É básico, é de 2005, mas ainda tem bala na agulha!
infelizmente sem tradução
(By JON CARAMANICA
Published: July 31, 2005)
IT'S hard to remember now, but there was a time when MTV was new - an upstart with barely enough clips to fill its airtime, using "I Want My MTV!" commercials to urge local providers to take notice. The viewing experience was unlike any before it: almost exclusively music videos, a strange new medium of three-minute units and an uncharted arena of artistic and commercial opportunities.
Back then, the venue and the content seemed so perfectly suited that it was hard to imagine one without the other. Watching the network was like being witness to some media-age wedding. And together, the new medium and the new genre rewrote the rules of both visual culture and music marketing.
But as with all marriages, the partners grew. And in this case, they grew apart. Despite MTV's continued nod to the form it popularized - last week, with typical fanfare, the network announced its latest round of video award nominations - the video and MTV have gone their separate ways. Even MTV2, the little-sister channel once devoted solely to videos, has begun a switch to original programming. But rather than shrivel away, videos have taken on an exciting if uncertain life of their own, far away from the mother ship that launched them. They thrive at online music sites, they're sold in record stores, they connect strangers across the Internet. And just this month, speculation was rampant that they might soon be coming to iPods, the hand-held devices that are obsessing an increasingly large segment of the population.
But as the circumstances in which they are viewed change, so has their function. Once viewed as major cultural events (the debut of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video was a moment not soon forgotten by those who witnessed it), they are now just another part of the crowded, colorful, noisy background of contemporary life. And once regarded as merely promotional tools, they are now expected, in many cases, to return a profit in their own right. For a music industry that has gone through lurching crises in the past few years, as well as for viewers and fans, the proliferation of videos on all kinds of new screens may be one of the quietest changes, but also one of the most profound.
Back when videos lived on MTV, labels viewed them - as cool as they were - as an afterthought. They were made to promote the music, and the bands that recorded it. Labels provided clips, MTV played them, and if it all worked as planned the result was greater record sales. Quickly, a generation of musicians learned the importance of visual marketing. Prince, Michael Jackson, Run-D.M.C., Duran Duran and Madonna all invented and reinvented themselves through video.
But as much as videos could make bands into stars, videos could become stars themselves. Their striking, elaborately staged tableaus frequently overshadowed the throwaway songs they accompanied, and some directors even eclipsed the musicians they were hired to showcase.
By the 90's, "Spike Jonze and his peers were contributing to the culture in as meaningful a way as any of the artists they were working for," says Richard Brown, the producer of the Directors Label DVD series, which anthologizes the work of leading video directors. "The paradigm shifted to the director being the artist."
MTV had become a media giant, record companies were getting revenues, bands were getting exposure, directors were getting respect - even the crew members were coming up in the world. "I once had a makeup person send a list of airplanes they refused to fly on, the type of rental car that had to be available and the acceptable size of their hotel room," says Nigel Dick, who has directed clips for Guns N' Roses and Britney Spears, among others.
The only party having second thoughts about the arrangement was MTV itself. While the company enjoyed low programming costs, it found that people watched videos the way they listened to radio, tuning in and out. For advertisers, there was no guarantee viewers would stick around to watch what was on the other side of the commercial break, still less the commercials themselves. So beginning in the late 80's, with shows like "Remote Control" and later "Beavis and Butt-head," MTV changed its focus. It switched to an amalgam of programming built around music but also including reality television, scripted series, interview programs, Top 10 shows and the like. Videos were still a part of the mix, but a much smaller part.
"Early on in MTV's life cycle, the novelty of video wore off," says Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music Group. "We had to evolve with our audience and develop beyond a radio model.
"Even the best directors - or makeup artists - couldn't guarantee airtime. Too many videos were now competing for too little MTV exposure. So like apartment seekers squeezed out of the crowded Manhattan housing market, they spread to outlying venues. The video is now one of the only forms of media that truly extend to all screens and devices: while viewers can still watch Kenny Chesney videos on CMT's weekly countdown, they also watch them on DVD's, cellphones and, most overwhelmingly, the Internet - which graciously picked up MTV's role as video host as the network was dropping it.
Videos are extraordinarily well suited to the Internet, because they're short enough to be easily downloaded, and they sound good enough to make up for imperfect visual quality. Services like Yahoo Music and AOL Music allow people to watch videos on demand - choosing what they want to see rather than what a programming executive has lined up. Videos, both current hits and catalog selections, are offered free; typically, the user has to watch a short advertisement before the video will play. The advertising revenue helps cover licensing fees the services have to pay the labels for each video streamed.
"You don't have choice and control on a network," says Bill Wilson, AOL's senior vice president for programming.
Online social networking, especially the kind dominated by teenagers, has been remarkably fertile turf for music marketing. The community site MySpace.com features home pages for more than 350,000 bands, from indie acts to platinum artists like Nine Inch Nails and Black Eyed Peas. MySpace allows users to become "friends" with bands, communicating directly with them (or whomever they hire to answer e-mail) and sharing video and audio clips with other users. For MySpace users, the music content is a draw, giving them something to talk about online. And for labels, MySpace is a marvelously efficient, remarkably cheap and not terribly invasive means of spreading buzz.
Two months ago, MySpace began offering streaming video. Immediately, record labels began using the site for video debuts, including clips from Death Cab for Cutie and the Dears. Chris DeWolfe, MySpace's chief executive, says the new model is superior to MTV's old one.
"Homogenized playlists leave an unfulfilled need," Mr. DeWolfe says. "With community features, users can share video playlists with each other. The word of mouth happens naturally."
AOL Music includes similar features on its weekly video countdown show. Currently, users can post messages that will appear on screen alongside the video of their choice. Later this year, according to Mr. Wilson of AOL, they'll be able to post their own video messages as well. "Online, you can superserve the audience," he says.
The audience clearly appreciates the service. Visitors to the Yahoo site watch more than 350 million videos per month. In the last week of May, AOL Music had an audience of 12.2 million, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings, and Yahoo Music was close behind with 11.3 million. Though the figures aren't directly comparable, in the same time period, "Total Request Live," MTV's flagship countdown show, drew a daily average of 662,000 households, and "106 & Park," BET's countdown show, captures 605,000, according to Nielsen Media Research. Says David Saslow, who is in charge of video promotion at Interscope Records, "If we have a No. 1 video at Yahoo, that's as important as having a No. 1 video on a network."
Dave Goldberg, general manager of Yahoo! Music, adds, "Not counting porn, music video is clearly the most popular video content online."
Online advertisers like it, too: they know their audience has actively requested the content they're pairing with their ads, as opposed to the more static and passive consumption model on television. As Ben Davis, a partner in Blastro, a video site focused on independent music, says, "TV dollars are coming into the online video space, especially now that studies show that the retention numbers with online video ads are very good."
As the outlets for videos have changed, so have the videos themselves. When the music industry's sales contracted over the past few years, budgets plummeted, and labels hesitated to commission expensive videos. But at the same time, music videos have become far cheaper to produce: directors' fees have dropped to mid-80's levels, and digital filmmaking has cut tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars from production budgets. The major labels spend less than they used to, and indie bands often hire aspiring filmmakers to make them videos for less than the price of a car. Says Craig Kallman, president of Atlantic Records, "The ability to make impactful videos cost-efficiently has never been more crucial."
But as cheap videos and the platforms on which to watch them have proliferated, and they ways in which viewers watch them have grown ever more individualized, the videos themselves have lost some drama. "Once a video was out on MTV, everyone would see it. It was like a big event," recalls Stephane Sednaoui, who has directed videos for Bjork and Alanis Morissette. "There was a lot of excitement. That is gone now."
Says Mr. Toffler of MTV: "I believe that MTV as it was would not thrive today. It was perfect and specifically relevant to the time."
THE next great frontier - or tiny frontier, depending on how you look at it - for video could reverse that trend. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had met with major record labels to discuss selling videos through Itunes, its online music store, fueling speculation that the introduction of a video iPod was imminent. Apple is officially keeping mum, some hints of a future strategy may already be visible. At the iTunes site, recent albums by the Backstreet Boys, the Go-Betweens and the White Stripes were packaged with bonus videos, which can be downloaded to a computer. And even if the iPod rumors are unfounded, Sony's PlayStation Portable has already made hand-held video watching a possibility.
Bringing music videos to hand-held devices would join two of the most profound innovations in pop music in recent decades. But more than that, it would speed the music video's transformation into a consumer product unto itself. Which might take videos from an expensive afterthought (and in some cases an expensive indulgence) to a basic part of the business model - something artists are simply required to produce, an essential part of the life of a pop song.