Video and the Musician
One most important recent development in making music has been the utilisation of video in one form or another, with UK sales suggesting that the promotional video is fast becoming the major factor in the success of many records. At the present time the quality of music videos varies tremendously, from single camera, simple sets recorded in mono, to lavishly edited, creative productions in full stereo. Nevertheless, it is possible for a new band to go into an inexpensive studio and make a relatively unsophisticated video which may only be seen by record company A&R men. The main advantage of even doing this is obvious - a visual assessment can be made at the same time as a musical one.
Chrysalis were first in producing a video album with Blondie, although it does appear that the video 'promo' has now become the main reason for the musician to use the medium, and many of the people who moved from the music business into video have now fallen by the wayside.
As for listening to music, we shall have to wait for the portable stereo pocket video machine - Sony's new Watchman colour TV obviously points to the next step en route from the Walkman.
Meanwhile, the renting of music videos offers the most logical direction for most of us, though there is still plenty of scope for educational videos on playing instruments as well. In fact, many dealers (notably Future Music) have found that large computer-based instruments can only be sensibly demonstrated by letting the prospective buyer spend an hour or so with the machine accompanied by an instructional video.
Interactive visual devices, using laser technology and fibre optics, do offer the promise of individuals learning and realising music at home - but may well prove more useful as performance aids. My studio does not add more synthesisers - it has more computer 'black boxes' with more TV monitors, so that visual feedback down to the nature of the smallest waveform harmonic is readily accessible!
After the recent commotion over the synthesiser's possible detrimental effect on musicians' livelihoods, it is almost no surprise to find that a bill to outlaw the manufacture, distribution, sale or rental of tape recorders and video machines received its second reading in the House of Lords on May 6th. This follows the film industry's bid for a levy on sales of blank videotape to compensate for supposed loss of business.
For the time being the Government has opposed the Bill, although the question of a tape levy is still under discussion as it has been for the last seven years. Hopefully we shall be able to continue our reviews of cassettes and videotapes both by professional and amateur musicians, and look forward to following the successful careers of a new generation of musicians who express themselves both in the music and video media.