modern culture since 1991

Wings over Sealand


Revenge of the radio star

Posted on March 25, 2013 by RevStu

Something's puzzled me for more than 15 years, viewers, and an article I read today brought it back to mind, so I'm going to raise it very briefly in the hopes that someone might even now be able to answer the question for me.

There's something odd about the chart above, isn't there?

Apple makes dizzyingly vast amounts of money selling software, music and iOS apps, yet there's only a teeny tiny little broken yellow slice of that graph accounted for by videos. But hang on – don't we live in the age of video? Aren't we all walking around with amazing high-definition screens right in our pockets? So why aren't people selling us reasons to look at them?

Pop videos are one of the iconic cornerstones of modern culture. Record companies spend vast amounts of money on making promos for singles, but then – incredibly – don't offer people a way of watching them on demand.

The App Store doesn't even have a pop videos section. A couple of half-hearted streaming services offer a pitiful selection from a tiny handful of bands. I've never seen any sort of multi-artist Now That's What I Call Music Videos compilation, and very few artists ever release their own collection, certainly not while the band's still active.

Much the same goes for YouTube, which would initially seem the obvious answer. Only a microscopic percentage of videos are made available through official channels, and much of the time even those are hideously disfigured to the point of distracting unwatchability by advertising "wraps".

The rest of the time, the industry actively tries to HIDE its work from consumers, often pursuing reflexive or automated takedown orders if its audience tries to do its promotional work for it.

If you're lucky you'll be able to find a logo-strewn version ripped off a TV channel that isn't at TOO crappy a low resolution, but even then you're reliant on an internet connection or mobile signal if you want to actually watch it.

If it's not one of the many videos which are watchable on PC but blocked from running on mobile formats, that is. Funnily enough, the official version of the song in the above example only just reappeared in public view on the artist's own channel – just two weeks ago when I was searching for it, it was invisible. But even now I can't play either the official or unofficial versions on my iPhone.

(And that's without even going into what an increasingly-painful chore it is to use YouTube at all these days. If there's a way I can access or link to anything in my list of Favourites now without triggering the spewing-out of the entire thing in sequence as a "playlist", I'm buggered if I can work out what it is. And adding insult to injury, the list is full of "Deleted Video" entries with no way of knowing what they used to be so I can try to find another version.)

Why are pop videos the most tightly-restricted cultural commodity in the world? Why can't fans of an artist buy their videos as easily as they can buy their songs? Why do record companies spend millions of dollars and huge amounts of creative energy making often-brilliant PROMOTIONAL devices which they then go out of their way to STOP anyone from seeing – let alone giving them money for – other than by watching endless hours of music TV in the vague, remote hope that a truncated, censored, ad-mangled version might just come up?

Seriously, anyone. It's been 15 years and I'm none the wiser. What the fuck?

12 to “Revenge of the radio star”

  1. James says:

    That Wikipedia list of the most expensive pop videos is amazing. Of the ten most expensive, I can remember the gist of three of them. Four of the songs I couldn't even hum. And all it cost them (and by them, it basically means "Sony") for those ten videos was a total of $37 million. Yes, most of them are around 20 years old, but that was around the peak of my MTV watching days.

  2. Blucey says:

    Oh God… that fucking Two Cousins video…. I watched that for DAYS.

  3. RevStu says:

    Ditto.

  4. kwyjibo says:

    I don't think the chart is that odd.  People associate video with Netflix and Youtube, not iTunes or the App Store.
    I do think that monetizing music videos is difficult – most people listen to music when they're doing something else.  I've got a front facing camera on my mobile, but you won't catch me doing a video call.

  5. RFox says:

    Ask Duran Duran…..

  6. Rusty Shackleford says:

    " much of the time even those are hideously disfigured to the point of distracting unwatchability by advertising "wraps"
    You probably already know this, but it bears repeating for those who don't:
    Adblock+
    Ghostery
    Fit these extensions to Firefox or Chrome and never see another YT ad again, and no, not even a video ad.
    If you use IE, well, I can't help you.

  7. Da5e says:

    Gods, I love that Andrew WK record. You know he appeared on a Current 93 song? Guitar Wolf, too. The guy might be a genius.

  8. Daniel Walters says:

    As a non-Scot, the death of this blog makes me sad :(

  9. joncfc says:

    SAY SUMMAT STU!

  10. RevStu says:

    “As a non-Scot, the death of this blog makes me sad :( “

    What can I tell you? Gamers are absolutely determined not to pay for journalism, a boy’s got to eat, and there are only so many hours in the day.

  11. We still need the Rev Stuwart to snark on the impending demise of the video game industry.  You've worked too long and too hard not to comment on this stupid business as it self-immolates.  True, I wouldn't want you to skip meals or lose sleep, but I'm still always interested in what you've got to say.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my own overdue blogs as well (whistles)…

  12. RevStu says:

    “We still need the Rev Stuwart to snark on the impending demise of the video game industry.  You’ve worked too long and too hard not to comment on this stupid business as it self-immolates.”

    I’m happy just watching.



Leave a reply


  • About

    Hello. I am the Rev. Stuart Campbell,
    a semi-obsolete neo-culture journalist.
    Click here
    to contact me, if you want.

    Stats: 126 Posts, 6,259 Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Comments

  • Tall, Thin Game Of The Month

    Lightforce (FTL, 1986)


↑ Top