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

Friday, 21 November 2014

AUDIENCE: YouGov survey on fans' demographics

Conal cites this in his vodcast.
With thanks to Conal (who spotted this through Twitter and Instagram accounts/feeds linked to his joint Lady Gaga production before I heard about it through reading the Guardian report the next day!), here's a really useful resource for adding some detail to audience research.
Magazine publishers' audience profiles are more accurate, if not always so detailed as this, but the YouGov data, which takes in some major artists as well as covering a variety of media (such as newspaper readerships), is certainly worth a look.

I do question its validity/accuracy though ... are Lady Gaga fans really primarily 40/50-somethings?! The samples can be quite small ... as an Adam Ant fan, for example, I can't say as I recognised myself in the profile thrown up! (FYI YouGov, I'm not a S*n reader!)

The media tab of YouGov's demographic profile of Lady Gaga fans ... apparently older, right-wing S*n readers?!

Monday, 17 November 2014

GENDER: Women less successful on Kickstarter?

Some useful data here in a survey reporting on the comparative levels of success of male/female Kickstarter appeals; females feature in none/1 of top ten most successful appeals across a range of media categories, and female teams fare significantly less well than male teams. However, the report also notes that females often look for smaller amounts (<$5k) and are just as successful in this limited range; females often look specifically to friend and family circles, potentially limiting the scale/ambition of appeals.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


This vodcast includes a top ten common conventions of music magazine ads for digipak albums, research tips, student examples, and more.

DIGIPAK vodcast

A vodcast taking you through some common conventions (a top ten), looking at some of the relevant videos on YouTube (company demos, fan vids, Photoshop guides, coursework Evaluations), research tips, and how this fits into a wider promotional package incorporating a music video, CD/DVD digipak sleeve and magazine ads for the digipak.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Richard Dyer's star system

This is a simple but highly useful audience/narrative theory, which also reflects standard marketing thinking (question 1 a potential distributor will ask of a film production: who's the star?). Richard Dyer's (Amazon book list) landmark 1979 book Stars argued that the star system was central to how the media operate, and how we read texts. Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society (his 1986 follow-up) used case studies of Hollywood icons from the golden era, examining 'the ways in which audiences simultaneously construct and consume a particular star's persona' (Wiki). You might see parallels here with much later web 2.0 theorists such as Gauntlett and Gillmor and such declarations as "the former audience" (see this post for associated material on this).

The point here is that your text's narrative extends well beyond the film opening, 4 minute video, or even the wider promotional package.

I thought about this when reading a Film Guardian feature on Tom Cruise and director Christopher Nolan's insistence on diegetic as opposed to CGI stunts:
It goes deeper still though, into the weird contract we draw up with ourselves when we watch film. “Tom Cruise is doing that for real!” we exclaim to ourselves as we see Tom Cruise doing some casual rappelling. “Whoa!” We never truly watch blockbusters as pure narratives, but instead are constantly aware in their place in a wider ecosystem of celebrity, in which Cruise also has divorces and jumps on sofas and twinkles next to fans. We’re in awe of Cruise-as-Hunt rather than Hunt himself. (Tom Cruise, Christopher Nolan, and the new anti-CGI snobbery)
The excellent MediaKnowItAll site has a useful entry on this, considering not just the film angle but also how the music industry inculcates this approach to its modes of operation:
A star is an image not a real person that is constructed (as any other aspect of fiction is) out of a range of materials (eg advertising, magazines etc as well as films [music]).  
Their entry is copied in below, but is best appreciated on their site, where you can also click around and find further useful material.

Monday, 3 November 2014

DIGIPAK video resources: company guides, fan vids, tutorials, Evaluations...

IN THIS POST: Gaga and other fanatics' vids on their digipaks; commercial demos of what a digipak looks like and multi-panel options; examples of student Evaluation vids going through the steps of creating their digipaks; Adobe Photoshop and After Effects tutorials. First up, a vodcast featuring elements of these. See also: this post gathers together past posts/links.

Having just finished a vodcast on magazine ads for digipaks, I was having a quick look at what's on YouTube on the topic of digipaks ... and came across this, part of the phenomenon of UGC that Lady Gaga has masterfully exploited/encouraged, a rather worshipful rundown of a Gaga digipak - even the comments below largely reflect this serious, dedicated tone. To me, quite bizarre, to the 'Little Monsters' a nice expression of their community identity - but overall no odder than the YouTube-leading content of gamers' musings.

Its not just LG fans that engage in this; this chap, a metalhead, has a few smackdowns he wants to lay down on digipaks (with some strong language) ... and he's not the only one! (Good call on Nuclear Assault's Survive, 'DissonantReviews', classic!)

Here's a simple 37-sec demo of a 6-panel digipak:

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Jarring juxtapositions: twerking in Mastodon vid

This curious countertyping helped Mastodon gain publicity
There can be considerable shock or at least novelty value still in incorporating elements from a contrasting genre; in this example the prog-metal band Mastodon. In their video for The Motherload they incorporate ... twerking!

So, we get some fairly standard, though well-executed (nicely lit, and some effective focus pull), sepia-coloured footage of vaguely demonic figures ... counterpointed with a range of very modern dancers twerking, often in slo-mo and fairly uncomfortable close-up. The point (the 'reading') is debatable, and may simply come down to the shock value, or may be a critique of what the likes of Sinead O'Connor has attacked as exemplifying male industry control over female artists, with Lily Allen's attempted critique itself attacked for allegedly racist undertones.

(skip to the end to view the actual video)

Customised ads within vids: Universal tech deal

More on this shortly:

...Quick summary of key points:

Monday, 29 September 2014

Vloggers + UGC rivalling studios + conglomerates?

Certainly not a new topic this, although I haven't completed adding tags to the entire archive of posts, you'll see that 'UGC' (user-generated content) is a common topic (and I'll have a look to add 'vlogger' where appropriate: video-based bloggers).

Gradually being updated - use the tag clouds!
I blog again on this as its a topic we've been discussing in recent lessons, and I've reflected on in recent posts. As Media students today, the demands on and expectations of you are higher than in the past - with the technology at your fingertips, there is an expectation of at least 'prosumer' levels of quality, ideally there being no clear indication (or anchorage) of your work as student productions at all.
Fragment of a past post on this topic.

The skills you're developing are highly marketable and valuable:

Friday, 26 September 2014

YOU/audience are the product: Julian Assange

When we consider audience theory in Media Studies, the degree of flux and changing views on this is quickly evident, and a major theme in itself. Which, if any, of the long-established audience theories continue to hold true in the digital age, the web 2.0 era? Is it enough to write of "the former audience", Dan Gillmor's (2011) striking phrase? David Gauntlett even went as far as to declare the "end of audience studies" (2007, 2011), although Julian McDougall's (2009, in a very readable, student-friendly book) more moderate point that audiences are fragmenting, making it more difficult to meaningfully analyse or discuss/define audiences, is perhaps more useful.

There are those who see the blurring of the audience/producer line as full of democratic promise, not least Gillmor, though Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture (2008) is perhaps the most striking statement of this.
Is Jenkins too utopian, optimistic? [image source]

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Baudrillard's 'simulacra': Weezer's Buddy Holly eg

A short post, just reflecting a discussion today on the postmodern philosopher Baudrillard's contentious (but ingenious?) concept of the simulacra, which argues that as we now exist in an endless sea of signifiers, or chains of signifiers with no concrete starting/reference point, we cannot claim to know of any actual 'reality'. So, Disneyland is the real America; the Gulf War, supposedly fought on our TV screens in 1991, never really happened, to take two of his most infamous proclamations.

Its a concept which often and readily applies itself to music video, with many videos influenced by other videos which may have been influenced by other media (especially TV/film) in turn. Weezer's Buddy Holly, directed by Michel Gondry, is an exemplar - it is a representation of a 90s band as part of a 70's TV show about 50's America, which heavily influenced perceptions of that decade (so, the long chain of signification in which any perceivable reality has been utterly lost, and is rendered unknowable)

Below the video I've uploaded a photo of p. 175 from the excellent Money For Nothing, Austerlitz's history of the music video; he describes the video, for example, as 'a pastiche of a pastiche'. We would later see Nirvana and other acts (see Outkast's Hey Ya at the end of the post) copy this idea of inserting the act into an old TV show (and the Beastie Boys, of course, created their own affectionate pastiche of the 70/80s cop show with Sabotage).

Austerlitz on the Weezer vid

Postmodernist French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction—faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum)—Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality; (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which "bears no relation to any reality whatsoever".[7] In Baudrillard's concept, like Nietzsche's, simulacra are perceived as negative, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which an accepted ideal or "privileged position" could be "challenged and overturned".[8] Deleuze defines simulacra as "those systems in which different relates to different by means of difference itself. What is essential is that we find in these systems no prior identity, no internal resemblance".[9]

See the ProdEval blog for more on this and other media theories.


Following other blogs

Not just mine/group members, but any interesting blogs you encounter - instructions in this post.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Queens, Kittens + QR Codes: Film about Media coursework

The DVD is not for sale, but is available with a requested donation of £1 or more to cancer charity Movember for each copy; every penny received will be donated to Movember. Please contact myself, Mr Burrowes (david.burrowes at [at = @; I don't want to be getting spammed!]), or Ilkley Grammar School; copies are held at the school reception and in the Media classroom.
NB: Most DVDs have been packaged in a slimline case

A Bit of Background on the IGS Media 2014 DVD
In June 2014 I decided to put together a 2nd feature-length film on my A-Level Media Studies students' work; in September 2014 it was finally completed, and this post takes you through what it is all about, what to expect and what specifically is included.
Click to enlarge; some info on what Movember is for

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Multiple videos for 1 track: U2 One eg

You can find many articles on this example, eg The Inspiration Room.
I've mentioned this several times in past posts, but just realised I've never actually linked them...

Its fairly common for bands to reject a video, or simply to want to see an alternative version, perhaps to boost the chances of airtime.

For U2's global hit single One there were indeed three videos released!

DailyMotion blogger Vampira Maila Nurmi writes:
Three music videos were created for "One". The first, directed by Anton Corbijn, was filmed in Berlin and features the band members performing at Hansa Studios interspersed with footage of Trabants (an East German automobile they became fond of as a symbol for a changing Europe) and shots of them dressed in drag. Bono explained that the idea to crossdress "had been based on the idea that if U2 can't do this, we've got to do it!", and it was fostered by the group's experiences dressing in drag for the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. However, the band pulled the video, fearing the single's status as an AIDS benefit would result in critics finding AIDS-related interpretations of the video. The Edge explained, "We didn't want to be involved in putting back the AIDS issue into the realm of sexuality... It wasn't worth the risk of people imagining we were saying something about the AIDS issue through the drag footage, which was totally not what we were trying to say."
Martin Gore drags up in Depeche Mode's Suffer Well
Use my playlist to explore the world of DMode vids!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

FINANCE: pay to meet-and-greet stars at gigs

Read Michael Hann's article here.
This is either despicable exploitation or a sensible means of countering the reduced revenues from record sales: the trend for pop/rock acts to offer premium gig packages which include meet and greets amongst other things. Would you pay £215 to meet Avril Lavigne and have a photo taken 'with' her (standing apart with a clearly faked, fixed grin)? Clearly for a lot of folks the answer is mais oui, but she's just one of many plying this field:
On Kiss's forthcoming US tour, for example, you can pay $1,250 (£737) for a package that includes a seat in the first 10 rows, a meet-and-greet, a photo with the band, autographs from the band, sitting in on the sound check and a selection of merchandise. A similar package for Def Leppard, who are opening for Kiss, is $750 ($441). The lower the star power, the lower the price. For example, £159 will buy you the chance to meet Michael Bolton on his UK tour – and get the inevitable photographs and array of merch.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Anita Elberse (2013) Blockbusters - must-read book?

"Because people are inherently social," the Harvard business professor Anita Elberse points out, "they generally find value in reading the same books and watching the same television shows and movies that others do." What's more, and equally understandably: "People have a taste for winners: if, say, a book is popular and has been widely discussed in the media, consumers have more reason to read it." [from Guardian review]
Scroll down for sample quotes and review snippets, such as Bloomberg's fairly critical view
Use the look inside feature for a preview
I'd recommend at the very least sampling this, a book that basically argues that the tentpole strategy (or blockbuster as she terms it) is vital for any and all modern media/entertainment giants. Her examples take in music, film and other media, but also widen out to incorporate 'entertainment' industries such as football, looking at the examples of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and the latter's 'galacticos' strategy.

She very convincingly picks out examples of major conglomerates that have tried more austere, penny-pinching approaches ... and shows, with forensic financial detail, how disastrous this invariably proved.

Interesting that she's not simply referring to production, but also as much about distribution, and the marketing muscle and capacity to make very widely available and prominently placed a given release, Lady Gaga being one such example she dissects.

You can preview some samples by using Amazon's 'look inside' feature, or GoogleBooks (add keywords related to cinema, music or whichever industry you're most interested in to get the most relevant sections), and its for sale as a Kindle book too.

Here's a few snippets from various articles/reviews:
"Because people are inherently social," the Harvard business professor Anita Elberse points out, "they generally find value in reading the same books and watching the same television shows and movies that others do." What's more, and equally understandably: "People have a taste for winners: if, say, a book is popular and has been widely discussed in the media, consumers have more reason to read it." [Guardian review]

Fanbase not Audience the future say YouTube

Various web 2.0 theorists have signified the end of the old analogue/early digital producer-consumer paradigm through such bold statements as "the former audience" ... now one YouTube's top honchos says we should abandon the very term audience, with its links to scheduled programming, and think in fanbase terms instead...
Simon Cowell and Disney are picked out as exemplars of the new more copyright-flexible order, in which UGC is seen as benefitting copyright-holders, not cannibalising their revenue streams.
“An audience tunes in when they're told to, a fanbase chooses when and what to watch,” said Carloss at the MIPTV television industry conference in Cannes. “An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fanbase shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”
He also praised Simon Cowell’s You Generation brand, a YouTube-focused global talent show, and Disney for the way it encouraged fans of its film Frozen to post their own cover versions of its songs on YouTube. One by musician Alex Boy√© has been watched more than 30m times.
“The studio could have very easily issued copyright claims against this video and any others and taken them down, but they made a different choice: a fan-friendly choice. They chose to let those videos stay,” said Carloss, suggesting that the buzz around Frozen on YouTube contributed to its strong performance at the box office.
“Creators everywhere can make the choice Disney did. Allow fans to pay tribute, and you will see the incredible benefits of their passion.”
A lot of this closely echoes some of the arguments put forward by Anita Elberse (a Harvard economist) in her fascinating (a highly recommended read) book Blockbusters, published in December 2013.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Copyright holder - can't find who?

As you are tasked with evidencing contacting the rights holder and asking for permission for your non-commercial use of their track, you obviously need to know which company to contact. Looking at physical media (the CD) is an obvious starting point - you can generally find sleeves on a number of websites which specialise in just this. You can also try the band's official site, and look up Wikis etc.
If still struggling, yet another method can be your YouTube account ...
As I've previously blogged, you should look out for (hyperlinked) messages under your uploads, such as 'Video blocked in some countries'. Just click on these to then click 'acknowledge', keeping your account in good standing. You should find specific reference there of which company claims copyright of the recording, such as in this example from an upload of a student music video for a Storm Queen track:

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

BBFC to start age rating vids?

I've blogged on this before, when leading politicians have fallen behind the bandwagon to 'do something' about the issue of the sexual content of contemporary vids, blamed by some as a key component of the premature sexualisation of today's young, and also accused of spreading misogynistic attitudes.
Now there's news that the BBFC look set to expand their remit and start rating vids - they've already been asked, on a voluntary basis, to do so by major acts such as Metallica. This could become a major for anyone considering the target audience for a video, though the question still remains of how feasible UK-centred censorship is in this globalised, digitised age - will screenagers really be prevented from viewing 'age inappropriate' vids by online age restrictions, which are notoriously easy to get around?

See Guardian article for more on this.

UPDATE: This has been firmed up; see BBFC's site. Try searching for your act's name (see this KO post for example)

To improve consumer awareness about the content of certain music videos, and to improve child protection online, Vevo and YouTube, working in partnership with the BBFC, are making permanent a pilot scheme to age rate all music videos by artists signed to Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK that are unsuitable for younger children (under 12s). On 18 August 2015, Government also announced that independent UK music labels will take part in a further six month phase of the pilot.

The ratings appear on Vevo online and on YouTube, both online and on smart phone Apps.  
On Vevo, the BBFC ratings symbol appears in the top left hand corner of the video player for the first few seconds. The rating will reappear when you move the cursor.  You may also click the 'i' icon to see the ratings information.

On YouTube, look for 'Partner Rating' label on the YouTube website; or a 12, 15 or 18 in a square box on the smartphone app underneath the video.
The record labels submit to the BBFC any music video by their artists for release online in the UK which they would expect to receive at least a 12 rating.  The BBFC then classifies each video, watching it through in its entirety and then assigning an age rating and bespoke content advice (BBFCinsight, for example, strong language, sex references or sexualised nudity) on the basis of the BBFC's published Classification Guidelines.  The sort of issues the BBFC considers in classifying music videos include:

  • drug misuse 
  • dangerous behaviour presented as safe
  • bad language
  • sexual behaviour and nudity
  • threatening behaviour and violence