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The New Music Video: Cheaper and More Social

December 3, 2013 Industry Trends No Comments

mtv_youtubeDo you remember (or have you heard the story of) when MTV launched in the early 80s and propelled the concept of the music video, whose most known example and reference is still the 14-minute clip for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller?” It was the beginning of an era which lasted almost 25 years, where a music video had to be a short and entertaining film which only a few artists, generally signed to a major label, could afford.

Almost at the same time, in the mid-80s, two technological revolutions happened that would change music forever. The first one was sampling and the launch of the first affordable samplers which allowed people to take a portion or sample of a sound recording and reuse it on another recording. The second was the emergence of home studios.

These two technologies brought us Hip Hop, Electronic music, Industrial music, Breakbeat… and a few decades of exploding creativity.

Enough history, time to go back to today. Do you see what I’m getting at?

I believe the music video is about to encounter the same kind of revolution that music encountered in the mid-80s.

You no longer need to film with an expensive camera in an exotic part of the world; all the raw material is readily available on the biggest video library we have ever seen: YouTube and its hundreds of thousands of clips you can sample. Not enough? You can use Vine or Instagram or Facebook. Want to be realistic? Just show people the reality they see everyday on social networks or Google Maps… Need to edit something? Add 3D effects? You no longer need an expensive video editing station; a simple laptop should do.

A perfect example of this is Velvet Stairs’ debut video, “Superclusters.” It tells the story of UFO superclusters simultaneously invading cities around the world by using pre-existing footage and clips of social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube.

The best part is that the destiny of this video will depend on the very networks it used in its making. The loop is looped. You’ll notice for example that the video contains footage of supporters celebrating a Parisian soccer team’s victory last year. A team of fans discovered the video, wrote a post on it and shared it with their 18,000 followers!

Another example is Kanye West’s latest video for “Bound 2,” which uses pre-existing National Geographic footage.

In conclusion, as long as you’re complying with all applicable copyright laws, your only limit is your own creativity.

Welcome to the ‘Hood, Rough Trade NYC

November 21, 2013 Industry Trends No Comments

Rough Trade Brooklyn

After a lengthy period of anticipation since it was first announced back in April 2012, the legendary U.K. record shop, Rough Trade, is finally set to open their brand-new U.S. location in Brooklyn on November 25th.

Located at 64 N. 9th St., Rough Trade NYC, according to Billboard, will occupy a “15,000 square foot re-purposed film prop warehouse in Williamsburg (…) and will sell all new music — no used — in multiple formats in addition to serving as a ‘healthy-sized place to hang out’ for music lovers.” What this may be referring to is the in-house 299 person capacity venue being booked by Bowery Presents, as well as the 400 sq. ft. space dedicated to music discovery simply called “The Room.” Additionally, local culinary heroes, Five Leaves, will be serving food and drink to customers in the cafe from breakfast ’til late.

To celebrate the newly-opened space, Rough Trade NYC has already announced several free in-store events for the initial launch period, including an opening-night performance by Charles Bradley (Daptone Records), as well as a special set by Au Revoir Simone (Instant Records) on Tuesday, December 17th. Undoubtedly, a welcoming sign of what’s to come from these legendary retail/music icons!

#HashtagsHere #HashtagsThere #HashtagsEverywhere

hashtagA few weeks ago, a client asked me what the best practice is when it comes to using hashtags. After looking into how we’ve used hashtags at The Orchard and digging up some good examples I’ve witnessed, here are the key takeaways I’d like to share… 

#WhatIsAHashtag

The definition according to Twitter:

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keyword or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorise messages.

For example, “Headline acts announced for #Glastonbury2014.”

#HowToUseHashtags

No spaces should be used when writing/creating a hashtag. It doesn’t matter if your hashtag contains multiple words, you can still group them together. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead, e.g. #RapGod. Uppercase letters will not alter the search results, so if you search for #RapGod you’ll get the same results as #rapgod.

Don’t overuse hashtags, use a maximum of two or three in your posts. Use too many and your followers may think you are spamming.

Try to keep the hashtag short, for example, you can shorten #TheMarshallMathersLP2 to #MMLP2.

You can define your hashtags by using directories like tagdef.com. In addition to giving your hashtag a definition and listing, tagdef also allows you to search for the meaning of existing tags like #oomf.

Numbers are supported e.g. #Glastonbury2014. However punctuation marks are not.

Hashtags can occur at the beginning, middle or end of your post.

#SupportingPlatforms

Some of the social media platforms that support hashtags include:

Twitter: Twitter is where the concept of the modern hashtag began. Twitter hashtags are mainly used to denote specific topics of conversation, the “Trends” sidebar of your Twitter feed curates a list of hashtags you might be interested in, based on your tweets. Clicking on a hashtag word in any message will show you all other tweets marked by that keyword.

Facebook: Facebook added hashtag support in June 2013. Hashtags on Facebook aren’t used as much as they are on Twitter. Nevertheless like Twitter, using hashtags on Facebook turns topics and phrases into clickable links in your post. When you click a hashtag, you’ll see a feed of posts that include that hashtag.

Instagram: Hashtags can be used to accompany photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts and gain followers.

Vine: Hashtags on Vine are used to complement your videos to maximise sharability.

Google+: If you click on a hashtag in Google+, the search results will include the original hashtags as well as posts with similar tags and keywords.

Tumblr: Tumblr has a specific “Tag” section where you can add tags. These tags work in the same way as Twitter hashtags, organising post by topics, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically.

Pinterest: Pinterest hashtags can be used to mark and search for content.

… Continue Reading

In Defence of the Internet: Creativity is Flourishing

November 11, 2013 Industry Trends No Comments

A couple of weeks ago, David Byrne wrote an article in The Guardian suggesting the opposite of this headline. He argued the Internet is a steamroller on a path to crush creativity.

Since we’re apparently in the age of writing open letters, here is my response to that prophecy.

Creativity has never been this easy to express. Be it writing, music, photography, video or art, the tools at our disposal are powerful and, in most cases, much cheaper to utilise. This fact is often overlooked in debates about the Internet and digital music as a whole.

Much is made of the barriers coming down between artists and fans due to two-way conversation on social media, but those lines are blurred further still, not by Robin Thicke, but because the fans are no longer simply fans. The fans are artists too. They often create their own music, take photography, write their own blogs or upload videos.

Content creation is no longer the preserve of the minority.

The pot of revenue becomes increasingly divided between more and more thanks to the ease of distribution, but is that really a bad thing? It may mean fewer musicians can sustain full-time employment from music, but many more can make money from it. It may drive more and more into being hobbyists, but more people are creating. Ultimately, I see that as a positive. Who are we to begrudge the opportunity for people who are talented enough to make music that inspires people to buy, listen and attend shows?

Similar upheaval is happening in journalism, with blogs rising in prominence, largely fueled by hobbyists rather than qualified journalists. What are you going to do? Ask them to refrain from blogging?

The guy who picks up a bass guitar and strums along to “Born to Run” on YouTube is a content creator. Should we ask him to stop?

Regardless, when you look around, it’s easy to see that new, talented artists are emerging and are becoming successful. Did the Internet hamper them or empower them? The answer from these artists would be overwhelmingly the latter, I suspect. They have built their audience and made money by using what the Internet has to offer.

New methods of consumption are enabling many young people to pay for a service that they want. To them, ownership is not an interesting concept, ease-of-access is. The alternative is having a generation growing up that considers paying for music as alien, an acceptable situation for no-one.

We must do our best to ensure artists and creators are rewarded as richly as they deserve, but the Internet is not the devil here; it is a facilitator and a toolset. As a musician, the real challenge is being better than your peers, because there are so many of them. How do you rise above the masses? You have to be great.

Don’t Fall Into the Autumn Leaves Music Nostalgia

October 29, 2013 Industry Trends No Comments

autumnleaves_anneh632When I say that I think this year has gone extremely fast, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. We are already towards the end of October working on the last priority releases of the year and Q1 in the new year releases are already on the radar. How did that happen?

It feels like it was summer yesterday and I kind of catch myself dreaming about a never ending summer. But I know that it’s not possible, and in fact, I do actually like the change, also when it comes to weather. Oh well, most of the time.

Likewise, in the music industry, it’s easy to fall into the “Autumn Leaves” nostalgia, but sorry we need to face it, the summer is over, it’s a new season and I have to say that Spotify is not “The Last Desperate Fart Of A Dying Corpse.” I think it’s about time we all started to embrace the change and make the best out of it.

Getting attention is probably the most difficult thing to get nowadays. It takes talent, a lot of work and if you get lucky enough to get it, why not take advantage of it and talk to your audience where they are? Lots of ordinary people are consuming and finding music on YouTube and various streaming services; that choice was made a long time ago by fans and it will only change to something new, not go back to what we call the more “traditional” ways.

Counting how much you get paid per stream is the wrong way to value a service. The same way temperature perception is different if it’s 18°C in the summer or in autumn. As with the weather, we can’t control the fact that changes happen all the time. There was a big outcry when iTunes launched; the same with the CD. But we learned to love it. I’m convinced it will be the same case when a new business model arrives, and we’ll probably all speak about how great the streaming services were.

Thanks for your attention while reading this post. I hope you enjoyed the music links, here is a link to the full soundtrack. Feel free to share it!

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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