Do we really need music videos? Like, REALLY?

When you watch a really well-produced music video, it’s a reminder of how powerful visuals can be.

Check out the video to Love Love – the best UK Gospel video produced this year, we reckon. Or Where You Are by Ekklesia, which won the Best Video prize at the Premier Gospel Awards. One shows super-crazy levels of creativity to give personality and fun to an already great track. The other brings an almost cinematic feel that tugs at the heartstrings. It brings the song to somewhere you wouldn’t immediately visualise when just hearing the audio.

But not every music video is that much of a artistic masterpiece. And not everyone has the means to make videos of that calibre.

It’s a waste of money isn’t it?

Here’s the issue. A well-made music video costs a lot of money to make. There’s no way of getting around it. So if you’re a cash-strapped musician (as many are) it’s yet another expense to add the already huge list of management, studio time, musicians, marketing, production etc. And if so many pre-MTV artists could get away with skipping the video storyboarding stage, it’s understandable why some don’t bother with it now.

Then there’s the argument that if the track is so great, it shouldn’t need a video. It should be able to stand alone. After all, don’t a lot of videos draw the attention away from the God we’re singing about anyway?

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YouNeed YouTube

But the counterpoint is this. If we were to tell you about a new breakthrough artist you should check out, the place you’d probably go first is YouTube. You’d look for their songs, their performances – even their vlogs. Most mainstream artists are all over YouTube, even if they don’t have an official channel or Vevo account. It’s usually a mixture of badly made picture montages that fans have put together for tracks and dodgy live performance videos shot by cheap camera phones.

In light of this, here’s the important point.

If you are a recording artist, you will eventually end up on YouTube. The question is, will you be the one to control your presence with well-produced content or will you leave it to others? Fans might have the best will in the world but they will never take your ministry or your career as seriously as you do. Getting into the music video game will help elevate your music online – and everywhere else for that matter.

It’s still a pig

You’ve probably heard the analogy: you can put lipstick on a pig but at the end of the day it’s still a pig. We’re being wonderfully tactful right now. The mistake that some make is that they use a video to mask a mediocre track. You can use Spielberg if you want but a top drawer track should always come first. Given the choice, we’d rather stare at a blank screen while listening to a stunning song. The video can always come later.

So do we always need music videos? The short answer is no. But their importance is growing, even if you never get played on TV. Listeners expect it and it’s in an artist’s interest to think about some sort of visuals. But at the centre should be a meaningful song that doesn’t need a video as a crutch.

Our pick of the bunch

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi DJ,

    I hope you’re well mate. An interesting article with a lot of interesting points, some good and some not so good. I’d like to address some of your points and “issues” but wanted to first ask if you’d like me to do so on this forum or directly in an email? Let me know please brother.

    I’m the writer/director of Ekklesia’s ‘Where You Are’ music video, thanks for the compliment, I’m glad you like it.

    1. djfiremanuk says:

      Hi Shabazz. Great to hear from you. Happy for you to add your comments here. I want this to be a discussion

  2. I commend you for what you’ve boldly shared, not because you’ve highlighted my video (thanks for the compliment btw) but because so much of what you’ve said highlights some of the many problems I see in the UK ‘Christian music industry’ and sadly, I believe, some of what you’ve said is an intrinsic part of the problem; a mindset problem which needs to be addressed before progressive change can occur in the industry. What “problem” do I speak of you might ask?

    You say “Here’s the issue. A well-made music video costs a lot of money to make. There’s no way of getting around it.”

    I’d say – firstly, what is “a lot of money?” As a professional creative whose worked in both the mainstream and church industries I’ve heard this line way too many times, mostly from Christians who use it as a way to inform me that they want a ‘cheap deal’ and that they have not properly considered investing in their career/ministries properly. It’s not the expense that makes a good videos it’s the idea. Good ideas are worth good investment.

    You say “Fans might have the best will in the world but they will never take your ministry or your career as seriously as you do.”

    I say, – (still following on from my first point) this point is redundant as at times in Christian music, professional and training creatives DO indeed take the ministries and careers of some artists more serious than they do – what do I mean? The first purpose of Music videos isn’t as you put it ‘to put visuals to a song’, no its a marketing tool to promote an artist or band. This notion that artists ignore promoting themselves with videos highlights the problem the Christian music industry has with being slow with progress. So when fans, like me, help promote an artist/band by producing marketing material for them that they might not care about then you can see my point that not only does a fan indeed show more care than the artist but they obviously help promote the artist further than they would be without video content. Creative music videos with great original ideas propell artists into record contracts, open them up to bigger audiences. Case in point, when I was the head of production at Uprise Music TV I edited a quick video for UK rapper Dwayne Tryumf. The video didn’t cost much but went on to get over 400,000 views and had people creating their own imatation videos – https://youtu.be/hDQihTLoofk

    I could go on to cover more points but for now I’ll leave it here by saying Music Videos are not just important they are essential! Vital to any music industry that wants to progress. Without them, and without good ones, the UK Christian/gospel music industry digresses as it is not marketing or promoting itself well enough.

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