For those of you who may not have noticed, a pretty substantial thing happened in the world of music on Sunday, November 3rd, the arrival of the inaugural YouTube Music Awards (YTMA). I know that may feel like an oversell, but hear me out. Much like how the MTV Music Awards were iconic and groundbreaking exactly 29 years ago (1984), the YTMA’s clearly sought out to do the same (it is at least a little ironic that in the same way that viewers seem to age out of the MTV audience as they approach 30 years old, MTV’s iconic award show finds itself dangerously close to ageing out of the target demographic it helped to define). There is a new game in town, one which is meant to better speak to the new generation, and they are ready for their close-up.
To this end, the YTMA event itself was a direct challenge to what we think we know about award shows to begin with, and was purposefully set up to more represent all the chaos of an underground warehouse party, just with an occasional host (or mc in the literal sense), and better talent. Whether or not one feels the event was successful or not, likely reveals more about the person answering than it does the event itself. Either way, it happened, and with all the hype it generated, the entire industry is likely prepping for next year already. By the time that you read this the event will be long gone so I won’t get into who was nominated or won; the real reason you should care, is that it happened at all.
Seemingly inspired by a want to stay true to the ethos that has made YouTube so successful, the awards themselves included categories meant to mix both names we all know and the unknowns. These include: Video of the Year, Artist of the Year, Response of the Year, YouTube Phenomenon, YouTube Breakthrough and Innovation of the Year. These seemingly would represent a great mix of pop culture artists, our own often-comical responses to them, as well as those on the fringe just starting to make their mark. So, with all that said, it just might be time to take your own YouTube videos more seriously.
So let’s talk a few basic ideas around your next video. First, get rid of whatever voice in your head it is that leads you to believe you cannot make a music video. You likely have a better camera right now in your pocket than they used to make the iconic movie Gone with the Wind, and even a better one than was used to make the first ever music video: ‘Video killed the radio star’. It matters more that it is fun, funny, cute, inventive and/or authentic. Here are a few ideas of successful methods to drive traffic or get the best video possible:
First the obvious, the cover song! Not too long ago the version of you doing someone else’s song was dangerous waters to be tredged very delicately, lest fans of the original take offense. These days, groups like Walk Off The Earth have a fast-growing career off of this. It helps that they are at least talented enough, but they are not exactly breaking any new ground here. Just good ideas performed good enough to get a click—that’s it! To date their version of Goyte’s ‘Somebody that I used to know’ has 154.8 Million views. Yes, you read that right. One other thing of note here, if you can manage to have a father/daughter type cutesy thing going, this will rack up the views too!
Secondly, try buying stock footage or digging through your family/friend archives. Not to give away my own little technique here, but a few years back we made a music video. Having done a few of these over the years we knew what we wanted, to leave the world of amateur video making aside for something very substantial (keep in mind this is still before the cameras we have today), we bought stock footage from NASA (yes, that is possible) and put together an entire video, via editing, in outer space, for less money than it would have taken to rent a costume space suit for the day. The result is a polished interesting video. So, look around you at footage you may have lying (or worth buying) around and start editing.
The long one shot with an original idea. If you have never seen OkGO’s treadmill video for their 2009 song, ‘Here It Goes Again’—which incidentally is up to 18.89 Million views at the time of this writing—than you should check it out as a 101 tutorial in the single shot video. Take a good idea, coordinate a few bits of action, and let the internet take over. One great example of polar opposite but still staged would be the opening scene to Brian Depalma’s 1998 otherwise forgettable film Snake Eyes, which uses one long shot following Nicolas Cage around while action is coordinated around him. This one shot take could be considered a masters class in same and clocks in at exactly 12:30 (though with only a couple of cuts is around 22 min. altogether). Somewhere in the middle of those two examples your hit band breakthrough YouTube video awaits!
Oh and if none of the above works…just throw in a cat. That seems to do wonders to viewing numbers! Get started now and you may just have enough clicks to make next years YTMA’s.
Inside/Out discusses all things music and musician related. Feel free to send us links to your own music and/or cat related videos and we will respond in kind.