Colorado Bands Are Helping Fuel A Music Video Revival
Video may have killed the radio star … but who offed video?
"The music video, as it was when I was a kid and I used to stay up late to watch the alt-rock videos that would only come on after 11, that's kind of over," said Benjamin Buttice, the voice behind the Denver band Sour Boy, Bitter Girl.
He and other musicians would probably point to the Internet – and the trend of downloading music as the most likely culprit. Videos though, are making a comeback.
"People still make music videos," Buttice said. "And people make really beautiful and thoughtful music videos, but there's not as consistent an outlet because MTV doesn't show music videos anymore, you have to get MTV 17 or whatever it is to see 'em."
On this night, Buttice is performing at a video release party for his new song, "Reflected Light." The video itself is low key, just him on a rooftop playing an acoustic guitar. But the potential impact that videos like this can have, he said, is high.
"It's the same as when you see a band perform live and suddenly it makes more sense to you," Buttice said. "There's that piece that was missing in the song for you that you never quite understood what was being said. It suddenly makes sense. I think the same thing can happen through a video."
Artists both big and small, are getting back into the habit of showcasing new music videos.
"The Internet age is in a boom of more than we can probably comprehend and it's only gonna get bigger," said Barrett Lione-Seaton, who makes music videos for In The Shed Media, just one of several video production companies in Fort Collins.
Using the Internet to showcase not only your music, but also your group, is almost as essential as band practice Lione-Seaton points out.
"The bands that take advantage of it end up, you know, using it to push shows, to push music festivals, to tour," he said. "Use it as part of your arsenal. That's the key. That's the importance of video."
Most of what In The Shed Media produces is from live concerts and performance series' – including for Fort Collins music nonprofit SpokesBUZZ. With the recently launched the Magnolia Sessions showcase series, SpokesBUZZ bands get a professionally shot video, which debuts at a monthly intimate house concert.
"It's another outlet for us to showcase artists that we believe in and we think are really great and get to show off their talent, and when it's all said and done, they have a promotional tool for themselves that they can use and put out in the world," said Matt Mahern, SpokesBUZZ's development coordinator.
A musician himself, Mahern knows the importance of using marketing to drum up support.
"It's a great way – if you're trying to get a show somewhere – if you have videos of you playing live," he said. "Cause a lot of times recordings don't always give the correct impression of what you do. And a live performance is pretty cut and dry. Oh – there it is. That's exactly what I have to expect."
While the 'M' in MTV may no longer stand for 'music,' YouTube has become the hot spot for fans to check out new acts. Even Mahern uses the platform to check out acts.
"If I want to check out a new band or if I want to learn a song, or just kind of bored and want to listen to some music," he said. "It's kind of fun to see what people have put out there."
The quality can vary widely – from highly produced scripted pieces of art to iPhone concert footage. So can the cost. According to filmmaker Barrett Lione-Seaton, videos can range in cost from $5,000 to free depending on the situation.
Many of the live shows In The Shed Media films, they do gratis.
"Personally I love music; I love supporting it," Lione-Seaton said. "But I do find myself frustrated sometimes when we're not making money."
Musician Benjamin Buttice admits the financial payoff off music videos – at least directly – is often pretty nonexistent.
"People in the world do make money off of making videos of their music, but these are people who are getting so many views on YouTube that YouTube pays them advertising fees," Buttice said. "You know, we're nowhere near that realm. There's no money involved on our end – currently. It's – I guess it's a labor of love. I like playing the songs. I want people to hear the songs. And it's another avenue to present the songs to people."