What Role Do Videos Fill in the Music Business?

The role of music videos in the industry has changed a lot in recent years. In the '80s and '90s, people discovered new music largely through watching videos on MTV and VH1. And many still find new music through video streaming sites like YouTube and Vimeo. But video content on these sites is not curated in the way it used to be on music television channels. People obsessing over their favorite band's new video on MTV has given way to sharing videos of cats. People simply respond differently to what they watch these days.

But videos are still integral to success in the industry for their promotion and market reach potential. And the revenue they can generate directly and, perhaps more so, indirectly can be substantial. Degree candidates enrolled in Frost's online Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI) will study copyright law and international publishing and licensing as well as technology use, media consumption trends, and market strategy. This knowledge base can help music professionals navigate and take advantage of the changing role of videos in the music business.

Has Digital Video Streaming Hurt the Music Industry?

In some ways, the advent of digital video streaming has directly added to the decline in music industry revenue. This mirrors the way digital music consumption has hurt record sales. Listeners used to see a video on TV or hear a new song on the radio and buy an artist's record. Now they hear a single or see a video on YouTube and, at best, buy that single off iTunes or listen to it on a streaming service.

Buying or streaming a single does not translate to as much money for the artist and label as buying a whole record. But at least streaming and the sale of singles generate a decent amount of direct revenue through royalties. Although video streaming services like YouTube do generally pay out some royalties, the amount tends to be a small fraction of the payout from audio streaming services (compared to what the service earns).

Intellectual property copyright laws and regulations across the globe have been slow to catch up with changing media consumption habits. But, thankfully, this is starting to change.

How Can Video Streaming Be Good for the Industry?

Even though music creators do not yet make what they should off video streaming, video content is still indispensable to the music industry. Music videos are outstanding promotional tools and vehicles for artist creativity and branding. In a music industry based on singles, an artist's image, and often their success, is built around their latest hit song's music video. It is hard to think of a pop star like Beyonce or Lady Gaga without thinking of one of their hit videos.

Videos also give artists and promoters extra content they can use when posting or reposting about new releases and tours on social media. Videos catch attention like no other medium. Offering exclusive video content like intimate, streaming-video-only live performances has become an important way to expand a loyal fan-base or grow a business like a subscription streaming service.

What Can Video Streaming Do for Independent Music?

In a way, video streaming has democratized the music industry. Anyone can make a video and upload it. A good, creative video can catch on and go viral without a huge budget. And video streaming has given many otherwise unknown musical artists exposure to potential audiences all over the world.

The democratization of video streaming has helped level the playing field somewhat between independent music and mainstream music. This can bode well for up-and-coming bands as well as music professionals looking to start their own business or work for an independent record label.

For instance, take the band OK Go's infamous treadmill dance video for the song "Here It Goes Again." This inexpensive yet intriguing and creative video, coupled with the sharing/viral nature of video streaming and social media, led to millions of views. It brought the band a level of "accidental" success they had not thought possible.

Clearly, the changing role of videos in the music business has important ramifications for music professionals across the industry. Keeping up to date on changing copyright laws is essential for ensuring every bit of possible revenue for artists, labels and publishing companies. And understanding how to utilize video's potential in creative marketing strategy can truly determine the success of a modern music business campaign.

Learn more about Frost Online's Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI) program.


Medium: Why Music Videos Are Still So Important: Views From Inside the Industry

The Guardian: Music Industry Goes to War With YouTube

Consequence of Sound: Capturing Wonder: OK Go's Treadmill Video 10 Years Later

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