Are Music Videos Dead?

Kaitlyn Koegler

WGMU Blogger

It’s a question many music fans have asked, and certainly one that doesn’t come without its merits. After all, one of the first suggestions that pops up on Google when typing in, “do music videos” is “do music video still exist?”

While many of us know they certainly still exist, to what extent do they still have power and impact in the music world? We’re no longer in the days of cramming around the TV to watch a new music video from our favorite artists on MTV. No longer are we in the days where a new music video causes huge pop culture buzz and excitement.

We are now in the days where streaming services like Spotify and Pandora thrive and the focus on an audio experience seems to be more popular than that of a visual one. We’re busier now; our lives are arguably more fast-paced than ever before. We don’t need to worry about making time to turn on the TV or buy a CD to hear music; for all we need to do now is just log on to YouTube on our own schedule.

But has that switch to media consumption through the Internet caused music videos to fall through the cracks? It’s certainly an argument that can be made. On the other hand, however, it could simply be that music videos just don’t have the mass amount of funding that they did back in the 80s and 90s. Music video directors like Anthony Mandler find this to be music video’s biggest problem.

“Part of what is missing today are event videos,” said Mandler to Forbes magazine. “70 percent of videos today don’t have enough money invested in production or start with a clever enough idea to do something unusual … and, therefore, slip into the sea of the average.”

This is not to say that music videos today are never clever and impactful by any means. Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” is an entire compilation of music videos that easily pass as an art film with an initial release on HBO that harped back to the best years of MTV. But it’s a matter of the frequency of these types of videos and how, in modern times, we just don’t see them very often. They just don’t pack the same punch as they used to.

Could music videos go back to being as huge as they were in their best days? Perhaps. The platform is there, and the ability to reach a global audience is right under artists’ fingertips. It’s just a matter of not only funding, but bringing back the emphasis on visual performance that we once knew with greats like Michael Jackson or Prince. Audiences need to have a reason to want to see a music video. There needs be an aspect of an artist’s music that can only be expressed through the motions of a music video.

Will those motions appeal to mass music audience ever again? Only time will tell.

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