There's always been an odd disconnect between music videos and the web.
The web is interactive, personal, programmable... providing a unique experience for each visitor.
Historically, music videos have come in the 'one size fits all' category - replacing the images that you make in your head around music with a singular directorial vision.
Fine for MTV and Fuse - but simply out of touch with the web.
Now, I can say I've seen the future. The band Arcade Fire has produced a video for the song "We Used To Wait" from their just released album The Wilderness Downtown.
It's the end of old media - a singular narrative vision - and the start of something new. Very new.
Take a look at it if you have 4 minutes to spare. You'll need the Google chrome browser or safari.
Wilderness Downtown by Arcade Fire
To start, you are asked to enter the name of the town you grew up in. The browser calls up a mix of video elements, in their own windows, along with images from Google Maps. The result is haunting and personal. As the video plays, the experience asks listeners to share thoughts with their childhood selves, and then mixes that material into the visual content.
Director, Chris Milk was clearly thinking about what videos could evolve into. "I spend a lot of time thinking about how music videos could ever achieve the emotional resonance of straight music," Milk says in an email exchange with the Music Mix in Entertainment Weekly. "Honestly, I'm not sure music videos can ever really touch you as deeply as music alone can. Music scores your life. You interact with it. It becomes the soundtrack to that one summer with that one girl. Music videos are very concrete and rigid because they rely on someone else's vision. Sometimes mine."
Milk's understanding that viewers no longer want to be passive consumers of created content is prescient. Viewers aren't viewers; they are creators, collaborators, re-mixers, and social media partners.
Invite them in -they're part of the music, the story, and - importantly - the marketing. Keep them out, and they're going to look for an experience that feels more engaging. "By letting the audience participate in the visuals, we allow for more of an emotional connection," Milk says.
The Wilderness Downtown was created in partnership with Google, to show what HTML5 can do. And it achieves that objective in spades.
But don't let this be the only experience you have with HTML5, here are some more links to explore... there's an immersive future just around the corner. Take a look at what's ahead.
Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, a NYC-based platform for Realtime Video Discovery and Curation. He has been building and growing consumer-content businesses since 1992. He was the creator and Executive Producer of MTV UNfiltered, a series that was the first commercial application of user-generated video in commercial TV. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/magnify
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