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

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Animating FX/clips in FCE

See for a clear, concise (and not blocked!) video; you can access other help videos from there

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

2vid egs: ProfGreen + Sean Kingston

Looked at these today with 13A, tomorrow with 13C so I'll leave any commenting for now:

Sean Kingston: Party All Night (Sleep All Day)

Professor Green feat, Emeli Sande

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Facebook, MySpace, YouTube - role of new media CONTAINS A LINKS LIST

I'll gather some previous posts on this topic into a links list when I've time, and add more new material over time. If you look at your Eval Qs, and the R+P marking criteria (and consider as well the role of audience feedback in both Eval/R+P) you'll soon appreciate just how pivotal it is that you evidence research into and knowledge of new media's place within the music biz, but also utilise it to generate + present R+P as well as aud feedback.

So, keep an eye out for stories about viral vids, bedroom artists whose YouTube upload or Facebook profile has circumvented the record industry and seen them breakthrough by directly linking to fans. There are a lot of stories about the terminal decline of CDs, which still dominate record companies revenues but over time are losing out to downloads. Apple's latest Macbook doesn't have a CD/DVD player as they're confident that most of us are switching to non-physical media.

You'll notice I didn't mention MySpace there - just 2-3 years ago this was seen as the most important social media tool for music acts, but while seemingly every ad for a tour, single or album features a Facebook link, the MySpace logo is increasingly rare. New media is a fast-moving ruthless platform highly prone to changes in fashion.

We should also be sceptical about some of the claims made about viral success stories - was Lily Allen's breakthrough via her MySpace efforts really free from corporate effort and finance?
Personalise your blogging, reflect on your own consumption and that of your friends: do you still buy CDs? When was the last time you bought one? How do you access music: iTunes, BitTorrent/illegal downloads, Spotify and other streaming sites, a phone-based subscription, radio ... or even CDs?!

From the R+P marking criteria: "There is an excellent level of care in the presentation of the research and planning.
There is excellent skill in the use of digital technology or ICT in the presentation."

The 4th Eval Q: "How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?"

Q1a of your exam has digital technology as one of the 5 concepts you may be asked to explore within a comparison of your AS and A2 work; you have to show how you advanced with your A2 work.

Some reading for you
To aid your learning on this here's just a few useful articles:
What impact is piracy having on the music industry, and are downloads replacing money lost to CD sales? Here's an excellent Aug 2011 Guardian analysis.
Just as good, and arguably your best starting point for an overview of the major issues and debates around new media's impact on the music industry, is this comprehensive overview from Jan 2011 on how the biz has struggled to adapt.
2007 Guardian article on Radiohead releasing their album In Rainbows via web-only at first, and asking for buyers to pay what they think its worth; also cites the Arctic Monkeys/Lily Allen and MySpace breakthroughs
Lady Gaga's manager: 'If it was up to me, I'd give away the next album...' - it seems ever more clear that the social aspect of music is seen as key to the future; Gaga's manager here joins Spotify and Clear Channel execs at the annual Facebook conference [see also the reproduced article after this list] in arguing that future revenues depend on enabling conversations to happen around music listening.
Facebook to transform into an entertainment hub - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces Spotify and Netflix tie-ins, as competition from Twitter and Google prompt move

Kate Nash - another MySpace breakthrough. (also: wiki)
MySpace wiki 
Lily Allen + her MySpace breakthrough 
Arctic Monkeys + their MySpace breakthrough - a fan posted their demos on MySpace - the group were not web-savvy themselves

Guardian Downloads microsite: weekly articles about music online, fantastic resource
2006: early analysis from Guardian on MySpace after Arctic Monkeys' breakthrough
Sky takes on iTunes with downloads service (2009) - the competition for iTunes will continue to grow, but in 2011 they still maintain a near-monopoly
iTunes wiki - worth reading
The alternatives to iTunes (Gdn art, 2010)
Google set to launch an iTunes rival?
Beyond Oblivion, part-owned by News Corp, set to challenge iTunes (Aug 2011) - smartphone streaming service
iTunes + control freakery? Many in the industry hate iTunes, specifically because Apple set prices and take so much of the revenue from every track sold. Here's an article about the FT side-stepping iTunes. We will see increasing focus on just how fair/legal Apple's astonishing grip over the music industry is over the coming year.
Still...getting people to pay for music was a near-miracle, this 2011 art argues.
Newspapers find Apple just as bad when it comes to their fees for iPad apps.
Glee downloads dominated iTunes charts in 2009
Viral video chart (weekly Gdn blog), with music/music vids often to the fore
Vevo Revolutionary - I've blogged on this: Vevo is the link-up of 3 of the world's biggest record co's, and its vision is based on a future of ad-funded music streaming. This is the sort of thing you absolutely must show awareness of!!!
The film industry faces similar issues, with revenues from downloaded film not matching that of the DVD sales this replaces
'We crave a popstar who is authentic, who thrives because of their talent, not PR. So when you stumble across someone like Lana Del Rey – her popularity apparently born online and growing per YouTube click – it's hard not to be sceptical as to whether she's actually too good to be true. Surely it can't be that after posting just one song online, this brand new artist sold out a London gig in half an hour?' - excerpt from article on Lana del Ray, YouTube sensation. Here's a lighter look at del Ray's vids
Did you know that Justin Bieber holds the record for most-viewed vid on YouTube, with 500m hits ... or that he surpassed Lady Gaga's Bad Romance to claim this crown? Read more at

The following is bang up to date, and should get you thinking about how you're going to get aud feedback, but also, later, on some of the features to include in your ancillary texts. (You could, as a group, set up a joint Fb account specifically for your vid)

Article link: Ben Perreau, 23.9.11 at

What do Facebook changes mean for music fans?

Facebook's new announcements have the potential to revolutionise music listening – although it could spell bad news for iTunes

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook
The world will Listen … Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

At Facebook's annual geek-con, F8, the internet giant announced some its most significant changes yet. Now intent on becoming a platform for your whole lifestyle, Facebook will try to turn the web on its head and rewire it from "Search" to "Social". But what will this mean for music?

It's more than just "Like", now it's all about "Listen".

Facebook is broadening its lexicon. Eighteen months ago Facebook launched the now ubiquitous "Like" button, which quickly took hold. Now, they're taking it a step further, "Listen" buttons will start to replace the familiar "Like" button where there's something to hear, along with "Watch" and "Read" (presumably that's just the start). The new buttons will work in a similar way to the old ones, but send a message out to your friends via your profile "Ben Perreau just listened to Good Vibrations", these buttons will be one of the ways of actively logging any song, artist or radio station you've been listening to and wear it on your profile like a badge of honour (until somebody cooler notices and you remove it).

It's building a music community of 800 million people.

Facebook wants you to be using Facebook all the time. One of the most exciting features is "listen with your friends". This means Facebook is inviting you to share your listening and join in with others. So if you have friends across the globe who are still lamenting the loss of REM, you can now howl uncontrollably over "Everybody' Hurts" en masse. More importantly, you'll be able to do it all in real-time, and have a discussion in the context of what you're listening to. Get ready to sound knowledgable: "I 3>'d their first album." This is a great idea for artists who want to create special events with discussions around their new music, gather feedback and, crucially, get friends to discuss the music and share it. It's also great for broadcast radio, where there's a virtual community of people listening at once. With Facebook the hits can ripple across the world as people share them with each other.

Facebook will track your listening, automatically.

Facebook is desperate to display a record of your life over time, and that includes your music habits. Unsurprisingly, they're calling this new profile a "Timeline". Facebook will publish all your listening habits to this Timeline (it's brilliant for late-night navelgazing). You'll simply have to authorise a music service once, to monitor your listening and send it all to your Timeline automatically. But watch out, if you've been listening to the same song on repeat, you'll soon get found out by your friends when they go snooping around your profile. You'll find this similar to Last.FM, which tracks your listening and presents it back to you in a visual way.

Discovering new music is going to be great fun.

If you logged into Facebook earlier this week you'll have noticed the ability to "Subscribe" to people you're interested in. So if you want to find some new music to listen to, you'll just need to know of somebody who has great taste (my profile is You'll also find that friends who listen to similar artists are more visible to you on Facebook, thanks to their increasingly clever algorithm.

It's not good news for download stores. It's even worse for CDs.

But we knew that. Facebook's new features are going to help to establish what you "listen to" as the currency that record companies care about, not the MP3s gathering digital dust on your hard-drive.
So accessing a broad range of music that gets logged by Facebook (and seen by all your friends) is probably going to be much easier with a service such as internet radio (because it's free), than a subscription music service such as Spotify (which costs), but it's going to be really tough for old download services such as iTunes where your listening habits are isolated from the Facebook experience. This is a masterful move for Facebook, who can persuade you to hang around for longer (showing you ads while you visit), while music services such as Spotify continue to pay royalty cheques.
It looks as if Facebook is nudging deeper into our lives with every innovation. It has the potential to give internet radio listening a boost as demand will grow for free, connected listening experiences that people can discuss. Whereas Apple may be forced to make iTunes more open, possibly by introducing a scrobbler-type app that logs the music you listen to on, say, your iPod and sends this info to your Facebook page (RIP Last.FM?). Basically, you should get ready for your music tastes to be tracked and strewn across the web like a bad breakup – Facebook wants to collect a visual biography of your life, and it won't stop until it is tracking every bit.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Another School's blog I recommend you follow

Go to and you can look at current and past A2 blogs - why not make some links yourselves with your peers there, swap ideas and feedback on each other's work?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Class vid pitches and the winners

13A saw the following pitched:
And the winner was ... Tom!

13C saw the following pitched:
And the winner was ... Conor!
All planning, filming and editing (different versions, in pairs) to be completed and submitted by Friday 23rd September, after which we turn to forming coursework production groups.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

CONVERGENCE Bill Bailey: The AS-A2 missing link

Do you recall the concept of convergence from your AS work? (search for the relevant posts in BritCinema blog)

The traditional lines of distinction between the media (press, broadcast [TV, radio], cinema) are fast-disappearing as digitisation takes hold. And the music industry is no exception.

The Guardian is a newspaper. Simple.
Only its also a website.
With a lot of podcasts/streams (radio).
And video (TV)., including music video.

Music is available all over the web, not just via the record companies themselves. The 'Vevo Revolutionaries' article I highlighted from this week's Media Guardian centred on a chief executive of a major online music company, with the backing of most of the music majors, who argues that increasingly money will be made not from seling copies of music but from streaming it and playing adverts (or charging subscription).

The Guardian is not a record label. But music video content such as the following makes money through the advertising that accompanies it.

(Bill Bailey's cover of Gary Numan's Cars)


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Vodcast comparing 2 vids - some pointers

You need to provide a brief factual rundown: artist, track, year, chart position, album it was from, director, genre, audience.

As a starting point, make some notes under the main key concept areas which you'll later be exploring for Q1b of your A2 exam: MANGeR, as in:
  • Media language (range/type/examples of shots used, and why/to what effect; also includes mise-en-scene)
  • Audience - thinking about the target audience at the time of release. What elements in the vid signify, or anchor, this target aud? If you're looking at vids from different time periods, have expectations/boundaries changed much? Gender as well as age are key issues here
  • Narrative - is this a Narr/Concept/Perf (Goodwin's 3 types) vid? What relationship, if any, is there to the vid. Is there a linear or non-linear narrative? Repetition? Jump cuts? This leads into/overlaps with...
  • Representation - which in turn ties strongly into audience + genre. Positive representations of gender? Stereotypical? Countertypical? How is sexuality handled - a presumption of heterosexuality (you could mention the theory of hegemony here).
  • Genre - detail the genre signifiers. In YOUR view, what do you expect to see in a vid from this genre? Consider shot types, editing, mise-en-scene/locations, costume and styling, themes, mood, use or not of performance etc
At the heart of the contrast is a judgement over whether these are typical of their type - does either vid have any outstanding, unusual or exceptional features or characteristics? Is it run-of-the-mill and bog standard, simply re-treading the same tired cliches in dozens or even hundreds of similar vids?
Perhaps its actually the archetype from which many later vids took inspiration? Can you see influences from one artist in the video of another?

What do you think influenced the artist (OR director - very often the act has very, very little say in a vid; directors like Michel Gondry, Anton Corbijn and others will control the creative process). Can you say influences from film, TV or other areas of culture?

Consider yourself as audience: as a 17/18 UK, England, Yorkshire male or female, and setting aside your Media student sensibilities to an extent, what is your instinctive, emotional response to it? (You could well consider the Uses and Gratifications theory here).

Do you think the effective audience is different viewed from the perspective of 2011? Does it still work, or it does seem hopelessly outdated? What, if anything, makes it seem old-fashioned? Can you see elements of the zeitgeist represented? (iconic signifiers of a particular point in time) Does the likely reading of the vid change looked at in 2011?

You could ask others what they think - is there a marked difference between male and female responses?

Ultimately, you're teasing out the main features, and folding this into an exploration of expectations (ie, codes and conventions) of music videos.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Rhianna says censors helped her sell single

A nice case study of music vids and censorship campaigns; Rhianna has gone on record as saying a right-wing pressure group that campaigned for her single/vid Man Down to be banned helped it become a hit - see for more details and the vid being referenced (the web page features strong language)

See also 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Black British music - the MOBOs controversy

The MOBO awards are imminent, a good time to revisit arguments over the problems black British artists face breaking through to a wide UK audience. The following article rehearses these arguments in good detail; what it doesn't also mention is the history in America of black music (mobo stands for music of black origin). What would become labelled as R&B (and urban) was for a long time more bluntly categorised by Billboard (who run the recognised US charts) as 'Negro music'. Elvis initially struggled to get radio airplay in the US because many DJs upon hearing his voice assumed he was black, a little snippet of the problematic place of race in popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, look out for articles discussing the MOBOs, and here's one from the Grauniad:

Mobos: what is 'music of black origin' in 2011?

The large number of white faces on this year's shortlist has prompted a lot of people to ask an obvious question
  • Jessie J: leading Mobo nominations
    Jessie J: leading Mobo nominations Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The annual storm brewing over the Mobos is more turbulent than ever this year. Launched in 1996, the Music of Black Origin awards usually attract two types of responses to their cumbersome name: "Isn't most pop music of black origin? Ask Elvis or the Rolling Stones!' and, more problematically, "Why are there no awards for music of white origin?". The nominees for this year's Mobo awards, announced on Wednesday night, have provoked more consternation than usual, owing to the proportion of white faces on the list.
With Jessie J leading the 2011 nominations with five – best album, best newcomer, best UK act, best video and best song – and Adele weighing in with four, eyebrows have been raised, with the Times describing it as a "whitewash". The suggestion is that, with her fame and multi-platinum selling album, 21, Adele will garner a bigger media profile for the awards ceremony, which takes place on 5 October in Glasgow.
Janice Brown, in an article for the Voice newspaper headlined "All white on the night?", asked whether the Mobos were letting down black artists by giving greater emphasis to white singers such as Jessie J and Katy B. "Mobo is really leaning on the 'origin' part of their name, aren't they?" she wrote, suggesting the initial remit of giving a platform to unheard black music had been forgotten. While the Mobos are being criticised for not providing this promotional leg-up, the bigger question arising from the revolution in black British music in the last few years is whether it even needs them any more.
Austin Daboh from BBC 1Xtra, a station that has faced similarly vexed questions about what is defined as "black" or "urban" music, has seen the sea-change at close quarters. "There have been several false dawns for black British music in the mainstream," he explains, citing the fleeting but shallow interest in jungle and drum'n'bass in the late 1990s, the glut of number one singles coming from UK garage around the turn of the decade, and then the gold rush to sign grime MCs following Dizzee Rascal's Mercury win in 2003 – none of which heralded the long overdue move of black British music into the charts.
During those years, much like the industry at large, the Mobos relied on market-proven imports of American hip-hop and R'n'B. Over the same period it was difficult for black British music to get a look in. "When I first joined 1Xtra six years ago," recalls Daboh, "I was scheduling the music for a show, and I remember being told off for placing two UK tracks back-to-back. And look at it now." Some of the daytime 1Xtra shows now comprise 70% UK music, he tells me – while former underground stars such as Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, and now Wretch 32 are achieving chart success and record sales no one could have imagined a decade ago.
For Rinse FM grime DJ and Butterz label boss Elijah, the Mobos do nothing to support up-and-coming black music. "It's really only for people who want to propel themselves into the commercial arena. If you don't want to be like JLS or Chipmunk it's not going to help you, that's the sad thing about it." He mentions the rapper P Money as an example of an up-and-coming black MC who both deserves, and would benefit from, having his less watered-down talent brought to a wider audience. While the debate over authenticity in music is almost as old as music itself, it's difficult not to see the chart triumphs as a bit of a pyrrhic victory for black music.
For Daboh, it's unrealistic to expect it to act primarily as an outlet for the most underground of street cultures. "It is a mainstream awards show, so are you expecting the most credible dubstep bass producer to be nominated? When you speak to the general public there's nothing but love and affection for the Mobos. The negative perception is very much an industry thing. We're all snobs in the industry." He also thinks that the Mobos' founder, Kanya King, has dealt with the rapidly changing face of British pop music remarkably well. "There's a misconception that Kanya is this Gaddafi-type figure, sitting on a throne and not listening to any advice, but she's very astute, and aware of the feedback."
And yet, accountable or not, the broad-based 2011 nominations list looks remarkably like a midway point between this February's Brits and next year's. Elijah finds the increasingly unclear criteria understandably baffling: "I'm just not sure what the Mobos is, basically – looking down the categories, at these totally contrasting styles, it's so vague it's meaningless. If someone could say what black music is, or what music of black origin is, in 2011, it would be easier."
And this is the nub – it's not the colour of Jessie J's face that's the problem, so much as the sounds emanating from it. The combination of electro beats and R'n'B-tinged vocals topping UK and US charts transcends both race and place. "Ten years ago it made more sense, sonically," reckons Elijah: "Hip-hop sounded like hip-hop, R'n'B sounded like R'n'B. But when you have Kelly Rowland making the kind of music she makes with David Guetta, is that still music of black origin? It's not a colour issue, it's just a sound issue. If you're celebrating JLS as music of black origin … apart from them being black, why is that?"
"Amy Winehouse being celebrated you can understand, because her music links to Aretha Franklin – even Adele to an extent, that's fine. Or Professor Green, fair enough: he's a rapper who just happens to be white." And that's the bizarre quandary the Mobos are in. Black British music is doing better than ever before, but via artists such as Jessie J and Chipmunk. The hits that have made "black music" the definitive pop sound of our era isn't actually black or white, but post-racial, in the blandest way imaginable.
Now that it crosses over so much with the charts, just what is the point of the Mobos – is it a celebration of colour-blind, already successful pop music? Or just the Brit awards in a baseball cap? "It's great to be providing these artists with a platform," Kanya King told the press, "and they help to keep our event new, fresh and relevant." But do these artists, irrespective of skin colour, still need a platform? More than ever before in the UK, black music is pop music is black music. And the more the Mobos remit dovetails with the pop charts and the Brit awards, the more they're going to have to face questions about what exactly they are for.