Episode 3: Nights Are Warm And The Memes Are Fun

Hi all, since the last newsletter was a lot a lot A LOT of text (1700 words….I’m so sorry….she went overboard), this one is going to be considerably lighter, and just a quick update since it’s only been four days. Hope you enjoy and as usual, let me know what you think.

Episode 3: Nights Are Warm And The Memes Are Fun

There’s currently a “music video week” going on over at Billboard: “a week's worth of content that looks at the past, present and future of the video, at a time when it seems to be as relevant as ever.” I’ll refrain from the obnoxious this is what I’ve been SAYING!!!!-ness of the whole affair, because honestly I’m just happy that music videos are finally getting some coverage that isn’t primarily based in nostalgia or quick aggregate blogs. As part of this video-centric week, Andrew Unterberger wrote a really great piece for the site titled “This Is a New Golden Age for Music Videos,” which addresses the disconnect between the artistic milestones within the medium over the last few years and the widely-held belief that music videos are “dead,” or at least not relevant anymore like they once were. I’m not gonna link it here, but on that note, I distinctly remember a prominent music critic tweeting out about the obsoleteness of the 2016 VMAs as they were airing….and while Beyonce was up there performing her medley from Lemonade. It’s nice to see that narrative being challenged in a major music publication, particularly one that focuses on the business/financial/profitable side of things.

I highly recommend you go read the whole piece, but I think the point Unterberger brings up in this paragraph is essential:

“Finally, the music video is expanding not only in format and platform, but in definition. Video is such an important part of the media universe in 2018 that visuals of all kinds are serving to promote music as effectively as the traditional music video, whether it be through lyric videos, lip dubs, commercial syncs, and perhaps most of all, fan tributes and memes. For as much time, money and effort was pumped into the three Internet-conquering Drake music videos this year, it's arguable that the most effective video for the star rapper this year was the Instagram clip filmed by online personality Shiggy which featured him dancing to Scorpion cut "In My Feelings," spawning a dance challenge that spread across the Internet with blinding speed and turned "Feelings" into the album's most viral hit essentially overnight. The future of music video may see the form evolve from a one-time statement to more of a two-way exchange between artists and fans.”

This isn’t even a new thing for Drake, of course; “Hotline Bling” was a landmark video not only in how it changed Drake’s relationship to the medium, but also in how it signified the form’s changing role in the industry through its relationship to fandom. To go back to the point I made on Monday on Dave Meyers’ stylistic changes – in particular, his increased focus on “vignette” music videos as opposed to linear narratives – video stylings have been evolving rapidly to accommodate the online streaming ecosystem, aka the environment that’s allowed them to be profitable again. (As Unterberger notes in his piece, two YouTube clips for Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” raked in a combined revenue total of $4 million last year.) In the streaming era, the most successful videos tend to be those that can be chopped up, fragmented, transformed into still images or memes or GIFs, and spread around on social media, all while still leaving their intended mark on the viewer. And yes, this is the case even for visual albums – part of why Lemonade was so successful was that the viewing experience existed so far removed from the work itself, in the form of viral live-tweets and short clips of Bey wielding a baseball bat that were transformed into fan art within hours. Via social media, and without a traditional album rollout, Lemonade functioned as its own marketing campaign.

I’m hoping to dive deeper into video fragmentation in future newsletters, but for now I’ll just say that what Billboard is doing this week is something I really fuck with. Also, if you haven’t already, please go watch Tierra Whack’s “Whack World.”

A Little News, and a Little Video

  • Janet Jackson is filming in Brooklyn! With Daddy Yankee! And with Dave Meyers! (He’s the bearded dude in the yellow striped shirt. Janet’s done a lot of videos with Dave before.)

  • Another feature I want to highlight from the Billboard video week is this roundtable featuring some industry heads from YouTube, Spotify, Snapchat, and Vydia. It’s insightful, although I will say that everything coming from the Spotify exec sounds like unfiltered ad copy.

  • As for videos, nothing’s really piqued my interest since Monday, but since my last newsletter I’ve become…a The 1975 stan. Seriously! I’ve already set a Google alert for “love it if we made it music video.” And today at work I ordered a custom T-shirt that says “Poison Me Daddy.” Help!

That’s all for now! If you have feedback, questions, comments, tips, etc., please direct them to ClaireShafferVevo at gmail dot com. And feel free to forward this email, share on social media, and encourage your friends to subscribe. We’ll be back next week with more vids. •