The Problem with Music Videos
After years of discussing this topic internally I felt it’d be interesting to write a blog and hear both sides of this argument more in depth in a public forum. Quite a few artists see music videos as an extension of their creativity and try to “take-over” on the video for their song. The big problem with music videos is that with budgets dwindling the good directors out there aren’t often times doing it for money. They make more doing commercials and other projects. They do music videos for the creativity they “can” offer. The visuals ARE their work. Not the musicians. So without that monetary incentive they used to have in the 90’s why are directors doing these low budget videos? Once in a while magic happens and you get to do what you want. An artist lets you run free and make something you’re in love with. They let you make your art. I’ve always been a believer in everyone doing their job the best they can and others without experience in it just leaving them to it. Quite a few directors are left thinking “I don’t want to write their songs (although sometimes I think I could do a better job) and I don’t want them to tell me how to direct videos.”
I think we’re seeing some great videos come out today so don’t get me wrong here, not all artists fall into this group of overzealous control-freaks who are almighty at anything creative. There’s a nice faction that let directors do their thing and believe in their abilities. Wouldn’t it just be a dream if artists chose directors with that in mind? Trusting their abilities? It’s just if I wanted to buy a Picasso when he was alive I would NOT have wanted to tell him what to paint. I feel like that’s where we lose true art. Artists start throwing in things to videos that the directors often times hate and feel destroys their vision. I’ve seen time and time again that directors get hammered with notes from an artist even asking for reshoots when the director was so confident going into sending the video edit to them. It’s sad. I hear their enthusiasm about how great the video looks and they sit there expecting everyone to be blown away. The artists often times aren’t and go into watching with the thought “What’s wrong with the video” and I think that’s where they miss all the good. Art has flaws. The flaws often make art so intriguing. Think of the Mona Lisa’s expressionless face. Some would say it’s a flaw. With a perfect smile that painting means nothing. Had Leonardo Di Vinci been under the thumb of a pop star i’m pretty sure something along those likes could have realistically happened. Start from scratch and make a smile. Ruin what was so mysteriously charismatic.
This all has very strange connections to the music industry collapse too. I talk with what I call legacy directors (guys who did great in the 80’s & 90’s as video directors) and these legacy directors have told me “If anyone asked for a change I said fuck off it’s my work. I was hired because you wanted my work right?” On top of this they’d have huge paychecks. How times have changed.
A) You’d never work with the label again if you said that.
B) You aren’t taking home a huge check almost ever compared to back then.
So where does it end? Now we see artists “directing” their own videos. I think those videos most times look pretty bad. Some die-hard fans will eat it up without a doubt. I think true purveyors of good art laugh at this self-obsessed nonsense.
I don’t think anything will change unfortunately and i learned long ago what it takes to find a happy marriage in these situations. I’ve also learned to see the warning signs and not get into deals where I know it’s going to be a disaster. Thankfully I can say most of the projects I do aren’t like this. I can say someone like Akon gave me complete creative control. I couldn’t be more appreciative of it. A lot of people wouldn’t expect that. I’ve seen first record deal “rockstars” who think their motley crue make an ass of themselves thinking they’re the almighty. It’s not always who you think it’s going to be.
I’d love to hear people’s experience’s as well as opinions from outsiders. What do you think? Lastly to directors… Why let someone else shape what represents your work at the end of the day by telling you what to direct, what to be re-edited?
Thanks for reading
(Robby has directed videos for: Akon, Yellowcard, The Sounds, Snoop Dogg, Metric, Sara Bareilles, Escape The Fate, Asking Alexandria and over 100 others)
*Note from the author: This is meant to start a discussion not start hate. Any rude comments will be deleted, don’t put anyone down or act in vitriol over a blog post. Try not to name people specifically for their privacy (Unless they were a total asshole). Enjoy!