Within the digital era, music videos have perpetuated a system of interactivity among users through fan to musician interaction. Social media and other forms of digital media have allowed online users have an increased level of access and agency with music videos to search, learn, and create content online. In the past several decades, music video distribution has evolved with firms like Vevo today that provide a digital platform for record labels to release music videos to the general public. With the advent of video streaming, the music video can add visual components to an artist’s song pushing their image further into mainstream hoping for success on the Billboard Charts through increased CD sales, digital downloads, or streams. The music video acts as a function of record labels to push an artist’s image into the mainstream and create a deeper connection between the musician and those that watch the videos.
Music videos create a system of interactivity in two ways: social interactivity and textual interactivity. Social interactivity is the musician to fan relationship and textual interactivity is the fan to music video relationship (McIntosh 490). Social interactivity involves artist promotion through social media. Textual interactivity can involve fans recreating the music videos themselves and liking and commenting on the videos which can be encouraged by the artist combining both forms of interactivity. Both types of interactivity must be pushed by record labels to maximize artist promotion to fans because users must interact heavily with both the musician and the music video to feel more connected to the artist and can be more influenced to spend money on songs, tour tickets, watch the video more, all revenue streams for the artist and record label (Edmond 309).
Music videos are unique from their historical MTV predecessors that were solely broadcasted on television because contemporary music videos are more accessible because they are “on-demand” (Edmond 309). Users can easily pick and choose between content offered on streaming platforms that can be from any artist no matter if they are independent or heavily backed by a massive record label. This change also leads to an increase in variety and music video differentiation because record labels cannot just pay MTV to have their videos broadcasted heavily but instead users today can pick whatever video they want (Edmond 313). This difference is great for users but not for directors, artists, and labels have to compete against other labels, artists, and directors without having the option of paying more money to have more people see their music video. Record labels must push out other content to encourage fans to watch their videos from acoustic videos, lyrics, vertical videos, and other marketing strategies to “extend a song’s life cycle” and maximize profits through streaming (Cobo).
Music videos have existed as a record label marketing tool for decades because they enhance an artist’s image. Music videos heighten the public perception of a musician in five ways: (1) Paraphrasing the verbal text of the song, (2) facilitating the comprehension of verbal text, (3) creating an expanded reading and interpretation perspective of the song, (4) orienting the expressivity of the song by creating a specific atmosphere, and (5) creating matches with given parts of the song (Keazor 99). These five elements are basic to ensuring successful musician to artist connection to increase the promotional effectiveness of the music video. Arguably the most important element is the third tool of creating an expressive atmosphere surrounding the song because music videos can visually generate and emotional feeling within a song that might otherwise not be thought of.
Cobo, Leila. “As Music Videos Grow Into Important Revenue Streams, Directors Have to Adjust.” Billboard, Billboard, 20 Oct. 2017, www.billboard.com/articles/news/magazine-feature/8006801/music-videos-grow-important-revenue-streams-directors-adjust.
Edmond, Maura. “Here We Go Again.” Television & New Media, vol. 15, no. 4, 2012, pp. 305–320., doi:10.1177/1527476412465901.
Mcintosh, Heather. “Vevo and the Business of Online Music Video Distribution.” Popular Music and Society, vol. 39, no. 5, 2015, pp. 487–500., doi:10.1080/03007766.2015.1065614.