Video is the new audio

Isn’t it strange that the best source for on-demand music on the open internet is YouTube, a video website?

Maybe what’s happening is that music recordings without moving pictures are becoming obsolete.

Attaching images to sound doesn’t degrade the sound. They are purely additive. Almost no matter what the images are, they can only be an enhancement. And if stills along the lines of album art are good, moving pictures along the lines of a music video are better.

Why not always use video? Why continue to release pictureless audio?

9 thoughts on “Video is the new audio

  1. Uh, I think Buggles’ exegesis is canonical in this matter:

    Channeling/impersonating my best Marshall McLuhan, sound is not made richer by video, but rather depleted universally . Video is cool; Audio is hot.

    However, the media-sensory balance of “listeners” has shifted. Music as we knew it just a decade ago from the better part of the late 20th century is an nostalgic archaic obsolete media form, an exhausted defeated project. YouTube upcycles “music”, more specifically, music’s projects (ex: The Many Deaths of Punk for further cultural refactoring.

    Bonus: YouTube killed the Video Star

    1. Rob, I think the social conventions for taking advantage of the video channel encompass both “hot” and “cold” (in McLuhan’s sense) applications. Sometimes the video is a traditional music video in a style that’s meant to absorb your whole attention yet demand little imagination. But there are other conventions:

      • a still image, like an album cover
      • a static video like an LP spinning on a turntable
      • a slideshow of stills
      • annotation, such as lyrics or commentary

      The key is that the video channel is flexible enough for a huge range of content types.

  2. YouTube is successful not because it has video, but because it has a vast library of ad-supported on-demand music streaming.

    The user experience is really not well optimized for music consumption, so I’m really disappointed that other ad-supported on demand services like Grooveshark and Spotify have done so poorly compared to YouTube.

  3. Ian, it strikes me that you could build an experience optimized for music around that exact same content.

    I think Grooveshark is held back by the expense and distraction of confrontation with the rights holders. Spotify is held back by the silo’d nature of the experience, including both catalog and app.

    YouTube has by far the lowest friction of any such service.

  4. Ian, I’d add that YouTube’s advantage is that it’s a unified experience which includes music but isn’t limited to it.

    It’s also the only internet-scale design. No streaming service which relies on whitelisting rather than blacklisting – like Spotify or Rdio – has a comparable catalog. This is the reason why YouTube always has the latest viral hit and Spotify rarely does.

  5. The unified experience definitely is interesting. I definitely don’t listen to music on my TV, but I do listen to music and watch pure video content on YouTube.

    The other big thing working in YouTube’s favour is that (basically) everything is uploaded by fans. It lacks the long-tale of crap that comes through labels & digital distributors to Rdio / Spotify / MediaNet but instead has the music that people care about enough to attach to a crappy montage & upload.

    Grooveshark is a sad case because if they hadn’t set themselves up with an idiotic piracy happy attitude they might have been able to get somewhere. They seem to have the juvenile “if we really want to do it then it *must* be lega” attitude that I’m used to from teenagers and stoners.

    The best catalogue and cleanest metadata is of course on private bittorrent trackers where the community cares about music and nobody is trying to make a buck.

  6. I’m really disappointed that search and aggregation which includes but isn’t limited to YouTube hasn’t superceded YouTube. How come only a centralized app can work?

    A Poem:

    Be the willow that bends instead of the mighty oak that breaks, Ye Music Apps! Be yon thriving YouTube, not ye suffering Grooveshark!

    /me bows and looks deep


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