Before this, the general public’s main interaction with music was audibly. Sure you had some visuals, an artists album cover or photos from a music magazine, and of course you could always go see the band live for the ultimate experience. But pretty much when you discovered a new artist or song it was through the radio. But then MTV came along and instead of asking, “have you heard that new song?” people began asking, “have you seen that new video?“ Here, I’ll prove it: If you’re old enough to remember pop music from the 80s and I say “Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer,” I guarantee you picture that awesome video before you hum the tune. Same thing goes for a-ha’s “Take On Me” and “Rock It” by Herbie Hancock and dozens of other songs. In fact I’ve always thought the video craze was one of the reasons there were so many “One Hit Wonders” in the 1980s. Some bands that really had no business in the music business, but had one clever idea for a video, could get themselves into heavy rotation on MTV and have a hit. I mean, I dare you to name another Dexys Midnight Runners song but I’ll bet you can remember those stupid overalls they wore in the video.
But then MTV went away. I mean not the channel itself but their dominion over pop music. (I’ve never quite understood it either.) And for many years the general public stopped watching music videos. We as DJs often saw them, especially once so many of us started bringing plasma screens out to our jobs and became “Video DJs.” But rarely would you hear someone not in our industry ask, “have you seen that new video?”
But now, video is back. With the power of YouTube, and also the incredible ease that we can share links these days via Twitter, Facebook and email, people are asking that question again. And a clever or unique video can launch an artist’s career or send a song straight to #1. We all know this, right? We’ve seen it in the last year with “Gangnam Style“ and “Harlem Shake“ and most recently “The Fox.” In fact, it’s this latest song which inspired me to write this blog and remind everyone in my industry that part of our job is keeping an ear out (or an eye out in this case) for the next big musical thing. I got lucky with The Fox because I heard about it early on. Seth Godin (who I read religiously and you should too) mentioned it in a blog back in early September. I watched the video, thought it was clever (if a tad annoying) and then sent an email to my staff telling them they should stick the song on their hard drive. Just in case. I do this often and am known to be wrong (“One Pound Fish“ never did go big, did it?) But hey as DJs it’s better to have a song and not need it then need it and not have it.
So my point of all this? Research is part of our jobs. If you don’t subscribe to a music service you should do it today (BTW – I’ve used Promo Only’s POOL service since its inception and I love it.) If you don’t have subscriptions to every DJ publication as well as Rolling Stone and any other music magazine you can think of, sign up right now. Look for trends before they go viral. Be the DJ who turns their clients on to something new (and not vice versa.) It’ll prove to them that you’re the expert in your field. Because you are.