The era of MuchMusic and MTV being the go-to places for music videos is long gone. Why wait for a clip if you can just dial it up on YouTube? Mark Mulligan of Music Industry Blog looks at where things are headed when it comes to the art of the music video.
The music industry has a long history of underplaying the role of video, insisting on seeing it as merely a tactic for driving sales. In doing so it let two businesses that understood the wider value of music video become global superpowers. MTV and YouTube knew that music fans, especially younger ones, could connect with their favourite artists via video in way that they could not with audio alone. The labels were able to put MTV and YouTube down as an irritating mistake (albeit the exact same one made twice) because for a long while they were still selling units of music product, albeit in reducing numbers by the time YouTube arrived on the scene. Now though, as we accelerate into the consumption era all bets are off. Consumers want to pay for access to content – either with money (subscription) or with attention (ads). With revenue generated by streams rather than up front transactions, both access models demand increased engagement. This means that video must shift from marketing tactic to revenue bearing product. Slowly but surely labels are waking up to this new reality and Sony Music’s deal with YouTube star Kurt Hugo Schneider hints at what the future may hold.