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A Major C Change

Now, I know this was previously discussed in a comments thread, but I felt the need to bring this to the main page... With the release of the new video IPod, and users' ability to download music videos for $2/pop, we will see a major change in the music video marketplace whereby the music video is no longer simply a promotional tool, but is instead a commodity through which labels can derive revenue. While this could be potentially beneficial for music video budgets, this is more important in that directors and production companies who produce these videos will in no way participate in this new earning stream (nor will any directors back catalog of videos).

So, if I want to go watch "Sabotage," or "Around the World," Spike and Mike would get nothing from this, but the labels and artist will find a whole new income flow. I am not saying this is explicityly unfair, because at the time that these directors' rendered their services, they were unaware of this potential additional earning opportunity, but I do think that it is upon us, as the music video making community, to stand up for ourselves and find a fair and equitable split of the money that these downloads will generate - particuarly as this market will continue to grow through cell phone downloads and other media outlets.

I don't mean to get on my high horse, but I am just saying to people that you need to keep an eye on this, and hopefully the more major video makers (do you hear me Mr. Meyers, Ms. Martel, Messrs. Fat Cats, Ms. Sigismondi, and the aforementioned Mr. Jonze and Monsieur Gondry?) will actively create a dialogue on this and make inroads. Please stand up and make a change! Speak up for us little guys with no voice, who stand in line waiting for an opportunity to be exploited! Get Mr. Apted and the DGA to pay attention! Let's make things happen, before it's too late!

Otherwise, I suggest we just let these two guys make all the videos: (and I would argue this video is as good as (and quite possibly is better than) all things on MTV)

salad fingers, October 17, 2005 at 3:01:49 PM CEST

i think that probably people won't pay for music videos, so instead of creating a large new cash flow to have a hissy fit over, they'll further the long, dwindling death of music videos.

radar71, October 17, 2005 at 3:26:38 PM CEST

no i think people will pay to download mv's.

but reuben, the situation here doesn't seem that different from existing television and film marketing. Since when does the director of a tv show, or a motion picture gain points towards money earned from sales? usually it's just a salary and bye bye. If it's a well known director with some play he/she might be able to negotiate, as well; the "producer" of a film that's produced independently and "picked up" will be able to negotiate earnings during those sundance late nights. Perhaps that is the direction of mv's? Produced as spec's, picked up, and sold.

progosk, October 17, 2005 at 5:16:54 PM CEST

i can't imagine people shelling out $2 for a 320x240 video. nor even for a single tv show they're already paying a cable subscription for. but then: as daring fireball points out, people do shell out massive money for something surely absurder: ringtones - so who's to say. what's more, as wagered here, perhaps that's the point of this initiative: demonstratively wrong pricing in order to test the market, and force down the riaa/mpaa's demands.

as concerns the future of mv's, i don't understand salad's idea of the death of mv's - seems like business as usual, no? are mv's a dying genre? doesn't look like it... as regards reuben call for a slice of the cake, i'd say radar's nailed that one.

echo, October 17, 2005 at 6:59:41 PM CEST

A friend at work just shelled out 2 bucks for a video on the store. And he doesn't have a video ipod even, he just wanted to see the video. A good post btw.


I think, for directors, this could be bad for music-video-only directors. in theory, a director could make a short film and sell it on itunes for 2 bucks.

captainmarc22, October 17, 2005 at 7:28:49 PM CEST

yeah - unless the DGA steps in a demands points for their directors working on videos; labels would be stupid to cede any money to work-for-hire.

And if the DGA did step in, labels would simply move to the hundreds of music video directors not alligned with any union.

I too can't imagine paying $2 for a tiny video, but if this sparks more interest/demand for music videos - then all the better. Maybe in a year we'll have a dozen more Director's Label type titles.

I only wish Apple would list the director of the videos - and thus links to their work.

option2r, October 17, 2005 at 9:10:06 PM CEST

i'm still not convinced that this will change how we view videos. it's pure novelty. people will only pay $2 for a video because they want to see how it works on the ipod, so it won't last. you can listen to a song a million times and still enjoy it, or even hear the same ringtone over and over again, but you can watch a video twice before you're bored, i'm generally speaking here. i believe that this is just to launch the ipod into the video realm. for this thing to survive it will have to go beyond music videos, because this area will not sustain the new ipod alone, eventually people will stop watching videos just like they did on tv.

echo, October 17, 2005 at 10:22:28 PM CEST

good point that video won't get as many views as a song - that said - it is kinda moot. Imagine if there was some hot new video that everyone was talking about but you haven't seen yet, and the only place you could find it easily was the new itunes store. Most kids would just pay for it and download the thing, if they have it on their video ipod they can show it to friends and be extra cool. The other strategy for the video ipod, the tv shows, is basically just organized hasslefree tivo'ed programming. I don't know if it will play out perfectly/successfully for apple - it seems to be more of an experiment right now - but it's a safe gamble for a company like apple to get in on something that could be a major distribution platform.

kevathens, October 18, 2005 at 1:07:46 AM CEST

Meanwhile, in a similar vein..

The totally-awesome Andy Gesner, of Hip Video fame, just posted an informative article about the whole Universal Music Group controversy, which we've talked a bit about in previous threads.

Disturbing explanations are circulating: many have pointed to Universal’s ownership on the International Music Feed as causal. UMG is, perhaps, looking to dedicate all of its videos to the Dish Network show. In a recent Billboard article, Refused TV programmer Cathy Pellow was quoted as saying that Universal’s intention was to “drain the marketplace of clips” so that consumers could only watch videos on company-controlled outlets. [...and...] 50 Cent and Sheryl Crow are going to be fine: major platforms will air their clips no matter what their parent company decides to do. But for artists like Tift Merritt and Mary Gauthier – both of who record for UMG-controlled Lost Highway – these licensing demands are an absolute disaster. If regional programmers and retail pools are prohibited from playing Universal’s videos, that’s going to hinder efforts to expose developing acts to new audiences. It’s a policy that sacrifices the future to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the present.

rubenfm, October 18, 2005 at 3:06:37 AM CEST

Just to clarify a few points made:

radar71: The DGA was established to protect directors from exploitation, and you can be sure that directors of DGA signatory projects (any network TV show, any DGA movie) definitely share in profits made. These are called residuals, and every time something a director has directed reruns, or gets sold to ancillary markets, or gets sold on dvd, the directors definitely get revenue back. So, basically I am not suggesting anything novel. On commercials you don't get residuals, but these are a promotional tool, and there isn't revenue generated from their creation. Also, directors day rates are so high up front that it makes up for receiving residuals on the back end (unlike SAG actors whose day rate is low, but who can make a lot on residuals if the commercial airs for a long time).

Secondly, the question of whether or not video downloads is a passing fad remains to be answered, but I know that artists I've directed videos for in the UK have made quite a bit money from video downloads to cell phones. And if ringtones are any indication of the potential for growth, we should all pay close attention. Also, whether or not someone grows "bored" of a video is moot when you consider that a kid on itunes is being offered the option of downloading just the song for 99 cents, when for just a dollar more, he can get the song and video. You don't necessarily have to watch the video every time, you could still just listen to the song as the video plays. So, no one really knows what will happen, I'm just trying to put some light on the situation.

And I am very excited about the prospect of being able to put up original content for profit on the ITunes site. I would post a short film in a heartbeat, but I am not aware of that option at present. If anyone knows any way to do this, please let me know.

Thanks for all the feedback!

option2r, October 18, 2005 at 7:02:17 AM CEST

i hope videos (not just music ones) on an ipod really take off, i do. but i highly doubt that it can do so on music videos alone. eventually other types of programs will have to be made available. i think your idea of short video content is exactly what the ipod will need. eventually itunes won't be the sole provider. i can see other networks getting in on the deal and soon even you yourself. music aside, there's so much more out there, news, short programs, comedy sketches, cable access, etc.

dickensian_hero, October 18, 2005 at 10:37:49 AM CEST

ruben has got the right idea. while i'm not sure whether or not people will pay 2 dollars for a music video, remember that this is just the first forray into a new world of distribution. in a few years, people may buy monthly satellite subscriptions with access to unlimited content they can download to their portable devices, which would be a similar paradigm to how people watch mtv now. only the selection would be infinite, and not determined by the establishment-controlled myopic programming minds at mtv. this suggests that more music videos will be made, which is good for all of us, and if there's more revenue coming in, hopefully bigger budgets too. and yes, residual compensation SHOULD be included for the filmmakers - and it would be totally democratic because it would be directly related to how many people were downloading the video and not by some perceived value, just like feature film directors who get points on ticket sales. and though i find the idea of paying for a music video - which is essentially a commercial - kind of weird - i think more and more artists are pushing videos in the direction of short films and perhaps the whole concept of what a music video IS will evolve as well. i think it's exciting. my biggest concern is asthetic: i don't know how i feel about directing something specifically for a 320x240 screen, but you know, we adapt, we adapt.

kevathens, October 18, 2005 at 1:17:04 PM CEST

..Which leads to the next issue:

Eventually (5-15 years?) all content, even television programs, will be available for high-def download, not just for a 320x240 screen.

Like the Internet, all content will be chosen directly by the viewer, not by cable or satellite programmers, and downloadable to a portable player or your HDTV. Of course we'll all have our favorite content filter sites/channels, i.e. BoingBoing or Slashdot or

How will this ultra-democratic, ultra-open system affect the mv industry??

salad fingers, October 18, 2005 at 4:16:20 PM CEST

i feel like i have the sole dissenting opinion about the ultra-democratic future of wireless, hand-held video.

with the proprietary delivery system of ipod-itunes, i don't see any reason why these entertainment companies are going to create these democratic portals to their libraries of content. and so i don't see why we're going to see more or better videos as a result.

big music companies will still want to market big acts to large amounts of people and the delivery system, whether old fashioned record stores or new-fangled handheld devices, will still deliver their hand-picked content. just look at the itunes music store front page. that is the future.

UNLESS apple's fucking strangle-hold on this new system of distribution is broken. following more of a PC model of competing brands under a compatible framework would allow MUCH more freedom to users. everyone loves apple and ipod for "thinking different" and being so free and fun, but the true face of ipod is steve jobs seeing an opportunity to squeeze a huge slice out of the existing entertainment industry (who don't understand computers) and holding on to it for dear life. he's a businessman.

don't confuse apple's marketing campaign with what is planned for the future of content delivery. the people running the show are still bankers. for videos i see more of the same, if not worse because we're going to be watching them on 320x240 for a long while. same lame acts, smaller budgets.

boost, October 18, 2005 at 4:55:20 PM CEST

back to one of the original points of this post - namely how are mv budgets going to be affected by these developments? persoanlly i have no idea if there will be some kind of residual/trickle down effect, but bear in mind if the majors open their ears to this they will have to be negotiating seperately with every prodco as to the exact numbers. Then you will have indy labels trying to negotiate a better deal..because they are indys and arent as rich as the majors. In other words it would be a complete mess.In the UK there is no organisation like the DGA set up to deal with these kind of issues. However I hear in France that there is some kind of deal set up where the prodco and the label can agree to put in more money than the actual budget 'to make the job as good as it can be'. Then the residuals from that job (from mobile download & video ipod etc) are then split up as a percentage reflecting on how much much each entity put in over the top and held by a 3rd party. This is a way of helping prodco's not to lose money when making vidoes and thereby sustaining the talent base that helps create them. Oh and of course branded content videos are not far off from becoming a reality. Imagine a video exclusive download on the Apple Itunes store for some boy/girl band replete with Apple branded drum kits & clothes.

kevathens, October 18, 2005 at 6:37:42 PM CEST

Salad fingers: You have some of the major industry players' technique down, but there's still a viable 'indie' industry and community, who may not pay attention to DRM or Steve Jobs at all. There will eventually be a viable alternative to the iPod (PSP and others) that doesn't seek to control the content. And, as this hypothesis goes, combine that with g33ks who break DRM'd equipment and files, and things'll be less strict than one may think.

Corporations want to earn money, but information wants to be free -- especially since information transfer will become increasingly easier. Somewhere there will be a balance, and I think it'll come from the next generation of entrepreneurs (unless Apple and the US Gov't flip their agendas in time).


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