The Black Lips Want You to Make Their Next Video14 Jan, 2009 By: Billy Gil
Atlanta rockers The Black Lips are kicking off their upcoming album release, 200 Million Thousand (Vice Records, Feb. 24), with a video contest for the Velvet Underground-ish first single “Starting Over.” Get this: The band wants “200 million thousand” videos created for the song, through video site Vimeo.com, with the winner getting a feature on the site, a 7-inch Black Lips single and a signed copy of the CD.
Aside from my love for the band — 200 Million Thousand isn’t out yet, but get 2006’s Good Bad Not Evil or any of the previous, perversely great records — The Black Lips’ latest move is indicative of what many musicians are facing: how to stay relevant in 2009. These days any exclusive content an artist can provide, from exclusive live cuts to specially filmed concerts on DVD, can easily be found via downloading or on YouTube, among other places.
Moves like this video contest, or Radiohead’s much-discussed “pay what you want” album offer, make interaction an integral part of a release. In a time when the album as a concept has lost its meaning, the Lips’ move is smart because it ensures many listens of a new song people may have easily skipped over (it’s good but not their best, too restrained, in my book). The contest also has a nice tie to the album title, though I’m not sure how anyone’s going to keep track of 200 million thousand videos.
Of course Radiohead’s offer worked because it asked people to pay for the album, and most did. Video contests are great to generate excitement, but I’m not sure it will generate much in the way of revenue.
Still, it’s a start. The more musicians can include their fans in a release, the more they’re going to care. And without much in the way of traditional radio or music video play, rock bands are going to have to continue to find creative ways to expose people to their music, every time they release it.
The contest runs until Feb. 15. Entry is available at vimeo.com/blacklipscontest. And listen to "Starting Over" here: www.vicerecords.com/black_lips-starting_over.mp3.