The past two days I have focused on music videos and their ability to find an audience, catch the viewer, and help album sales. Today I will cover live performance videos. The main focus will be on live sets that are filmed for radio stations, TV stations, promotions, and the like. While this type of promotion does not reach the huge masses that flock towards music videos, there is definitely an audience for them. My goal is to find out the disparity between music videos and live sets. Is there a generally positive reaction towards them? How is the production value? Do some bands promote more than others?
Not only are music videos apart of promoting, but so are live recorded sets. This is a way of branding one’s band. Today I will use The Head and the Heart, Local Natives, Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons, and Animal Kingdom for my research. They were chosen for a reason as I wanted five bands with different types of fan-bases (in numbers) and musical style. We will look at one band at a time for this research, like we did with Facebook and Twitter.
First up, The Head and the Heart. First thing’s first, I want to know how many of these videos are on their main YouTube page. The answer is: a whopping 13. I suspect this will be more than anyone else that we cover today. I knew The Head and the Heart would have an overload of live videos, that’s why I chose them. I have seen, in the past, the dozens of live acoustic sets they seem to unleash every other day. Where are these videos made and who are they made for? Well, five are made for a radio station called KEXP, based out of Seattle. That makes perfect sense, The Head and the Heart are from Seattle. The other’s range from Slacker Radio, Sound on The Sound, The Sundance ASCAP Music Café, Doe Bay, and a webisode video. They like playing acoustic shows in front of cameras on exotic locations, hence the Doe Bay and Sound videos which take place outside. They are terrific in sound and production. The videos range in popularity, but they do get a lot of attention. Mainly because they do not have a load of music videos and their sound is kind of acoustic anyway. For instance, their music video for “Down in the Valley” has been viewed 765 thousand times, while their live acoustic outdoor performance of “Rivers and Roads” has brought in 914 thousand.
Next is Local Natives. Eight of their videos on the main page were live promotional performances. Another high number. This is good. I am not wasting my time today! Their videos range in production value and style, as well as the origins. Two videos came from NPR, KCRW, and La Blogotheque respectively. KCRW is a Los Angeles radio station, Local Natives’ hometown. I don’t need to explain NPR. It is worth noting the large audience a NPR performance reaches. La Blogotheque is a French site for indie bands. That’s a nice touch, because it finds viewers in France and other surrounding countries. Also involved in the videos were Pitchfork, Le HibOO, and Cardinal Sessions. Pitchfork is another big name in indie music. Anything released on their part is pretty huge. Again, the videos range in popularity but a short NPR concert has more views than their video for “Breakers,” their first single off “Hummingbird.” That’s kind of astonishing. Must be good.
Alright, on to Of Monsters and Men. Six of their videos are live sets, four of which are from KEXP. This must be a popular destination for indie rock bands to play shows that are posted online, especially YouTube. The Head and the Heart took advantage of KEXP, and now these guys and gals are as well. The other two were from Billboard Magazine and Sasquatch! Billboard is a huge name in the music industry, so that is a huge plus on their part. Four of the videos have reached over one million views. This is gigantic compared to the last two bands I covered, but Of Monsters and Men does have a much wider reach. In comparison to their 58 million views for “Little Talks,” I suppose 6 million for an acoustic set isn’t monumental.
Mumford & Sons did not have a single video that fitted the mold on their main page. So, we will have to seek them out. There were a few live performances, but I am not looking for full concert performances posted by the band themselves. I am searching for promotional live performances from the source itself. I had to search some videos, so the viewership will likely not be there, but we do have some good examples. 10 examples popped up when I searched “Mumford and Sons live acoustic.” Four videos were from their “Bookshop Sessions,” two from Sirius XM radio, two from Spin, and the other two were KROQ radio and Le HibOO. The Bookshop Sessions are raw gold, and while they are not from an outside source they are perfect examples of how short promotional live performances can rile a crowd. The four videos all have over one million views, and more. “White Blank Page,” one of their best songs, has over seven million views.
Searching Animal Kingdom can be tricky with the Disney theme park, the film, and horse races. So, I had to search for live performances, like I had to with Mumford & Sons. 10 example were found. They have a nice variety of videos. Two videos were posted from these four sources: 98.7 FM radio, Slacker, Vertigo TV, and Last FM. The other two were from Crypt Sessions and Radio 94.7. 98.7 FM is a Los Angeles alternative/indie rock station, so that is a good source. Also, Slacker and Last FM are big distributers. None of the videos have too many views as Animal Kingdom is not a very well-known group, but I expected this. I wanted to see what a smaller band was doing to promote themselves via YouTube.
Mixed results, for sure. The Head and the Heart, Local Natives, and Of Monsters and Men are all very active at radio stations playing live shows. This is one of the better ways of promoting a band, especially out west in California and Washington where the indie rock scene is huge. Many people really love the acoustic, live feel of these videos. It’s obvious that these types of videos are finding an audience, and for some bands, they are getting spit out at an alarming rate. And they should be, why not? It’s free promotion.