November 13th, 2014

The inaugural MusicVidFest was hosted this week in association with the UK MVAs, Promo News and Adam Buxton’s ‘Bug’ show at London’s Southbank Centre. The one day conference is a brand new event solely dedicated to the art of music video creation. It was designed specifically to open the discussion amongst professionals of the music video business about what it means to create work for the music industry, the day-to-day issues they face, and what the future holds for both existing and budding creatives looking to find the next hottest trends and innovation.

The line up included some of the industry’s key creative players and music artists, including Basement Jaxx’s Felix Buxton, director Steve Barron, British rapper M.I.A., and legendary director Joseph Kahn, who was later awarded the ‘Icon Award’ at the UK MVAs held that evening.

From a director's point of view

Grammy award winning music video director Joseph Khan headlined the conference, and with career highlights including work with Beyonce, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Katy Perry, Wu-Tang Clan, Justin Timberlake and U2 it came as no shock that he was awarded the UK MVA ‘Icon Award’ later in the evening. He offered his insight from two decades of experience, along with his views on the industry today and the future of music videos, commenting that, “The art of the giant pop video is dead right now.”

“The art of the giant pop video is dead right now.” - Joseph Khan

The director’s panel featuring, Ninian Doff of Pulse Films, Georgia Hudson of Agile Films and Henry Scholfield of Caviar discussed the importance of a director’s relationship with tracks themselves and how each director goes about choosing which tracks to engage with. Henry Schofield, of Caviar, said “the track chooses you as much as you choose the track” and Georgia Hudson, of Agile Films, shared advice to, "listen to the track with different ears and reach beyond your taste” as this can inspire the important ideas. Ninian Doff, of Pulse Films, said, “90% of the ideas come from the track – you listen to it over and over again to get the feel for it and then the ideas start to flow.”

Brand involvement in music videos

The overriding theme of this year’s conference was brand involvement in music videos. With budgets getting lower and lower, it’s becoming increasingly regular that high profile brands are getting involved in projects in order to raise revenue, which can have a great impact on creative freedom. Jules De Chateleux of DIVISION Paris speaking as part of the Producer Panel said, “I don’t think brands should be involved in music videos as you lose control; the money you lose from making music videos can be made back somewhere else, like in commercials.” This was later re-enforced by recording artist M.I.A., who also felt a distinct lack of creative control in today’s music video industry due to brand involvement. Juliette Larth, of Prettybird UK, asserted that product placement is both a blessing and a curse.

The importance and impact of the internet

Another strong point of discussion was the growing strength of online content vs. TV, and the importance the internet now has on music videos reaching the masses. Gone are the days of having to watch MTV for your latest music video fix, now the fastest way to get music videos out to the general public is online. Liz Kessler, of Academy/A+, argued that due to the ‘layer’ of TV being almost removed from airing a music video there is more room for creativity – there are less content restrictions and hoops to jump through, which were restrictive when submitting promos to TV. M.I.A. argued that music videos are now rapidly losing their purpose of showcasing artists due to the internet and a higher focus on social media, which is now used as a way to be constantly connect to fans and share their day-to-day lives and thoughts.

There was also talk of putting age certificates on music videos moving forward, with a generation of Mileys and Rhiannas increasingly producing content that is deemed explicit. But will this restriction really implement any change? The resounding view of most of this year’s panelists was no. If children want to access content, they will always find a way, so in this case, is it the music industry’s duty to tame down the current wave of content?

What does the future hold?

There was clear evidence at this year’s MusicVidFest that music videos are becoming more and more interactive, but this calls for bigger budgets, and with budgets generally moving in the opposite direction these days, the pressure to involve high profile brands is rising, with a danger of promos losing their identity and purpose all together, essentially being reduced to commercials for music.

Raphael Aflalo, of My Love Affair, spoke about his interactive video 'Dangerous' for David Guetta and G.H.MUM Champagne, wherein viewers had to hold their phone up to the side of the screen at certain points in the video, at which point the content would then play across two screens. The champagne company that sponsored the video provided most of the funding, which was essential in creating such an ambitions project – a good example of instances where brand involvement can benefit as opposed to hinder project creativity.

For more updates on the music industry and a recap of the UK MVA awards, visit Promo News.