In 2017, there are few people who could admit to never witnessing a music video. With music streaming is at an all-time high, it only guarantees that the popularity of music videos skyrocket as well. Vevo, a premium music video and entertainment platform, which distributes its content on YouTube, their home website and other platforms, reported that they average a great 24 billion views per month. With Vevo’s 400 million monthly viewers and 250,000 videos, it is evident that the public is consuming a lot of music videos and music related content.
The rising popularity of music videos not only benefits the streaming platform. Vevo reached record revenue in 2016, which is likely attributed to the rising popularity of music videos. However, music videos greatly benefits artists as well. Music videos are important to artists because of many reasons, the main two being that they give a lesser-known song exposure and can aid in an already-successful track’s longevity.
When thinking of how music videos can benefit songs that have yet to “blow up,” think of 2013 hit singles“Harlem Shake” by Baauer and “Gangnam Style” by PSY. “Harlem Shake,” which was released June 2012, did not begin to garner sales and streams until mid-Feb. 2013, largely because of the viral music videos and the 30-second music videos that were made with the song’s audio playing as the backing track. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” also received much of its success because of its music video’s extreme popularity. The music video for “Gangnam Style” held various records, but it was primarily known for most-viewed YouTube video (which was held until it was surpassed by Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” and then recently surpassed by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito”). Both songs’ success can be solely attributed to their music videos because despite the intense popularity of their YouTube streams, the songs ’radio play and sales performed modestly, failing to translate their viral music videos into track sales and high audience impressions.
Giving an already-popular song more exposure, music videos are also important when giving an artist’s song longevity. For most mainstream artists, they find themselves using music videos as a way to garner extra sales and streams for a single. More recently, while Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” had already reached the top spot on Billboard Hot 100 prior to the release of the music video, the track fell from No. 1 for the next two weeks. When the music video was released, the song returned to No. 1 for 11 consecutive weeks. A visually appealing, shareable music video is important in capturing the public’s attention and providing a song with more replay value.
While music videos still may be important to music culture in terms of video entertainment on YouTube, Head of YouTube International Music Partnerships Christophe Muller reported to Digital Music News, “The final claim that the industry makes is that music is core to YouTube’s popularity. Despite the billions of views music generates, the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube a month. Compare that to the 55 hours a month the average Spotify subscriber consumes.” Whether or not the public may decide to watch music videos from platforms other than YouTube, it is obvious that record-breaking streams are currently important to music culture.
As the music industry progresses and times change, streaming and music videos are becoming more important than ever. There are new records to set and break and with viral videos for songs like “Gangnam Style” and “Harlem Shake,” which allow individuals to show off their creative sides and give exposure to their music. Though music videos’ presence may not be as large as general entertainment videos, music videos continue to be an outlet for artists to express themselves and to push the boundaries for their fans.