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

Monday, 14 December 2015

WEB 2.0 Ed's sheer art attack post-internet?

A mention in one Guardian article does not make for an established neologism* (post-internet), and the term strikes me as clumsily broad, but I expect some term will gain currency to describe the abandonment of social media by some artists. *neologism = a new word

That word SOME is important - we're not yet seeing any mass scale downing of virtual tools, and Indie or unsigned acts largely continue to find it a fairly vital tool, while global acts with tentpole level global distribution also continue to see it as a central marketing and branding strand.

I recommend reading Elberse's Blockbusters for informative studies of how Jay-Z and Gaga pushed social media interaction alongside a range of deals to get their albums sold in networks such as Starbucks.

The story here is that Ed Sheeran has announced he's taking a break from social media, which by most accounts made him a star in the first place, so there's some loyalty to his audience!
Sadly, he's not taking a break from making tedious music, the idea is to focus on his music and the experience of tours.

If Led Zeppelin could go to a Welsh farm to produce a classic album, and Peter Gabriel produce perfect pop in another rural studio, then surely Sheeran ... will produce more stadium filling tedium. And you'll just have to rely on the mainstream media to hear about it. Apart from the fans and their UGC and their tour pics and clips... I'm already getting an 'eadache thinking about it...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Wu Tang Clan aint nuthin to ruck with

If you haven't heard of this story, it's a unique tale of how a major rap act monetised their latest recording, picking up much valuable publicity along the way.

They auctioned the exclusive rights to the only one copy produced, netting $2m - some of which they then gave to charity after it emerged that the buyer was a much-hated pharma millionaire.

On the upside, they apparently inserted a legal clause that allows Bill Murray to steal it back!!! (Or the band, thus the lyrically intertextualising post title for those who have failed to Enter the 38 Chambers)

SOURCE: Indie.

Album cover art animated

PLEASE NOTE: This video would be rated 18 for gore if it was submitted to the BBFC. NSFW.

If you're okay with the adult content, this is one means to quickly learn about a range of classic album art and maybe pick up some ideas.

It is also an exceptional example of UGC, and must have taken many, many painstaking hours to produce!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

DIEGETIC FX Smoke without fire

My enforced broadbandless blogging continues from Pepper's Cafe - 10 days of Wi-Fi only is 240 hours too much... - pertinent as it makes me think of spray...

I can't recommend the NoFilmSchool site enough. The site's name denotes its mission to equip anyone who uses it with the insights needed to produce effective cinematography. My mobile's browser has 15 tabs from this site I want to work through in more detail!

This latest post (I got it through its FB page, a typically slickly run operation) highlights an affordable smoke ... can!

As it happens I was discussing smoke effects with a student today, a topic that came up a year ago in some other country...

The spark on both occasions was The Pixies' Bagboy, an absolutely exquisite use of colour, including coloured smoke.

Of course before shooting with smoke you need to comprehensively consider health and safety (asthma could be an issue for one) and whether this will lead to any staining or odour - and how easy or not it will be to clear!!!

If I remember right this is the 40th anniversary (within a few days) of the fire at a Frank Zappa gig that inspired Smoke on the Water. Could this be the year you incorporate a smoke effect in your video?

Read the article below carefully - this is a complex area. The visual pay-off could be considerable though

Sunday, 6 December 2015

UGC viral fan-made photos making minions

Just as with film, the notion that a producer churns out a text that is then passively consumed by an audience is clearly no longer the case in the music industry either. Artists feel great pressure to be heavily involved in some variety of social media to sustain interest (though there's certainly an argument that this eventually undermines interest as mystique wanes).

You will most likely have seen your own variations of the following - paste in links as comments and I'll add them...

See below for images

VINYL the Cream rises, new Pixies'n'mix

Why do I keep posting on vinyl's resurrection? Several reasons:
  1. You need to be aware of music industry developments
  2. These should inform your marketing materials, and the formats you list (ie, not just digipak, but a 3-part list with download)
  3. Digipaks are intended to mimic vinyl and so share some of their collectable, specialappeal (compared to standard jewel case releases)
I'll add images and links once sat at a computer, but this expensive boxset popped up on my FB whilst an even more expensive Pixies boxset was pushed in an email I'd signed up to when buying their comeback EP on vinyl (with multiple download options too).

IN THIS POST: Pics/links on Cream vinyl boxset; Pixies vinyl boxset; Tesco launching vinyl sales.

Friday, 20 November 2015

FAIR USAGE Google to fight takedowns as unfair cop

The fair usage copyright (legal) concept is an important one to be aware of - you may find yourself with a range of notices on your own channel, from notification that rights-holders can insert ads before your videos to removal of audio through to video deletion and even account deletion; you need to take care with how you handle copyright material.

Abuse of the system isn't just one way though, and Google (YouTube conglomerate parent) is starting to fight back against vexatious claims and profiteering by the record industry, film companies and other cynical profiteers...

Saturday, 14 November 2015

INDUSTRY Vinyly the truth on streaming value?

As we aren't given a figure to compare vinyl revenues with, and the vinyl figure is the gross retail total, not the amount record companies gained (plus the ongoing industry lobbying against YouTube et al), I'm a little sceptical, but apparently...



Wednesday, 28 October 2015

AUDIENCE CONVERGENCE Carly Rae Jepson controlled by audience emoticons

This is nothing new - I blogged on interactive videos at least a couple of years back - but it is a high profile, mainstream example with the considerable muscle of Universal Music behind it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

SHOOTS ten tips for a successful shoot

I'm sure there are plentiful more learned guides out there - and I'd always encourage reading video/film-makers' books (Alex Cox is very readable on his low-budget Indie shoots) - but these are ten simple bits of advice based on years of observing student filming, especially the common disasters that happen...

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Government hip to square deal of Indie promotion

More than a dozen independent UK music labels and songwriters have received £200,000 in government funding to promote up-and-coming artists abroad.
It is the latest round of funding made available through the £2.5m music export growth scheme, established two years ago by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) with the music industry body, the BPI, to help independent music companies make their mark in the US, Asia and Europe.

Read the full article: Thankyou Whitehall, goodnight – Indie labels win government grants.

Friday, 9 October 2015

FCPX plug-ins

Budget limitations may mean you'll have to pay for it yourself, but do be aware there are many great plug-ins out there for Final Cut Pro X (and most major video editing suites).

We looked recently at a very specific example, as students looked to emulate aspects of some depeche Mode videos they particularly admired:
FINAL CUT PRO X CAMERA EMULATOR PLUGINAs raised when looking at these, you can emulate super-8 and 16mm (etc) cameras by purchasing FCPX plugins (this one is $50 - you may need to buy it yourself and carry edited clips from your own Mac to a school one).
[copied across from a post on Depeche Mode and the French New Wave style]

Thursday, 8 October 2015


A simple graphic demonstration of the proliferation and splintering of genre in the digital era, surely undermining the broader concept itself?
See the full map here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

POSTMODERN, SIMULACRA Weird Al Yankovich parody v pastiche

[UPDATE FEB 2017 -scroll down for Weird Al discussion] This is a topic I've frequently touched upon, so you should also look at this post on Weezer...
As its such a useful example, I've referenced it in further posts on this topic (and others): use the tag!

The excellent, very readable, history of the music video by Austerlitz discusses this video - it really is worth having a flick through the index ... or just reading the book from scratch! [tag; specific post on the book]

Then there's a Robert Palmer example of intertextuality, a tag applied even more frequently than (queer theorist; gender as performativity) Judith Butler I see...

Is THIS depiction of Elvis (the magnificent Tortelvis!) any less 'real' than the videos/film clips that define him in the popular imagination - an image Elvis and his manager fought to control, but for many people boils down to a fat guy in a comedy white jumpsuit? Is the Weird Al version of 'Wacko Jacko' (below) any less real than the MJ we think we know from media coverage? The creators of the Weezer video did so having been bombarded with signifiers of the decade, such as the sitcom they parodied ... their representation (or simulacrum) is itself now a powerful signifier that will influence many more impressions of 'the 50s'.

If I asked you now to think about 'the 60s', chances are you'd think of hippies, flower power, the Stones ... many of the iconic 60s festivals were actually in the 70s, ditto many of the Stones classics thought of as 60s, while the metropolitan (major city) drug phenomenon took until the 1970s to spread further into towns and cities across Western countries, beyond London, San Fransisco etc. The 60s ended around 1974?! Maybe 1973?!
pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.[1] Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.[2] [Wiki]

Saturday, 26 September 2015


Accompanying the lyric 'half asleep with a loaded gun' (Silver Snail) - there are few more inventive, inspiring, and downright stunning videos out there than The Pixies' collection, especially their videos since 2013
there is an embedded YouTube playlist of ALL videos covered at the bottom of this post
IN THIS POST: I embed and briefly discuss the music videos of The Pixies, an archetypal Indie or alternative rock band that date back to the late 80s and are still going strong, with a strikingly different set of videos since 2013. Their antagonism towards playing the promotional game, ironically, made them a key influence on a generation of video-makers. They initially refused to produce any videos then produced some challenging videos that consciously broke many of the most basic conventions of the format. No research into the conventions of music video as a format would be complete without some reference to this lot. The cinematography and use of colour (even the brilliant use of the generally cliched slo-mo tool) in their recent videos is simply STUNNING.

The Pixies are a seminal alternative rock (Indie) band who remain a key influence today, both for their music and their highly distinctive music videos. In the UK they're signed to 4AD, part of the Beggars consortium (Indie labels often join forces in co-ops to cut marketing costs and to get better distribution deals, economies of scale etc) - see wiki and this Guardian article on its iconic status. Their music fused Latin influences with rock; a bossa nova, 50s rock sound with a hard edge and dark, literary lyrical themes.

Key to understanding the Pixies is their sense of coming from humble working class backgrounds in Boston; they did not need to see themselves as a glamorous band and this is reflected in their videos. In a word, authenticity is the hallmark of their branding - this is not a band who would indulge in the fakery most bands will accept in order to maximixe their media exposure and record sales. Their everyday clothing, in contrast to the extravagance of bands like KISS and Bon Jovi that dominated much of the 80s, would bring back a vaguely punk aesthetic to the rock world, with the likes of Kurt Cobain reflecting the Pixies' look. They were edgy too - some of their lyrical themes are very dark indeed, though often based in classic literature, and were prepared to play with basic song structure too.


Yes, a shocker in some regards, but an uber risque effort, and commercial suicide in others. Or, simply: inspirational! Why don't you take on such an idea as an extra (not a main) production? There are several mainstream examples of such alternative, additional videos alongside the main production.

Their videos stand almost as anti-videos, an apparent refusal to play the promotional game:
As "Velouria" (their first single from Bossanova) was climbing up the UK Top 40, the band was offered a spot on Top of the Pops. However, a BBC rule stated only singles with videos could be performed on the show. To counter this a cheap video was made, with the band being filmed running down a quarry.[105]In the video, twenty-three seconds of footage (the time needed for the band members to reach the camera) is slowed in order to last for the duration of the song.[106] However, the effort in filming the video was in vain; the Pixies did not play "Velouria" on Top of The Pops while the single was in the charts.[107] [Wiki]

CINEMATIC Depeche Mode French New Wave as an influence, inspiration

A filmic or cinematic approach is one means by which you can make your video stand out from the crowd, and there are plenty of examples of that. Who could possibly forget the following, most unlikely, death metal video which takes its cues from 1910s silent movies?!

[Posts on this here]

We discussed the idea of taking such a direct filmic influence (albeit one that can be applied loosely and still be recognisable/readable) as the French New Wave [tag] and applying to music video, looking at some possible examples, and inspiration seemed to flow...

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Some female fronted acts

A notorious Top of the Pops 'performance' from 1988...

Simply coming from looking at ideas for a female performer, here's a few female acts you could look at. (Wiki on all-female bands amongst many lists you could consider)

Honeyblood (YT channel)

A 2-piece act with some smart videos maximizing the potential of limited locations, for example Bud:

Martha's Harbour, a 1988 hit, remains an iconic example of ethereal pop music, often featured on 'chill out' and 'ambient' soundtracks, with several remixes also floating around.
Fans have filled the void with their own videos - you could create the definitive version, and create a sizeable online following in doing so... The top hits for this still popular track are mostly fan-made stills montage videos

Despite the notorious Top of the Pops appearance, there's no official video for the track; the playlist below features 1 of many fan-made videos, a simple stills montage.

Their Vevo channel has just one video, and this is it...

We'd discussed the Super-16 look; that washed out, colour flare, damaged aesthetic - which has been clumsily overdone in many videos. You can see it here in this Belly video, one of several I've grabbed from a 4AD playlist (a particularly significant, alternative Indie label, part of the Beggars empire - as is Craig McNeill, who we'll hear from shortly at the ASFF...). Fairly conventional performance video overall, including some horsing around footage which gives a sense of privileged access - the specific trick with the drumsticks is rather nice:

Tarnation also use a Super-16 style in their very basic You'll Understand video.

Key technique here is using pans as a tool for dynamic editing, panning left and continuing or reversing the action in the following shot, sometimes using it almost as a wipe effect. The film titles-style playing with shapes is noteworthy. You could argue the flashing light effect is overdone, but it connects to the nightclub element of the lyric. The studio setup is a bit different too, and the shot variety, angles and sheer pace of editing all help to get across how brimming with attitude this band are.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Gaga releases campaigning video

Please note that the video referred to contains scenes intended to disturb and shock.

Gaga has built a fanbase on the back of her publicly supporting many abused outsiders, in this case not the sexual minorities celebrated in Born This Way but female students at US colleges.

The black and white video takes the form of a short film, complete with end titles (and Facebook, Twitter links), tracking the despair and recovery of three victims of abuse, partly reflecting Gaga's own experience aged 19.

I'm not a huge Gaga fan, being old enough to have seen Madonna do much of what her young fans see as novel in Gaga (a great Guardian article this week also looks at  how directly Grace Jones has been ripped off by many major pop stars, not just Gaga), but can't see this as anything but a brave move.
An example of Grace Jones' uncredited 'inspiration'

The track is typically overblown (a matter of taste), and I note the 2k YouTube dislikes alongside the 96k likes at the time of writing; this isn't exactly cosy branding.

Judge for yourself here.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

SOFTWARE Editing with Pinnacle Studio aka Avid

Okay, so if you have the option you'd opt for Final Cut Pro X and editing on a Mac ...

If not, there are many options out there. Pinnacle Studio may not be as highly rated as Final Cut or Premiere, but it is a very powerful package, and in a different league to basic editors such as iMovie.

I've just started with it myself, and find it straightforward to use, but if you're new to video editing, or haven't moved beyond iMovie (or the even more basic Windows Movie Maker), it will take you a while to get used to it.

The best way to do that? Use it. Not to 'practice', but simply to edit video - practice film exercises, or vodcasts to better present your research. You could also spend time with it for non-Media or even non-school work. The more time you spend using it the more familiar it will become (and this will prepare you for other video editors; they may look different but there are common elements across most).

Pinnacle was bought up first by Avid then Corel; it is effectively the offspring of three big name software companies.

Video is best to get you started, but once you start looking for more specific guides and instructions do consider looking for text-based step-by-step guides too, which can be much quicker to use, and without the potentially annoying quirkiness of some of the presenters.

Unlike Final Cut, I can't see any paid-for online courses (indeed, you can gain Apple certificates in Final Cut!) on the likes of for Pinnacle Studio. However, there is a 2013 guide book by Jeff Naylor, listed at £30 on Amazon UK. This offers a series of tutorials as well as a reference guide.
This might be a useful investment

The Art of the Vodcast

I have previously burbled on at some length about vodcasts - here. This post will be less detailed.

In the context of coursework, podcasts which summarise research are great ... as you can re-edit these for your Evaluation, including comparison with what you actually produced/did.

A vodcast is a podcast with video. It is likely to include your voice, though you can use titles to the same effect.
A SHORTER GUIDE TO GOOD VODCASTING PRACTICE: brief, pithy, well illustrated, creative, expressive, analysis, terminology, concepts, opinion, titles, chapters, top ten, short clips, fair usage copyright law, mix audio levels, limit face time, branded, ident, channel watermark, target audience, tags, YouTube, links lists...

It will be quite brief. About 2 minutes is good; 5 minutes is starting to push it ... and don't go beyond 10 minutes. If you can't fit all your content into that time limit, think about how to split it up into themed chapters.

Brand your vodcasts, as I do. Once you've created a basic 'opening title' sequence for one, you can copy/paste the sequence into any future vodcast and simply edit the titles. I also recently started adding a watermark, in the style of the company or channel logos you see on TV, asserting my brand but also ensuring my work can't be ripped off!
I've created quite a few vodcasts, and will be adding more - a playlist is embedded below

Sunday, 6 September 2015

FESTIVAL Pixies, Fatboy Slim etc videomakers York November 2015

I've led trips twice to the ASFF, a film festival that screens short films + music videos in unusual venues around York, linked to the magazine Aesthetica (focussed on photography and other media arts), and its been a great experience for students - here's an account by one student.
1 of the 2015 masterclasses

The masterclasses have been superb, and simply ideal - we've heard directly from the likes of Barry Ryan (senior producer at Warp Films), Danny Cohen (cinematographer on several Warp and Working Title movies, including Dead Man's Shoes and Les Miserables if memory serves me right?!), and Craig McNeil and James Harman (respectively, music video producer and director for the world's largest music Indie, Beggars Group and his long-term editor).
2015 masterclass spanning music video, branding, bands, audience and narrative

BELOW: Details, links, prices

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

WEBSITES Using Wix to build your band website

IN THIS POST: Guides and how-to's for using Wix to build your own band website, incorporating multiple top-linked pages and deep social media integration, plus e-commerce for merchandise and music sales (even if not ultimately connected to a card/payment account), search engine hits (SEO) and more specific techniques through YouTube guides. 
To view a range of student websites following the music promo package brief, see this post.
First up, perhaps uniquely, an advert...

You may not have heard of Wix before now (I hadn't until it was recently recommended to me), but it is a high profile, internationally popular website build option (they claim its used in 180 countries), reflected in the range of languages how-to YouTube videos come in. It fares well when compared to rivals. It operates a freemium model - you can access most things for free, but can pay for more options.
Wix manages to make intricate, fully-featured website design easy and intuitive - and there are plentiful online guides...

WordPress is the dominant player in the online website-builder market (DreamWeaver remains the dominant software option), but Wix boasts a vastly superior ease-of-use; there is a much steeper learning curve with WordPress. Other rivals such as Weebly are not only more limited but also charge for options bundled for free with Wix. According to this site, Wix is the third most-used online website builder.

Wix is largely controlled via drag and drop, with the ability to go into menus to edit site layouts - you should find it a highly user-friendly website builder... [You can read more basics at the Wix Wiki]'s 90-second intro to working with Wix

If you do go on to look to monetise any of your work, a former student (Amber) who got a job handling e-commerce operations for a an online retailer on the back of her Media work, not least the blog, tells me they found the e-commerce provision in Wix quite problematic, and had to get onto the helpline frequently. How typical or not that is I have no idea!

Read the guide on the steps involved in researching and planning your website.

When I approach new software or ICT tools, YouTube is generally my first port of call. In time I will seek to create one or more vodcasts myself. You can use Wix's Help function and general online search for alternatives to video; eg this is Wix's step through guide to creating your own landing page (and the Wix site has a search box of course).

WEBSITE The steps involved in producing yours

IN THIS POST: A breakdown of how to research websites, what to look for, and an example of an overall 16-step process, plus a list of some features to consider.

Like every Media production, before you get to the editing stage you have considerable background work to undertake; I'll break this down into pre-production, production and post-production phases. There is considerable scope to delegate primary responsibility within a group for website work.

A faux-personal mode of address; using existing media content to enrich your own site; social media deeply integrated: just 3 ideas you could glean from an analysis of Gaga's UK website
You need to research the conventions of a range of mixed, general (not from the same era or genre) official music act websites, compare and summarise your findings with 1 or 2 others in a vodcast, then research the artist chosen for your video: their official website (if there is one), 2+ comparable (genre/era) acts' websites, 1+ fan site, and produce a fresh vodcast outlining any distinctive conventions for the artist/genre/era.

Initial lists of main and sub- pages, and content you will need (unique images, video etc); website features (e-commerce, social media integration etc); social media sites to set up and maintain; key aspects of style or design across the entire site.
Show your knowledge of changing industry practice by including a merchandise 'shop'; as well as a main top links list on every page, sub-pages will make your site neater. Think of the mobile browser: the less they have to scroll the better.



Monday, 31 August 2015

AUDIENCE INTERACTION Stepping into the world of Little Monsters

Through recently reviewing the Lady Gaga US and UK websites I went through the process of applying to become a Little Monster, allowed to enter the hallowed cyberhall of intelladytual conversation.

It truly is a slightly weird moment in life to get two emails informing me that, after reflection and consideration, I'm in ... I'm a Little Monster.

I've no intention of being snotty or patronising about those who take this all very ... very seriously indeed. Each to their own, and there is a strong emotional attachment between much of Gaga's fanbase - not just to/with the star, but with each other as well, a sub-culture that deserves study just as Hebdige (a pioneer of the notion of sub-cultures as a concept and subject for study) did with punk. Gaga herself expends considerable effort on interacting with and encouraging her Little Monsters ... though I have a wee doubt as whether it was Gaga herself (Herself? I don't know the LM rules!) who wrote and sent this email ...
Thanks though ... and I'll try to be brave!
Below - screenshots and some analysis of this phenomenon...

STUDENT EXAMPLES Latymer School and IGS playlists

I've picked out some of these in lessons and posts before, but here's a playlist gathering together music video coursework from Latymer School, a London department that routinely gets some of the UK's highest marks for their Media work. As noted on the playlist blurb, and beside a couple of the videos, please note that both cuts of I Kissed a Boy feature swearing, while Stockholm Syndrome features flashing flights. I've viewed all 50+ - if I've missed any further issues, or you just want to highlight any, post a comment.

First the IGS playlist, then Latymer - an interesting contrast. Latymer's London location is in stark contrast to semi-rural Ilkley (albeit, as we see in such work as the Joy Division video, within easy reach of Leeds), and there's quite a gap in resources; Latymer's studio gets heavy usage. Resources mean nothing without committed students though - consider the effort and creativity in some of the studio set-dressing in the Latymer examples, great to see! I think adding some external narrative/concept material into many of the studio-set videos would be advantageous, but you could argue that's quibbling when the studio work is so slickly done, eking out considerable variation from this set-up.

Either way, two sets of varying levels but which both showcase just what amazing work inspired students can create today...

The IGS playlist includes several practice exercises; the Latymer list final cuts only. You can view exercises on the Latymer channel.

WEBSITES Student examples of band websites

Partial screenshot of the 'group1' 2015 Latymer homepage. Its impressive work by any standard, not just from students

In my previous post, looking at a UK Indie band's website, I started by listing the many advantages of working with a local, Indie act. The following examples of student coursework websites, all from students at Latymer School in London, eschewed major acts, and their websites have a real wow factor. You can find links for their blogs (with videos and digipaks too) here, though I've also copied these in below.

They all used Wix to create their websites, and I'll blog on this separately.
NB: my thanks to chief examiner Pete Fraser for suggesting these as good student examples - you can find Pete blogging on media matters here, and updating his Twitter account here!

What makes these student websites good examples? Well...
  • Most important of all, its not immediately obvious that this is student work, and thats the level you should always aim for! If you have me as a teacher you'll find its a point I'll frequently raise!
  • The website ties together the wider package, in a way that a video/digipak/ad campaign doesn't do quite so naturally.
    Official and bonus video on the video page.
  • The shot variety involved is also likely to be greater than through digipak/ad packages, and you can judge for yourself to what extent separate photography has been commissioned rather than simply rely upon (lowered resolution) screenshots from the cinematography.
    Gallery: not reliant on screenshots; extra photography employed
  • The imagery is carefully constructed with mode of address and audience in mind.
  • Likewise the language used - albeit many Indie acts will use 'strong language' as part of their discourse which these students obviously don't.
    From the Roza website's 'Roza' page [about me equivalent] takes a creative approach
  • The use and intregration of social media is simply superb, making full use of the widgets and apps available to Wix website builders to provide hyperlinked icons, invites to join/follow, and live feeds.
    Its not just a case of dropping in hyperlinked icons, look at how deeply the social media are embedded into the fabric of the site, with icons and #hashtags to the fore, and a colour scheme helping denote various social media. You can also see direct links to wider media, such as XFM and NME, reflecting and targeting a primary and wider audience.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

WEBSITE Sly Antics Leeds, UK Indie band

IN THIS POST: Analysis of an obscure UK Indie band's website (for comparison with the major acts The Doors and Lady Gaga already blogged on), discussion of how relevant or not band websites are given the role of social media today, and points on why you might want to go for a local/student band rather than international stars... I also reviewed their debut video, making this more of a look at an all-round promo package. The band have tweeted me since I did this post; you can check out Sly Antics' updated website here!

WHY PICK A SMALL-TIME LOCAL (or even student) ACT?
You might be tempted to produce a promo package for a (currently!) small-time, local act rather than for a major existing/heritage artist. The closest I've seen to this thus far has been a group who entered the recording studio with their own metalcore band, Sunburnt in December, to produce the broadcast-quality audio required. Two of the group were Media students. This meant they had their cast sorted and a keen, engaged cast at that! They had to be ... they set up for performance footage in a snow-covered Yorkshire moors setting in what remains one of my favourite students videos (even if there were opportunities to improve it...). This video also came to mind given the main website image Sly Antics use (they also use it for other social media logos)
NB: the video contains FLASHING LIGHTS and scenes of horror

The advantages of local or student bands are evident:

Saturday, 29 August 2015

WEBSITE Comparing Lady Gaga UK US and LittleMonsters sites

I may have blogged on Gaga once or twice already...
IN THIS POST: Screenshots with links for both Lady Gaga's UK and USA official sites, plus, plus a brief look at some of her social media. What emerges is a radically different approach to UK and US audiences, plus some evidence that the 'official website' is the least regarded strand of her multimedia branding, secondary to the social media output.
The hyperlinked social media logos along the bottom of the UK site's 'shop' page (which appears to actually link back to a US page, albeit prices are in £). I didn't recognise the last on the right, and had to hover it to be reminded of MySpace's logo! If anything denotes a lack of care over the official site, this is a bit of a clincher...
From the US site; the lack of 'shares' compared to Twitter and Facebbok updates is stark, and may explain the lack of care taken with the official websites...

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

WEBSITE Doors bundle t-shirts and vinyl with Light My Fire re-release

IN THIS POST: Discussion of a heritage (60s/70s) band's use of merchandise and social media; analysis of their website including detailed denotation of the features, with screenshots, and a look at their social media integration and audience interaction (or lack of...).
This isn't The Doors' main website (though that is linked, and everything here IS featured and sold through their website too), but an online retailer that sells their merchandise, and markets this (I came across this via a Facebook update of the official Doors page, screenshot below the line). 

This is a further sign or evidence of the re-emergence of vinyl, plus the centrality of merchandise (especially when touring isn't an option) to monetise music.

below - analysis on assessing target audience (core/primary and secondary) + more images + detailed analysis of their website...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Pop getting dumber claims study

I'm always a little wary of the elitist high/popular culture binary being at play with reports such as this, but its intriguing nonetheless.

The academic study assessed the literacy level required to follow the lyrics of chart music over time, and found that this has declined so far as to be of primary (junior in US parlance) level, and even kindergarten in some cases.

Can language be safely quantified in this way? That's at least debatable.

The website carrying the report is a left-wing alternative news outlet, and they make a specific link to the monopolization of a handful of huge conglomerates and the homogenisation this produces.

They're referring to the USA, but of course their major media conglomerates dominate media production, distribution and exhibition globally, including the music industry - a process Marxist critics term cultural imperialism, but can more blandly be labeled globalisation.

Even if this is true, does it matter? That's a question for you to decide

Digipak resources collected

FINDING DPAK EXAMPLES: I've provided several links below where you can find many. EvieG suggested another means: using unboxing videos (examples are covered in my vodcast, below) to get images of dpaks (through screenshotting)

I've spent a few days now trawling through the 500 posts on here retro-tagging, and doing a bit of tidying up. I'm changing some of the links in the top (horizontal) links list with key posts, including the 'Digipak' link, which will now point here.

The previous link was for this post which compiled a range of relevant posts.

I've provided a detailed vodcast on digipak conventions, and the process of researching these: here.

Further pointers on research: here.

The small print - Sinead O'Connor (very detailed) example: here.

Of course, you can also now use the tag cloud...

As well as the mag ad and magazine tags there are others to look for: special edition, editionalising, Photoshop, Andy Warhol, layering, editing, merchandise, vinyl, fan-made, prankvertising, SFX, back catalogue, bonus DVD, editionalising, template, ...

There are websites which offer large collections of downloadable sleeves, easy to find...

(I googled 'cd covers'!

There's another post centred on videos on digipaks...


Mag ad resources collected

I've spent a few days now trawling through the 500 posts on here retro-tagging, and doing a bit of tidying up. I'm changing some of the links in the top (horizontal) links list with key posts, including the 'Mag Ad' link, which will now point here.

This post is a simple list of key points, very digestible and maybe your best starting place: here

The previous link was for this post which compiled a range of relevant posts.

I've provided a detailed vodcast on mag ad conventions, and the process of researching these: here.

Further pointers on research: here.

Pointers on looking beyond ads to research the audience for your ads: here.

Of course, you can also now use the tag cloud...
As well as the mag ad and magazine tags there are others to look for: Photoshop, Andy Warhol, layering, editing, Prankvertising,...

Monday, 17 August 2015

VIRAL MARKETING Straight Outta Compton font/logo becomes a meme

The marketing for a film about 80s/90s old school gangsta rappers has been exemplary, creating a much stronger than usual excitement around a biopic.

At the heart of this has been a shareable font/logo that has taken Facebook and other social media by storm, and pushing the film's marketing to audiences it might otherwise have struggled to reach.

So, when considering digipak and magazine ad designs, don't underestimate the power of a downloadable and editable font/logo... and the very real power of audience interaction.

See page for 20 examples, one below.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Baeble Blog: FKA Twigs alt 20 min art video

NB: The video explores sexual themes (especially in the 2nd piece), though without nudity, and does have 1 instance of swearing about 14 mins in.

The Baeble blog is a good place to look for examples of unconventional work for inspiration, ideas or simply to help evidence and justify some of your own whackier ideas as having antecedents in the diverse field if music video.

FKA Twigs has created a long form video to promote an EP, adopting a style that edges more towards art gallery installation than typical small screen fare.
Link below, but note content warning.

Chris Cunningham would be the most obvious influence, though David Lynch equally came to mind for the horror-tinged elements and general oddness. Some more conventional tropes are present and the final piece recalls Janet Jackson, Madonna and that modern-day mini-Madge, Gaga. 

Whilst somewhat challenging, the second piece, wherein Twigs becomes a literal doll, plaything, is an intriguing exploration (perhaps plain denunciation?) of the male gaze and its impact. 

I'd be curious to see how the BBFC might rate that piece alone; nothing explicit but clearly dark (so arguably disturbing) themes and tone, a borderline 12/15? The one swear word later on would not automatically disbar a 12 by the way.

Noting the content warnings, you can read the article here, or view the video below.

Its clearly been a successful campaign:
Heading towards 3m views (screenshot Dec 6th 2015)

Monday, 10 August 2015

WEB 2.0 MARKETING Britney Spears mints new marketing concept

The small scale of this clearly indicates a reliance on media coverage and social media sharing to be an effective campaign, which it seems to have achieved.

Pretty Girls – a new Britney Spears song featuring Iggy Azalea – premiered on Sunday, and who nabbed the world’s first listen? Not radio, not even online, but a handful of Uber cab riders.

A limited number of Britney-branded SUVs decorated in black and yellow bee print drove around Los Angeles at the request of fans, who could book the cars for up to 30 minutes to hear the song.
Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea marked a duet single by premiering the track through branded Uber taxis, requiring a 30 minute booking (30 minutes of Spears singing - I know taxi journeys can be torture but come on!).


Turns out that without a more traditional promo campaign, including TV appearances (there was a music video), it wasn't terribly successful, leading to a bit of a twitter flame war between the two.

Only, no there wasn't, actually, it was the media inventing beef and wanting only to sexualise the pair's relationship, apparently ...

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Rammstein: Sonne (industrial metal eg)

ACT: Rammstein
TRACK: Sonne
YEAR: 2001
DIRECTOR: Jörn Heitmann
MAIN AUDIENCE: Male, 15-24/34

Rob posted on this in August and I thought I'd add a few comments; interesting choice! I know the track well but had never seen the video.
Here's the vid first of all:

A few initial points:
  • perf. through lip-synching, but without a translation its hard to say whether its narr or concept!
  • fairly fast-paced editing, with some long takes though
  • colour and lighting a key consideration
  • vid can only be understand if we grasp both the precise genre and target audience
  • skilful cross-cutting is key to the preferred reading
GENRE/AUDIENCE: Loosely, its heavy metal, but more specifically its 'industrial' (or industrial metal) - other comparable bands would include Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails. The typical audience for this would be male youth: 15-24, but comfortably extending to 15-34 (25-34 = 'mature youth'). Industrial metal goes beyond the traditional guitar/bass/drum/vocal line-up to incorporate recorded, synth-processed sound, and is also seen as 'dark' - a world away from the 'hair metal' of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and other giants of mainstream metal.
The crashing sledgehammers, and the sparks that fly up, are a neat signifier of the genre within the video.

GENDER: The youth male audience ensures that the Snow White depicted is heavily sexualised to fit the male gaze: the tight top, thick, bright red lipstick and the long take which lingers on her suspenders. They've taken an archetypal signifier or icon of (Disney) innocence and purity and flipped it to fit with their darker vision.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

REPRESENTATION Hetero-normativity, straight-washing: Sam Smith etc

Take 2, take 1 having been wiped by the Android app crashing...
Great article, written from a queer (American) perspective, challenging the cosy consensus that we've moved on from homophobia being culturally acceptable. The writer uses a term new to me (a neologism!), straight-washing (x-washing is an established concept though, green-washing, falsely adopting an environment-friendly image, being an example I'm more familiar with).

The Sam Smith example made me think back to the depths of BI time (Before Internet!), growing up in the 80s/90s. The first lesbian kiss in UK drama (the primetime soap Brookside) was a huge news story (Eastenders finally managed this in 2013), while Queer as Folk was shock and awe television - both, not coincidentally, Channel 4 shows. Boy George became a camp national treasure ... but only after declaring he'd rather have a cup of tea than coitus [link is to a page from Simon Napier-Bell's pop history bio] (my first ever Big Bang Theory intertextual reference there...).
You can see a Queer as Folk trailer here; NB: the series was rated 18, and the trailer features sexual references.You can find lots of analysis of the Brookside and other same-sex 'controversies' here (I was trying to find some contemporary newspaper coverage).
The Brookside kiss was headline news

Bronski Beat and the Communards had huge hits fuelled by Jimmy Somerville's extraordinary vocals, but did so with the bands' sexuality set aside in the glossy videos. 
This playlist starts with The Communards' Don't Leave Me This Way, and continues with Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy...

Annie Lennox caused much red ink to be spilt in the British tabloids by refusing to (applying Judith Butler's concept*) perform her gender like a good little girl, her shaven head, boxing gloves, trouser suits and all appalling the moral guardians in the press. [* gender as performativity; something that doesn't exist in nature but we learn to perform]
Sweet Dreams was one of many huge hits, but vocalist Lennox's counter-hegemonic behaviour, her utter refusal to play the expected (of female artists - and has this changed 30 years later?) glamour game, led to some intense tabloid flak (yes, Chomsky alert!).

Despite Madonna's Justify My Love coming along just a few years later and seemingly breaking every sexual taboo going, the bottom line is that it, like the original video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax (set in a gay club), was (and remains) banned.
The acceptable face of Frankie's Relax on ToTP:
Is the Hayley Kiyoko video Joseph Firago discusses in his article evidence of advancement? As Firago argues: yes and no - see his analysis on this.

From the colour tone to the specific intro/outro shots of the female protagonist on her bike, I can't help but perceive a curious intertextual relationship with the video for the Pixies' comeback single, BagBoy, which I've blogged on in depth...

If nothing else, though, this article manages to make the otherwise ultra-bland Sam Smith somewhat interesting!