Music Videos: The New Online Playgrounds
  • THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012

  • Posted by: Amanda Scherker

So the Internet has pretty much become synonymous with democracy in today's twittering, tumblr-ing, facebooking vernacular. You vote through hastags, campaign through Instagram, and respond to your least-favorite songs with goofity-ass youtube video mashups. Instead of mindlessly consuming media like its buttered popcorn, we sort of play bartender: mixing, matching, and test-tasting our own cocktails.

So, amidst our newly discovered ownership over TV show's character arcs or call-and-response with our most revered/despised bloggers, is it any surprise that some musicians are trying to rewrite the rules of music videos to give their fans a virtual "say" over what they experience?

And voila, you adorable control freaks -- the interactive music video is born!

Back in spring of 2011, the wilely Devo made some $$ off of the band's interactive music video critique of materialism. As you navigate yourself through their virtual world, the musicians run around in a circle of consumerism. Naturally, you can buy many of the products directly from the online music video. Whether this keenly predicts a future of increased product placement in interactive forums remains to be seen. The cynic in me wouldn't be surprised...

Then, the perenially hip Arcade Fire teamed up with the ominpotent Google Chrome and created the crazy interactive video that accompanies their track "We Used To Wait." It uses Google maps to literally trasnport you to your childhood home (or, in my case, the hideous McMansion that replaced the tiny dollhouse and tree-filled backyard of my youth... not totally heartwarming. I'm over it.) It slickly customizes the experience to every fan.

Now, Bobby Womack, a soul singer who's been around since music videos first starting enchanting Beatleheads, has released his first "interactive music video" using the brand new HTML5 techonlogy. Appropriately, this virtual reality, viewed from the comforts of your iPad or web browser, is set in outer space. But that's about all that's predetermined. Womack fans can float around in his space shuttle, control the movement of planets, and blast asteroids, all to the soundtrack of Womack's latest album (you'll need to visit the site on a mobile or tablet device to play the video).

This trend is a natural industry evolution -- most people are watching their music videos online. (Smart people are even watching their music videos on Baeble!) And online is the place where everybody can and should have a say, right? So maybe this is the future. Or maybe it's a for-now gimmick like (fingers crossed, man) 3D action movies. But either way, at the moment, we'd say it's pretty freaking cool.


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