Has TikTok killed the music video star?

by | Sep 15, 2023

Has TikTok killed the music video star? Pretty much.

Artists are shifting their focus from full-length music videos to short-form content on platforms like TikTok and YouTube Shorts.

Two key points:

1. Traditional music videos are losing their impact as attention has shifted to bite-sized vertical clips on platforms like TikTok. It used to be (~10 years ago) that an artist *had* to release a music video to separate from the pack. It’s what helped to separate the professional artist from the hobbyist. You’d make this fancy video, and then you’d “shop” it to various periodicals (BillboardRolling Stone) to see if they would premiere the video.

The rise of TikTok and YouTube Shorts has significantly lowered the barrier to creativity and expression for artists. This benefits independent artists/labels who don’t have big budgets to support releases.

The record label that I lead will have >100 releases this year. But maybe just 5 full music videos. Instead, our artists opt for short-form content. Sticky, quick content that will make TikTok’s for you page (FYP).

2. Investing in short clips instead of full-length music videos allows for more content, frequent engagement with fans, and a better understanding of what resonates before investing in a full video. With TikTok and YouTube shorts, artists can target specific audiences with a video, so there’s greater precision and the ability to achieve product/market fit.

Short-form videos are cheaper, easier to make, and you get more opportunities to see what’s going to resonate with the audience.

Let’s say an artist is readying to release her album.
Should she invest $50k in a full fledged music video?
Or $5k and make 10 quick 20 second videos?

It’s better to have options.

Produce. Distribute. See what sticks. Drive in that direction.

Another upshot from this trend is the impact on producers/directors of music videos. I know several who have moved away from this medium altogether to focus on advertisements, documentaries, films.

The long-form music video — as we know it — is a relic. Nice to have but not essential to breaking a track or artist.

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