Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Thursday, 29 December 2016

INDUSTRY Big 3 revenues streaming surge

Music streaming hailed as industry's saviour as labels enjoy profit surge

Will Spotify kill the music download?

Record sales: vinyl hits 25-year high

Friday, 16 December 2016

Xmas campaigns and social media engagement

Metallica fan's festive treat.

This is a key time of year for acts to engage with their audiences, and you'll see all sorts of examples of this. Social media is primarily used by acts to create the sense of enagement and interaction with fans - even though, for bigger artists at least, most of this 'personal' interaction is actually produced by hired help.
Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie is given an annual Xmas makeover

Saturday, 10 December 2016

WEB 2.0 makes fans stars

'It's crazy, for sure': meet the stars of

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

VINYL plays the long game overtakes digital

Tables turned as vinyl sales overtake digital sales for first time in UK

Vinyl indignity: record sales are up, but small labels don't see the benefit

Record sales: vinyl hits 25-year high

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

WEBSITE WIX tools for music sites

As seen from our sampling of websites, you can expect to find a range of online digital music outlets directly linked/embedded, as well as links to physical media (especially boxsets) resellers (sometimes self-distributed). Amazon Music, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify ... there are lots of smaller platforms too. SoundCloud is increasingly commonly seen, for podcasts, remixes, samples, live audio, and simply for publishing tracks (for some unsigned/Indie acts). Like Vimeo and YouTube it includes purchase options, not just streaming.
Amazon includes a sample clip option - and so can you. You could avoid copyright issues by recording audio of you stating something like - don't just use my 'script'
hi, apologies as you're aware this isn't actually the track by [artist] you were hoping to hear. This website is a student coursework production and whilst we wanted to demonstrate our grasp of technology and industry conventions, we didn't want to contravene the artist's copyright. You can, however, find links to the actual artist page on various streaming and digital retail sites on this site!

Here's Amazon's Skrillex page, for example, with playable clips:

Wix provides a tool for creating a similar experience on your own website:

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

WEBSITE some home pages and banners compared

You have a few fundamental decisions to make early in the construction and design of your site:
  • BANNER this should tie in with icons/banners for all social media, and will often change to reflect the latest album release or tour
  • TOP LINKS any decent website has clear, specific top-links, accessible on every page for quick navigation through the site. 4 or 5 (sometimes 6) is the norm. Some will include dropdown menus with sub-pages. 'Contact' or 'social media' shouldn't be one of these as those icons should also be on every page AND their content featured heavily throughout
  • COLOURSCHEME/OVERALL LOOK there should be a clear feel throughout the site. That doesn't necessarily mean the same background colour/image, but there should some clear feel of consistency
Here are a few homepages/banners to consider:

He started out as a late 70s punk, but became one of the biggest selling 80s pop artists, and a key pioneer of the epic MTV music video, and continues to record and tour today. He has TWO official sites, one for the US and one primarily for the UK.
The US site has 6 top links, and a poorly designed banner - odd for an artist famed for tightly controlling and self-designing so much of his own artwork over the years. The forum is in heavy use - 0.5m posts, including recent additions. Note the emphasis on merchandise and live dates, a clear reflection of how artists tend to monetise their work these days. 'Features' is an odd mish-mash of many things; this could do with a dropdown sub-menu. There actually is a mouse hover submenu, but its a graphic only, and disappears when you move the mouse or click on Features. I also note that clicking through to merchandise prices appear in euros but there is a separate banner for a US store on the homepage for that separate site.

VIRAL the sick slickness of me-too memes

The idea of a “viral hit” long ago stopped being something that just happened to a song and became, through contrivance and orchestration, a core part of the marketing plot. We can see this today, the air thick with the tang of desperation, as tracks are propelled by endless videos and vloggers shamelessly bankrolling themselves with “promoted content”. Songs are announced as viral hits on launch, semantically bulldozing through what “viral” actually means. (Mannequin challenge, Rae Sremmurd and the meme-powered viral hit)
The quote comes from a good overview, and critique, of the viral video concept by Eamonn Forde:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

INDUSTRY 360 deals rip off or service?

Since Napster and its successors ate away at the CD cash-cow, the music industry has aggressively sought to develop fresh sources of income.

An exemplar of this is the now common 360 deal, wherein an artist signs over a percentage of rights to every money-making activity to their label - in return (in theory) for support from the label. It is a controversial practice from an industry historically mired in controversy over its treatment and exploitation of artists.

Excerpt from an interview featured on ezine Blabbermouth with the Staind frontman, & (above) Indie innovator Alan McGee (Creation Records) pulls no punches!
BELOW: a definition + research tips/examples

Saturday, 5 November 2016

RETROMANIA New life on Mars for 1973 Bowie promo

Student videos often tap into the possibility of promo campaigns targeting a new, younger audience. Some of the re-formed Pixies videos, such as Bagboy, are a good example of this approach in practice by established artists.

Bowie is not the first to get either a new video (there have been several posthumous videos for Elvis, Biggie, Tupac and more, not to mention the hologram live appearances by Ronnie Dio, Michael Jackson and more) or a re-edit, but the news that a 1973 promo clip is being revisited by its director and editor could inspire more such work.

This could offer buying incentives to repackaged best of albums, and at minimum is a cheap means of gaining free media publicity through media coverage. Video plays are monetised, even if the payment levels are controversially low per online view, and video collections remain a useful means of monetising through DVD sales (eg, I've pre-ordered a new Depeche Mode DVD collecting their video work, a November release that should sell well in the gap between album releases and tours).

Thursday, 3 November 2016


a branded campaign
As good an example as any, they're highly active across multiple platforms, and even managed to persuade me to lash out on a vinyl copy of their comeback single Bagboy and EP after spotting a promo tweet. Like many who ordered this I don't currently have a record player - the package also came with download codes for high bitrate (quality) MP3s.

Old-school email is a tool they use very effectively - always integrating their other platforms when doing so. These screenshots largely speak for themselves:

  • using staggered video releases to push new releases and tours alike
  • they've recorded videos for every album (2) and EP track since re-forming, a growing trend (not least as YouTube plays themselves generate revenue)
  • the range of videos work to both please their existing, ageing fanbase (the band date back to the late 80s and were a key influence on Nirvana) and to target a new, younger audience too (for sheer inspiration, I highly recommend viewing a batch of these and/or Depeche Mode videos)
  • they offer exclusives to various online ezines; an advantage of multiple videos is that they can offer this to a variety of sites over time
  • they highlight Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (plus their website), currently the big 3 of social media (surely users will tire of Twitter eventually?!)
  • look carefully at the followers/likes numbers, and you'll get a good example of which platforms are most/least significant for a primarily mature adult fanbase
  • the emails are not excessive, but often enough to keep prompting fans into potential purchase of recordings, merchandise or tickets, or at worst to view their video/s or visit their online platforms
  • the branding is clear: the P in a circle at the bottom of the email; the banner/masthead across their online platforms pushing the latest album, and a consistent image for their user icons
  • recordings are offered in multiple formats, including vinyl and boxsets
  • there is also a link for streaming
  • this is tied into multiple streaming platforms
Skip to 1:43 for 2nd question in this interview in which they discuss social media...(part of my extensive Pixies playlist)

a few of the emails The Pixies (... the marketing agency they've hired!) have sent me.
Details of the latest, plus screenshots from their platforms, are below the read more line

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Kill 'Em All - Metallica latest to do video for every track

Videos, expensive beasts, are for singles. Simples.

But passé.

The Pixies did it, Bjork has done it, and many, many others - including, imminently, kings of thrash metal (sales wise at least...) Metallica.

Yes, the music video remains primarily a vehicle for promoting a single, but, reflecting wider industry changes through digital disruption, now the video is commonly part of a track by track album promo.

Friday, 28 October 2016

SOCIAL MEDIA dying on the Vine: When the music's over

...turn out the lights...

So Vine has withered, joining MySpace in the one-time music industry giant graveyard (though relaunched MySpace struggles on)

Shawn Mendes and the Harlem Shake: what Vine did for pop

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Artist Case Study

However far from the existing image (brand) of your artist your own ideas are, you do need to evidence your awareness of this, and the research steps taken to inform yourself. You need to consider and provide info on such aspects as:
  1. are they signed to an Indie or major record label?
  2. considered a global artist or just UK or US success?
  3. what record, if any, of chart success?
  4. are they associated with any particular eras (eg the 80s)?
  5. what genre/s do they work in?
  6. who would be their core target audience, and consider any possible secondary audience/s?
  7. are there 'leitmotifs' (common themes, symbols) in their videos, and perhaps lyrics?
  8. provide a synopsis of their career
  9. are there particular directors they work with? do these bring their own styles?
  10. research some reviews of their videos, including YT user comments
  11. comment on the media language and editing used
  12. do they have any social media presence (consider how significant; the branding etc)?
  13. can you find UGC (fan art, fan-made videos, lyric videos etc)?
What you can find will obviously vary depending on the status and longevity of your act. You should consider the longer list above, but here are core elements you should evidence research into and consideration of - you could split this into multiple posts with a main summary post:

Major releases, successes, landmark dates - don't copy/paste huge reams from Wikis. Do hyperlink/credit all sources.
Overlapping with research into target audience, sum up their media profile: what sort of media do they appear in? do they get a favourable response? does this vary by media type/audience? Make sure you suitably illustrate such points.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

MARKETING The Gaga blitz v Solange silence

There are lots of examples raised in this Guardian article which you can reflect on as part of audience AND industry research, as well as consider mimicking.

Your simulacra of any known form of marketing could range from Photoshopping your version of an established magazine's cover to creating your own carpool karaoke.

Such approaches will also help you with the markscheme requirement for CREATIVE presentation and use of technology in the Evaluation especially, but also as content for social media and website.

The article has a somewhat confusing conclusion, but this can be translated as the simple message that there is no clearcut smart way to market an album or musical brand anymore; the marketing blitz is no longer any guarantee of success.

I'd recommend reading the Elberse chapters on the music industry to deepen your knowledge not just on marketing but also distribution.

Silence is golden: how keeping quiet became 2016's album launch strategy

Friday, 21 October 2016

GENDER Tove Lo and Lady Wood

NB: the artist under discussion often swears in her lyrics and interviews, both of which address her sexual identity in a frank manner.
Lo might be a new low for some, her very in your face lyrics and gyrating in her videos leaving little room for interpretation, but she isn't doing anything new - nor is much of the censorious or dismissive critical reaction, and its grounding in gender politics, new.
Pop writing often ignores great female blues and jazz singers who addressed their sexuality lyrically, and each latest controversy somehow forgets Donna Summers, Madonna, even Alannis Morrisette (whose Jagged Little Pills brought some challenging topics to a huge mainstream audience).
Lo is right to be exasperated at the double standards over male performers, and the issue of agency is central here.
Is her sexualised image and performance a reflection of a patriarchal society and a misogynistic music industry (a traditional feminist stance), and Lo therefore an exploited victim, OR is she an assertive, self-assured woman in control of her image and art freely choosing to explore sexuality (a more typically post-feminist position)?
Perhaps there is some truth in BOTH positions? Lo is asserting female artists' freedom to discourse in a manner seen as male territory and unbecoming for women, thus challenging normative, hegemonic gender identity.
BUT ... she is doing this using visual tropes long linked to the male gaze, and which surely are appealing to a heterosexual male audience as much as generating any identification with or aspiration from (uses and gratifications theory) a female audience?
This is seemingly an endless debate. Going back a decade were the Pussycat Dolls empowering role models or a cynical male manager and record label boss' means of putting a positive spin on an exploitative, sexualised image?
Tove Lo: ‘Being open about sex is not a bad thing’

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Links lists

As a precaution against another blogger issue wiping my links lists again, this post is simply a backup of links lists - as I gradually try to recreate the many, many lost. Thanks blogger...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

PITCHING your proposed coursework track

Former Pres. Bush, son of a pitch... Aiming right I see
Updated May 2015.
You'll find there are multiple guides to pitching on this blog and other DB blogs. I'm aiming to make this a straightforward but comprehensive guide.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

GENDER (w)rapper in a dress: pop gets queered

There's nothing new in rock and pop stars transgressing and undermining normative gender expectations: David Bowie, Iggy Pop, all those 60s 'longhairs', Janis Joplin, Marilyn Manson, Perry Farrell, Boy George, Little Richard, Annie Lennox...
Nonetheless, in an era when a bearded woman won Eurovision, Judith Butler's provocative pronouncement that gender is a fiction we learn to act out has clearly won some high profile fans.
We need to be careful when judging representations: Miley Cyrus would mock a feminist male gaze reading of her controversial act, rejecting sexual and gender labels which underpin this.
...Which doesn't necessarily make her right, and Sinead O'Connor (who wrote am open letter to Cyrus on exploitation by male record label bosses) wrong. Without denying Cyrus agency, as Stuart Hall would argue, your response (or reading) will be partly guided by your own subjectivity, background, identity
Female fury and a gangster in a dress: meet the pop stars toppling gender stereotypes

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

SPOTIFY Fans plan 400m streams to pay Nelly $2m tax

Personally I wouldn't fancy hearing it once, but fans of the nose-adorned rapper are pledging to try and play just one of his tracks 400m times to pay his $2.3m tax bill.

So, Nelly takes money out of your pocket twice over - smooth work.

A single fan could achieve the same outcome by streaming in constant repeat for 2076 years...great figures for bringing the streaming debate to life...

And how many times is that? Somewhere between 280m and 403m.

That’s quite a lot of Nelly. Yes it is. Indeed, it was calculated that if one person were to pay off Nelly’s tax debt by themselves, simply by streaming Hot In Herre over and over again and accumulating the microscopic royalty that goes with each stream, it would take 2,076 years to settle the debt.

Nelly fans hope to pay his taxes – by repeatedly playing Hot In Herre on Spotify

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

AUDIENCE Radio Gaga fans fake mum profiles

Lady Gaga fans pose as soccer moms to drum up radio buzz for new single

Saturday, 6 August 2016

POMO RETROMANIA Shot-by-shot remake videos

This vaguely creepy effort by a US presenter has added a useful 1m hits to Selena Gomez' hit single. BELOW I consider examples where a different (new) track is used with a remake of an old video. There is an embedded playlist at the bottom of this post.
NB: There is some swearing from 2:38 in the video below.

More evidence that music video is the ultimate postmodern, intertextual format, the magpie medium that steals the nest eggs of previous videos and just about every audio-visual format going: the shot by shot remake videos.

The article that drew my attention to this doesn't mention an earlier filmic example of this strange phenomenon: Gus Van Sant's utterly dreadful Psycho remake (1960; 1998), adding colour and some jarring diegetic sound as the woefully miscast, towering Vince Vaughn uses his peephole. (See Wiki; trailer; FeudNation's often crude comparison flags up many of the problems using multiple clips from both) That was seen as a terribly arty effort by an auteur filmmaker - many of the music video equivalents share the element of tribute, but are much more playful and consciously postmodern.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Music vid renaissance...for the biggest acts

The big budget music video died with Michael Jackson's reign as king of pop, as the music industry faced up to the disruptive impact of digitization.
Consumer/fan-made videos are widely used by the industry, and lo-fi official videos are not uncommon.
BUT, in some cases this established narrative is being undermined.

Film-maker Romain Gavras’s cinematic vision for Jamie xx’s Gosh – which features a cast of 400 people and eschewed CGI and 3D effects – came with one instruction for its viewers: fully immerse yourselves in the apocalyptic experience. “Please watch full-screen with loud speakers or headphones,” Gavras tweeted on its release this month. The video was a moment, rolled out for a track that was originally released more than a year ago. It’s a track that really doesn’t need a music video, let alone a physical copy, designed to look like a knock-off DVD, of a 40-second trailer for said video, which was delivered to journalists days before its official premiere.
At a time when the music world is still dealing with illegal downloads and streaming culture, such an ostentatious approach to promoting an old song may appear incongruous. But thanks to the power of a small number of elite artists, music videos are having a renaissance and once more becoming events in themselves, the way they were when Michael Jackson released Thriller or Madonna put out Erotica. Some are cinematic: BeyoncĂ©’s visual album Lemonade, which is set to sweep the board at this year’s MTV Video Music awards; Rihanna’s Sledgehammer, the first video shot using solely Imax cameras. Others, such as David Bowie and Radiohead, have engaged with a new demographic using short, shareable Instagram vignettes.
Major artists and their labels are again spending serious money on music videos. However, unlike a few years ago, when the likes of Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus were going for the shock factor, artists are taking artistic, inventive approaches. When they do try to provoke outrage – as with Kanye West’s Famous or Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money – it’s a step beyond Blurred Lines or Wrecking Ball.
How the pop video got weird again.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

PopUp site: Alice takes Whitehouse pill

The site shows one side of the diversifying approach of artists in the digital era - here's another, the mock election campaign of Alice Cooper (Wiki):
Visit site.
Such satire works as smart branding and PR for an artist that released his first album back in 1969 - fans will be familiar with his song Elected, but there is enough here to encourage wide (viral) spreading of the link or just the main poster with the manifesto - including a younger demographic than his primary fanbase.

See LoudWire.

(and here's a new note on the merch issue:)

I mention beer as a great example of merch below - you can buy both Slayer and Iron Maiden beer in Luxembourg (Auchan), and Motorhead, plus some other branded wine/spirits if I recall correctly. That this is now a common strategy, especially in heavy metal, can be seen from a simple google ('heavy metal beer').See this Pinterest for a gallery (pic, right comes from it):

Friday, 15 July 2016

Teaser video, VR, crowdfunding, fan engagement - Megadeth are exemplary

social media can be enigmatic...
IN THIS POST:  a quick look at some examples of how Megadeth, a band whose debut album was in 1985, use multiple platforms to engage with existing fans and seek new ones, generating media coverage along the way. Any music video producer can learn from their strategic approach. As I can't access FB + other sites while writing this, I've used limited examples, but you can always look further yourselves.

If you're producing a music video you really should seek to engage with an audience long before you've got to the final cut stage.

Blogging does that to some extent, but being active on social media (Instagram, Twitter, FB...), posting snippets and updates of what you've been doing, should be part of that mix, generating content for a website in turn.

Just as film has the trailer, so many artists are now creating their own (often put out on record company YouTube channels) trailers (see Slayer example on this blog) and even teasers, as with this example from Megadeth (featured in a popular e-zine; marketing involves a mix of social media and publications/channels - such content will typically generate lots of articles in magazines, e-zines, radio...):
Bing (yuck) results galore, showing the success of the strategy to generate attention

Megadeth are an act skilled in keeping a buzz going, over 30 years since their debut album - they're engaging with VR (and note the serializing of the feature too, drip-feeding segments):
Official Megadeth YT channel.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

INDUSTRY No Swift end to YouTube fees war

An ongoing story to keep an eye on, the fight between artists and streaming outlets such as YouTube and Spotify over the fees or royalties paid. Counted for chart positions now, there is a fierce debate over the equity of the huge revenues generated for the likes of YouTube and the very, very small payments all but the very largest artists receive.

Taylor Swift has been notably outspoken in calling for increased payments per stream. See Taylor Swift is taking on YouTube, and it won’t be an easy fight.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Work with local band: Luxembourg

I've blogged on finding a local act back in Yorkshire, England, so a quick post on how you can quickly find info/contacts for local acts - same principle applies for some very simple googling, just change key words.

It was as simple as 'luxembourg band listings' to find the following:

Fuze listing:
RateYourMusic list:

You can also simply check newspaper, magazine, online listings and go to a gig to speak to a band - or tweet, Facebook, Instagram...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Elders React

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Blogging on 'Exemplar vids'

Start of 1 of my vid analyses: Hyperlinks,
wider research, sub-headings, top summary
There's no single right way to blog on individual videos you've looked at, but you do need to be clear on what sort of points/details you're after, and the overall purpose of undertaking this work.
Remember, you've got 3 years worth of IGS/StG student blogs to help you as well as this blog.
I'll set out the minimal expectations at the bottom of this post, but first...

QUICK LINKS:Music video examples tag; 
Pixies: Bagboy (individual video analysis); 
Pixies artist case study; 
Hetero-normativity: exploring a theme through multiple videos; 
Music videos I've selected + blogged on for raising useful issues 
Some female fronted bands
I blogged on several dance vids, amongst many others, to give you an idea of good style, layout + organisation:

  • Its a basic principle of any Media Studies coursework brief that you cannot create a suitable text without developing a thorough, detailed familiarity with the key codes and conventions of a particular format

Monday, 6 June 2016

Pop gender history in Vanity Fair videos

Vanity Fair (upmarket US men's magazine) has put together some useful montages of how male and female performers have evolved different looks over the decades...
The past century has seen a whole range of music icons, with distinct personas and styles, and, in this visual journey, as we did for female pop stars already, we take a look back at some of the most notable male artists from the past 100 years. We begin with Joe “King” Oliver, a preeminent 1910s jazz performer, and then work our way up through the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson, before reaching modern-day stars Kanye West and Justin Bieber.



Sunday, 5 June 2016

VR pioneered by Beatles and Bjork

See the video here.
The industry keeps changing, and the pace of evolution is speeding up even further, reflecting the fast pace of technological change. A staple of sci-fi movies and series, VR is now filtering through into music video, with smartphone-connected headsets seeing this advanced technology become yet another converged offshoot of digitisation. 

(Quotes below sources: Bjork; McCartney)

Bjork has been a pioneer of utilising new technology for music promotions/expression for 2 decades, so its no suprise to see she's amongst the first to embrace the possibilities of VR:
Few among those musical stars that came of age in the 90s have evolved in such complex and interesting ways, carrying their old fans into the future and picking up a whole heap of new ones along the way. A clue to her evolution may lie in her unusual collaborations with designers, scientists, software developers, composers, instrument makers, app makers and film directors.
She has been planning VR content for years, and stresses the intimacy of the technology.
When I started working on virtual reality, it was a home for my music. It’s a journey you are on: the fact that you have your own theatre and you have this psychological drama.
At the same time, I realised it would be a couple of years before people would have this technology in their homes. It would be an impossible feat to do – it’s like going to the moon. I thought, OK, the way to do it is for people to have a place to go to and watch the videos, and it would be like a workshop and work-in-progress and if people want to see it, they can have somewhere to come.
The older I get the more I understand what is special about how we experience music. It’s either one-on-one, or thousands of people at a festival where you lose yourself. It’s not intellectual, it’s impulsive. Virtual reality is a natural continuity of that. It has a lot of intimacy. As a musician to be intimate is really important. If you want to express certain details, it’s an opportunity to do that.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Oops Britney got game

There are lots of ways artists are attempting to monetise their brand, replacing but in some cases exceeding the traditional reliance on royalties (with CD sales falling, and streaming revenues requiring huge user numbers to generate significant income). Britney is typical of the trend in some ways: it is mostly the very biggest stars who are benefitting from the opportunities of convergence.

In 2015, global music sales were $15bn (£10.3bn). Yet the three biggest mobile games companies alone – Supercell, King and GungHo Online – made $5.6bn between them, out of an estimated $30.4bn for the overall mobile gaming market.Britney Spears: American Dream is the latest experiment to see if music can capitalise on a world where many people are happier to spend their disposable income on Candy Crush Saga or Clash Royale rather than on music.The company behind Britney’s game, Glu Mobile, had a decent-sized hit with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, and is trying to repeat the trick with musicians: besides Spears, it has signed up Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.
SOURCE/READ MORE: Can Britney Spears succeed in mobile games where Katy Perry failed?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

LISTEN TO THE BRAND Rock is Dead, Sales Are Up


What is needed, says Jampol, in a not uncommon moment of management-marketing speak, is to locate the “artist’s essence”. “Figure out what the magic is. There’s something that connects James Dean or Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain or the Ramones to a 12-year-old whether that’s in 1957 or 2017. It could be a group of facets and then you have to find a way to be put that back into the pop culture in a way that’s credible to a teenager,” he said.

It may sound like gauzy marketing speak – Jampol also lectures as an adjunct professor in music business at UCLA – still, he has a point. Punk is 40 years old, but “questioning authority, being an outsider, not caring about the social order are absolutely not dead”.

'This is the pop culture legacy business': JAM Inc manages artists after death

Thursday, 5 May 2016

POSTMODERN WEB2.0 Metallicized Star Wars KickStarter

A nigh on perfect example of multiple concepts which I'll cross-post on MusiVidz and BritCinema, convergence being one...

An outfit called Galactic Empire are exemplifying the "former audience" principle behind the more typical, technotopian web 2.0 theorists (Keenan is an atypical exception to note), and taking UGC or fan-made video to the next level...

Star Wars fanatics and Metallica buffs, they've created a version of The Imperial Battle Theme as if played by thrash metal godfathers Metallica, hailing back to their glory days with their final two classic albums (Masters of Puppets and And Justice For All) before the pop darkness of The Black Album (and Lulu?!) descended.

The ultra-viral video features convincing (verisimilitude alert!) Star Wars costumes and even brief stormtrooper, Emperor and Wookie vocals, and Darth Vader heavy breathing on backing vocals. With a spot of Wookie headbanging and moshing.

If I was a producer of the upcoming 3rd Bill and Ted movie I'd write this lot in in the sure knowledge that the franchise's fans would consider that excellent ...

The 'band' (more accurately a wider media collective, with scripting, video concept, VFX et al kept in-house, all tools needed for a decent modern live show - Depeche Mode, with their Anton Corbijn video backdrops being the prime example) have launched a KickStarter to fund an album and tour, the ultimate expression of digital disruption and the rise of fan-made media; that web 2.0 blurring of the traditional audience-producer divide.

And how do I know any of this? Well, May the 4th is apparently International Star Wars Day, a silly idea given serious wings by social media (may the Fourth be with you).

Which is a handy hook for the MetalSucks e-zine in its article on this, which popped up on my FB timeline, read on my smartphone (from which I'm blogging the initial text-only post you're reading): convergence indeed.

There's a lot to learn here about the nature of the music industry and music promotion but equally about film marketing and the very significant role of viral marketing and fan-made media (which obviously overlap in this case). The potential of a music video to boost a movie remains profound.

I've little doubt, BTW, that were Lucas still the owner of the brand, this story would end with a cease and desist copyright infringement lawsuit (what a Jar-Jarring note that would strike ... uh, back....), but it's new big six conglomerate owners are much savvier than that, and must be revelling in such great free marketing.

So, sith tight and luke on as the Galactic Empire strike black magic. I wonder when Eric Clapton will finally release an updated classic of his own (yes, Leila...)

ALBUM ART dumbed down for viral impact

Great example of BRANDING coherency:

[Beyonce font]

Memes, MP3s and the explosion of album art

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Streaming wars: Tidal, Deezer, Apple, YouTube Red etc trail Spotify

Tidal: can Prince and Beyonce save the underdog of streaming services?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Voice of the Beyhive: superfans identification

The wrath of Beyoncé's Beyhive: how fans have lost the plot

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Radiohead a business case study

Two fascinating articles looking in depth at Radiohead but equally providing a snapshot of the complex business, distribution and promotional practices that have emerged in the digitised, online era, with Radiohead often pioneering disruptors.

All surprises: Radiohead and the art of the unconventional album release

Radiohead's corporate empire: inside the band's dollars and cents

Monday, 25 April 2016

YOUTUBE attacked by stars pays less than rivals

Only a sixth of what Apple or Spotify pay according to Nikki Sixx, with a stream of big names looking set to launch a high profile campaign including an attempt to change laws to force YouTube to renegotiate.

Nikki Sixx launches campaign to get YouTube to ‘do the right thing’ over music royalties

Sunday, 24 April 2016

MARKETING INDUSTRY Beyonce on HBO, Tidal, fashion range...

Several increasing trends reflected by Beyonces album release:
Convergence: TV the platform for the launch, with an HBO show that...
Played videos for every song on the album, not just the singles
Initial exclusive for one streaming platform, Tidal
There had been no release date, an ironically publicity-generating ploy used before by Beyonce, the late David Bowie and more

Then there was the linkage to a recent launch of a fashion range, and the proximity to the Superbowl half time show, with ongoing controversy over her Black Panther salute seeming very unlikely to damage sales - indeed, this but of grittiness is likely to strengthen the brand.

Beyoncé launches new 'visual album' Lemonade on HBO

Saturday, 23 April 2016

VIDEO MASH-UP DJs From Mar do Depeche Mode Doors Tears

'The text' makes less and less sense as a media studies concept with "the former audience" so commonly turning producer to remix, re-edit, re-imagine, mash-up media institutions published material, with the music industry being a prime example of this postmodern bricolage.

Friday, 22 April 2016

FINANCING Carcass crowdfund album cover with ebook offer

Grindcore/death metallers legends Carcass (a vegetarian band who have developed considerable notoriety for their album art) have launched a modest crowdfunding appeal to cover the cost of a new sleeve design - yet another great example of the web 2.0 "former audience" and that rapid blurring of audience/producer, as well as an example of how the economics and financing of the industry are being transformed by disruptive digital platforms such as this.

Note that they're offering exclusive ebooks as part of this - another means by which artists can monetise their work is tabulating their track arrangements for fans to learn and play; ebooks don't pose the challenges of high production and distribution costs, and publishing does not require a book deal - it can be added to platforms like Kindle and then offered through the likes of Amazon, as well as directly through artist websites (self-publish, self-distribute).

Exclusives are managed in many ways: limited edition digipaks or vinyl with remixes, demos, live recordings, bonus DVD etc or even collectible cover, and book/lets are fairly common too; new album only with a concert ticket (Prince, RIP, did this), music and extras exclusive to website subscribers (Metallica a great example) ...

It also demonstrates convergence - I came across a plug for this on a Facebook group via my phone; good viral marketing.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

USEFUL TECHNOLOGIES: YouTube Photoshop tutorials

See more on using Photoshop + digipak design in this post + this vodcast.
You needn't be a Photoshop genius to produce some incredible FX in Photoshop - there are 100s of ace designers out there who have shared their knowledge online, producing effective guides. Have a browse and pick out one or more that can help raise your ideas to a higher level, and just follow the step by step guides!

2015 IGS A2 student Amber got inspired by a tutorial that looked at an effect that fitted neatly with Lady Gaga's complex relationship with the press (post link):

Here Amber goes through the techniques she used:

Sunday, 17 April 2016

BRANDING DIGIPAK Anthrax album trailer, vinyl, digipak


What you can learn from this example

- you should have a clear, consistent brand image and concept to promote
- that consistency would extend across multiple platforms and even merchandise
- most artists will change website banners, YouTube icon/banner (etc) to highlight their latest release or tour
- artists increasingly create video content that can be shared (ideally go viral) ... even short promo clips for an album with self-filmed interview-style footage
- artists also increasingly embrace and create content that was seen as typical of UGC/fan-made videos, notably the lyric video
- you can present research into any coursework topic by creating content that takes on a recognised media format: magazine feature, radio or TV interview/chat show appearance, e-zine interview (more informal, including setting), podcast ...
- the Anthrax Twitter's most recent update was on Record Store Day - formats like these are ideal to convey your grasp of industry topics like the role of vinyl; the issues around streaming and revenues; influences ... even technology ...
- ... it could the album producer, songwriter, video director, video editor or cinematographer (especially to discuss technology used: hardware or software) sleeve art designer, record label executive, band management, fans, ... there are many options. Great website content, research evidence, Evaluation content...
The self-produced Anthrax new album promo is like an interview or TV feature

Pics to be added - a bang up to date example of the multi-formatting that forms part of the marketing for many album releases now.

Unlike many other examples, this isn't a reissue - indeed, the thrash godfathers have put up a video of interviews to trail the album release, with the YouTube description featuring US and UK links for different formats.

Look out for magazine ads for this - drop me a link if you see one.

As usual, convergence is evident here: someone posted a link in a FB group pointing to a metal news site that had their own video which in turn linked to the band/record label's trail video...all accessed, viewed, clicked, read and blogged on through my phone - albeit pictures, saved from phone, formatting and tagging will have to wait til I'm sat at a PC/Macbook!



VINYL AUDIENCE half left unplayed, core 25+ audience

When discussing industry changes and practices you need to be precise - give figures, provide quotes from informed industry/academic figures, details from reports/surveys, and make a clear link into audience habits ...

This article is a good example of precisely the sort of research material you should be accessing, blogging on, and reflecting ('applying') within your evaluation (and potentially exam Q1a/1b too).


Read full article here.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

CIE blog improvements summary

Research + Planning improvement points
(1) review/proofread, especially for presentation: well illustrated? hyperlinks? embedded material [not links to this]? no small text? clear sub-headings? embedded material? any 'TBC'? logical post order/date? 
sans spacing!
This is obviously a HORRIBLY presented post!!! Text should never be allowed to dominate on a blog post, especially a long one. It was worse until I at least added some space between points! [see screenshot fragment] Oh ... and tags! No hyperlinks, almost no imagery, nothing embedded (though clear sub-headings, font + colour + size variation...)
(2) is your journey clear? have you reflected on shoots, edits, feedback? posted alternative versions you tried in editing? evidenced FCPX/P'shop (etc) tools you used over time? is there detail on each shoot? DETAIL on each edit (what changes, why; evidence of experimenting: short scenes with different edits [eg FX]; any feedback on this cut; how this cut reflects previous feedback; tools used; planned further changes...); have you used podcasts to anchor the sense of journey? 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


CIE Evaluation Q3 asks:
How do your products engage with the audience and how would they be distributed as real media products?
This ('3a') is similar to the UK OCR Eval Q3, which looks at the narrower issue of audience feedback - but in practice is essentially an overview of engagement with the audience.

  • provide a very clear, specific breakdown of your primary and secondary target audiences
  • screenshots from blog posts/links lists are useful to help hammer home you are APPLYING research (assuming you have!)
  • set out the web 2.0 framework: how has digitisation changed the way artists engage with audiences? If you're covering this is more detail for another answer, say so but give a brief summary
  • consider the mode of address of your texts: direct gaze to camera? use of I/we/you/us in any writing? direct invite to interact with the artist? the look (branding) of costume, choice of locations: distant/ultra-glamorous or humble/relatable (maybe a mix)? implied representation of audience in the video or elsewhere? intertextuality?
  • did you include a viral element in the digipak and website? (you really, really should) discuss in detail if so
  • website and social media: how widely did you exploit modern tools to engage with the audience and how - include plentiful examples, and detail any branding involved. audience feedback? research or feedback on early ideas? use fansites? Facebook groups? Twitter/Instagram hashtags?
  • IF you got any responses (the 2015 A2 Lady Gaga is a great example - they ended with 100s of followers) were these useful, productive? SHOULD artists be close to audiences or maintain more of a mystique?
  • sum up: did you engage successfully/as well as you might? is there anything you can now say you should have done?

CIE Q3b is fairly similar to the OCR (UK) Q3. Here are some examples:
compare the thoroughness of links lists with yours...
Kate (see below) smartly made sure her understanding of points linked to other answers would be credited

Amber: popstar/Madonna clone Lady Gaga 
This isn't so well presented, and would clearly benefit from more substantial engagement with audience theory, but is especially useful as an example of depth of engagement with audiences. This production partnership (here's Conal's) made extensive use of social media, attracting a sizeable following, dipped into fancies, and took every opportunity to test out their work with a variety of audiences, consistently noting the response and their thoughts and consequent planned actions.


CIE Q2: How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of branding?

This is very similar to the UK OCR Q2, which considers how well the 3 components work as an overall package.

Research existing examples: look at some examples of a single act/artist's website/album cover/video and assess how tightly integrated (in mood/tone, not just direct visuals) they are or aren't. You could discuss how likely it is that videos especially would be directly linked to digipak or website design (usually multiple videos for any album, often from different directors...).
Create a grid with 3 columns: video, digipak, website/online (you could split online [social media] into a 4th).
Start with video and note any feature which is replicated or similar in 1 or both of the other 2 (include branding for YouTube, Twitter etc profiles with website). Take screenshots as you go for use in answer.
Work through digipak and online content too, check if there's anything you missed (there may be some links just between these 2 but not video).
Think again: consider the mode of address, maybe in/formal, humble/brash, accessible/distant ... what MOOD have you created? (the visual links may not be so direct, so you may not have considered branding like this)
Review your notes - can you see themes/issues you can link together? Can you see opportunities to apply theories (eg web 2.0, intertextuality, postmodernism more widely)?
Organise your response into clear sections/themes.
You could also seek audience feedback: question a sample, ask them to describe the brand image.
Provide a short summary: this should include your thoughts on how you might have improved on this!

Discuss, with examples, how typical or not it is to tightly integrate 3 distinct media formats (you'll find examples that do and examples that don't!) - do websites especially tend to change to reflect new releases (yes!).
Brief outline of the artist's existing brand and likely audience.
Brief outline of the brand and likely audience you were aiming for. If it helps, what product (or other existing artist) would you compare this brand to?!
For creative content, consider what brands/products this artist might agree to advertise, which company would pay them to be a 'brand spokesperson' (and create an ad!). Interview with (or promo package by) a design agency and their creative team.
Outline the links between your texts, taking 1 clear theme at a time, and thoroughly illustrating how these link across 2 or more of your texts. As you do, be very clear if you have taken separate photographic images for print work (a good thing!) rather than just use video screenshots.
Provide a summary, including assessment of any changes you now think you should have made

  • define your primary and secondary target audiences (who the branding is aimed at!!!)
  • sum up the existing branding for the artist - is the existing audience the same as yours?
  • are you changing the brand image? if so, how/why?
  • how zeitgeisty (or perhaps retro - Retromania?) is your branding?
  • what role did social media play in binding together the video, digipak and website branding?
  • did you brand the YouTube and social media profiles? (consider the branding across the websites and social media observed in my exemplar case studies)
  • be clear and specific not just on the detailed links between your texts but any differences within these (e.g. the singer in the video setting/costume, but a unique photographic pose)
  • it can be very helpful to ask yourself (as many artists and their managers will): if an existing brand was to sponsor your artist, which would it be and why?

Amber: Lady Gaga

Conal (Amber's group partner): Lady Gaga

Kate: Girls Aloud (pop '00s girlband)
Clear, well illustrated vodcast, and Kate also made clear links within other Eval Qs - a good idea!

Curtis: dance act Faithless
Detailed and largely well illustrated, he closely followed my suggested structure. Curtis also embedded a range of videos from earlier in the blog in this post -
it is a smart move to very clearly link/demonstrate the range of research you are APPLYING through this answer, with playlists/embeds/screenshots (of posts, links lists), list of links, tags etc!



Also see Chief Examiner's guide (for UK spec, but very similar, as is exam) 

This question provides an easy opportunity to elevate the level of your response using theories you'll need to engage with for exam Q1a/1b; have you thought of how you can discuss genre theories here for example? 

Take a moment to consider carefully the question (I've added 1a/b), and the very specific terms selected:

Q1: (1a) How do your products use or challenge conventions and (1b) how do they represent social groups or issues?


See also: INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMARY Digital streamed past physical in 2015
CIE Evaluation Q3 asks:
How do your products engage with the audience and how would they be distributed as real media products?
As part of your background research you should investigate how the music industry works, considering issues such as those below - a more extensive list of issues can be found in this post:
  • who are the 'big three' (now big two?) of the music industry?
  • what's the difference between Indie and conglomerate or subsidiary (consider vertical and horizontal integration + synergy - terms from AS learning)?
  • how has digitisation impacted ('disrupted') the music industry?
  • has streaming effectively replaced lost revenues from physical media sales for artists and labels?
  • how else are musicians seeking to monetise their work, brand and fanbase?
  • why is vinyl making a comeback, and how wide or narrow a range of artists/genres are publishing in this format? is it just for older, nostalgic audiences (Simon Reynolds: Retromania)? 
  • do you still need a record label/deal? think about Soundcloud, Vimeo, YouTube ... but also how difficult it is to make real money from streaming (Harlem Shake for the opposite!), and Elberse's argument/case studies (Jay-Z and Gaga) in Blockbusters (cheap as an e-book)
  • does the rise of crowdfunding, Kickstarter etc, prove the audience/producer divide is dead?
  • are social media interactions as important as the music itself?
  • where does video fit into this picture? consider convergence and what this means for the increased accessibility of video and the expansion of video production too (you're a part of this), plus UGC such as lyric videos and digipak/CD unwrapping videos
Evaluation Q3 asks:
How do your products engage with the audience and how would they be distributed as real media products?
Focusing mainly on the second part of this, use the following resources to create a post on music video distribution. You should make some reference to recorded (CD) music distribution too, linked to your digipak, and any notes/examples on marketing, social media and audience engagement/interaction will also help.

Interview a record shop owner
International Record Store Day feature
Interview someone (or multiple people/roles) at the record label 
The artist does a promo for record store day, or speaks out about why they're unhappy with YouTube especially...
Band/act's accountant discusses their hits/streams/followers/subscribers data (screenshots!) on any streaming platform they are on (soundcloud, YT, Spotify...). Don't forget that lyric vids etc are still distributing the music