Friday, 20 October 2017

Comparing 2 music videos Smiths v Sheeran


Its tempting to suggest viewing the EdS example with the audio off, but sadly you couldn't analyse the editing properly then...

There are many ways to approach analysing one, or comparing two, music videos. The key for you is to ensure that you give SOME consideration to ALL 4 Key Concepts: Media language, Audience, Representations, Industry ['Institutions'] - MARI Christmas!

Lets start with the one that may seem least obvious, INDUSTRY.

THE SMITHS: "This Charming Man"

ED SHEERAN: "Bibia B Ye Ye"

Your 1st question is: major label or Indie?
However, you can also look at the distribution of the video itself; its number of views; and the same for the track on the likes of Spotify.

To develop these raw stats, you can research the debate over how much/little the new media giants like Spotify and YouTube pay the record labels (who then give some share to the artist): you should be astonished once you find precise figures just how little they pay per stream! The other side of the argument is the big money that the online giants pay out OVERALL to the music industry: billions each year.

You can find lots of links (and even try specific tags such as monetizing - how artists seek to make money now that physical recorded music revenue has fallen so much) on my musividz blog. I blog a lot on the music industry, have a browse! You'll find themes such as the return of vinyl, the use of special/collectors editions, touring, merchandise (etc) are all vital - and a YouTube video can bring in good money if it reaches 8 figures (10m+) in streams.

CONGLOMERATE:  large company that owns other companies (subsidiaries)
SUBSIDIARY: a company owned by a conlomerate
INDIE: an 'independent' company not owned by a larger company. Some Indies do have subsidiaries, but because they are still smaller companies they aren't really thought of as conglomerates. Beggars Group is an interesting example of an Indie conglomerate!
MAJORS: the really big record labels, the ones that can afford to bid for the biggest music stars, are known as major record labels
THE BIG THREE: just 3 conglomerates dominate the music industry worldwide: Warners, Universal, Sony

The answer isn't always simple: the record label that produces the song/album/video might be Indie but sometimes they make a deal for DISTRIBUTION through a major record label.
Without looking any further into it, a simple Google tells me that The Smiths were on an Indie label, Rough Trade:
I'd need to investigate further to see if they were LATER (after they split up) DISTRIBUTED by Warner, one of the music industry's BIG THREE. Read more on who this is using this tag, or this post. Big 3 WUSup is maybe a way to remember them!

So what? Well, that almost always means much lower budgets for videos - although the impact of digitisation, specifically convergence, means that even low budget videos can look very high quality these days. You are shooting full HD, for example, and have access to 120fps video (great for slo-mo FX).

Here's where the Industry KC meets Media language:
Wow - what a *gorgeous* setting!
We can instantly see this is a cheap video - though the sheer amount of flowers might have added a lot to the budget!

Lets leave The Smiths for a moment and consider EdS. Another simple Google reveals he appears to have a more direct major record label link: Atlantic are his main label (he also has own label, GingerMan, through Warners), and it takes one simple right-click/open in new tab, to confirm they are a Warners subsidiary


1.      Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics.
(e.g. stage performance in metal videos, dance routine for boy/girl band, aspiration in Hip Hop).
2.      There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals. The lyrics are represented with images.
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
3.      There is a relationship between music and visuals. The tone and atmosphere of the visual reflects that of the music. [This is essentially Vernallis’ point. Anton Corbijn’s Joy Division videos are a good example; moody black and white to reflect the gothic music; so too the 2011 student Joy Division video [blogs]]
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
4.      The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style). [Richard Dyer again!]
5.      There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, mirrors, stages, etc) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. [Can link to male gaze etc]
6.      There are often intertextual reference (to films, tv programmes, other music videos etc). [Kristeva, other postmodern theory]


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