Fifty Years of British Music Video, 1964-2014: Assessing innovation, industry, influence and impact.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: School of Creative Arts Film and Media

Abstract

Over a period of more than fifty years, promotional films for British popular music have received critical acclaim and numerous awards. Since the launch of MTV in 1981, these films have become known as 'music videos', despite the fact that until the 2000s the overwhelming majority were shot on 35mm and 16mm film, and despite the fact that the form predated MTV. In 1964 a series of short promotional films for British bands were commissioned culminating in seminal short 'promos' for The Kinks, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones through the mid- to late Sixties. Music videos have not only impacted subsequent generations of television viewers but have also inspired creative producers in fashion, design, photography and feature film. Directors Derek Jarman, Julian Temple, Jonathan Glazer, John Maybury and Jamie Thraves are among a number of filmmakers behind some of the most innovative and celebrated music videos. Yet despite its recognition, its innovation and its longevity, the cultural significance of music video within British academic research has been largely unacknowledged. This project seeks to change that.

The two-year study is a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and University of the Arts London in partnership with the British Film Institute and the British Library. It draws together both industry and academic expertise. Permission has been given for the research team to use a new and very rich selection of data, archives, and films from private industry collections. The team will bring together leading academics in popular music, film and television studies and cultural studies to analyse the significance of these collections both for an international audience of academics (thorough our academic outputs) and for the general public (through the nationwide public cinema screenings).

In Year 1, using new data donated by British licensing agency, Video Performance Licensing (VPL), and the trade journal Promo News, the CI will create a master database of British music videos 1964-2014, and a separate database of detailed production credits for 1992-2014. These will generate core data necessary to investigate the research questions. In consultation with industry experts and a steering committee of academics, we will select titles of 60 British music videos as case studies for further analysis during a series of six academic focus groups at the BFI. The research questions will be investigated further in a series of industry panels at the BL and supplementary interviews with leading industry figures and archival research. We will also conduct case study analyses of Warp Records and a case study analysis of The Chart Show (using restricted data on single sales held at the British Phonograph Industry Library).

The results will be disseminated in a book and a journal special issue. The book will be a monograph which presents a history of the structure, creative practices, models of authorship, stylistic innovations and influences of the industry. The journal special issue will present the results of the focus groups in a series of specially commissioned articles about the cultural significance of British videos written by academics from popular music, film and television studies and cultural studies.

The project will also generate two permanent digital collections of music videos at the BFI and BL for the general public and academics. In order to make them more accessible nationwide they will also be exhibited to the public in a series of cinema screenings in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Manchester, and distributed on a BluRay/DVD by Soda Pictures. There will also be public talk by the CI, Dr Emily Caston, at the British Library to launch these new collections.

Planned Impact

Beyond the direct academic benefits of this project, there are a number of potential additional benefits to a wider constituency which will increase the impact of the research.

1. Impact on our partners. This project will considerably enhance existing (uncatalogued) resources at the BL and the BFI. The BL's Sound Archive will be augmented with the accession of a major music video donation from Warp Records, which the British Library have undertaken to catalogue and make publicly accessible. The BFI's Chart Show holdings (currently only partially catalogued), will be fully catalogued. Sections of the BFI's existing music video holdings which are neither catalogued nor digitised will be fully catalogued and digitised in creating a permanent collection of 60 landmark videos for the National Archive. The two new digital databases will make a significant contribution to their collections, enabling an informed appraisal of the significance of their existing collections. Currently the BL has a collection of approximately 16,000 VHS tapes from the Musicians' Union and is unable to establish whether this collection includes any items which are 'at risk' because no masters exist. The BFI is currently undertaking a digitisation program of materials originated on celluloid and is unable to identify which of its current music video holdings were originated on celluloid. This project will enable the BL and BFI to answer those questions and prioritise their existing holdings for digitisation and access. A public lecture on British music video at the BL will increase awareness of its extensive sound archive.

2. Impact on the Industry. This research is likely to impact the music video industry in four ways. Firstly, the digitised collection of 60 landmark videos will be made available for commercial exploitation by Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), rights holders and broadcasters. The accompanying metadata established in the databases at the BL and BFI will provide rights holders information for use by for rights clearances where the holders are not represented by the PPL. Secondly, by producing new archival resources for two national organisations charged with preserving the nation's cultural memory, and via industry consultancy and interviews, the project will demonstrate to the industry the cultural value of its own heritage and the importance of securing its legacy. Thirdly, by generating a significant audience for DVD sales and cinema exhibition of music videos from previous decades, the project hopes to stimulate further commercial exploitation of back catalogues for artists and musicians whose work has been neglected and is no longer generating income. Fourthly, the metadata contribution to the BFI's Collections Information Database will involve piloting the use of the EIDR DOI standard audiovisual work identifier for music videos in collaboration with industry partners. This has a potential impact in the formation of an industry-standard metadata template for music video.

3. Impact in Schools, FE Colleges and Universities. As well as a DVD/BluRay which can be used with an educational licence from Soda Pictures for classroom teaching and lectures in Media and Film Studies, the project will create a text history for BFI Player. Feedback on these pilot resources will enable the PI and CI to make a separate application for a grant to develop an educational resource / study pack.

4. Impact on the Public. The popularity of the BUG music video screenings and the success of recent gallery exhibitions have demonstrated a public interest in British music video. The BUG retrospectives in 4 UK cities for the will present a major public showcase for the project's work. The BluRay/DVD will be on sale in galleries and on Amazon. Both will communicate, with celebrity introductions, the wealth and variety of this rich heritage. The public lecture at the BL will make this case also, as will the book.

Publications


10 25 50
Caston E (2014) The Fine Art of Commercial Freedom: British Music Video and Film Culture in SCOPE: An online journal of film and television studies
Caston E (2015) Not Another Article on the Author! God and Auteurs in Moving Image Analysis in Music, Sound, and the Moving Image
 
Title DVD box-set 
Description This is a collection of landmark British Music Videos for commercial release via Soda Pictures which will showcase to a wide audience the curatorial work of this project in established a canon of British music video worthy of cultural attention, together with relevant meta-data. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact None as yet. Still in production. 
 
Description This project has conducted historical research which will contribute to the as yet untold story of British music video since the 1960s - its distinctive innovations, industry structure, cultural influence and international impact. We have studied archival sources at the British Library, British Film Institute and video production companies. We have run and recorded a series of focus groups with music video creatives and have conducted and recorded individual interviews which have provided testimony which will be invaluable in answering our research questions. We are also creating a range of resource outputs addressing a number of different audiences. We are producing a database of British music videos at the British Library's Sound Archive and at the British Film Institute's National Film and Television Archive where we are curating a donation of landmark British music videos with meta-data compiled from our research. We are sourcing masters for a DVD box-set of landmark British music videos for release by Soda Pictures and are commissioning a series of the popular BUG music video screening events at four cities across the UK. Our research findings will be the subject of a public talk at the British Library in 2017, and will be published in a forthcoming special issue of the journal Music, Sound and the Moving Image, and as a book-length study. Academic dissemination will be through a presentation at the Institute of Historical Research and internationally at a
Exploitation Route Our publications and research resources at the BL and the BFI will be of use to students and academics studying the relationship between popular music and visual culture in the UK, or interested in the contribution made by music video to Britain's hidden screen history. Our DVD box-set will provide a useful classroom resource for teachers in secondary, further and higher education and will demonstrate to a much wider public the history and cultural value of British music video - a history and value which will be underlined by the public BUG screenings and public talk at the BL. Additionally, our project has generated interest from the British Council who wish to produce a DVD resource for their own use drawing on our research. This collaboration, which is an addition to our original plans, will be the subject of an AHRC follow-on funding application in 2016/17.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
 
Description Our DVD box-set will provide a useful classroom resource for teachers in secondary, further education and will demonstrate to a much wider public the history and cultural value of British music video - a history and value which will be underlined by the public BUG screenings and public talk at the BL. Additionally, our project has generated interest from the British Council who wish to produce a DVD resource for their own use drawing on our research. This collaboration, which is an addition to our original plans, will be the subject of an AHRC follow-on funding application in 2016/17.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement
Amount £75,954 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/P01321X/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Title Promo OCR 
Description Collection of production data originally published in trade journal Promo and extracted for entry into the British Library's database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None as yet. 
 
Title VPL data 
Description This was an acquisition of catalogue data from the Video Public Licensing authority which will contribute to the British Library's music video database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None as yet. 
 
Description BFI partnership 
Organisation British Film Institute (BFI)
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution The research project is sourcing music video masters for accession to the BFI's National Film and Television archive with relevant meta-data which will constitute catalogue entries on its online system.
Collaborator Contribution The BFI is contributing access to its own collections of uncatalogued British music videos, free access to relevant television collections (e.g. The Chart Show) and accompanying meta-data. It is providing facilities to host six focus group meetings and meetings of the project's academic steering committee. The BFI's Head of Research is a member of the steering committee and two of its archivists are contributors to our research outputs. The BFI's data manager will oversee incorporation of research data to the BFI's on line catalogue.
Impact This collaboration will result in the establishment of a landmark British music video collection at the BFI's National Film and Television Archive and the accompanying meta-data will be logged as catalogue entries on the BFI's on line database.
Start Year 2015
 
Description British Library Collaboration 
Organisation Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Department The British Library
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our research is establishing a unique database of British music video which will be incorporated by the British Library and accessible via its on line catalogue. The project has also made a donation of music video masters from Warp Records, one of the leading independent UK record labels of the past twenty-five year.
Collaborator Contribution The British Library's curator of popular music has been an advisor on the project. The BL has provided facilities at its conservation centre for industry focus group events and will host the final public talk at the project's climax. The BL's data manager will preside over the accession and compatibility of data supplied by the research.
Impact Forthcoming database and Warp study collection. Forthcoming public talk.
Start Year 2015
 
Description End of first year report 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This was a seasonal gathering at which the project team reported on the progress made during the first year of the project to our major project partners, stake holders and industry representatives who had contributed to focus groups and interviews. It was an excellent networking opportunity from which further contacts were established and interview subjects identified. It made a significant additional contribution to our research knowledge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Focus groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We held six industry focus groups in order to debate a range of issues about the selection of landmark British music videos for our major collections at the BFI and in the DVD box-set.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Organised workshop event for FRAME (London Film Dance Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The research project team convened this presentation of work by music video directors specialising in dance who were entered in the festival competition and introduced a screening, discussion and Q&A in which members of the public audience participated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://vimeo.com/164880131
 
Description THIS IS NOW: FILM AND VIDEO AFTER PUNK (Vivid Projects, Birmingham) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in a public screening and panel discussion followed by Q&A

THIS IS NOW: FILM AND VIDEO AFTER PUNK

Video Killed the Radio Star (12)

7 May, 2pm | 19 May, 2pm VP

Early independent video releases were the revolutionary, DIY antidote to a television system that was only just gearing up to a fourth channel. They bypassed censorship and provided a platform to the marginalised and unsanctioned. This eclectic selection includes a very rare John Smith title and punchy, stuttering Scratch Video works by The Duvet Brothers, Kim Flitcroft & Sandra Goldbacher, Gorilla Tapes and George Barber.
John Smith, Echo and the Bunnymen: Shine So Hard, 1981, 32 min
The Miners' Campaign Tapes: The Lie Machine, 1984, 16 min
The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video Volume 2, 1984, 28 min
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.vividprojects.org.uk/programme/noise-nostalgia-2/
 
Description Tonite Let's All Make Love in Leicester (conference launching the Peter Whitehead archive at DMU) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Justin Smith (PI) was the invited keynote speaker at this conference. His presentation on Peter Whitehead's early music promos in the context of the history of British music video had an impact on attendees in demonstrating the usefulness of DMU's Peter Whitehead archive to researchers and publicising to the wider community the value of the archive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/research-faculties-and-institutes/technology/cath/events/2017/tonite-l...