Category Archives: Music Videos

The Rise of the Fan-made Music Video

After watching a lot of fan-made and “unofficial” music videos lately I’ve come to the conclusion that many are better than the official version. There are some obvious differences, production value being the most noticeable: Official videos tend to look as if there was a lot of money spent on them. But the ideas and execution of the videos are very similar.

Those who watch music videos tend to be influenced by what they watch. I suspect this goes back to the heyday of MTV and how the music video came into it’s own, however, the Internet does tend to homogenize the creative experience. You can see this when watching videos; they all tend to look the same. I can’t count the number of videos showing people walking. Just walking: Down streets, through the woods. And this is for both official and unofficial videos.

So where does a budding music video producer begin. Well, starting with production values, defined as the combined technical qualities of the methods, materials, or stagecraft skill used in the production of a motion picture or artistic performance. This means using all the resources at your disposal to make the best video possible.

Now don’t get production value confused with creativity. In fact, minus a large budget this is where the novice music video producer can shine. What is Creativity? This is tough to define. Creativity at Work has attempted to do so. The short version is, “The act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.” On their blog, Creativity at Work makes it simple with this graphic:


Imagination+Creativity+Empathy+Innovation=Value Creation.

There’s much more to making a video. Production value is not just money, places, and props. It’s people. And convincing people to do a video often requires leadership skills. Or the skills of a con artist. This is when you need to use your creative vision to excite others to be part of something great. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty the LA Video Filmmaker website has some very useful tips. Here you will find a very interesting tid-bit (in bold no less) that states, “The general trend is that the music video industry disrespects vanilla directors and meaningful storytelling.”

The point of this statement and the bulk of the article is that the producer should forget what the music says. The video should not recreate the story in the music. It needs to be conceptual. The LA Video article uses this Lenny Kravitz as a example:

However, if you don’t have the money to create space ship set with lots of effects consider this example by independent producer Jesse Locke:

This is a video mashup of the Oasis song, Cigarettes and Alcohol.

The mashup by Jesse Locke brings me to the final aspect of making a good video: Putting it all together. That is quality editing. His mashup is just not the quality of the images he uses but the way he has put them together. These are not just random images editing to the Oasis song, he has considered every image and its place in the video. He uses the same techniques in his Crave You (Adventure Club Remix) to equal success.

These are single examples and some very simple guidelines. Making something unique and standing out in the crowd means adapting a mindset beyond that of a student in a media class. More about that in an upcoming article.


The Music Video Online

The music video has been around for a couple of generations now. Most people who listen to music also like to watch their music. Since the launch of Vevo in 2009 music video viewership has been increasing. As of the end of 2013 music videos viewership on Vevo reached 55 billion views globally, up 33% from 2012. Monthly views at the end of 2012 was approximately 5.5 billion.

The number of people watching music videos has spurred Google to create Google Play using their vast collection of music videos. In fact, of the millions of videos streamed every day on YouTube music videos are the most popular. Forty percent of YouTube’s audience watches music video — more than any other category.

Specially, who watches videos is not as surprising as where they are watched more. The U.S. only accounted for 12.3 billion views in 2013. In the UK the views are around 2.6 billion. In each case the majority of views is on a smartphone, tablet, or a connected TV. But are these the only places where people watch music videos? What about the rest of Europe, or Asia? Who is watching music videos and what are they watching?

For the most part all of the music video information available in the sites linked above are from record labels promoting artists under contract with them. They each have a YouTube channel and remarkable number of views to show for their collections. But one type of video that has been ignored and not included in any statistical breakdown is the fan made — or unofficial — music video.

There is a type of fan made music video called Vidding that has been around for some time. But this title doesn’t seem to fit the number of unofficial music videos made every day by students for class projects or just for fun by countless others. There is a app called VideoStar that helps people make their own music video and upload it to YouTube. It seems to be used mostly by pre-teen kids and only has a few effects, but its popularity highlights the popularity of the fan made video.

Expect to see more of these unofficial videos made by fans as they will likely come to dominate the music video scene. More about this in other posts.