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Video killed the radio star – how video continues to revolutionise the music industry

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Ironically the first ever video played on MTV was The Buggles' record "Video Killed the Radio Star". It hit the television screens in 1981 and, ever since, video content has been at the forefront of music marketing. In a personal endeavour to keep myself updated on all things digital and to delve a little deeper into the world of video I attended a YouTube workshop in Belfast, pre-Covid-19 crisis of course. It was for sure an eye opener and it got me thinking about how our marketing strategy needs change to stay ahead in the hyper-competitive music market. Here is what I learned: YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with a staggering 30 million people using the platform daily. Video consumption online is at an all time high – on average users are watching 6.5 hours of video content per week. Consumption habits continue to evolve and it is predicted by 2022 that 82% of internet traffic will come from video streaming and download, a massive year-on-year increase. Armed with these facts I immediately got to work thinking about how I should alter my approach. Fast forward a few months and the live music industry as we know it is at a standstill. The livelihoods of many musicians, pubs, clubs and music venues alike have been put at risk as traditional revenue streams dry up. Although many thought that music streams would increase over the lockdown period, this surprisingly is not the case; most labels have pointed to a modest dip in audio streaming figures. Interestingly video streams on YouTube, VEVO and Twitch have seen an increase in numbers as people at home opt for a visual music experience. Again, video seems to be the winner in this instance.

The old cliché “The Show Must Go On” is not quite possible in its traditional form in the current Covid-19 climate with many musicians adapting to a new way of thinking and finding inventive ways to bring their music to many. Artists are fighting for our attention more than ever before in the form of streams and views, and with no outlet to perform live, people have turned to live video streams and creative video recordings. A scroll through my Facebook news feed on a Saturday night shows the abundance of live concerts on offer, albeit in a restricted digital form. More than ever video content has been at the forefront of fan engagement. Many are keen to make an impression now; in the hope it will pay dividends when the live industry picks up again.

It has never been as important to stand out from the crowd, with more noise and competition than ever before. What has caught my attention is the level of creativeness of some musicians - deploying new ways of thinking. It’s been great seeing some of my favourite artists and bands getting imaginative in front of the camera lens; Blossoms covering The Beatles through multi screening, Gary Lightbody giving his fans the chance to write a song with him and one band even turning their living room into a makeshift pub for a St. Patrick’s Day concert, complete with beer kegs, pub décor and bar stools.

The misconception for many is that video content is expensive to produce. With ease of access to new technology and editing software like Final Cut, Premiere Pro and Movavi the rise of the DIY video has emerged as a cost effective option for many. So get creating, let your imagination run wild; set the scene, get your iPhone and shoot. Be as imaginative as possible. Time is on your side; God knows how long this is set to last.

The music industry has come a long way since the birth of music videos in the '80s and social media is continuing to popularise the trend. Covid-19 is generating a new wave of video stars, and it looks like the rise of video is set to continue well past the lockdown period. In a bid to keep up to date in an ever evolving market, I try my best to figure out the next video craze – TIK TOK.

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