With the pandemic causing live concerts and album releases to be cancelled, audiences are finding new ways to consume music from their favorite artists. And chief among them is the music video, which accounts for 95 percent of the most popular YouTube videos.
Why are music videos still so important, especially in the midst of this pandemic? And how can we bring this art form back into the mainstream?
Social and shareable
Music videos are perfect for today’s social media age. In the golden age of MTV, fans could only sit and watch their favorite videos on TV. Today, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have made it possible for fans to directly interact with their favorite music videos by liking, commenting, and sharing—building entire communities of music fans in the process.
The original short-form entertainment
Decades before YouTube and TikTok even existed, music videos were pioneering the art of short-form entertainment. And it’s precisely their short length that makes them perfect for today’s digital age. With whole generations now growing up on fast and flashy online videos, music videos have the pizzazz and brevity to keep these viewers engaged and craving more.
Bridging the generational gap
Music videos aren’t just for “young people” or “old people.” From the early ‘80s to today, there have been almost four decades of music videos as a popular form of entertainment. Now that the people who grew up watching MTV in the ‘80s are having their own children, it’s likely we’ll see a new generation being brought up to appreciate music videos.
Entertainment in a crisis
Now that we’re spending more time at home, we’re desperate to be entertained. Music videos are the perfect form of entertainment for both our eyes and ears—and they’re just as good on our mobile screens as they are on our TVs. Not only do music videos ease our boredom and anxiety, they also provide us with a much-needed escape to these current crazy times.
Music videos are the perfect way to entertain yourself while working remotely. There are music videos for every single mood, whether you want to pump up, calm down, laugh, scream, or cry. Music videos are just short enough to provide a momentary pick-me-up without fully diverting you from your job. (And since you’re at home, your boss won’t know you’re watching them!)
Revitalizing the industry
The whole music ecosystem will benefit from a revitalization of the music video. We are at peak demand in audio and video: with so much content to choose from, music fans are overwhelmed and don’t know what to listen to. Radio and playlists drive music discovery, and a return to well-curated music video channels is a natural way to stimulate interest among fans.
Defining artists’ images
Any famous pop artist knows that their image goes far beyond their music. We also identify artists by their visual aesthetic, from the baggy clothes of Billie Eilish, to the colorful cowboy suits of Lil Nas X, to the face tattoos of Post Malone. And music videos are the perfect way for artists to cultivate an aesthetic to complement their sound. Would Beyoncé have ever become Queen Bey without iconic videos like “Single Ladies” and “Crazy in Love?”
But the power of music videos goes far deeper: they’ve also become a platform for artists to share their personal values with the world. Music videos like “This is America” and “Formation” tackle issues like police brutality and systemic racism. When songs have political undertones, the powerful visuals of their music videos take their messages a step further, empowering their artists to say, “This is what I stand for.”
Showing a personal side
Music is the most personal form of content out there. It provides us with deep, lasting emotional connections that other media cannot match. Music videos strengthen that intimate connection by adding powerful visuals. Think of Sinead O’Connor’s video for “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The fixed close-up on O’Connor’s face as she sings provides a raw visual dimension to an already moving song.
Nowadays, labels can’t feel they can’t make music videos because there isn’t a dedicated platform outside of YouTube. This results in less money going to music videos, stifling a popular form of entertainment that’s led so many of us to discover our favorite songs and artists.
What if there were a digital version MTV or VH1 that provides us with a constant stream of music videos? What if there were a Spotify for music videos—a way for artists to earn revenue in the midst of this pandemic, when they can no longer tour?
Now, more than ever, we need a platform optimized to support music video discovery—while artists are sidelined, and live events are cancelled.