All posts tagged Videos

  • The Music Network story: ‘Viral Video Epidemic’, October 2009

    Here’s an article on viral videos I wrote for The Music Network in late August 2009.

    Viral Video Epidemic

    Music videos that achieve so-called ‘viral’ spread via word-of-mouth referrals are one of the biggest components of the social web – over half of the most-viewed YouTube videos of all time are music-related. In recent weeks, the ‘JK Wedding Video‘ showed that the inclusion of a particular song can boost sales significantly, as in the case of Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’. Years ago, Australian band The Sick Puppies found the same thing when their song was included in Juan Mann’s 2006 clip ‘Free Hugs Campaign‘, which is still the #1 viewed video of all time.

    Andrew McMillen investigates two tales of recent Australian viral video success: one a signed act, one unsigned.

    Blame Ringo – ‘Garble Arch’

    Abbey Road, London, early one February morning. Dozens of vehicles are bound for dozens of destinations, but not before the daily crowd of tourists continually hold up traffic to re-enact that famous image from The Beatles’ final studio album. Footage is alternately fast-forwarded and slowed to normal speed as group after group step over the crossing’s well-trodden white lines, while Blame Ringo’s wistful indie pop provides the soundtrack to a mesmerising display of human imitation and reminiscence.

    Brisbane indie pop band Blame RingoReleased in February 2009, Brisbane’s Blame Ringo [pictured right] found a worldwide audience with their hastily-filmed video for ‘Garble Arch’; subtitled ‘A Day In The Life Of Abbey Road’. Though starring none of the band members and – aside from the name – thematically distant from The Beatles’ work, nearly 400,000 pairs of eyes and ears across the world have absorbed the band’s creation. At what cost?

    “The budget was $100, which covered the express post and mates-rates wages,” reveals Blame Ringo singer/guitarist Pete Kilroy. “A mate of ours was staying near Abbey Road, so I asked him to record people crossing for a couple of hours. He express posted the tapes, and since I’m a film editor by trade, I just edited it myself.”

    When asked why he thinks the video became such a hit, Kilroy explains that they tapped into an indelible element of The Beatles’ folklore. “The love for The Beatles can’t be matched, and on a world scale, probably will never be matched. Besides that, when you watch the video, you think, “Look at all these tools. Who do they think they are?”, but your next thought is, “Man, I wish I was there doing that!” It sort of shows human nature.”

    Six months on, are the Brisbane four-piece still feeling the effects of the video? Kilroy is optimistic: “The video really opened some doors, as it got us album distribution. It made people interested, whereas with any kind of traditional advertising, it’s hard to get people to buy your record, to see your show; to give you their time. Creating something that people can identify with – while acting as an advertisement for our music – fast-forwarded our career around 6-12 months. But there’s no point dwelling in the past. The video will sit on YouTube and keep ticking over for years and years. We get fan mail from across the world, and that’s really cool because you’d never reach those people otherwise.”

    What advice would Kilroy give other bands attempting to follow that kind of viral video trajectory? “I was a film student and all they ever told us was that it’s the idea that counts. Look at ‘Garble Arch’; we’re not even in the film clip. It’s not about us. To release a good clip, it’s about the quality of the idea and creating a concept that people will want to see. It’s important to simply offer something different and unique.”

    Bluejuice – ‘Broken Leg’

    Sydney pop/hip hop band BluejuiceFrom a story of serendipitous viral success to an adventurous, label-funded production: Dew Process signees Bluejuice [pictured left] released their ‘Broken Leg’ video on July 16. The six-minute extended version of the clip finds the band’s two vocalists portraying embittered former jump-rope champions in a mockumentary format, before the parody gives way to a choreographed World Skipping Championship Final battle between the five band members (‘Team Bluejuice’) and a children’s dance troupe (‘Shimmer Extreme’).

    Though the viewer is led to believe that the performance took place before thousands of screaming skipping fans, vocalist Stav Yiannoukas – who plays the fictional character, Spiridon ‘Mr Invisible’ Savvas – reveals that it was filmed at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. Post-production wizardry blended the empty theatre with stock footage of a stadium crowd.

    “The actual day of shooting was reasonably torturous, having trained for six weeks. Being filmed for 12 hours while skipping constantly is incredibly exhausting.”

    Hang on – six weeks’ skipping training? That’s dedication to a music video!

    Yiannoukas confirms: “Three hours a day, three days a week. It was absolutely necessary; we had to commit to the idea. And we also had to get an understanding of how good – or ultimately, how bad – we were going to be at skipping.”

    The band’s dedication has paid off: besides creating a clip that’s both hilarious and memorable, the band have since amassed a combined 55,000 views for the video and its bonus mockumentary off-shoots, in addition to a mid-August triple j award nomination for Australian Music Video Of The Year. Dew Process’ Marketing Manager, Graham Ashton, elaborates on the success.

    “‘Broken Leg’ was different from a lot of our other projects. While we normally work on finessing longer campaigns, we decided to go all-out for a big hit single, and that’s certainly looking like it’s going to happen. So far, it’s sold around 5,000 copies without traditional marketing. It’s all been based on a word-of-mouth online campaign in the lead-up to the song’s release. I won’t disclose the campaign budget, but you’d be surprised at how little it was.”

    Ashton admits that it’s difficult to measure the returns on online marketing campaigns. “Its success can be put down to word-of-mouth, more than anything. Both externally, within the punters’ world, but internally within the music industry. We did a tastemaker mail-out at the time of launch, and the response was fantastic. Another way of measuring its effect is the email database the band has since built, based on the opportunities surrounding this video and the campaign website.”

    Based on the strong responses to the band’s three Sam Bennetts-directed clips – 2007’s ‘Vitriol’ (150,000 views), 2008’s ‘The Reductionist’ (38,000 views) and ‘Broken Leg’ (55,000 combined views) – it’s fair to state that the band are adept at combining an excellent sense of self-deprecating humour with a penchant for creating memorable music videos. When asked how the band plan to top their finest visual achievement thus far, Yiannoukas is cautious: “It’s a difficult task. I think we’ll rip it away from the mockumentary format, as it’s important for us to keep challenging ourselves, and to reinforce that we’re more than that one-dimensional approach. The idea itself is ‘to be confirmed!'”

    Andrew McMillen is an Australian freelance music writer.

  • Zoo Photography Fallout

    My previous post provoked some passionate and interesting discussion within the national music community. My FasterLouder editor Liam McGinniss posted a news article on the site and kicked off a thread on the FL forums. I engaged with the conversation throughout Thursday before deciding to notify Birds Of Tokyo, and The Zoo’s management. The latter was the first to reply:

    hi joc here from the Zoo –

    just writing in response to the camera regulations and all of the posts – as we have stated on the website and mail out’s since bringing the policy in –

    Please do not record the event unless you have gained permission from the venue and the performing act themselves, this also applies to patron crowd shots as well.

    If you are interested in taking photo’s you are able to email the Zoo and ask permission to take shots as a number of people have done since this new policy has come into play. We then forward each request to the management / agent and it is then up to each act if they want their photo’s taken.

    It is a lot more work for The Zoo but we are then trying to ensure that each act’s privacy and wish is taken into account not just assuming they are ok with people taking shots. It is each individual’s right to have or not have their photo taken – and i don’t think they should be thought of in a less than favourable light if that is their attitude to this matter. We have in the past been less strict on this matter and their were recent events that made us review the policy but we are walking along a new path for the Zoo and one we are trying to handle with our normal integrity and trying to consider all involved.

    I am sure other venues would just say – no camera’s and that is it. They wouldn’t have the headache’s in trying to make a system fair for all. So please consider that when people are very rude and not understanding.

    all the best

    Joc Curran
    The Zoo

    Birds Of Tokyo guitarist Adam Spark replied later that day:

    hey fella,
    cheers for the message…thats all interesting news to us!! heh…
    we didnt threaten legal anything…weird…our manager just asked some kid to take off the new tracks from you tube, which most of my friends bands do also…
    but as far as all that stuff goes with the zoo….nothing to do with us mate…there is alot of misinformation on there i think!! we love people taking photos and film away!! just dont post up the new material just before new material is coming out…i dont think thats unfair? we just want people to hear our new material in its best form, after all we pay alot of money for people to make us sound good!! haha
    other than that….post everything up on the net! fine with us!

    cheers for the insight tho sir!! and yes i remember that off kilter solo! heheh pretty close!!
    adam s.

    It’s heartening that both parties were quick to respond, though both clearly dodged some issues. Transparency would be ideal, but impossible when both parties have interests to protect.

    Joc isn’t wrong about the headaches that these new regulations have caused. Theoretically, they’ll have to respond to several hundred photography requests from concert attendees every week. Realistically, though, as the word spreads and cameras are confiscated for the duration of the night, punters will simply stop bringing their cameras to shows at The Zoo. Few will bother to email requests beforehand.

    This outcome might be ideal for the handful of professional photographers who frequent the venue each week – that is, less amateur point-and-click photographers to contend with up front – but on the whole, the music community loses.

    You know those guys who stand and film a show before uploading it to YouTube? They won’t be at the Zoo anymore. I’ve been in contact with one, and he’s told me as much. Fans of bands who play at the venue – both local and international – are the losers in this situation, as footage of their Zoo performances will dwindle and soon die off.

    FasterLouder forum user Demosthenes wrote:

    It’s more than the Tivoli or the Arena do for punters. And if you sent such a request to the Entertainment Centre or the Convention Centre it’d probably disappear into a black hole.

    User Bananaphone wrote:

    …going to see a gig is a night out. People at the Zoo take snaps of themselves and their friends just as much as they do the band!

    While I’ve navigated this discussion without appearing to be an alarmist (hopefully), I think that these regulations will have a negative effect on the Brisbane music scene. It mightn’t be immediately noticeable; hell, in all likelihood, we’ll soon have accepted the rules as the norm and forgotten the issue, as is often the case with cultural change. After a brief period of protest, change is assimilated.

    It’s a shame, but it’s reality.

  • Camera-Shy Birds Of Tokyo

    While lining up to attend a show at my favourite Brisbane live music venue last night, I was confronted with some new and conspicuous signage. I’d seen the update on The Zoo’s site last week, but it’d slipped my mind until I re-read in person:

    Dear Zoo Patrons,

    No recording or photographic equipment is allowed to be brought into the Zoo.

    Please do not record the event unless you have gained permission from the venue and the performing act themselves, this also applies to patron crowd shots as well.

    Anyone caught doing so, with out pre arranged consent will have their gear confiscated until the end of the night.

    Thank you in advance for your understanding on this issue.

    All the best,
    The Zoo.

    Curious. Upon questioning those who knew, it appears that these restrictions are the result of a Birds Of Tokyo show in late May.

    The band played some new material to a sold-out crowd. Several among the audience decided to film these songs – in “high quality”, so I’m told – and upload the footage to YouTube. The band, who have a new album due later this year, responded by threatening legal action lest The Zoo instate and enforce the camera restrictions for future shows. The videos in question have been removed from YouTube.

    Let’s examine the facts, and assume that the videos were uploaded by a single party:
    1. This person paid to buy a ticket to watch Birds Of Tokyo; therefore,
    2. It’s reasonable to assume that they’re a Birds Of Tokyo fan.
    3. This fan wanted to share new Birds Of Tokyo material with other Birds Of Tokyo fans throughout the world; the easiest way to do that was to:
    4. Upload Birds Of Tokyo footage to YouTube.

    I don’t think that I need to point out the inherent stupidity in demanding rules be put in place after the act occurred and the band had left the venue. I’d be surprised if The Zoo had anything further to do with Birds Of Tokyo.

    An ostensibly friendly action by a Birds Of Tokyo fan has caused wider ramifications upon the Brisbane music scene – specifically, by scaring The Zoo into changing their conditions of entry, which have long been casual and reasonable, much like the venue’s staff.

    Why did this happen? Because Birds Of Tokyo are apparently more concerned with shielding their precious new material than encouraging their dedicated fanbase to continue doing what they will always attempt to do – that is, share with fellow fans.

    This is an awful strategic decision on Birds of Tokyo’s behalf. It seems that they’ve forgotten that sharing is the essence of being a music fan. Though, bear in mind that I’m taking this hearsay on face value – it could have been a decision made by their record label, their management, or I could be entirely wrong.

    National fame and notoriety. Sold-out Australian tours. A Triple J Hottest 100 placing. 10,151 MySpace friends. Why the fuck should Birds Of Tokyo care if a fan uploads a couple of bootleg, unreleased songs online and a couple of thousand people check it out?

    Their complete failure to view this occurrence as anything other than an act of positive word-of-mouth marketing from the most influential sector of their community – an actual goddamn Birds Of Tokyo fan – astounds and angers me. It’s irrevocably warped my already-dwindling perception of the band.

    This is the price you pay for attempting to control the actions of your fanbase. This is a glaring example of failing to consider an issue in whole before acting.

    Thanks for fucking up sixteen years of amicable amateur photography at The Zoo, Birds Of Tokyo.

    EDIT 12/06/08 – A discussion about this topic is taking place on the FasterLouder forum.

  • Content Analysis: Winelibrary TV

    I was linked to WinelibraryTV through Jeff Jarvis’ blog. He wrote a short article on The Guardian‘s site describing the site and its owner, Gary Vaynerchuk. A few words from Jarvis:

    Before you read this, do me a favour and go to Be prepared for a jet engine in your face. That blast of personality is Gary Vaynerchuk, a 32-year-old merchant who has made more than 450 daily wine-tasting shows online – just him, his glass and a spit bucket.

    The show, with its audience of 80,000 a day, has transformed Vaynerchuk into a cultural phenomenon. He has appeared on two of the biggest TV talk shows in the US and in the Wall Street Journal and Time. His book, Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines, comes out next week and the day he announced this on his internet show, his fans immediately pushed it to No 36 on Amazon’s bestseller list. He has a Hollywood agent. He makes motivational speeches. And he has only just begun. Gary Vaynerchuk is on his way to becoming the online Oprah.

    After reading this intriguing introduction, I immediately load the site. The episode at the top of the page is #467 – Some Wines At The Blue Ribbon. Not exactly the most descriptive of titles. I click play on the FlashBlock logo, and find that the video’s running length is sixteen minutes. This is an immediate turn-off, as I tend to avoid watching any streaming video longer than two minutes unless it’s attached to a convincing recommendation. I sure hope Gary thanked Jeff for his effective word-of-mouth marketing.

    Jarvis wasn’t kidding about the jet-engine personality: Vaynerchuk is entertaining from the first second. His enthusiasm and sense of humour is immediately apparent. I’m surprised and impressed that his energy and charisma hasn’t dulled after 467 episodes. I watch with a smile on my face as Vaynerchuk talks rings around himself, but constantly returns to several central themes within the episode. It’s almost as if the actual wine-tasting process is secondary to the cult of personality that surrounds the site’s subject; intentional or not, this is the impression that I get.

    Vaynerchuk’s concluding question of the day asks his viewers to respond with their favourite wine bar in the US. He specifically addresses casual viewers who are happy to watch without interacting:

    Lurkers! Please answer! You’ve been watching my show and you haven’t left a comment! Can you do that? It’s free! Give it to me! Please! Because you, with a little bit of me, we’re changing the wine world. Whether they like it – or not.

    A cute conclusion, and one that’s produced a reasonable return: at the time of writing, the video had 18,000 views and 250 text comments. Further exploration of the site reveals a spreadsheet maintained by a Vayniac that contains exhaustive data summaries on every wine Vaynerchuk has sampled – though it only contained the highest rating wine for this episode, wherein he tasted three.

    Vaynerchuk’s impact on my life was non-existent until I decided on a whim to give him a chance after an impersonal recommendation from a person I respect. I’ve now become a casual devotee of the man. His blog contains short videos that discuss business development, marketing, and personal ethics. What’s remarkable about the site’s content is that I only have a passing interest in wine, yet I’m now compelled to watch and interact with Vaynerchuk.

    This dude is the personification of the “good, open, free” edgeconomy model. His enthusiasm and winning attitude is contagious. I have a feeling that I’ll be following him for a long time.

  • Stress

    Justice have released an intense video for their song Stress. I was linked to it through the Modular label’s mailout, via the comment: “Just thought we’d throw a rub n’ tug the way of our buddies Ed Banger, who’s latest video for Justice’s latest single Stress has been watched by everyone in the office like five times today, dope clip, check it out HERE.”

    I was initially sceptic, especially since Modular is a label that I increasingly find uninteresting. I don’t like Justice much, either. D.A.N.C.E. was one of the most overplayed songs of 2007, and I’d prefer to never hear it again. Still, I clicked, and I loaded the video in subdued anticipation.

    The video depicts a gang of ten youths who undertake a seemingly unprovoked criminal rampage. The most shocking element is that they appear emotionless and indiscriminate toward their numerous victims. The violence appears very real, especially the bottle broken against the bartender’s skull.

    The director breaks the fourth wall when the video’s sound guy appears holding a boom microphone in the latter half of the video. It’s unclear why the cameraman is following the group, and at the end of the video, the group turns on him.

    The video provokes an emotional response in the viewer almost immediately, due to its shocking nature. Why are these men acting in this way? Most unnerving of all is their absolute confidence and seemingly invulnerability. The actions of a determined, violent few can evidently unsettle society in a surprising manner.

    The music itself is barely noticeable once the action is underway. The schizophrenic beat suits the video’s vision perfectly. The only laugh-out-loud moment is when the hoodlums are driving a stolen car, and the aforementioned Justice song D.A.N.C.E. is heard on the radio – which is subsequently kicked in, and thrown out the window. This is Justice dispelling their radio-friendly image in an overt and provocative way.

    You’re not going to see this video on any publicly broadcasted channel. You probably wouldn’t be aware the video existed until you got linked to it. I know that I wouldn’t have. It’s a fucking intense piece of work. I’ve watched it four times in a row. To me, its attraction lies in the fact that what occurs in the video is so far detached from social norms. It’s one thing to sit happily imitating these crimes in your living room while playing Grand Theft Auto 4, but it’s an entirely different beast to see actual people engaging in these acts – acted or not.

    My mind is drawn to a Jim Whimpey-linked post regarding the nature of violence being considered more obscene than sex.

    It’s ridiculous. Murder (bloody, violent murder in the case of video games) is a crime, it ends people’s lives. Sex on the other hand is not a crime, it’s in our biological nature, it’s enjoyable, it’s a mandatory requirement to create life. Yet sex is considered more obscene than violence. Stupid.

    Bravo, Justice. Stress is the most memorable music video I’ve seen this year. It’s directed by Romain-Gavras. The video is further discussed here.

    Update (16 May 2008): There’s another interesting analysis of the video here.