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Friday, 5 October 2012

Music Industry Research

Production of Music Videos

In the production of music, executive and music producers are needed in order to get the music produced. An executive producer (sometimes called the executive in charge of production) is the person who is in charge of the whole production of the music video, but they don't take part in the technical side of production. However, the music producer is the person who will work within the industry whose job will be to oversee the recording and production of the artist’s music video. A music producer has a variety of responsibilities that comes with their job which includes tasks such as; gathering ideas for the project, selecting artists/songs, controlling recording sessions etc. 

During the preproduction stage of a music video, there is a series of research and planning that needs to be carried out. This research and planning will consist of aspects such as the video storyboard and questionnaires which will be required to gather feedback on ideas and collect information as to what the viewers would want/expect to see from your music video. 
Artists are heavily reliant on production companies when it comes to producing a song and music videos as they are specialists when it comes to the production process. There are several independent music video producers that will welcome artists and bring ideas to the table to create a music video to suit their soundtrack.  For example, London Music Videos is a small production company based in London who allows artists to approach them to begin talks in to creating a music video for their product – making the artist look more official and professional. 

A music video director is driven by given a soundtrack in which they can work from to design and create a music video for. The director is completely in charge of what will and won’t be included in the music video and will have the final say with any decisions being made and how the music video will be made.  
In the music industry, a record label is a trademark brand which artists will be a part of as a form of marketing and promotion of their music and reputation. There a several large music record labels in which numerous artists have been signed up to in order to give them a chance to develop their reputation and burst on to the scene of mainstream music. An example of a record label would be ‘Young Money’.  Artists such as Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Limp Bizkit are signed up to Young Money which speaks for itself in terms of how record labels can make artists become so successful and profitable. 


Distribution is the way that something is shared out among a number of recipients. In terms of distributing a music video, this is done mainly via internet and television. There are various methods that artists can distribute their product to their target audience to view the video and gain awareness of the song/video to boost the sales. An example of this is YouTube. YouTube allow music artists to post their music videos via companies such as Vevo so that anybody on the internet has access to watch it for free. These viewers can also use iTunes to watch or listen to a sample of the song where they will then have the option to purchase the full version where they can put it on their iPods. 
Music channels such as MTV will also distribute these music videos by using the television where some viewers may have paid to subscribe to the channel or could get the channel for free where they can watch a variety of music videos that will be played almost constantly throughout the day. 
Using music channels, YouTube and iTunes music artists can significantly increase their reputation and connect themselves with their target audience mostly free of charge. This would be very ideal for our media product as we could distribute it to our target audience for free in order to promote ourselves and our music video as much as possible.  Social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace can be used in the initial stages in order get the ball rolling in terms of the target audience’s awareness of our product. 


When exhibiting a music video to your target audience, a license is required so they can legally broadcast the video. This license is required due to copyright laws as the music video is owned by the record company, meaning their permission is required in order to legally exhibit the music video or to reproduce a music video.  Technological convergence between different forms of technology allow illegal exhibition to occur much easily due to the vast amount of websites which could easily embed a music video within the webpage. This is where the problem of copyright with music can occur as it is so easy to get free access to music and illegally watch, copy or download music. Therefore, licenses such as AVLA  have been put in place in attempt to prevent this from occurring.


Censorship is the process of examining media products such as music videos and determining whether the content is appropriate for the given cause. An example of a censored music video would be Smack My Bitch Up – Prodigy due to its content being far too explicit.
 Explicit content would consist of inappropriate or graphic actions such as sexual scenes which would definitely be inappropriate considering this to be broadcasted over the internet or on music channels where the target audience will watch the video. Therefore, as a result of this the artists are made to produce a new music video where the content of the video would not need to be censored in order to be sure its suitable for the target audience.



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Technical Codes + Conventions

Music Video Conventions

Sound/Meaning/Showcasing Stars:

  • Music is priority
  • Some aspects of narrative
  • Star is the focus of the music video 
  • Sound + visuals matched
  • Lip synchronisation 
  • Actors important to narrative - support the star
  • Lyrics match the video 


  • Matches the beat of the song
  • Doesn't have to be continuous 
  • Cut is common transition
  • Fade in/out is often used
  • Short/long takes
  • Jump Cuts


  • Matches theme, tone + genre of music video
  • Dance routines
  • Parties / Clubs
  • Professional 
  • Expensive
  • Clothing:
    • Marks boundaries between performer, supporting characters and band.
    • Costume complements the set
    • Colour is important - Connotations in relation to mood/lyrics of song. 
    • Costume of star important - stand out from the crowd / individuality 

  • Wide shot for dance scenes
  • Low angles of star
  • Close ups 
  • Camera movements - Dolly, tracking, crane etc.
Typical Settings:
  • Arenas
  • Barren Spaces eg Desert 
  • Hallways
  • Studios 
  • Fashion Shows 
  • Classrooms 
  • Nightclubs 
  • Inside cars 
(Influenced by the stars status eg Rappers flaunt their wealth by having expensive cars in setting)

In class, we watched the music videos for Lady Gaga - Pokerface and Plan B - She Said and looked at the technical codes and conventions of them. 

  • Wide shots - dogs + dance routines 
  • Close ups of face 
  • Parties / Clubs 
  • Zoom in / out 
  • Professional + Expensive
  • Actions matched lyrics
  • Jump cuts - continuity doesn't matter. 
  • Expensive house - Party 

  • Smart suits/shirt - emphasises wealth 
    • Complements formal features of the setting
    • shows difference between security guards, judges etc
  • Setting mirrors Plan B's personality  
  • Short takes
  • Panning - tracks star
  • Continuity less common - used parts for narrative
  • Jump cuts - sparks interest, forces equilibrium.
  • 180 degree rule - continuity 
  • Editing closely connected to song - in time with beat 
  • Wide range of cinematography used:
    • Close ups - objects, facial expressions (supports narrative)
    • High angles - characters power 
    • Track + Pan 
    • Crane, pan + tilt used (narrative) 
    • Wide shots 
    • Two shots - woman in witness box - adds history to narrative- actors important to narrative - supports star
  • Sounds + visuals matched
  • Lip synchronisation 
  • Lyrics match video 

In our music video, we will be taking a completely different approach as to these two songs which were both predominantly performances all for the camera such as the lip synchronisation and dancers which I personally dislike. For our song we will be aiming to use a lot of quick edits and point of view shots to reflect the pace of the music and make the audience as if they were in the video themselves. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Narrative in Music Videos

A narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events which make a story line. 

Narratives in music videos can be alike films in that there has been a distinct plot and characters acting to reflect the lyrics and genre of the song. However, not all music videos has these distinct plots or styles as some may decide to defy narratives to try and be more creative and engage the viewer more. An observation that has been made with narratives of a music video is that they don't follow the style of classic Hollywood films, giving them their own styles and individuality. 

In class, we looked at the music video for Meatloaf - I'd Do Anything: 

After watching the music video for Meatloaf - I'd Do Anything, I noticed that this video doesn't follow a simple, straightforward narrative and leaves a lot of loose ends - keeping the viewers questioning aspects of the video such as the relationship between the characters and the reason for why the police is chasing them. Alike most music videos, this displayed a combination of both narrative video and performance from the artist - jumping from past to present. 

Aerosmith - Crazy was also a music video that we watched. 

From what I gathered from watching this video, again, there was a mixture of narrative and performance which gives me the impression that this is the more popular choice when producing the music videos. Another observation that was made was that the lyrics had been infused in to the narrative with the use of the car radio and clubs, with the characters mouthing the words - mirroring the performance side of the video. 

Finally, we watched the music video for Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up. 

Compared to Meatloaf and Aerosmith, the music for Prodigy - Smack My Bitch up had differentiated itself with a different style of showing the narrative of the music video. To start with, they did this by having the music video as a constant narrative with a clear plot of a wild night out by filming the whole thing with a point of view technique. This allows the viewer to experience the night through the character, enabling them to feel as part of the music video and appreciate the genre of the music more. Prodigy also used the music from a stereo and nightclub to embed the track 'Smack My Bitch Up' in to the music video.  

Personally I preferred the music video for 'Smack My Bitch Up' mainly due to the fact that the whole video was a narrative where as the other two had sections of performance which is what I would like to include in my music video. As well as that I would prefer to have a song without many/any lyrics so that the video doesn't have to stick to any sort of specific narrative to match the lyrics - giving an opportunity to be creative with our video and reflect the style of music as much as possible. A clear story line in the narrative would be preferred and opposed to the Meatloaf song as that left a lot of loose ends and I found it confusing to try and follow.  

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Theory Application

Devlin ft Ed Sheeran - Watchtower (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Narrative - Propp's Theory 

Propp's theory suggests that each character in the narrative has a specific functions that backs up the text. In terms the music video for Watchtower, these character narrative functions can be applied to the artists and actors within the narrative of the video. To begin with, the main character of the narrative is obviously the singer of the song, Devlin. Devlin's role in the narrative of Watchtower is 'The Hero', although he is a criminal escaping the police, in terms of the narrative he is the hero because he is the character who is seeking something which in his case is to escape the police. 

'The villain' of Watchtower would be the detectives and other members of police who raid Devlin's home because they are a opposing and actively blocking the hero's quest. 
Ed Sheeran's role in the music video is that of 'The Helper'. This is because he is the character who is attempting to aid the hero on his quest by being the get away driver from the hero's house - escaping from the police. 

Propp's theory also suggests set actions as functions of the narrative which are story lines that Propp believes all narratives follow. The action as function of narrative for Watchtower would be the 'Transference' story line.  

The hero leaves home
The hero is tested or attacked/ he meets the test and is given a magical gift or helper
The hero reacts to the donor
The hero arrives at the place he can fulfill his quest'

Watchtower applies to this action as function of narrative best as the music video initiates with Devlin gathering his possessions and saying goodbye to his family members as he, the hero, leaves his home in order to flee from the police. The hero is then tested, which in terms of Watchtower would be when the police approach his house and raid it meaning he has to get away to the helper where he can get away. However, the next plot states that there is a donor in the narrative where in Watchtower there isn't, although the helper aids the hero as apposed to the donor. Finally, the hero arrives at the place where he can fulfill his quest which from what we see in the Watchtower music video is the car driving down a quiet road meaning that he has successfully evaded the police where his quest to get away from trouble is fulfilled. 

The Hero                                                                

The Donor

The Villains

Representation - Stereotypes

Dyer had often argued that stereotypes are only used to reinforce peoples differences and singling people out as this stereotype. He also argued that stereotypes are used to represent peoples differences as natural. 

Stereotype could be used in Watchtower as both Devlin and Ed Sheeran are young, therefore the stereotype of 'youth culture' could be used against them. Generally, youth culture is very negative and it is very rare that peoples representations of youth are positive.  

Watchtower portrays the negative stereotypes of youth culture due to the narrative being that Devlin and Ed Sheeran having committed a crime and being hunted down by the police as they try to escape. This abides by the youth culture stereotype by their characters having been extremely irresponsible in  that they have committed a serious crime and have also been very naive in to thinking they can get away with what they have done. 

The Function Of Genre - Audience

‘The attraction of genre to the industry is closely linked to its presumed appeal to viewers.  Filmgoers generally like to have a broad idea of what to expect from any individual picture.  Genres are constituted not just by bodies of films but also by the established expectations of viewers.’ King (2002)

Devlin has already made himself and established rapper with his album 'Bud, Sweat and Beers' having been fairly successful considering he was as popular and mainstream as he is now and with general collaborations with other big artists. Alike Devlin, Ed Sheeran has made his name in mainstream music with his most recent album gaining a lot of popularity and becoming very reputable. 

Ed + Devlin are both established music artists with a large fan base meaning when this song was produced there was already a high expectation of any music they produce. Not only do they have their own reputations, Watchtower is a remake of Jimmy Hendrix's big hitting track meaning there is a high standard that these two artists are to meet to gain any success from this song. Overall, Ed + Devlin have a lot of expectation with Watchtower due to its previous popularity created by Jimmy Hendrix and their own reputations on the line for making a cover of his song. 

Audience Theories - The Hypodermic Needle

  • Developed by Frankfurt School of academics (Adorno and Horkheimer)
  • They worked in Germany in 1930s and were influenced by the success of Nazi propaganda
  • The media ‘injects’ its message directly into the audience
  •  This model sees the audience as passive
  • Mass audience model
The hypodermic needle theory suggests that the media injects a message directly in to the audience with the use of the narrative in the music video for Watchtower. Considering that the narrative in watch tower is about two criminals who have performed a robbery and are on the run from the police, it would be suggested that the message in the music video for Watchtower would be that crime is not the way forward.

 The message is shown quite strongly on an emotional level as it shows how Devlin has to leave his family behind because of the stupid things he has done and Ed Sheeran dies from a gun wound. This message is meant to have a strong emphasis on the consequences of committing serious crimes and trying to evade from the police showing the audience what would happen if they were to relate themselves to the video and put themselves in the shoes of the characters in the narrative. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Music Video Timelines

Sum 41 - In Too Deep (Rock)

When creating the timeline for the video of Sum 41 - In Too Deep, I made some observations regarding relationships between sound, camera shots, edits, lyrics and image. The most obvious observation made from this music video was the different meanings between the phrase 'In Too Deep'. Sum 41 had created their music video for this song to be a diving competition where the band were 'in too deep' in terms of diving in to water. However, the actual meaning behind this song is to do with a relationship with a girl describing that they are 'in too deep' in terms of the relationship that he's in - deeper than wanted hence the lyrics:

'Cause I'm in too deep, and I'm trying to keep, 
Up above in my head, instead of going under.'

Another observation I had made was that of a relationship with lyrics and image when the lead singer was taking his turn diving. The lyrics sung at the time were;

 'Because I'm bending over backwards to relate'

At the same time, the lead singer was doing back flips on the diving board, creating a relationship between the lyrics being sung and the image being shown. 

Snoop Dogg ft. Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Free (Hip - Hop / Rap )

When creating the timeline for the video of Snoop Dogg ft Wiz Khalifa - Young, Wild & Free, I made some observations regarding relationships between sound, camera shots, edits, lyrics and image.

The first relationship in the music video I found was between the lyrics of the song and image displayed. The lyric being sung was;

'Give me some 501′s jeans on and roll joints bigger than King Kong's fingers'

This lyric was sung while simultaneously the image in the video being displayed was Snoop Dogg with a teacher from the school smoking a 'joint bigger than King Kong's fingers'.

From my research and creating the timelines for 'In Too Deep' and 'Young, Wild & Free', I realised that most music videos are split in to two parts - one being the artist performing and the other being a dramatisation of the story line behind the lyrics of the music video.

History of Music Videos

Additional Notes

  • The first illustrated music video was produced in 1864
  • Micheal Jackson - Scream is the most expensive music video, costing £7m.
  • Before big music videos really hit, Warner Brothers had created a series of short, live action musicals called 'Spooney Melodies'.
  • Music videos became an art form with film makes coming from art school to produce them. 
  • Nowadays, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook + iTunes is the best place for artists to promote themselves as it allows them to become successful even when on a low budget to film. An example of artists who became popular from these methods without mainstream broadcasting is Ok Go  with the song 'A Million Ways' which gained 9 million views on YouTube.