Music videos are produced, with the sole purpose of being a commercial product that people can interact with. “Official music videos are still one of the most important tools for establishing the brand aesthetic” (Billboard, 2018)[1], and as such, other commercial products will follow a single style and tie the entire brand together, leading to people associating a certain style with a certain artist, getting content into public awareness, along with revenue from word of mouth sales. In addition to sales, revenue gained from music video streaming ads is another source of income. Finally, music videos can give another method of purchase, as some songs are available as both singles, and music videos, from online music stores such as iTunes (such as the song “Winning” from the Pet Shop Boys).

Purpose of music videos

Music videos are “videos containing music”, usually one produced to “promote a pop song” (Collins Dictionary, 2019)[2]. It is because of this that music videos are often referred to as “pop promos”; a promotion video aimed at promoting a popular song. The pop promo term was coined after The Beatles in 1966, promoting their song “Rain”, which was a double A-side that also featured “Paperback Writer”. This idea was expanded on with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1975, that expanded on the idea by introducing a plot structure and narrative into the music video. This release, and its immense success, solidified the format of pop promos.

In terms of promotional reasons for music videos to exist, it is another form of advertisement. Promotional content means to bring awareness to, or to advertise a product. It gives a potential audience another avenue to find the content via. A song only can be played via the radio or via streaming services, whilst a music video can appear in areas such as on TV, or online video sharing sites such as YouTube. The music video can also tie into a separate media product, such as a film or video game, promoting both itself, and a related product. Different outlets have different audiences, from websites, to Spotify, to iTunes, they are all used by different users, and give the band promotion to new audiences.

Synergy is the idea of strategically synchronising the release of different media products. Synergy arises “when the combined effect of media activities is greater than the sum of their individual effects on consumers” (businessscienceuk, 2016)[4]. This means that movie studios can make more money, if a spin-off product, such as merchandise or songs, can be sold alongside a main media product, usually a film. Although it is a larger upfront cost to produce different facets of media, the investment can lead to a larger return on investment. An example is from the movie “Top Gun”, where the song, “You Take My Breath Away” hit number-one “on the Hot 100 Singles Sales” (cs.odu, 2019)[4]. In this case, both the movie and song performed better together, due to the synergy between media.

Synergy related to both major record labels and independent self-produced artists. Major record labels can afford to fund millions of dollars-worth of related products, leading to an even bigger success. Independent artists can attempt new synergy media products and be creative with how they advertise and show off their media, giving a unique flair that nobody else has.

Any related media product can be boosted by music videos and using the idea of synergy. Some music videos are only produced to advertise new albums from the artist. However, other media products, such as films and TV programmes, can be tied-into the music video, leading to both the media products advertising one another. Stage musicals can use music videos as another means to advertise their product. Other products can also be promoted using music videos, from video games, to toys, to even clothing and food.

Styles, conventions and techniques

The internet has become the primary way of consuming music videos. Websites such as YouTube provide music videos for free, in exchange of advertisements on that media. With half of the top 10 most subscribed channels on YouTube being music videos, this shows the amount that is being consumed on the internet (SocialBlade, 2020)[5]. This means that not only are they more accessible, but the music artist can take a larger cut of the advertising revenue if independent. Traditional methods of viewing music videos still have a place in market, for instance. Viewing music videos on TV is still a large part of the market, where they mostly air on TV channels based around music and music videos. Some music videos are available on disc-based media, or for download on services such as iTunes.

Currently, people watch music videos via online formats. If somebody wants to own their own copy of the music video, they will download it through a player such as iTunes, where they have a digital download of the music video. However, the most popular way currently is streaming over the internet, whether through YouTube or through Spotify. This means there are no downloads required and is convenient for viewing. Viewing of music videos have mainly moved over from TVs and physical media, to streaming over the internet to a mobile phone or tablet, as these are now the most convenient methods of watching video.

Visual media, along with its technology, have changed over the years since the first pop-promos. Technology has become a lot more accessible, with cameras being affordable for even a general consumer, meaning that independent artists can create their own music videos. This means that within the music market, more independent music is possible, along with more independent music videos with smaller production teams.


Genre is a “style, that involves a particular set of characteristics” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2020)[6]. This means that music videos can fall into these categories, such as rock, pop, country or reggae music. The type of genre that a piece of music falls into, will dictate what is featured within the music video.

Within music videos, there are three main styles of footage; narrative (where the music video forms a short story with characters and plot) live (where the band and song is recorded whilst they are playing live), and as-live (which is miming, where the band will pretend to perform to their song for the music video). These styles of footage can be mixed together, to create a music video.

Music videos can be surreal or realistic. Surrealist music videos are dream-like, where the style does not represent reality, and instead creates a sequence that is considered bizarre to the audience. For example, on the 2009 version of West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys, the video is surreal; it uses characters wearing neon clothing and dancers, whilst performing live, to create a sequence that is unlike reality (Lowe, 2009)[7]. Similarly, impressionist music videos aim to “focus on the atmosphere and conveying the moods and emotions” of what the song is trying to portray. This means that the music video can have a specific theme it is trying to convey (Clay, 2015)[8].

Parody, referencing and homage can also be used to create a music video. Creating a music video that references other media can ensure that fans of the medium can enjoy, and analyse, increasing the appeal of the final product. Other times, parody is used to directly contrast the theme of the original piece of work. This means that the work can take on additional meaning from the reference of another piece of media. Homage can pay tribute to other media products, showing how the production team understand what the audience is looking for in a music video.


Interpretation is taken when producing a music video. This means that the lyrics sometimes play directly into a narrative or impressionist style in the music video but can also be used to contrast the music video. As an example, the Pet Shop Boys song Twenty Something uses the thematic elements of the song (growing older and not being able to achieve what you have dreamed of), and contrasts that with a music video that is a narrative of a man who is shunned by society for his youth (Filipiak, 2016)[9]. The music video is an interpretation of the song, creating a juxtaposition with what is being heard, and what is being shown on-screen.

Music videos can allude to hidden messages. Within Art is Dead, the track directly references how performers constantly crave attention. The song directly references that this is for all performers, and how it is a negative stimulus. However, the music video director Richie Gomes decided to focus on the performer of the song, to allude to the fact that performers have no control over whether they are in the spot-light or not (Gomes, 2016)[10]. A hidden message, such as the former, can show up throughout the structure of a music video.


Within music videos, specific techniques can be used to create a certain theme.

For instance, to create pace within a music video, the editor can cut to a beat. This is when the video content is cut on the beat of the music. This can create a fast pace music video, that is engaging to watch, as it flows with the audio.

Effects can be used to create different feelings within a music video. For instance, a “multi-mage” is when multiple images are edited together on-screen at once, creating a feeling that many actions in a narrative are going on at once, and can increase the flow of that narrative. Additionally, chroma-key can be used to green-screen an element to a new background; for instance, chroma-key can be used on lower budget music videos, where the production crew cannot afford to go out and shoot on location.

Different camera motions and angles can create differing modes. For instance, using a lot of close-up camera angles could create a feeling of claustrophobia, perfect for a song with a negative theme and slow pace. Alternatively, a lot of differing camera angles can create a feeling of change, which would again work for a song that is thematically about change.


In conclusion, music videos are now more accessible than ever to produce. Different styles and genres allow videographers to create their projects within a category, and ensure it fits with the music track itself. There are many conventions of music videos, in terms of how they are produced and what messages they convey. Finally, many differing techniques are used to create a certain theme within the video portion.


[1] Billboard. (2018). Algorithms, Product Placement and Shirtless Boys: Inside the Music Video Economy of 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[2] (2020). Music video definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[3] Stallwood, S. and Stallwood, S. (2016). Media Synergy: The multiplicative effect of a cross media campaign. [online] Business Science UK. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[4] cs.odu. (2019). Take My Breath Away. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[5] Socialblade. (2020). Top 100 YouTube Channels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[6] (2020). GENRE | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[7] Lowe, C. (2009). West End Girls 2009. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[8] Matthew Clay. (2015). Styles, Conventions, TECHNIQUES of music videos. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[9] Filipiak, F. (2016). Twenty Something. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].

[10] Gomes, R. (2016). Art is Dead. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020].