By now you all have probably seen the latest music video from Solange Knowles for her latest single ‘Losing You.’ It was shot in South Africa. A reader sent me the question below:
“Hi Uduak, hope all is good on your end,
Was wondering what your take is on the Solange vid. I’m feeling like doing vids in Africa will become the new “Gimmick” not saying that Solange doing the vid is SA is a bad thing, but interested in what you think
I am uncertain but it might very well be for the following reasons:
- Africa is a sexy topic in today’s global economic climate, especially as to projected growth in its creative and telecommunications industries.
- As America’s music industry continues to contend with a decline in traditional album sales, the closing of retail brick and mortar music stores, and the huge uncertainty of digitization of music, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount of artists performing in Africa especially in key music markets like South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. So, as long as African promoters and event promoters continue to demand and pay exorbitant fees for American artists, shooting music videos in Africa may very well become even more enticing to American artists and the “new gimmick.” In addition, shooting in poverty infested areas of Africa can also be a particular draw and a different way of charitable contributions for American artists, not meant to be sarcastic in saying this.
- All expenses for flights and accommodations, as we have seen, is covered by African promoters so why not? In terms of applicable permits to shoot videos in Africa, American artists can “kill two birds with one stone” by negotiating those terms into their ‘Live Performance Agreements’ as a condition for agreeing to perform. The promoters can be responsible for scoping out locations, sending to artists and having artists approve and work into the agreement even before they land on African soil. This means they do not have to deal with the stress or complexities of obtaining a photo or video location video shoot permit in Africa. The burden falls on the promoters and event producers which, to me, they would gladly oblige, given the trend we are seeing.
- Finally, many artists, labels and artists managers are oblivious to the inner workings of shooting a music video from the American artist perspective. There are so many hurdles that depending on the bargaining power of the American artist, it makes more sense to shoot in Africa, given the extremely favorable terms and minimum costs proposed by African promoters and event organizers.
- For example, when an artists shoots a video in the USA, via a record label, it is usually a very expensive expenditure. The money for the video is part of the advance made to the artist, and where the artist is a big shot, it is not unusual to see minimum amount of monies, guaranteed per video that an artist shoots , that far exceeds the artist’s entire advance and recording budget. These monies advanced to the artist is one that the label expects to recoup.
The problem with recouping on a video is that music videos are really just promotional only tools. So, a return on investment from the music video itself is often very minimal, at best. This means the label has to go looking for money from other incomes generated by the artists, include artists royalties. Well, if you are an American artist, given the above scenario and the state of the music industry right about now, Africa may seem more enticing to you to shoot a video; and you may not need to borrow so much from the label to shoot such video.
Do note that labels, in negotiated contracts, typically control the budget it is willing to spend on videos for an artist and how many videos it will produce per album. The label, also typically, wants to be in charge or have a large say in the concept, script, storyboard, composition, choreography, director, producer etc.
Anyway, for the above reasons, there could potentially be an increase in shooting music videos in Africa.
The above are my thoughts. What are yours? Folks, feel free to chime in.
R. thanks for the question.
Photocredit: Solange Knowles ‘Losing You’video/promo pic