During a recent half-tell-all, half-storytime live broadcast, T-Pain shared the gritty details of why many of our favorite artists seem to be releasing terrible music videos.
As fans, we like to imagine that artists have full creative control over the visual representation of their best songs, which means when a video reads like five minutes of product placement over a hit single, we immediately think "sell out." Of course, like all things music industry-related, it’s not that cut-and-dry.
“This shit has been going bad for a long time,” Teddy explained. “We don't like to tell y'all this because we like to feel like y'all think we're in control of our well-being. I mean, we are, we make a lot of money off doing shows and shit, but when we say shit like, 'Fuck the label,' we're not saying 'Fuck the label, they made me do bad,' it's 'Fuck the label, I didn't want to spend my money on this shit.' The label has billions and billions of fucking dollars. So when we say, 'Hey, I wanna shoot this video, it's gonna be mega-dope, but it's going to cost $120k, they're like, 'We don't want to spend our money either, we'll give you $35k and you can figure it out from there.' Then we gotta get sponsors, that when we start puttin' all them headphones and liquor bottles shit in it. And y'all like, 'This god damn music video is a fucking commercial.' It's because we didn't get the shit we thought we was gonna get from the label.”
Sure, some artists’ music videos look like movies, but most are likely getting short-changed like Pain. Despite a lack of funding, many artists have become resourceful when it comes to their video production needs, but while operating on a shoe-string budget might be great for the record label, according to Teddy, it's not ideal for artists or their fans.
“N****s is shootin' videos on iPhones now and it's costing $12 dollars,” he continued.” “And when we go to the label, [they are] like, 'Bruh, but he just did his shit on a cell phone and people like it. It's gotten more views than all your 120,000 videos. What about that?' And we can't say shit because that actually happens... It's just going to keep going down and down because if everybody's OK with the shit videos, we're going to keep making shit videos.””
As consumers, we can't change the spending habits of a major label, but we do hold (some) power. If we want better music, we have to be more discerning fans, an approach that holds true with video. If you desire more cinematic visuals, only give your time and attention to higher-quality content. Few things are as valuable to a label as holding a consumer’s attention.
In the meantime, videos are only going to get worse, but on the bright side, at least you'll know what liquor to pick up for New Year’s Eve.