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, 28 February 2012

DIGITISATION: book industry

I'll cross-post this on MusiVidz/BritCinema/ProdEval; relevant to all

Digitisation is perhaps the single most important concept you'll look at in AS/A2 Media. Its influence spans every industry, and renders what you're doing as A-Level students in producing practical work as industry-level, not simply an academic learning exercise. If you don't get this, you don't get Media Studies.

So here's another example: the book industry.

Big-name author Anthony Horowitz writes with some disdain about the all-powerful book publishers ... and how digitisation (he doesn't use the term; he doesn't need to) has opened up all sorts of self-publishing and online tie-ins (with the likes of Amazon). Writers just don't need the publishers anymore, he argues. Their response? You do need us, especially for promotion.

He dismisses that ... but they're right, at this point anyway. There is scope for self-promotion of course, and you've all being doing this with blogs, twitter, facebook ... But, that isn't always as effective as buying ads on TV/press/online/billboards/radio/cinema, a similar argument that can be rightly made with the film and music industries (look at Avatar and the huge promo campaign that underpinned it, partially reliant on the vertical and horizontal integration of News Corp, and the cross-promotion/synergies that enabled).


Anthony Horowitz: Do we still need publishers?

At an event hosted by children's booksellers The Book People last week, the author gave a talk questioning the role of the publisher in today's literary world. This is an edited version
Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz. Photograph: Andy Paradise / Rex Features

The title of this talk is, "Do We Need Publishers Any More?". I was going to call it "Thank Christ We Don't Need Bloody Publishers Any More" – but I felt that sounded too partisan.
Relationships between writers and publishers are of course very strange and change all the time, rather like a see-saw.
I remember my first meeting at Walker Books. The first question they asked me – and I swear this is true – was what mug would I like my tea in: the one with the teddy bear, the tennis racket or the pink one with the flower? And when I left the building, they asked me if I'd be OK taking the tube on my own. I was 33. I was married with a child. But they clearly saw me as some sort of demented child myself.
Cut forward 20 years: I've grown up, and they're nervous of me. There's Alex Rider. I've created a brand. Walker also resent me ever so slightly because now I'm the one with the SMA powder and the changing table. To a certain extent, they need me and that's probably tricky for a publisher who might find life so much easier without writers.
Meanwhile, across the river, I have my adult publisher, Orion – and they also have problems with me. Relations between us have been strained ever since they published my Sherlock Holmes novel, The Mouse of Slick, with no fewer than 35 proof-reading errors. Their proof-reader tried to kill herself. She shot herself with a gnu. Even so, we're doing another book together … a story of murder, suspicion and revenge.
But the truth is, I have other options.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Today's lessons

As I'm off ill today, today's lessons will be held on Thursday, so take the period today for editing (as was planned for Thursday) and we'll cover the MANGeR topics on Thursday 1st now.
Remember that a full final cut of all 3 texts should be submitted for provisional marking this friday, along with an updated progress checklist (for blog marking), and that all the MANGeR/DCRUP (exam Q1a/1b) + Eval lessons will be MUCH more productive if you've done some initial work on these, building on December lessons/handouts + using blog posts

Friday, 24 February 2012

GENRE/POMO: Jay-Z meets Metallica

Another example of the fragmentation of genre in music (the same is arguably happening across all media): Bambeatz has mashed the identically-titled Black Albums by Metallica and Jay-Z.

Hear/download at (NB: contains racial epithets by Jay-Z)


Another way to think of 'fragmentation of genre', as I've phrased it, is of course intertextuality

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Q: who scrapped £100k vid + did 1 on iPhone?

Any ideas on which act thought they looked vacant in a £100,000 vid so scrapped it? And more recently 'they went shopping for a samurai sword to use as a prop in a self-shot music video they made on De Martino's iPhone in a dusty skateboarding bowl in Alicante, Spain'...
They're a 2-piece; the answer follows with a vid embedded which shows how variety can be maintained with a purely performance-based vid (and only the 2 performers remember)...

INDUSTRY/NEW MEDIA Indies challenge majors?

Indies hit an impressive 25% of market share in 2011:
independent labels – small companies not tied to the "big four" of Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI – had an unprecedented 25% share of the 113m albums sold in Britain in 2011. But industry observers say that what will perturb the majors more is the worldwide extent of Adele's breakthrough.
With EMI now effectively swallowed up, the big 4 is now 3; just THREE companies accounting for 75% of all music sold in one of the biggest music markets in the world.
The Guardian article notes the influence of digitisation here:
But Martin Mills of XL's parent company, Beggars Group, which also runs its sister label 4AD (whose Bon Iver is nominated for a Brit too), attributes the rise of indie to several factors. The most important is the internet having levelled the playing field. "You can be a little guy playing by little guys' rules, but that doesn't stop you from accessing the world market," said Mills. "Bigger players are in trouble, because online challenges [illegal downloading] have harmed their businesses more than they've harmed us."
Read the full article at

Monday, 20 February 2012

AUD Rock's for 40+ folk?!

With key 60s icons still singing their songs of youth and youthful rebellion but hitting their 70s, and even punk icons like the Pistols' Johnny Rotten at 56 (and a band Paul McCartney picks out as representing today's kids, the Foo Fighters, having an average age of 43.6), John Harris puts forward the argument on the Guardian Music blog that rock is for the over-40's! He backs this up by pointing to the now quarter-century growing dominance of hip-hop and associated forms; none of the current top 40 singles are rock. He also writes of switching from NME to Mojo for his rock news, the latter now overtaking Q (itself centred on a mature, sophisticated audience) as the UK's biggest selling music mag.

What do you think? Is rock music no longer 'for the kids'?!

Read the full article here; and see links list on nostalgia in music, plus various posts (THEORY TIP: see Simon Reynolds' book...)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Romance in Vids: Sade's No Ordinary Love

The (1985) video is embedded and discussed in this Guardian article: feature's Sade as a mermaid, her would-be lover 'literally an ocean apart' - (fish)food for thought for any future romantic-themed vids!

The binary opposition seen later in the vid - the glamorous Sade in white wedding dress running through littered, grimy urban streets and then a dock - are also a memorable, highly impactive feature.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Layering in Vids: DMode egs

I've mentioned this quite a few times - and would welcome any egs you come across yourselves as a comment to this post (including URL of any posts on this). I'll mainly ref DMode vids which you can watch from the DVD - there's also a DVD of Corbijn's vids for U2 for you to borrow.
Anton Corbijn is a notable example of a director who makes extensive use of the creative possibilities of the use of multi-layering, as the pics below from various DMode vids [see Wiki] show. However, he often diegetically projects on location rather than edits in afterwards.
A good example of


I still need those progress checklists back, with dates added where you think each point has been covered.

Looking at several, its clear that there are common issues that may prevent many of you from attaining high-end marks (ie as 'excellent' rather than proficient or even basic in some cases).
Before listing the main points, remember that you should resfresh your memory on the assessment criteria fairly often - I wouldn't expect you to memorise these, but re-read say once a week (Sunday/Monday) to ensure you're keeping these in mind as you work. As you're going through checking your own blog, you can be looking at others (including last years and students elsewhere) + re-reading relevant sections of the coursework guide.
I'll organise points below using the main R+P assessment criteria (abbreviated as on the Progress Checklist front):

Most of you have undertaken extensive analysis of egs (some need more for ancillary texts). BUT, need to ensure you distinguish GENERAL and GENRE examples.
No matter how many detailed p

Posts on AUD/FEEDBACK (Q3)

I've mostly skipped out posts on digipak/mag ad, which are listed in a separate post - Using blogs to reach fans - Audience can be financiers! 

Labelling DVD

If you can, print your own design onto a printable DVD.
If not, provide the following detail:
[4-DIGIT EXAM NUMBER] FORENAME, SURNAME (repeat for each person in the group)

Friday, 17 February 2012

NEW MEDIA: band blogs

I've added to the links list on this

Lots of bands doing this, and virtually every band of any note has 1 or more of blog/facebook/official website/twitter etc going

Its not too late to engage with these for audience feedback or other aspects of research (including research into possible auds) -useful material for eval Q on aud feedback PLUS the eval Q on use of new media (ditto for DCRUP/Q1a)

Click through to full screen to read comment
Remember too that your company sites should be written/presented as company blogs ... NOT student blogs!!! Tweak any cross-posted blog posts/features accordingly, and keep the word 'student' away!

EVAL answering through video

I'll bring together past posts on this over the next week or so, but to get you started on thinking/planning about this, here's an example of an Eval Q being answered by students elsewhere, on which I'll make a few points below:

What do I like about this? The shot-in-shot, which is selectively taken off, is a good idea. There's a fair amount of detail in there too (I only watched up to around 1:15).
There are issues though which you'd do well to consider:
  • whilst R+P can be largely shared out, the firm guidance of our exam board is that Evals MUST be clearly individuated; this one isn't - you shouldn't answer the Eval Qs as a group
  • that doesn't mean you can't collaborate on PLANNING answers tho', or share resources such as screenshots + vid clips
  • it does mean your response must be in your voice/words
  • a formal script is something to avoid; make detailed notes by all means, but try to avoid reading word-for-word off a script - and certainly don't film yourself doing this!
  • these students make some nice points about shot variety - about 0:55 they list some of these; rather than continue with the linear run-through of their video, it would have been much, much better to put stills on screen of the shot-types referred to (from their music vid). The fairly simple approach of commenting over a single play of the vid works reasonably well at AS, with the SEVEN Qs, but isn't really sufficient for the A2's FOUR Qs
  • I don't know if they do later on, but its always a good idea SOME self-criticism; no matter how good it is (and every professional would echo this) it could always have been better with more time/resources ... What DON'T you like about your vid? With some distance, what might you change? Your exam Q1a/1b definitely requires such critical objectivity so grab the chance to tease out such points now
  • last point is a general one, repeating something I've been trying to hammer home for months: the more time you spend on R+P posts, especially in terms of vodcasts and the stills/clips you've gathered for these (not to mention the comparisons to existing vids + general analysis undertaken) the likelier it is you'll score well on the 20% Eval, AND it'll take you much, much less time. These 4 Qs require vid-based (or other truly multimedia, eg Prezi) responses; pointing a webcam at your own visage is really quite basic 'Use of ICT' in 2012 - you will need extensive materials (stills, clips) to illustrate and bring alive your answers.
Lets call this a bonus point ... You're marked on 'choice of form in which to present the presentation'. That means you could/should vary the format of the videos you create: do one, or part of one, as a chat show interview for instance... You can be creative/quirky with the Eval, tho just be careful to consider the very different humour of a teen and an adult marker.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Digitisation is changing everything, including (access to) funding. Check out this webpage seeking funding for a long-form vid.

NARRATIVE in Music Video: guide

Detailed article with embedded examples/analyses to illustrate the article:
There's a links list on this topic.
Here's a briefer blog post.
This is someone's list of fave narr vids
FilmSound's guide has lots of quotes from academic writers

One Shot vids

I've blogged on this before:
But, in looking for the name of a Guns'n'Roses track I remembered had been done as a single shot vid ("Garden of Eden", with fisheye lens also used), I came across a wiki specifically on this topic, with a great many more examples.
I've repeatedly suggested this, but here's another try ... why not shoot a single-take vid as an extra? If bands such as U2 (for "One") can justify this, so can you! And there's no editing involved!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Spoof boyband video

Thanks to GeorgeG for this: a spoof 5ive video, which manages to both clearly reflect the conventions and satirise them in a postmodern, ironic fashion. The conventions and cliches of laddish togetherness and basic dance moves are there, but added in is the wink and nod that this is all actually very silly - you could argue that it serves a female (male gaze, conventions of boy band vids) and male (satirising the conventions, arguably countering the emasculation that sanitised/feminised depictions - with tweenies in mind - brings)...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

F6 Access During Hols

I'll come in from 10am-3pm Weds + Thurs next week so you can upload/edit work, do general blogging, and get quick feedback (enabling further reshoots as required during the hols).
Progress generally has been much slower than expected, and we need to switch to exam preparation very soon after half-term, so I encourage you all to make good use of this opportunity and move towards completion in this time.
I'll add a further post later today with some revised deadlines, especially as regards Evaluation, which will now follow on from exam-centred lessons (you can apply learning from these to your Evaluation Qs).

Thursday, 2 February 2012


I'll embed a classic 80s (1985) video by A-Ha below (Take On Me) which might help illustrate this point...

If you find yourself with footage thats shaky or simply lack sufficient footage to work with, you could get extra usage out of the same material by applying strong FX, or generating stills - and maybe working with these in Photoshop, as with the Warhol effect.

Watch the vid below, and see if this generates any fresh ideas...

PHOTOSHOP: Andy Warhol effect

I recommend you consider flicking through the large Photoshop - How To... book just purchased and look for FX you can use, following the step-by-step instructions...

I've suggested Andy Warhol-style ideas to several of you, and here's some online how-to's (with thanks to Tom, who found one of these):
A YouTube tutorial:

'Andy-Warhol-Up Your Photographs' at
This tutorial:
Step 1
Open Photoshop; then open any portrait image to create Andy Warhol effect.
Andy Warhol Effec - Step 1

Step 2
Duplicate layer. On duplicated layer, select background and delete it.
Andy Warhol Effect - Step 2

Step 3
Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Threshold (Threshold Level 135).
Andy Warhol Effect - Step 3

Step 4
Fill background with colour of your choice.
Andy Warhol Effect - Step 4

Step 5
Copy and paste each part of the head into a new layer and change the colors.
Andy Warhol Effect  - Step 5

Andy Warhol Effect - finished

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

IGS LipDub Challenge

I've been asked to help plan an IGS LipDub for next month; below is an example that became a huge online hit after TV reports on the BBC One Show + NI news...

The idea is to shoot a one-shot vid where the camera travels round the school, and most of the school appear, lipsynching a line/performing.

Any thoughts on track choice (in this case, longer is better) or anything else would be welcome...

DIGIPAK/MAG AD: layering is key

A point I keep making: key to picking up the marks is shwing image editing/ICT skills, and the key means of doing this is through careful, creative layering, where you crop one layer to add to part of another and reduce its opacity.

Here's an example George was looking at from Mumford and Sons...

Its actually a little bit ... rubbish! But it illustrates what I'm referring to: you can multiple layers in use, and the opacity of one of these (which has been carefully cropped to remove the people from the original background) reduced to around 30-40% using Photoshop.

The overall concept (a rustic, old-fashioned photo album) works for a folk band, its just that the framming within the 4 photos of the added layers is very basic and wholly lacking in creativity.

What you should be thinking of (not the only way to approach it, but a useful way to start generating ideas) is a single main image you can add layers within; band faces on top of objects within the main image (or even manipulate a pic of a mantlepiece or shelving unit to insert framed photos; a notice board to add ... notices! (could work well for some digipak text), even a rack of LPs... there are infinite possibilities, but central is the multilayering.

Don'y forget, you could create a starker, plainer text as well - you may well prefer the look of this; just make sure you include a version which showcases your image editing/use of ICT.

MAG AD: research + audience

HayeFattie flagged up the difficulty of finding examples from their genre (girl band pop: Girls Aloud), so I had a quick look online; a couple of quick tips for you all, regardless of genre, from this:
  • there are plentiful completed student blogs out there with jpgs embedded...
  • what you need to think about is what terms to use within google...
  • keywords: obviously magazine and ad, but use mag*, ad* so you get hits from every variation of the words
  • ocr, g324, a2 media coursework ... all may help
  • After finding 'girl bands' didn't bring useful results, I tried 'girls aloud mag* ad*' (and then added 'cd') + same for sugababes (as sugabab* because the filter blocks 'babes'!)
  • results (look at image and web) included a good many magazine covers, in this case Sugar, OK!, Cosmopolitan, Attitude (gay men's magazine), FHM and many others, including newspaper mags such as the NoTW's Fabulous (2nd eg). The first two would help to indicate likely mags to target the primary target audience in, the latter two the secondary audience (gay men: pink pound, + heterosexual young men [15-34]: male gaze)

A simple enough point: try posting in relevant forums etc with a request for any scans or other useful resources/info. Screenshot such requests and make sure you blog on this even if you don't get a response.

Q is comparatively gender-neutral, tho' note the Tatu strapline

The magazine industry is heavily gendered in its structure, not least the music press.
  • while there are girls mags (Sugar, Bliss et al) there aren't direct equivalent for boys (and its worth noting that the readership of girls mags is generally younger than the publishers care to admit: as the uses and gratifications theory suggests, one key reason for selecting the media we do is because it reflects the aspirational aims we hold, not least, as tweenagers especially, to be seen and treated as older; we need the surveillance such mags provide (images of makeup, fashion etc) to help with that
  • boys are served with subject-specific mags such as Shoot (football), plus comics
  • the music press is largely skewed towards a supposed male readership - look at the prevalence of sex hotline ads at the back, and frequency of generally sexist shots of scantily clad popettes (clearly not targetted at heterosexual female readers!)
  • many female readers get their pop news not from NME, Kerrang and the likes, but the celebrity gossip + women's magazines, from OK!/Now/Heat etc to Vogue/Cosmo etc
  • although it does use sexualised images of female acts, Q is as close as it gets to a mainstream gender-neutral music mag, albeit for a sophisticated aud, and mostly older than the <15-24 of Indie bible NME. The sample cover above lists Sugababes at the bottom
  • Official website, with banner ad for exclusive CD + DVD: check out your act's site for such ads
    Think carefully about representations + how this reflects the audience...