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Less is More: Lyric Videos Gain Popularity

By:  Cecilia Holman Jan 6, 2014
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Avicii, Burn Yard Live

The way people consume and share their favorite tunes continues to evolve thanks to advancements in technology and shifts in the music business. With YouTube rivaling MTV and VHI as the primary outlet for music videos –– especially among Millennials –– official lyric videos continue to gain popularity. These stripped-down clips feature a song’s words against a backdrop of minimal visuals. 

A far cry from the big-budget productions of yesteryear, lyric videos are inexpensive to make. And, industry insiders suggest, showcasing the words enhances the listening experience and fosters a new appreciation for songcraft.

According to Billboard magazine, the concept of the lyric video came from computer-savvy fans who produced and uploaded their creations to YouTube. Artists, labels and brands eventually followed suit.

“It’s been an emerging trend in the music industry to make lyric videos since around 2010,” says Zoe Stainsby, manager of global music marketing for Coca-Cola. “Record companies are using them as part of their marketing mix when they are promoting songs. The format is very cost effective, so lyric videos deliver a great ROI.”

Coke embraced the trend in its music campaigns for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, teaming up with Deviant Ventures to produce a pair of lyric videos. The first, for the Coca-Cola 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem “Wavin’ Flag” by K’NAAN, helped the celebratory single top the digital download charts in 19 countries thanks to its positive message and universal accessibility.

A lyric video for the 2014 Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup anthem, “The World is Ours” by David Correy featuring Monobloco, has received more than 780,000 views on YouTube since its September 2013 debut. 

“The creative concept around the 2014 World Cup lyric video was to capture moments from around the world, in a familiar, Instagram-like format, to drive the campaign message of the ‘World’s Cup,’” explains Alex Sophocleous of Deviant Ventures.

Stainsby adds, “The lyrics bring to life the campaign expression for the FIFA World Cup. When consumers are singing along to our lyric video, they are learning our campaign message.”

Lyric videos enable artists to release content to be released to fans sooner, Sophocleous explains, “allowing us to gauge whether or not the song will have traction with the fans.” 

Stainsby has seen how brands can use music to connect with fans through the successful partnership between the burn energy drink and electronic dance music (EDM) sensation Avicii

“One of the reasons we partner with artists like Avicii is because they provide a connection point with fans in the communities we want to associate with," she says. "Avicii is hugely relevant to our burn consumer, and you can see this through his lyric videos. Take for example, ‘Wake Me Up,’ which was obviously a global hit and number 1 in 84 countries last summer. The lyric video saw over 150 million views in a matter of three months.”

"Presenting the lyrics clearly and in focus tends to create a stronger emotional bond to the song,” explains Ash Pournouri, Avicii’s manager. “The meaning beyond the feeling is there and the listener can appreciate the full intent of the song."

And for the artists –– especially up-and-comers –– exposure to millions of fans who use YouTube as their music platform of choice is invaluable. And since lyric videos can be made so quickly, a song is sometimes available on YouTube before Spotify or iTunes. However, Pournouri insists that no single platform should carry more or less weight than the others.

“User experience is what will dictate what people do as the standard in the future,” he concludes.