streaming surfs to the top of Apple's, and the wider music industry's, strategy.

The dominant mode of distribution not so long ago is rapidly disappearing, though I'm sure some smaller sites will continue to offer DL options. How many major artists will bother offering this? Could still be quite a few - many digipak and vinyl sets come with DL codes for MP3 or even FLAC files.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

LADY GAGA QUEERed music video

I've mentioned her frequently, great case study of gender representation and the post-feminist position ... but also beyond that of queer representation, an intentional blurring of the gender binary.

On my summer list to return to and develop a new case study...

10 years of Lady Gaga: how she queered mainstream pop forever

From Madonna to Janelle Monáe: how female sexuality progressed in pop

Friday, 6 April 2018

PROMO PACKAGE Slayer digipak, vinyl, figurine + promo videos

I mention beer as a great example of merch below - you can buy both Slayer and Iron Maiden beer in Luxembourg (Auchan), and Motorhead, plus some other branded wine/spirits if I recall correctly. That this is now a common strategy, especially in heavy metal, can be seen from a simple google ('heavy metal beer'). See this Pinterest for a gallery (pic, right comes from it):

A salutary lesson - I'd tapped out a lengthy post on a smartphone using the Android app ... only to see every word blink and disappear (possibly because the broadband connection flicked off). If using this very useful tool, its worth saving a few times to avoid the risk of this...

NB: As the article link contains a filter-unfriendly term, its below the read more line; the videos featured in the article contain uncensored strong language.  
Multi-editionalising has become the norm, certainly for rock/Indie acts

Here's a new example of a converged, web 2.0 promo package featuring a digipak, vinyl and download options, a range of videos/vodcasts, and even an expensive, limited edition figurine (which clearly anchors the core target audience as being male, and a significant chunk of this being older males, more likely to be able to afford such items!).

The Metal Eagle Edition of Repentless is also available. Made of aluminum alloy, measuring 15” X 17” X 3” and weighing in at a hefty 7.8 pounds, the Metal Eagle Edition will house a deluxe digipak of the new Repentless CD plus bonus material detailed below. The limited (only 3,000 copies worldwide) and numbered Metal Eagle Edition will be a direct-to-consumer item and available exclusively via the Nuclear Blast mailorder online stores.

You really should take note of this - regardless of how simple your brief might be, your ads should reflect not just a digipak but the wider range of options we expect to see today, and you could usefully (and very simply) spin off digipak designs into vinyl editions - after all, the digipak is in large part mimicking vinyl sleeves.

Thrash metal icons Slayer are signed to an Indie label, Nuclear Blast, who astutely exploit the potential of online tools to engage with the existing fanbase and target a new audience for their acts.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

ALT VIDEOS Tendencies to tout tour tickets

I've blogged on alternative, secondary music video formats before: the one-take, single shot video; the lyric video; the album trailer; the special edition or merchandise unwrapping.

To this list, one worth pondering for an additional quickfire production that will help to drive website and social media content and engagement, add the tour date video (with website plugging included too).

The example is from 80s crossover (punk/thrash) legends Suicidal Tendencies. The video, spotted from a browse of the TeamRock site, a rich source for spotting evolving marketing strategies, includes several features:
  • performance footage
  • album art and website splash page, with plugs for both
  • like the most basic lyric videos, the main content is a vertically scrolling list of tour dates, white font on a black background
  • the audio consists of a snippet from a new album track, NOT the full track
  • The unpolished look is further evidence of how artists have incorporated audience approaches (fan-made videos) into their own playbooks. Even the mighty Metallica have dropped an unwrapping video, a hugely popular format that may have had pop origins but is now seen from audiences and artists across the age and genre spectrum.

I'll add to this more insight gleaned from the TeamRock site (an e-zine side to a stable of print magazines such as Classic Rock); Iron Maiden providing another example of how acts monetise themselves in an era of low record sales:
Iron Maiden Fan Club members will be given access to an exclusive pre-sale, with information available via the official website.A Trooper VIP upgrade package will also be available, giving fans early access to the venue, exclusive goodies as well as food and Trooper beer. VIP tickets cost £140 and gig tickets will need to be bought separately. [LouderSound]
Artists variously charge for photos with fans, sometimes as part of a VIP backstage package, have licensed drinks, offer exclusives to fan club or registered website members (often charging a subscription fee).

...Maiden are a great example of a long-running act who skilfully use traditional and social media, and diverse merchandising, to successfully monetise their art and brand. Here's another example from them...the thankyou to fans, a natural example of direct address made possible by online media.

[recent update:]
I mention beer as a great example of merch - you can buy both Slayer and Iron Maiden beer in Luxembourg (Auchan), and Motorhead, plus some other branded wine/spirits if I recall correctly. That this is now a common strategy, especially in heavy metal, can be seen from a simple google ('heavy metal beer'). See this Pinterest for a gallery (pic, right comes from it):

MERCHANDISING Whiskey in the jar - branded booze

(yes, a wee Thin Lizzy intertextual ref there...)

I frequently raise the point that digitization has meant that artists and record labels alike have sought to monetize other areas, and booze is a prime example of how wide this move into branded merchandising is. Take the example of Iron Maiden - they don't just sell one branded beer ... they have a whole website dedicated to their beer line! Smart branding.
There is an age check:

See TeamRock article for lots of other examples (and a nice Megadeth intertextual ref).

(and here's a further update:)
I mention beer as a great example of merch - you can buy both Slayer and Iron Maiden beer in Luxembourg (Auchan), and Motorhead, plus some other branded wine/spirits if I recall correctly. That this is now a common strategy, especially in heavy metal, can be seen from a simple google ('heavy metal beer'). See this Pinterest for a gallery (pic, right comes from it):

Thursday, 22 March 2018

REPRESENTATION Styles can bi me love

Great read about how millennials more liberal attitude to sexuality is being reflected in very mainstream pop and especially a dose of bisexual lyrical themes by the likes of ex-1D Harry Styles.

Bi bi baby bye bye as a tabloid editor might quip.

This is what the uses and gratifications theory was getting at, and why governments subsidise arthouse movies - representation, seeing yourself on screen, matters.

Two directions: why Harry Styles' new song is a breakthrough for bisexual music fans

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

DIGITISATION MONETISING Crematory merch voucher with DIGIPAK

Monday, 19 February 2018

MUSIC INDUSTRY 2018 some pointers

This is a quick post inspired by encountering the site

UPDATE: Useful review of music video trends in 2918, including the return of mega-budgets for a handful of elite artists:
Drake’s mates and Taylor Swift’s cosplay: exploring the 2018 music video

I was looking for some info on the 1D GCSE exam case study but spotted a number of great articles on here. So here's a few pointers based on the site.
You can find a bullet list I previously did summing up some key music industry points (with many links to posts) here.

A point I make many, many times: the traditional music industry model has been through disruption from digitisation (though it hasn't rebalanced the competition in favour of Indies; see Anita Elberse's fascinating analysis of how big 3 acts utterly dominate Amazon sales, making the 'long tail theory' seem absurd), so labels are looking for new revenue sources. Merchandise is a key factor - when I went to see The Wedding Present (UK Indie band) in Luxembourg last year, I got to chat to the singer after the gig, who was at the merch stall signing his own comic book range alongside the usual tee-shirts etc.

The likes of 1D aren't going to do that. They did sell VIP packages for gigs - something else I saw at a Depeche Mode gig, with multiple tiers including a basic that simply allowed you into the venue earlier to hear the soundcheck. I've blogged on Taylor Swift and Katy b Perry doing this, with fans paying a lot for a selfie opportunity. [meet-and-greets post]

The basic breakdown is clear though - most major artists (Indies too) will gain more from tours than album sales. Even combined with streaming (which is now bigger than physical sales and download sales combined) that remains the case. Getting onto TV ads, film/game OSTs are also potentially lucrative.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

CD cease and desist as CDs booted but vinyl stays

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Risk assessment

You've been asked (for months!) to do a health and safety check. Time now to finally sort that out. You should consider what post date you use [click on SCHEDULE under the LABELS box on the right before publishing your post]; this should be evidenced PRIOR TO SHOOTING.

The idea is simple. As is legally required of professional shoots, where companies are legally liable for employees' well-being/welfare (the whole coursework is designed to reflect industry practice), your company needs to evidence its consideration of possible risks from the shoots ... a risk assessment.

Under the UK syllabus you also have to evidence requesting permission from the rights holder to use the track audio, but this is not a CIE requirement. You could address copyright nonetheless (up to you).

POST TITLE: Risk Assessment

The idea is very simple. Go through each location, including transport to and from and any catering (food/drinks), think through the possible risks, and briefly state how you will minimise or counter these risks, including communication to cast/crew/public. Below you can see a few snapshots of student examples:

Monday, 15 January 2018

DIGIPAK Streaming killing off Best Of comps

Useful industry context here for your digipak, which is almost certain to be a best of. The point is NOT to abandon that format but rather to show awareness of the declining commercial prospects of it, and why this is.

For every convention there are always exceptions, and here we can see re-recorded Best Ofs thriving, with the Elvis collection, freshly cut with a new orchestral backing track, the top-selling such comp in 2017, a trick Kylie has also used in the past, and one hit wonder Sophie Ellis-Baxter is set to in 2018.

The death of the best of: why Rihanna will never get her greatest hits

Monday, 11 December 2017

YOUTUBE Poppycock I saw it through the grapetube

This strikes me as intriguing but wretchedly deplorable, a harbinger of cultural implosion. All the world's a (nearly) 6 inch screen Shakespeare famously quoth.

Such gibberish might fit well on Poppy's channel, home of vapid vids and now smatterings of music. Millions watch her wordlessly eat candyfloss, repeat a 2 word mantra. Can't wait for her scratching an armpit video, that ought to rake up a few million sugar glazed eyeballs.

Spittle-flecked horror, oppobrium for this virtue vacuum, is an instinctive response - but ... then there's the claim this is a meta, pomo, deconstructionist take on online culture. It's hipster to be squared.

Poppy is a very slim Caucasian blonde female. So was Buffy, but she had a great script.

No, I'll stick with Poppycock, but still suggest this is an interesting case study of a carefully constructed YouTube identity/brand being slowly spun out into pop, rather than using YouTube to boost an artist's brand and fanbase.

A decade ago it was the likes of Lily Allen brought to the fore by viral take-up of her MySpace warblings. Heartwarming story, aside from the expensive Sony campaign that actually underpinned it.

Poppy and her svengali sidekick director dude may be smart cookies, but sugary temptation offers empty calories. Calling the fans Poppy Seeds - smart touch; maybe Gaga is a more apt comparison, the pop queen of cyberspace connection is perhaps going to be looked on as the step before such Tubers established the next multi-platform media marketing miasma.

Poppy is a disturbing internet meme seen by millions. Can she become a pop sensation?