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Music videos are alive and well
By Jonas Beals
PEOPLE MY AGE
While MTV now has multiple channels dedicated to broadcasting music videos, they are narrowly focused and tend to get lost in the upper reaches of the cable schedule. Most of us are content to watch the pregnant teens MTV now gives us. It makes me long for the days of "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" by Blotto.
It feels strange to lament the end of the oft-derided music video era. It would also be wrong.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, more than 60 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds surveyed listen to music on YouTube, a video site. And it's not just the kids. Almost 45 percent of respondents 18 and older get their music the same way. Videos are still killing the radio star.
It makes sense. YouTube, while not always free (many videos are preceded by ads), is simple and easy to access. It's also under the user's control, allowing people to stop, fast-forward, rewind and skip to a new song whenever they like. It's like an MTV where you are the producer. If you want total vintage-MTV immersion, you can even intersperse clips of veejays like Martha Quinn and Dweezil Zappa.
Sound fidelity and video quality are not paramount concerns on YouTube, so listeners make a sacrifice by turning to the site for their music. On the other hand, the selection is astounding, especially for a legal outlet.
Due to its popularity, a presence on YouTube has become a necessity for artists large and small. Even esoteric musicians can provide a near-bottomless rabbit hole of videos for their fans to fall into.
As has happened with audio production, the cost of making a video--complete with special effects and professional-quality editing--has fallen within reach of the most amateur artists. The result is a flood of listening and viewing opportunities a few mouse clicks away.
Not only that, but some bands can enhance their message using YouTube. My heart added more room for the band Free Energy after a series of bizarre promotional "Free Energy Power Hour" videos revealed an absurdist sense of humor.
JONAS' IN-TOWN PICK: The Pietasters at The Otter House. The storied D.C. ska band will make a rare local appearance. Get set to skank. Saturday at 10 p.m. OUT-OF-TOWN PICK: Jack White at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville. It's worth the trip to see rock's reigning genius. Thursday at 6 p.m. LISTENING TO: "Baby We've Got a Date (Rock it Baby)" by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Truly the music of the world. Check out the recent Marley documentary.