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

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

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.

Here's that 1D breakdown:
One Direction’s latest album, Made In The AM, was a big success, selling just over 1m copies across the UK and US in 2015 after being released in November.
Judging by the 2014 calendar year performance of its predecessor, Four, it’s a fair bet that the newer album sold around 3.2m units across the world before last year was finished.
At an average US sale price, you’d therefore expect it to have grossed somewhere around $36m – although that is without streaming revenue.
Being generous, adding in streaming and single sales, let’s round it up to $50m.
The fact that this total is approximately one sixth of the size of 1D’s 2015 tour gross probably tells its own story.
The fact it’s less than half of the band’s secondary ticketing gross alone tells another.
Remind us again: what’s an artist’s core product – and what’s their ‘ancillary income’? [article]

YouTube has had a subscription option for a while (launched Oct 2015), but it seems there will soon be either 2 options or a renewed, rebranded option.

YouTube Red is its current $9.99/month option, offering:
  • no ads
  • video downloads
  • exclusive content (which they're expanding)
  • the ability to continue playing YouTube when switching to other apps
The pending new service is a more direct Spotify challenger:
The clear categorization of Youtube Red as a music-first platform comes at an interesting juncture: YouTube is widely expected to reveal a new Spotify rival, currently codenamed Remix, in the coming weeks.  
‘Remix’ looks likely to supersede Google Play Music, and has reportedly been made possible by YouTube’s recent deal renewals with the likes of Universal, Sony and Warner. [article]

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?

Friday, 8 December 2017

MERCHANDISING Thrash metal Pantera baby stroller

I kid you not... (think about it...) Pramtera?!

When you're looking at a website store, you should spot some examples of baby and child merch. I've given several examples before, so add this legends of thrash metal merch to the list.

For legacy or established acts like this it makes perfect sense. Pantera broke through in the early 90s with the classic Cowboys From Hell - caused my hair to reach out to others many's a time!

Therefore much of their fanbase are mature adults, often with families - and they continue to attract new fans despite being a defunct act.


Monday, 4 December 2017

MERCHANDISING Metal figurine toys put Maiden ahEddie

The e-zine MetalSucks is one of many to feature the release of new Iron maiden figurines...

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

VINYL hits 4m in UK Sainsburys launch label Metallica Master Retromania

This is how Sainsbury's announced the launch
Sainsbury’s customers can now pick up some exclusive, freshly pressed vinyl alongside their freshly pressed fruit juices. (Sainsbury's,1st Nov. 2017)

Sadly the vinyl boom, boosted by nostalgia* from the deaths of the likes of Prince and Bowie, whose final album Blackstar was a vinyl bestseller, is led this year by the tragic return from early retirement of Ed Sheeran.

Further evidence of how mainstream this vinyl resurgence is, a major Xmas pressie source, the Gallagher brothers solo records and Sergeant Peppers are joined as major sellers by ... supermarket Sainsbury's own label.

Grab a loaf, milk and a compilation record with some Van der Graaf Generator. Tremendous. Though the only real national music store chain left, HMV, remains the dominant force in vinyl sales for now.

See Guardian: Ed Sheeran and Gallagher brothers lead vinyl revival at HMV. and Sainsbury's announcement.

Here's a very useful video suggested by Richard D:

Simon Reynolds wrote an interesting book, Retromania, about the profound change in the cultural position of music and how its consumed brought about by digitisation. Thanks to YouTube especially, older acts never actually fade away. Pop was always considered ephemeral: pop acts would have their year or so of popularity then fade from the limelight and memory as their teen/tween fanbase got older and bored.
Now we can easily access older acts material, and record labels see back catalogue as a key driver of revenue. Spotify is full of special editions, and even re-recordings (eg Def Leppard's Hysteria), which enable a band to regain control of revenue streams rather than the record label they were signed to for the original album.

The Smiths, The Sex Pistols and Metallica are but 3 recent examples of bands re-releasing iconic albums with lots of studio outtakes, demos etc, sold in multiple packages (with vinyl options in all 3 of these examples). The Master of Puppets boxset was gifted by the Danish PM to his Indonesian equivalent, and you can also treat yourself to the very dull featuring singer James Hetfield's hands, part of the publicity and marketing campaign that kicked in months before the release date.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

WEB 2.0 INDIE Technology loosens record labels hegemony

Part of an in-depth series on the music underground, this is a great article for getting your head round the central concept that digitisation has created opportunity for artists to succeed without relying on record companies for production and distribution - or even on physical sales of recorded music.

This is exemplified most in 2017 by Chance the Rapper – Forbes estimates he made $33m (£25m) this year without the need for a label or even to sell physical music. But, before him, the dubstep and grime scenes in the UK saw a new generation of artists using YouTube for distribution, broadcast and community.

'We could build something revolutionary': how tech set underground music free

Friday, 10 November 2017

REPRESENTATION INDUSTRY Swift tailor-made case study

Taylor Swift’s reputation: will her new album silence her critics?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

INDUSTRY Vevo the music video giant

Vevo is an entity you need to engage with to show a good grasp of the industry, a case of the music giants combining to monetise and control the distribution of their videos through YouTube.
See Lifewire, Wiki for simple explanations, and look into your own artist for Vevo links.

They're the major music industry force behind the Tory attempt to enforce age ratings on music videos, voluntarily engaging in the BBFC scheme. See this Guardian Music tag for more on this.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

SFX CONVENTIONS Green screen examples + layering

Not performing IN a bar but ON the bar top!
Here's a simple example of the power of the green screen - one from 30 years ago, long before you could achieve instant green screen keying on a Mac as you can now (there's a term for that, a very important one, linked to digitisation: CONVERGENCE).

Once you have green screen footage - especially if it incorporates full body movement (as opposed to the maximum MLS dictated by using a single sheet unless you're very careful) - you have incredible creative freedom over how you use it.

LAYERING - which isn't always through green screened footage - is one of the fundamentals of music video, a very common device but not one seen much in TV drama for example.

I'd welcome your suggestions (as blog comments) on useful examples to add to this post from your own knowledge/research.

Here's a simple example from a Thai dance-pop artist.

Monday, 16 October 2017

INDUSTRY MONETISING And the brand played on

No alternative: how brands bought out underground music

Thursday, 12 October 2017

AUDIENCE WEB 2.0 Is going underground still feasible?

This might turn out to be a highly irritating Grauniad exercise in uber-hipsterdom, proudly proclaiming awful bedroom acts adored by some London clique as artistic giants ... but it could also be an invaluable discourse on the still evolving disruptive force of new technology and how it impacts music marketing and artists' relationship with audiences and industry alike....

In the coming weeks, we’re going to run a series of articles examining what, if anything, it means to be an underground artist in 2017. We’ll be exploring whether it’s possible to find a meaningful audience for your music while avoiding the glare of publicity, the complex relationship between art and commerce, how technology assists and impedes artists who want to find new routes of promoting and disseminating their music, what the value of remaining underground is, and whether Britain is host to any thrilling and vibrant music scenes that exist entirely off-grid.

Where is the musical underground in 2017?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

GENRE INDIE BBC doc on history of Indie

As you study genre theory you'll come to realise how loose a concept it is - but one that is absolutely vital for marketing and retail purposes, even in the streaming age when shelf space is not an issue. As 'consumers' (such a loathesome term, but still widely used) we do still tend to think along genre lines, which is why these are so important whether its Netflix, Spotify or (gasp!) a physical record/music store.

BBC3 and BBC4 (often replaying BBC2 content) are worth keeping an eye on through iPlayer as they often feature some great music docs. This is a good example, a thorough grounding in the evolution of the Indie genre - a genre which has both some easily identified stereotypes and such a wide range of music that it becomes a very, very loose concept. Further complicated by the Americanism of alt-pop or alternative rock, which is essentially the same. In both cases, there are acts seen as Indie who are signed to major record labels, while many on independent labels are having their work distributed by majors so even the original linkage is debatable.

Thanks to Richard for the link - I'd mentioned this specific doc series many times and he spotted it on YT.


Unlike the cheesy old school techno classic, there are limits with the tracklisting ... the maximum running time of a CD (while it still remains a mainstream delivery platform).

You need to approach this simple detail of your work with caution - and thoroughly back up your decision with multiple examples.

Here's a simple (its far from precise on CD length, quite inaccurate on that!) pointer from Dave Taylor - as the saying goes, if Dave says its true, it probably is...
As I've blogged many times before, you should be looking to create a value proposition for what is usually a best of/greatest hits (or B-sides etc) compilation of previously released material ... by adding (and highlighting with a cover sticker) newly recorded bonus tracks. Some past students (see Atomic Kitten example) have even gone the extra mile and created their own lyrics for these new tracks to include in a digipak lyrics booklet!


WEBSITE ALBUM SAMPLER Suede's non-music vid video!

An example which highlights three points:
  1. Websites are routinely updated to centre on the latest album release
  2. Bjork, The Pixies and many more are trailblazing a growing trend of creating videos for ALL album songs, not just the singles, recognising this boosts revenue-gaining YouTube hits ... but the importance of additional videos (unwrapping, lyric, live, UGC etc) is growing faster still, and Suede's "album sampler" is a good example. It would have Vernallis jumping up and down screaming I TOLD YOU SO given its narrative-free (is that possible?!) nature
  3. Its another reminder of the convergence between film and music video - bear in mind that the 1964 Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night [Wiki] is widely considered as having created the music video template (archetype) with its video-like scenes ... and MJ's Thriller! While you will generally be creating youth-targeting productions with bands' existing (older) audience now the secondary target for you, Suede are possibly reinforcing their mature adult appeal with an entire feature-length arthouse movie released with their album. Its nature might also suggest an oddly upmarket (ABC1) audience for an Indie band. Read more here.
Here it is so you can judge for yourself - you should be thinking of this as an easy, but creatively free, extra (like the single shot video, lyric video...), so long as you remember to keep it MUCH shorter (or it'll just get blocked).

The website splash/landing/home page on 10.10.17:

The "album sampler"


Saturday, 7 October 2017

GENDER QUEER China's female boy band

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

FRANCHISE MUSICALS Bored bards' Broadway badinage

Bruce takes Broadway: Springsteen's stage show is a risky business

Friday, 29 September 2017

UGC WEB 2.0 Fan album art, track listing

Faux real: Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and the ‘leaks’ that are too good to be true

Thursday, 28 September 2017

FEMINISM + TWEEN AUDIENCE Spice Girls counter-hegemonic titans?

Spice World: the feminist movie? When girl power hit the the big screen

Monday, 14 August 2017

WEB 2.0 Social first, UGC, me too memes, cashtags key to promo

Short and snappy overview here from Wired of how 'social first', trying to seed interest and stimulate sharing and UGC before paid-for campaigns kick in, has become the industry norm.

Some contrasting examples of 'organic' underground successes and notable failures by the likes of Katy Bloody Perry - hit or flip the common key is some degree of replicability, whether dance or ... spraying water on your face (KBP).

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

VFX Shins layering that'll stick(er) in the mind

LAMAR + NIK is a joint name you may have seen from your research into video examples, and nofilmschool here compare them to Michel Gondry, high praise indeed.

The specific stop-motion technique they use here isn't necessarily what you might take away as an inspiration - look at the seemingly mundane mise-en-scene they add these stickers (you should be thinking greenscreen to achieve a comparable effect) to: stacks of coins, 'checkers' chips, cheese slices, all quirky and interesting when shot in tight close-ups.

No need for a narrative in a video as entertaining and visually busy as this, though the likes of Sledgehammer manage to incorporate this.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

STREAMING Warner soars past $1bn digital revenues

The conglomerate giant doing fine, artists less so...

Ed Sheeran’s Divide puts Warner Music’s streaming income on track to cross £1bn