The evolution of music videos and modern technology

When MTV was born in 1981, a new craze swept North America. Many people’s lives were changed when the music they had been enjoying for years suddenly had a new visual accompaniment. Although previously artists had found ways to draw people in, the music video era was arguably the most fundamental building block for popularizing artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, the medium of music videos would prove to be extremely effective, turning musicians into obsessed-over celebrities. These figures became more than artists, they become cultural touchstones that would span decades.

With the explosion of the Internet and Youtube, people’s attention spans have been diverted. There is now an obvious desire to spend more time online than in front of the television. It's been years since television channels like VH1 and MTV regularly played actual music video content, rather airing reality television over the mini musical art pieces of the past. As a result of both these developments, the music video form has changed. Videos are more and more becoming a tool for independent artists to create innovative promotional pieces, than the artistic spectacle they once were.

 In 2006, OK Go released the very low budget and DIY "Here It Goes Again" clip that quickly rose up the Youtube ranks. It featured a choreographed dance sequence with the band members on moving treadmills. The video went viral, and the band received a lot more attention than they previously had.

This year, Arcade Fire took things to a new level with their video for "The Wilderness Downtown". It's an interactive video clip that can be personalized for each viewer through the band's website. By plugging in the coordinates of your childhood address at the beginning of the video, the piece creates a multi-window pop-up web-browser version of the video, which incorporates actual Google Street View footage of the address selected. This type of marketing ties directly into The Arcade Fire's new album (aptly titled The Suburbs). It is a prime example of word-of-mouth video promotion that will easily see bloggers and online networking sites in a flurry over the simple yet well-thought concept. 

With so many experimental concepts able to be created online, it's possible that the music video may yet be able to survive the fleeting North American attention span. Then again, the number one viewed Youtube video is presently Justin Bieber's "Baby", which recently surpassed 300 million plays. The choice is up to you, music lovers. 

//JJ Brewis
Art Director

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