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Say More With a Lyric Video

December 5, 2014 Featured News, YouTube No Comments

LyricVideoAs YouTube carves out a larger space in the music community, the way music videos are being made and consumed is changing. With millions of artists and creators collaborating constantly, stunning music videos have been made that sometimes challenge typical production conventions. Along with YouTube’s Music Key, there are now multiple forms a music video can take. This combined with a lower barrier to entry has given rise to excellent alternatives you can consider when deciding how to publish your music on an evolving video streaming platform.

Building off of YouTube Art Tracks

With the launch of YouTube Music Key, you’ve probably started to see an influx of Art Tracks in the system (here’s one if you haven’t seen them yet). These simple videos are a great way to get your full catalog out to viewers and improve your chances for discovery. They expand your presence and give viewers more of your content to listen to. But you can do better.

Though a great addition to YouTube’s massive collection, Art Track videos provide a more passive viewing experience. Because the only visual is a static image, typical viewers press play, then move on to something else as they listen to the video in the background. This is still good because you’ve got them listening. However, it cuts down on engagement and your potential to draw the viewer closer.

A creative, yet simple lyric video could give you that extra hook to keep the viewer around your video longer. These typically incorporate animated text synched with audio to guide the viewer through each song. There are some amazing, intricate lyric videos out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily go that far with yours. A clean and punchy lyric video with nothing but colorful moving text could be all you need to get your fans following along. This sets your video aside from other Art Tracks and gives you more of a unique viewing experience for your fans.

Alternatives to the MTV-style Music Video

For better or worse, the days of tuning into awesome, cinematic music videos on MTV have been swallowed whole by reality TV marathons (RIP). These music videos still exist in part on YouTube and VEVO, but they’re being consumed and advertised against differently than in the old days, making the ROI of a huge video production more questionable. This is both good and bad news depending on how you look at it.

To produce and shoot a classic MTV style-music video costs tens of thousands of dollars. When MTV was the only way to watch music videos, this was a painful, but necessary struggle. Though these types of videos are still being made, they are no longer the unshakable standard. Since YouTube broke down the barriers of entry for publishing videos to the world, indie artists and major labels alike have found better ways to create videos for their music.

By embracing a more open community of viewers and creators, many artists have turned to lyric videos as a fast and cost effective alternative to full video production. Because lyric videos don’t necessarily require a live shoot, location, scheduling and casting can be removed from the process. With less of a logistical headache, these videos are often faster to create and publish, which is huge if tight deadlines are imminent.

Though a great animator could still run up your production costs, you at least have options and some room to work with. By keeping your ideas simple, a good animator can get you an excellent lyric video relatively quickly and for much cheaper than a traditional music video shoot. Make no mistake though, lyric videos aren’t just a cheap hack for indie artists on a budget. Huge pop acts like One Direction and Ariana Grande have used lyric videos to premiere top 40 singles, generating millions of views.

If you have the budget to hire a crew and shoot an amazing music video, by all means, do it. These are clearly the heavy hitters of the music video world, but not always the best way. Conversely, not having that budget doesn’t mean you’re limited to just Art Tracks. If you can create something in the middle with a clever, catchy lyric video, you’ve set yourself apart.

Freeloader Friday: Charles Bradley, Lil Silva, William Onyeabor, RJD2, Com Truise, Rachel Sermanni, Sam Roberts Band, Sun Glitters, Neil Davidge, Fanfarlo, Anthony Green and Tanya Morgan

December 6, 2013 Freeloader Friday No Comments

Charles Bradley 7 inchMissed us last week? Don’t worry, we’re making up for lost time with a slew of great tracks, from exclusive new ones to exciting remixes, and of course a couple of music videos and something a little in between.

Starting off this Freeloader Friday is the soulful Charles Bradley with a new song, featuring The Bullets, that is not on his latest album. If you can get your hands on the now sold-out Record Store Day 7-inch, you’ll find it on the B-side. Then, to keep you on the inspirational train is a track off the upcoming Africa Express album, which brings together Damon Albarn of Blur and some very talented Malian artists.

Next we have two well-crafted remixes perfect for the weekend: Policy’s version of William Onyeabor‘s “Something You’ll Never Forget” and a “dirty souled out” version of RJD2‘s “See You Leave.” Follow that up with the first we’ve heard of Com Truise since 2012, and you’re well in the zone for the rest of this Freeloader Friday and weekend.

To keep you cruisin’, Rachel Sermanni and Sam Roberts Band have just the thing — these guys just never disappoint. Then, Sun Glitters and Neil Davidge step in with some ambient, mind-and-body-soothing tracks that’ll set the perfect tone for a more intimate side to your weekend.

Closing this generous batch is a graphic video from Fanfarlo, which might include a familiar face for Sigur Rós fans, and music videos from Anthony Green and Tanya Morgan.

Hope that does the trick! Happy Friday, everyone.

Charles Bradley: “Ain’t It A Sin (ft. The Bullets)” track premiere via Consequence of Sound
Victim of Love out now on Daptone Records

Lil Silva: “Bouramsy” track premiere via Dummy Mag
Africa Express Presents: Maison Des Jeunes out December 9 on Transgressive Records

William Onyeabor: “Something You’ll Never Forget (Policy Remix)” free track download via XLR8R
Who Is William Onyeabor? out now on Luaka Bop

RJD2: “See You Leave (ft. STS and Khari Mateen) (Insane Warrior Remix)” track stream via Okayplayer
More Is Than Isn’t out now on RJ’s Electrical Connections

Com Truise: “Declination (ft. Joel Ford)” track stream via Pitchfork
Wave 1 out February 18 via Ghostly International

Rachel Sermanni: “Everything Changes” track premiere via Clash Music
Everything Changes EP out January 27 on Middle of Nowhere

Sam Roberts Band: “We’re All In This Together” track stream via SoundCloud
Lo-Fantasy out February 11 on Paper Bag Records

Sun Glitters: “Closer To The Sun” track stream via Under The Radar
Scattered Into Light out January 28 on Mush Records

Neil Davidge: “Slo Night” track premiere via Clash Music
Slo Light out March 2 on 7Hz Productions

Fanfarlo: “Landlocked” track premiere via Rolling Stone
Let’s Go Extinct out February 11 on Blue Horizon

Anthony Green: “Young Legs” music video premiere via AltPress
Young Legs out now on Moshtradamus Records

Tanya Morgan: “The Vehicle (ft. Spec Boogie & 6th Sense)” music video premiere via Complex
Rubber Souls out now on Imprint One80 Inc.

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.

Making Dollars and Sense of Copyright on YouTube

YouTube Content ID

YouTube is becoming more important to the music community both in terms of marketing and revenue as well as sharing and engagement. The platform is often confused as being solely a video player. However, as YouTube grows and channel creators become more ambitious, relationships are becoming the driving force of this video machine. The traffic controller in this system is YouTube’s Content ID.

Content ID is what dictates copyright ownership and monetization around YouTube. For bands, this is what turns YouTube into a store. YouTube differs from every other digital retailers in that its core functionality depends on user generated content (UGC). This is excellent for sharing and community around the platform, but also opens the flood gates to copyrighted material and piracy (songs, music videos, movies, etc.). Without rightful ownership, the proper owner doesn’t get credit and compensation for the work. That’s where Content ID comes in.

Content ID uses technology similar to Shazam. The system takes pre-loaded audio files from bands and labels and compares them with other videos in the system. If there is a video on YouTube that has audio or visual content that matches this reference, Content ID makes a claim. This gives the copyright owner a chance to claim the content as theirs and monetize if they choose. Here’s how it works for both players in the Content ID loop:


Sharing is a powerful tool in the music community. New bands rely on people sharing their music to expand the potential audience. However, they would prefer to get paid for unofficial uses of their music (if users can hear your songs on YouTube for free, why would they buy the album?). Content ID provides the best of both worlds in that it still allows YouTubers to use your music in their videos, but your band makes money from the ads that Content ID places on this video. Win win!

Official Video:


Fans use popular copyrighted material in their YouTube videos for many reasons (and it’s not necessarily malicious pirating). In most cases, these users are legitimate, diehard fans that love the music their using. These are the best kinds of fans for bands. You have passionate, genuinely engaged users creating content for you (for free!). Why not keep it coming? By using Content ID to find these UGC videos, you can automatically track who is using your material and monetize it if you choose. Win win… win!

… Continue Reading

Use YouTube To Go Beyond The Music Video

YouTube PlaybookVideos are by far the most engaging form of social content. This isn’t exactly a new discovery, but there’s a lot of missed potential by bands that claim to have a YouTube presence. The common misconception is that your music videos go up on YouTube and you’re done. Although MTV style music videos can create a big draw, they don’t keep viewers on your channel for very long (hopefully these are actually on your channel).

Luckily for musicians on YouTube, there are some relatively quick fixes. The main thing most bands miss is the opportunity to actively engage with their fans. Viewers want to see those extra details; the behind-the-scenes, authentic interactions with the band that they can only get on YouTube. Bands should make a point to announce news and updates with their fans directly through a quick video. This helps in two ways: 1. Fans get the info right from the source, and 2. Video updates build buzz and traffic around your channel for when one of those big official music videos comes up.

Bands should program their channel in a way that fans can expect regular updates. Videos don’t need to be any longer than 30 seconds and can be taken anywhere with your phone. Get creative and consistent. No matter what type of content you decide to use, keep your videos original, exciting and genuine. Fans will feel closer to the music and you’ll have some authentic feedback from the people that matter most. Here are some quick ideas to get you started:

  1. Tour Diary: 30 second video update from the road
  2. Studio Diary: New album progress updates and in-studio performances
  3. Acoustic Performances: Perform simple acoustic versions of fan favorites
  4. Covers: Perform a creative new take on a popular song. (Karmin used this almost exclusively to become one of the biggest bands on YouTube)
  5. Band Interviews: Do this anywhere and talk about anything. Fans get to know more about you and your music, right from the source.
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