TikTok, YouTube and VEVO reps were on-hand at the 2019 Music Biz conference in Nashville on Tuesday, May 7 to discuss leveraging video in today’s culture.
Of course with the recent popularity of Lil Nas X launching from TikTok, attention was paid to the platform. The parent company ByteDance equipped the panel with rep Todd Schefflin, who was quick to give context to the breakout success.
“TikTok is a promotional tool unlike any other that has existed to date,” said Schefflin of the No. 1 most downloaded app in the world. “We’ve never seen anything come close—maybe radio—to the ability to break a new artist. On TikTok, when you share out to all your followers, every influencer on that page can then create their own unique contextual version of that. It’s this constant creativity, virality, meme concept that people want to get in on, but they don’t feel like followers because they have the opportunity to create their own unique version. It’s a competition for who can create the coolest, most interesting, engaging video.”
Although Schefflin cited the rise of Lil Nas X and other upcoming success of Sueco the Child, he was quick to qualify the viral sensations and his platform is promotional and part of meme culture, which means you have little control over what becomes viral.
“Don’t think your single or even a song from the album is what gets people interested in your new album,” advised Schefflin. “Be open to using even content that’s not yours and engaging to create something viral. Just simply that you’re engaging with others on the platform will drive people to discover who you are and listen to your music.”
TikTok aside, Blueprint Group’s Bryan Calhoun advised planning to simultaneously shoot in various dimensions on video sets to capture for as many platforms as possible—horizontally and vertically.
“We shot last week with Lil Wayne and Blink-182 and now we have really great content that works on Instagram stories, IGTV and YouTube, Twitter and Facebook,” admonished Calhoun. “If the director/editor hadn’t thought about that in advance, we might have ended up with content that worked on one platform but not another.” Schefflin testified his platform, TicTok, is exponentially more engaged with when video is shot vertically.
Content can come in handy. VEVO’s Parul Chokshi and YouTube’s Margaret Hart confirmed the need to continually upload video for algorithms and fan engagement.
“It’s really hard to oversaturate,” said Chokshi. “What I’ve seen is a constant thirst for more videos. For singles now, we’ll do a static image studio video, a lyric video, an official music video, maybe there’s a teaser to the official music video, then there’s the behind the scenes, remix. Constantly refreshing your channel is key to keeping people’s attention.”
“You can’t just throw a video up and hope it does well and not put anything else out for three months,” Hart agreed. “You’ve got to keep it coming consistently. Our algorithm really likes content, imagine that. Uploading really helps with our recommended features.”
Chokshi was quick to provide context, empathizing with constrained budgets.
“Not every artist is Ariana Grande and has a team of videographers following them around and giving you access to five different versions of their music video,” said Chokshi, who suggested simply grabbing extra content from video shoots to post later.
Chokshi then continued the conversation in an interesting direction: towards defining what album launches look like in 2019.
The VEVO employee suggested uploading each track with a static image to video platforms once the album has been released. “Vevo can then create playlists to help promote that album upon launch, then you can find your single and which song you’ll do a music video for,” said Chokshi.
Calhoun then theorized the long album release build-up might need to be reconsidered.
“The reasons for longer lead times for releases no longer exist,” concluded Calhoun. “You had to create demand months in advance to manufacture and ship product, and make sure there was enough demand in the marketplace to convince retail buyers to purchase things. It’s really expensive to keep people’s attention for four months. Fortunately today, you don’t have to do that, but I see labels doing it all the time.”
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