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

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Miley Cyrus v Lily Allen: binary opposites?

I'll return to this with more links/points later, but for now consider these two seemingly sharply divergent representations of gender and sexuality (Allen has faced considerable flak too) in these two much-discussed vids (part of a contemporary, 2013 triumverate of controversy with Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines [previously blogged on]):
NB: Cyrus' video for Wrecking Ball contains sexual content, while Allen's Hard Out Here contains strong language (and has been accused of racism)


We could view one as reflective of post-feminist attitudes, the other more traditionally feminist, but its worth noting too such debates take place in many different forms - and with more serious consequences elsewhere. The Femen movement have achieved a high profile in a short space of time, with tactics criticised by others who would label themselves feminists too: appearing topless with slogans scrawled over their bodies. Femen have been active in many countries, but notably Ukraine and Russia - in the latter the travails of Pussy Riot, feminist Russian punks, are well documented in the BBC Storyville film.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Twitter: Adding live feed to your blog

Once you've accessed the code from your own Twitter page its simple...
The process is the same is it is for adding your track as a clickable (for example) DivShare embed: you get the required embed code (in this case from your own Twitter account page), Layout - Add a Gadget - Add HTML/Javascript.
If you need further help with this, use's guide or ... a Mumsnet guide!!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Interactive videos - Dylan, Queens of Stone Age etc

There are screenshots/links below to several egs of interactive vids: QoTSA, Death Grips, Bob Dylan etc
Writing in The Guardian's Music Blog, Harriet Gibsone reports on a new phenomenon, one which takes the postmodern/web 2.0 notion I often raise, the blurring (at least) of the producer/audience divide, on to a new level:
His video for Subterranean Homesick Blues may have unwittingly pre-empted the lyric video by 50 years, but Bob Dylan's telly-hopping interactive video looks like it could be another first of a kind.
With Like a Rolling Stone as its soundbed, the player allows its audience to flick through a range of fake television channels, each of which features different characters lip-synching the words to the 1965 classic. "I'm using the medium of television to look back right at us," director Vania Heymann told Mashable.
While Dylan's new video feels like an inventive way to breathe new life into an old tune, other artists are using the format to make a quick online buzz: in the past week alone we've seen interactive videos from Queens of the Stone Age, who are at the end of their album campaign, and Bombay Bicycle Club, who happen to be at the very start.
Here's a screenshot from the Dylan site, where I've 'switched channels' to a shopping channel:

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Football club use Pussycat Dolls linkup for PR

A novel example of the diversification of the music industry, and also a good illustration of how you can continually pick up useful snippets from diverse sources ... in this case the football section of The Guardian!
[article link]

The club is Yeovil Town, who:
are bottom of English football's second tier but will be the first football club to have a girl group and the plan is for the band – to be based on the Pussycat Dolls – to perform at home matches for the rest of the 2013-14 season.
Auditions for females aged 18 and over will be held at Huish Park on 4 December and the successful girls, a lead singer and a group of south west-based dancers, will work with The Famous Company to record a single that will be released on iTunes. The record will raise money for Prostate Cancer UK – the Football League's official charity.
As it happens I've recently blogged several times on the use of social media and viral campaigns - well, here's yet another example where these take centre stage.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Inside: Hollywood blurring audience/producer; are YOU?

'Social film': blurring audience/ad/producer divide
In time, we'll consider various web 2.0 theories that typically argue that the contemporary, highly interactive (as opposed to top-down, one way) web is seeing the traditional dividing line between audience/consumer and producer wither away. Concepts such as UGC (user-generated content) and fan-made videos (a key revenue source for YouTube and record labels, through the advertising attached to these) have become very mainstream. Viral campaigns also present ads as fictional or reality texts (including music videos, not just film/'reality' clips).

The fiasco of Snakes on a Plane showed that democratising and outsourcing creative work to an audience (in that case in an effort to create money-spinning buzz and awareness) can be a disaster, but we will most certainly see more and more of this. I've blogged elsewhere about examples of film production company Working Title's slick marketing campaign for films such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which used online (spy-style) puzzles as part of multimedia campaign spanning supermarkets, posters and other such traditional fare with social media elements.

If you watch the short video below (3mins), ask yourself where the line is drawn here between audience and producer, and film and advertising (the title meshes with Intel's slogan, Intel inside), with the audience given chances to appear in the film and shape the script, whilst the blogs and other online videos and guides that sprang became part of the meta-text (a postmodern theory term).

Then ask yourself what use YOU are making of social media for producing your work. Have YOU used social media for...
  • casting?
  • initial genre/audience research through fan forums?
  • generating pre-release buzz through a company blog/FB/Twitter/Instagram (etc!)?
  • gaining audience feedback through any of the above (and YouTube/Vimeo of course)?
  • used tagging/labels in Blogger/YouTube etc to attract more hits to help with the above?
  • tried YouTube video responses/messages/comments to link to other film/video-makers?
  • designed a viral-style campaign element which helps to involve an audience and increase publicity/awareness?
  • generated and used a QR code as part of this?
  • generally considered options for direct audience involvement in/influence on your production?

This is the film Inside, which is itself a good example of the viral methods used by conglomerates these days to get through to ad-weary and wary consumers (Toshiba and Intel were behind this movie): IMDB, Wiki, links to their FB/website etc are in this article. They coined the term 'social film' for this approach.

DPAK sabotaged covers (Chris Brown, Paris Hilton etc)

Just as you could (and should) think up a simple single-take vid (as seen with Pixies, U2 and many more), you could also produce a 2nd d'pak outer cover, using the sabotage approach taken over covers for Chris Brown, Paris Hilton etc albums. This brief article outlines the history:

Chris Brown's albums sabotaged with protest stickers

Goodwin 6 key aspects of music vids

I'm taking this from (always acknowledge your sources).

Andrew Goodwin writing in ‘Dancing in the Distraction Factory’ (Routledge 1992)
  1. Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics (e.g. stage performance in metal video, dance routine for boy/girl band).
  2. There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals (either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
  3. There is a relationship between music and visuals (either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
  4. The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style).
  5. There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, telescopes, etc) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body.
  6. There is often intertextual reference (to films, tv programmes, other music videos etc).

Sony CEO: Social Media drives music biz today

Sony's CEO says in an interview for the CBI's magazine that One Direction have shown him that social ('new) media are now more important than the traditional ('old') media. Sony used UGC, such as fan campaigns to get One Direction to play a gig near them ("Bring 1D To Me"), to build up buzz and a following for One Direction before any material was released to radio stations, traditionally the key to breaking any band.
Gatfield says this has completely changed the dynamic of launching an act, enabling music companies to bypass the traditional radio-station gatekeepers.
“Traditionally you’d have to persuade radio to support it and there’d be a long, hard slog while you built up the support and marketed them on the back of airplay,” he says. “This is the other way round: you market them and then airplay is the accelerator.”
He goes so far as to say that Sony wouldn't now consider signing a band that didn't already have social media profiles up and running.

Article Source.

One Direction: Social media made them a global phenomenon, says Sony CEO

One Direction have become a $50m business thanks to their army of fans across the world - and this is just the start, according to Nick Gatfield

One Direction
This article appeared in the December edition of Business Voice, the CBI magazine
'Their live business is through the roof. I haven’t seen anything this big in my entire career on a global level.'
- Nick Gatfield
To understand the transformative effect of social media on how music labels market their acts, look no further than the success of One Direction.
The boy band, who are signed to the Syco label, came third in The X-Factor TV show in 2010. Since then they have won a Brit award recognising their worldwide success and become a $50m business – with Sony Music UK CEO and chairman Nick Gatfield predicting that this will double in 2013.

Nick Gatfield: X-Factor made us complacent >>

“They are a global phenomenon,” he says. “Their live business is through the roof. I haven’t seen anything this big in my entire career on a global level.
"You can get that kind of explosive moment if you galvanise young music fans and find something they want to engage with – it goes worldwide incredibly quickly. That’s the beauty of social media and the internet: we sign locally but we market globally from day one. That’s a fundamental change in our business.”
By acting on pockets of support for the band that emerged online in places from Sweden and Italy to Australia and Canada, the company built support for the band before they’d had any airtime on the radio. This was particularly important in the US – an impossible nut to crack for British pop bands for more than 20 years.
Sony Music’s US division picked up on a campaign called “Bring 1D to me”, originally developed in the UK, which encouraged fans to pitch for the band 
to play in their area. As a result, What Makes You Beautiful, their first single available to buy on iTunes in the US, sold 130,000 copies in a week and entered the top ten without any airplay.
Gatfield says this has completely changed the dynamic of launching an act, enabling music companies to bypass the traditional radio-station gatekeepers.
“Traditionally you’d have to persuade radio to support it and there’d be a long, hard slog while you built up the support and marketed them on the back of airplay,” he says. “This is the other way round: you market them and then airplay is the accelerator.”
He adds that he would be loathe to sign an act that had no social media profile. “All that would say to me was that they hadn’t got sufficient wherewithal or drive.”

DIGIPAK initial research task

You will need to add details of more specifically genre-related examples (for all 3 texts you initially research then summarize the general format conventions THEN the (sub-)genre specific conventions), but this task has worked very well in the past to get a flying start on research into the general conventions of the media format of 'digipaks', one of the two ancillary (ie, supporting) texts you produce as part of an integrated package.
Time is limited on this task, so you need to be swift!

  1. Set up a new Word doc in landscape layout, not the default portrait, along the lines of the example I've embedded below.
  2. Pick one of the commercial examples provided (Spice Girls, Britney, Ignacio, + a dummy from a digipak designer/manufacturer). Comprehensively note the features of this. Once done, share notes among the three so that you've already got 3 examples. If you can add notes on at least two more general examples, that will enable you to summarize the main codes + conventions. You must look at the small details (logos, text incl. copyright blurbs, etc) too..
  3. Now look at the past examples provided + note any good ideas you see.
  4. Now explore the MusiVidz blog for past posts related to digipaks and see what further info you can find, for example on examples of digipak packages.
  5. Reflect your learning so far in a post titled DIGIPAK initial research, starting it with the digipak task as described by the exam board (in bold + diff colour + applying quote tool), with the 3-part basic markscheme [UofT, UofE, EAA] + more detailed assessment criteria below this.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

In the Thicke of it: Robin women of dignity?

More news of Robin Thicke's now notorious (but big-selling) Blurred Lines being banned by over 20 UK universities, it being seen to fall foul of anti-rape/sexual abuse policies.

Thicke has made some wildly divergent statements on the track and accompanying controversy, appearing to welcome and revel in it at times, and declaring himself a proud old-school sexist ... but at other points he's struck a very different note:
Thicke has defended the song, telling one interviewer: "If you listen to the lyrics, it says 'That man is not your maker' – it's actually a feminist movement within itself."
In October, he told Radio 1 the song had been misunderstood. "I don't think people got it out here [in the UK] in those positions of power," he told Newsbeat. "I think the kids get it … I just have to deal with that."
Is Robin Thicke a feminist?!

Perhaps a more interesting question: to what extent should we differentiate between the likes of Wrecking Ball (or Miley Cyrus' on-stage twerking) and Blurred Lines? Is Sinead O'Connor's contention that many young female performers lose authorship of their work, becoming mere puppets for male managers and record executives, a valid one? Is a model sexually posed/objectified in a male artist's video in any regard inferior or superior to a female artist doing likewise in her own video?

DIGIPAK: album covers

Created using random Wikis, Flickrs etc!
There are plenty of past posts on digipaks to look up - and I'm half way through tagging the 500-odd posts on this post to make these easier to find (using the tag cloud or a search; there are also links within the blog's top, vertical links list...)

But here's another nice resource I've come across, from the chief examiner of OCR Media Studies; @ Pete's Media Blog (why not subscribe/follow?!) he blogged on album covers ... A really nice demonstration of how quickly an album cover can be assembled, the example pictured was created using his 5 random steps method...

He also discusses the decline of album sales (as have I several times), and includes this rather useful link: is a site well worth visiting, especially if you're of the generation more used to downloads/streams than physical media (tapes, vinyl, CDs).

Speaking of which, if I can rescue them from a shed in Huddersfield, I'll put up some pics of the vinyl that I picked up back in the day, when gazing lovingly at an album/single cover was a fairly normal thing to do!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

2Pac Loser Radiohead mashup

I'm not going to say anything about this, bar - I defy you not to be gripped by the (essentially) lo-fi FX, framing being the key as much as CGI in this mash-up of Beck and 2Pac...

I came across this via a FB'd link from; the link features further contextual info..

Monday, 4 November 2013

YouTube Music Awards signify YT as industry king?

(or indeed queen!)
Can YouTube create live content that inspires watercooler zeitgeist moments like television? Google’s giving it a shot with the YouTube Music Awards, a celebration of do-it-yourself Internet culture livestreaming on YouTube right now. It’s chaotic, innovative, offensive, silly, and downright weird. But one thing’s for sure. You won’t see this on TV.  (all quotes from TechCrunch live blog)
The fact that I heard about this on Radio 4, highbrow + 'high culture' station, certainly reinforces the impression that this event is seen as highly significant. Their media correspondent (530am bulletin, 4.11.13) was clear that YouTube now leads the music industry, its position as leading source of streamed material just one string to its bow. I've blogged on YouTube and its rise, expanding beyond its original format on the way, many times - click on the tag cloud (bottom right of the blog) to find out more.