Musicians, labels, and fans are all becoming true believers. And yet, despite the fact that all indicators suggest that live streams are here to stay, it still often feels like something is missing. As if creators aren’t really fully flexing to take advantage of this new world.
And we hate a missed opportunity.
Forty years ago this week, on August 1st, 1981 at 12.01am, Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles was the very first music video to air on MTV. A pop masterpiece, the entire 2:49 length of it feels like an ad, custom made for that exact moment in history. A song which is both happy and sad, yet also an ideal pioneer for a new form of media art.
Four decades later we can clearly see how well-timed that was and how important music videos would prove to be as a promotional tool; as a way to define an aesthetic, and above all, as a creative endeavour worth fully exploring.
We feel the same about live-streaming.
This should be a renaissance of inspiring endeavour!
Artists, producers, and directors should work as a unit to surpass the mere concept of "band on stage performing to cameras," and truly explore a new approach in the marriage of visual and sonic.
Let's make this new medium its own form of art.
Who said that a live stream has to be a band playing on stage. Why turn this into a dull concert? Why play by any rules in the first place?
Using video to tell a story allows infinite possibilities, so why not have a narrative carrying the experience? It could be as simple as having a thematic approach across the performance, or as far as creating a self contained story that has a clear beginning, middle and end, allowing viewers to become active participants.
That's what the above examples excelled at: telling a story. The hard hitting gritty beats and riffs of ‘Sabotage’ get an injection of adrenaline as they created a high octane ode to 70s cop dramas following the tale of three officers as they battle crime.
Smells Like Teen Spirit is the school mosh pit / riot the weirdos dream of complete with ironic cheerleaders and even the janitor rocking his mop. Tell us a story and your daring effort will be remembered.
Your music isn't the only thing that resonates with fans. It's who you are, your personality, look, style, aura. You are what resonates with your fans, so it is essential that you understand your appeal and ensure that your livestream amplifies that to viewers.
Take the examples above: 'Yonkers' played perfectly to Tyler's (at the time) abrasive and dark persona by utilising his facial expressions and body language while pairing them with sharp black and white contrast. Sinéad's grippingly intense performance style couldn't have been better captured than in this moving and subtle video, interspersed with lonely shots of her walking around Paris and ending in real tears mourning the recent death of her mother.
The common theme across both is a true reflection of the artist, thereby turning a simple and straightforward production into a memorable audio-visual experience.
Artists often thrive in creative environments and sparks can fly when they team up with the right visionary director. This is precisely why so many renowned directors have their roots in music videos.
It's not about finding the most decorated directors and spending a crazy amount to have them on board. It's about finding hungry and motivated visual artists who want to showcase what they've got.
So seek out creative individuals who have a unique flair and understand your vision. Collaborate with artists that are passionate about their craft and are driven by working with others that share that spirit. With your worlds colliding, there’s an opportunity to try new things, expand each other's horizons and truly create something that will wow and inspire.
Seriously though, the best ideas are often the simplest and usually have the added bonus of also being the cheapest. Thinking out of the box really doesn't have to break the bank and will leave a much deeper impression on your fans than any amount of fancy CGI tricks. Keep it real and keep it original and you'll reap the benefits.
Take these two beauties as inspiration. Ok Go has since become well known for their one shot vids but it all started with this very simple and compelling gem of an idea; "lets just pull together 8 treadmills and make a dance routine on them?". This magical plan came in a dream to Trish Sie, the frontman's sister. It took the band 21 attempts to nail the one shot which has since gone into music video history winning a grammy along the way.
Unfinished Sympathy is another one-take-wonder (remind you of anything?) and described as a docu-fiction by director Baillie Walsh, who shot Shara Nelson casually but firmly walking down West Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles on a sunny afternoon. The shot was inspired by old Hitchcock and Orson Welles movies and has become utterly timeless, befitting this really quite perfect song.
There are clear parallels between the art made for these iconic music videos and those which should be applied to live streaming, so please go make some great art!
We are looking forward to seeing what you create.