Monday, March 15, 2010

Economics of Music Videos

Conor's post about a Lady Gaga video prompted a question for FLG -- what exactly are the economics of creating a big-time music video nowadays?

In the 80s, the economics were clear. You made a cool video and MTV played it a gazillion times. Even if you spent millions it all made sense. Today, MTV doesn't even have fucking VJs and doesn't play videos. It's all reality all the time.

FLG's thesis is that The Real World killed the video star. The first Real World was released in 1992 and its success began the transition from the channel once know as Music Television to the monstrosity we have today.

The golden age of music videos, as far as FLG is concerned, begins in 1982 with Thriller. To say that it raised the bar for music videos is a massive understatement. In FLG's mind it has yet to be surpassed and since the golden age is over its place at the pinnacle is secure.

The end of the golden age was arguably 1994. That year Sabotage, Closer, Loser, Basket Case, Mr. Jones, Interstate Love Song, Vasoline, and FLG's personal favorite at the time even now, Crazy were released.

Now, this isn't to say that all of these videos are necessarily in the same realm as Thriller, although a couple probably are, but all are iconic. After 1994 there are a couple scattered here and there, but FLG'd argue that the quality begins to fall.

In 1996 or 1997, there was a temporary renaissance in hip-hop videos with The Rain, Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See, Mo Money, Mo Problems, Triumph, the two California Love videos and a few others. FLG's theory on this is that even though MTV had lowered its rotation of music videos by then, BET was playing them and picked up some slack.

Now, between the cost pressures of Internet downloading and the lack of video play on TV it just doesn't make sense to spend a bunch of money on music videos. At least, it doesn't make sense to FLG anymore.

1 comment:

Robbo said...

Somebody gave my 12 year old daughter a Wii game called something like Super Cool Rockin' Dance Party at her birthday party this weekend. I only discovered that there's a Lady Gaga song included on it when I walked in on my 8 y.o. daughter boogieing down to it yesterday. (I immediately kyboshed said boogieing pursuant to the Paternal Curmudgeon Police Powers Act, as amended.)

I bring this up simply to note that the woman seems to be becoming the kudzu of the pop industry.

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