The Best Indie Music Videos

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As evidenced by the swelling list of indie music video websites like HostBaby and Pitchfork, the democratization of audio-video recording technology is well underway. But as in digital book publishing, does access to global distribution automatically provide a return on investment with indie artists sales, and more importantly, a growing loyal fan (customer) base? Of course, the short answer is "no." However, in reality, there are winners and losers; and as in most things, the cream somehow always manages to rise to the top. Yet it's not necessarily the best musicians, songwriters or vocalists that cut through the din.

Due to audiovisual technology's growing sophistication, indie artists are required to not only master their art or craft, if you will, they must become experts in full-suite programs like Digital Performer or for Apple users, Logic, using plug-ins, synths, samplers, creating and syncing video files, and mastering an endless array of other effects-producing software. Couple that with maneuvering through the hectic world of business, marketing, production, distribution, accounting and event organizing and what may seem like at first, simply an entertaining music video on, is in fact, the culmination of an entire industry vertical, typically accomplished by a handful of impoverished artists seeking affirmation of a vision. Trust me; it's not about the money.

And I don't really want to paint such a bleak picture but the reality is, on top of all this, to hit the bar, some synths, no matter the best available from the likes of Native Instrument's Komplete Bundles, there is no substitute for a desired sound one can only capture from say, a real kick drum or tom with expert mic selection-placement in a studio environment, never mind, the intimacy of a $3500 Neumann U 87 large condenser mic for a pop vocal track. And have I mentioned gain staging yet? There is no substitute for a quality compressor/limiter.

So really, the days of a mediocre music video tumbling into a well of good fortune and splashing the charts with a half-baked production, if ever there were, are gone. Even though the every-band's access has been improved dramatically via affordable home studio software and low-cost, high quality analog-digital interfaces, the necessary steps to successful audiovisual production remain the same. Knowing which of those steps should be exported or completed in-house is critical to producing a quality music video. And in the end, the finished product must speak for itself–no excuses.