Thursday, March 22, 2007

UniTube? or Let a Million Videomakers Bloom?

You knew it was only a matter of time. Variety reports that Universal is making music videos primarily for YouTube distribution
Film marketing has taken on a new face this week: music videos on YouTube.

A down-and-dirty music video featuring film footage was shot for Universal Pictures release "Dead Silence" and received more than 35,000 views. It's quite possible all the people who saw the video are the only people who went to see the film. ("Dead Silence" opened this past weekend grossing an estimated $7.7 million for the three-day frame, finishing at No. 4 overall.)

The video, shot for under $10,000, was cut to a song by post-hardcore band Aiden titled "We Sleep Forever." The band's label, Victory Records, pitched the song, and execs decided to use it, but not in the film. In fact, the song is nowhere in the film -- not even an end-title. Now, it's a value add on the soundtrack album, which also features the score of former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Charlie Clouser. Additionally, the YouTube video will be added onto the DVD release of the film.

Kathy Nelson, president of film music for Universal Pictures, says this type of guerilla marketing is a vehicle to promote film releases online. In fact, Nelson is using this approach on the companion to the highly anticipated comedy "Knocked Up" (brought to us by Judd Apatow, co-writer/director of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) and she's choosing small label partners versus major powerhouses. The "Dead Silence" soundtrack is being release on Lakeshore Records, and "Knocked Up" by Concord Records.

"Lakeshore and Concord are being much more aggressive about how to market online," Nelson says. "It's all about iTunes and YouTube and cyberspace."
For me it is the economics that is the lesson and, perhaps, OK GO is to blame. Those videos are entertaining and, well, cheap. In a day where TV videos start in the millions rather than the thousands and hardly get any airplay, this is, in a way, a good sign for many low budget videomakers. In other words, have an idea, you may be able to get it funded as media companies will be more than happy to part with thousands rather than millions.

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