DIY

young girl standing ata  microphone stand singing and holding a guitar

Sandi Thom © Martin Millar

The big budget productions of the MTV era were only one side of the story however. The 1980s also saw the emergence of a British independent scene, with its DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic. Broadcast opportunities were somewhat smaller for indie bands but included influential shows like ITV's 'The Chart Show' and more recently the BBC's 'Snub TV'.

Unsigned, or 'indie' bands often released music videos that had a very different set of ideas and values. Due to the low budgets of these clips, bands were often captured in their local surroundings or rehearsal spaces with a distinct lack of set design, extras or professional lighting. Far from being a minus point, these budgetary constraints often fitted with the down-to-earth or authentic image they were using to frame their music. For instance, the video for 'There She Goes' by Liverpool act the La's sees the band performing amongst images of urban decline, whilst Birkenhead's Half Man Half Biscuit's 'Dickie Davies Eyes' video used cheap technology to record the bedsit culture they were reflecting in their lyrics.

This DIY spirit has continued to play a part in video making up to the present day. In the last ten years the reduction in costs of video recording and the emergence of cheap digital editing technologies mean that high quality music videos are now much easier to produce on much smaller budgets. This has led to the emergence of many smaller and regional companies producing successful videos in their own cities. In Liverpool companies such as Good Times and Juno have produced widely screened videos for highly successful artists such as the Zutons, the Coral, the Dead 60s, the Pippettes and the Beautiful South.

New technologies have also led to new ways of promoting artists through visual performance with internet sites such as youtube.com and myspace.com providing a platform for new acts to find audiences by posting video material. For instance, singer-songwriter and LIPA (Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts) graduate Sandi Thom scored an international number one single after creating a great deal of publicity with her webcast performances from her London basement. Other acts have had significant boosts to their careers through the distribution of videos on the internet. For instance, in 2005 the Chicago based band OK Go! used a video filmed for under $10 to promote 'A Million Ways', the first single from their second album. Through an on-line viral marketing campaign (an advertising campaign where links are passed on through emails between friends and acquaintances or through social networking sites), the video became an internet phenomenon, going on to become the most downloaded music video of all time. As young people's media consumption shifts with the rise of new technologies, internet-launched videos of this kind are becoming increasingly important in the successful marketing of new acts. Given the accessibility of much of the technology used to create such videos, the DIY tradition can only grow.