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VIDEO SUPPLY & DEMAND IN THE
COVID-19 ERA

After two months-plus in lockdown, showbiz faces the end of what has always felt like an endless pipeline of content. With the urgent need to keep fans engaged (and boost totals on the Billboard charts) but facing quarantine-related production obstacles, music acts are adapting to a daunting new landscape.

The days of a single video earning tens of millions of views may be behind us in this ever-accelerating media environment, with artists needing multiple visuals. Official clips that are followed up by reaction and animated videos, director’s cuts, etc. are all in play. Vevo is working with artists in its development programs like DSCVR on direction and lighting and even receiving video to edit and marrying it to the music.

Music faces a unique challenge here. After all, it’s competing with video content of all kinds—as well as YouTube’s highly jackable algorithm, which not only disproportionately favors YT-affiliated creators but also excludes practically everything except the newest clips. A music video from two weeks ago or longer is old, even if it’s from a superstar.

While artists’ home videos were much needed and cathartic in the early weeks of this new world order, data shows the stuck-at-home public is itching for higher-quality content.

So in the present marketplace, where artists can’t do highly produced video shoots, what are they and their labels and managers doing to stay relevant and active on platforms?

Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s “Stuck With U” is supported by four videos. The official video is largely composed of fan-submitted videos, as are the “Prom Scenes” and “Mother’s Day Edition” videos. John Legend’s “Bigger Love” (four videos in the last month) and Weezer’s “Hero” video (above) incorporates fans, as does touring behemoth Kenny Chesney’s “We Do” video, assembled from shows across the country. We’re also seeing artists embrace heavily stylized animated music videos from artist as diverse as Dua Lipa, Jhene Aiko, Powfu and Pearl Jam. And of course there was Travis Scott’s partnership with Fortnite for an “Astronomical” in-game live event. Band MS’s “Que Maldición” f/ Snoop Dogg incorporates the rapper in its animated video. The latter became a Top 15 trending clip on YouTube.

As we approach the end of that content pipeline and enter uncharted territory, success and relevancy in the video content game will ultimately come down to which artists and their teams can truly push the envelope.

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