How is YouTube Changing the Cinematography of Music Videos?

Today I happened to see the video for the catchy Sara Bareilles tune “Love Song”. I first heard this song about a year ago, but apparently it just went huge on the Tube o’ You.

I was struck by how much of the video was shot in the style of the average YouTube video. Ms. Bareilles is centered in the frame, looking directly into the camera, and the shot is basically just her head and shoulders.

Compare that with another singer-songwriter-at-the-piano video from 2002: Vanessa Carlton’s “1000 Miles” (could she look more underwhelmed in her photo on Wikipedia?). I’ve put a few screenshots together to illustrate:

Sara Bareilles and Vanessa Carlton

Obviously this is only a single data point, but I’m reminded of an earlier post I wrote about musicians co-opting the style and conventions of YouTube.

Music video directors must recognize that a huge part of their viewership has shifted mediums. I wonder how much (and how else) the move to YouTube is impacting videos? Do they use more saturated colours? Simpler set ups? Any thoughts?

On a related note, it’s interesting that I’m not allowed to ’embed’ (that is, include in a blog post or elsewhere) either of these videos. It’s been disabled on YouTube. What are record companies and managers afraid of?


  1. Jason: Indeed. I’m more interested, though, in the less explicit forms of influence.

  2. It seems somewhat obvious to me that the computer and its various killer apps have influenced art forms, and not just in video, but also in less likely scenarios like paintings. I say they’re less likely scenarios because typically a painter is more interested in expressing something – contrast that with connecting with a target market that has day-to-day habits and interests; this is youtube to the video maker/marketing company, or more specifically, the creative director.

    Anyway I like your observation. There is definitely some meta-influence happening.

  3. I should mention that one painter I’ve recently seen the works of appears to be heavily influenced by Flash cartoons and the whole vector art movement, but it’s not just Giclée – if you went up close you could see the lumps of dried paint on canvas in some areas of saturation.

    I enjoy seeing the cross pollination of disciplines personally. I think it’s pretty inspiring to see these kind of influences evolve through media types. One media’s limitation is another media’s creative style..

  4. It was mean of you to mention “1000 Miles”. That song’s an earworm and it’s been playing in my head all day. THANKS DARREN.

    I would assume that any music video stylistic changes in recent years follow the same sort of changes happening in musical recordings: compression. Audio is now engineered for earbuds and iPods, so video is set up for iPods and small boxes on computer screens.

    As well, artists are taking advantage of the interest in amateur Youtube video by producing content that’s less “manufactured” and more “personal”. Weezer is one recent band to do this (not only in the latest video, but in other stuff they’ve put on Youtube too). The new audience wants to see the real you, not the airbrushed stylized corporation You(TM).

  5. Jason Landry – thanks for posting that link. Brilliant video. I am wondering if it was all editing or did they actually recruit some of those viral stars to play a role in it.

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