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The Evolution Of Music Videos

Once upon a time, music video budgets were massively big, and their budgets mirrored the quality and complexity of feature films. This was the norm for a period of time and then budgets for production quality suddenly dropped. What caused this, and are things still the same?

From the late 90s to the early 2000s, – which describes the internet age, the music industry was shaken due to the availability of free music. Online downloading websites stripped the music industry of their physical record sales, which threw music video budgets far south of their glory days.

These music videos were cinematic masterpieces with massive specially built sets and multiple days of production, and they would often have cutting-edge cameras and post-production quality. Video directors were essentially featured film directors in training. This was during an age when people had to purchase albums physically to hear their favourite songs. Album sales were a significant revenue source for labels; even the money they got from tours couldn’t be compared.

Youtube’s global head of music, Lyor Cohen, describes this time when the music business was an audio-visual business, where we commercialized the performance of the audio over that of the visual. Music videos back then were an effective agent in driving sales for physical albums- and then the internet hit and everything went haywire.

Streaming platforms such as Pandora, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple music sort of took money out of the game. The biggest blow was when filming equipment became portable and affordable.

The first full HD DSLR came out in 2008, dropping the minimum price of a capable professional camera from 10,000’s dollars to just a few 1000’s. Video editing became quite simple when Adobe creative cloud came out in 2013. This caused the market to be flooded with a lot of creators that could afford to create. A video could be shot and edited by one person with no crew required.

Over the years, however, the music business has changed from an audio-visual business to a visual audio business, where the actual music video is now becoming a profitable asset. It’s no longer just the audio recording. With the rise of online video hosting platforms like youtube, music videos have become profitable view magnets.

This also allows advertisers to partner with music video financing through in-video product placements and pre-made roll ads. The demand for videos is now growing rapidly. Venture capitalist Andrew Chen, states that videos are now the new technologies of scale. Bigger viewing audiences translate into bigger revenue for record labels and artists alike. Spreading a video across new multiple platforms, such as Vimeo and social media etc, increases viewership and further increases revenue.

Not only has the demand for videos grown, but the demand for quality videos have also skyrocketed in recent years. People have seen it all and so are now tired of amateur content. Cheap and amateurish music videos these days are not going to be remembered longer than a 15-minute craze.

Cinematic and artistic masterpieces in recent times that easily come to mind are Tiwa savages 49-99, Asa’s Mayana, Wizkids Made in Lagos short film, Black Sheriffs Kwaku the Traveller, Amarae’s Fancy, Asake’s Peace be unto you and Koffee’s video, W. This demand for higher quality videos is commanding bigger budgets and churning out some very talented directors on the continent- Clarence Peters, Meiji Alabi, David Nicol-sey, TJ Omori and many more.

In simple words, video content has become king. The establishment of video hosting on the internet in the last decade has allowed video to become the most preferred medium of marketing and promotion in almost every industry. We foresee this trend continuing and a push for even more quality videos in the future.

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