For a couple of years now, the musician community as a whole witnessed the uncompromising rise of the DIY era. Not so long ago, almost every element in the production, promotion and distribution processes of an album cost non-negligible amounts of money and time. Now all that has changed thanks to advancements in technology and the growth of sharing communities. Music recording and production is probably to most notable example. Needless to say that booking a recording studio for a couple of days is a fortune – depending on the studios it can amount to easily 500 to 1000 bucks for 12 hour sessions. Add some mixing time and your budget is gonna be making you eat pasta for the rest of the year. Now with decent audio knowledge and a reasonable set-up (lets say about $2000 without counting the computer) you can work wonders.On the video front, with the development of Youtube we are seeing an increasing number of bands hosting their music videos.
What astonishes me the most I suppose is that the sentences I just wrote above sound cliche to me, as if I had already read about and witnessed these evolutions many times before – we all know about this DIY phenomenon, but taking a step back helps us realize that, damn, all this stuff is only a couple of years old.
Let’s see. In the music production field, communities started sharing software only about ten years ago, but “a cubase in every home” started maybe no more than 4 to 3 years ago, and now even your grand-ma is probably producing music.
Home-made music videos and youtube uploads of live gigs on the other hand is something much newer (due to digital camera prices plummeting these past years). I remember that, a year and a half ago, I was delighted to see a band have an embedded youtube vid of a gig on their Myspace. It was still something pretty uncommon to see on a band’s profile. Now, only a dozen months later, it’s the exact opposite – bands that don’t have vids fall into the uncommon category.
To stop my blabber-mouthing and to get to the point the point of this post, I introduce to you www.99dollarmusicvideos.com. Founded by Fred Seibert, ex-director of MTV’s Network Online and founder of Next New Network, it’s a site that encourages any band to send their home-made music videos produced for no more than $99. The idea is for bands and directors to collaborate on something original and creative and to submit it to the site for a weekly feature (subscribe to their Youtube channel here to be notified of the releases. I think there is one every Tuesday and every Thursday).
Here are the simple set of rules bands and directors must follow:
- It must be made for $99 (or less).
- It must be shot in one day (24 hours).
- It must be edited in one day (this doesn’t include rendering, digitizing, or exporting — just the creative part of editing).
- It must be a collaboration between the band and the filmmaker.
The launch has been a success if we take into account the number of emails flooding their gmail account, and they already have 6 videos scheduled (some of which who were probably planned before the launch) but this does little to surprise me seeing how $99’s launch was orchestrated.
Verizon is also in the picture – probably sponsored the servers and the website’s creation in exchange to capitalizing on up and coming bands or something (oh, and also to promote their FiOS cable connection:-). They have been very active these past years integrating the music scene. They have their successful V Cast digital music store with whom they promote monthly subscriptions for phones and computers to downloaded unlimited music. Last year they gave a bus fully loaded of audio equipment to Timbaland so he could roam around the US in search for the next big hit. They partnered with many top selling artists such as Timberlake, Shakira, Prince, Madonna, AC/DC etc. for album and concert promotion deals.
Whatever the reasons and the means behind $99, I’m happy to see such a website launch and am planning on following-up on their growth and activity. Even thinking of producing a $99 video of one of my tunes. I don’t have a band at the moment, nor have I even opened up my Nuendo these past months, but I do got a dozen completely produced tracks I would love to visually illustrate, even if I don’t count on extensively promoting myself with it.
What I particularly like about the idea is that it doesn’t really help you do anything (well $99 does have a creative team that will produce one video a week) yet only the concept that promotes the idea that it is possible to produce a music video for les than 100 bucks, and that people can do it, is enough to get people to do it. Because of that, $99 has great potential (this kind of makes me think of Songpull.com’s concept – it’s just a website that encourage musicians to write a song in less than a month, get together for a house-concert and record the show, and it works).
Here’s the making-of of the very first $99 video of the folk Brooklyn-based band, La Strada:
Side-note: I think $99 probably would benefit going down the social network route. Done tactfully, a classified-ad site/social network for bands and film-makers could have the potential of creating a big niche in no time. A penny for your thoughts?