In what ways does your media product use, develop of challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Through my secondary research of other artists’ promotional packages, including close analysis of music videos, I began to understand the different elements that make a successful pop promotion. With this understanding I could now focus on each individually with my own product in mind. These elements include important factors such as; Star Construction, knowing who your audience is and targeting them appropriately, having a strong ‘look and feel’ of the promotional package visually and carefully constructing a clear identifiable theme throughout by ‘branding’ the band in a similar, recognisable fashion. Here, my primary research came in useful, asking a sample about their views on music videos and star image which helped a lot. This cohesive look and feel has been done by almost all artists by making sure that all visuals used in the promotional package are near identical, for example, using the same image for both the album cover and print ad, only adapting the image slightly by adding release dates, social media links, tour dates and where the audience can buy the product etc. From researching this, I implemented each and every one of these qualities into my own promotional package.
I’ve closely analysed a number of pop-promos in order to fully appreciate the elements I mentioned in the previous paragraph and how these elements are expressed. I’ve noticed, that in order to build the star image construction needed for a band to be successful, techniques such as close-ups, a strongly defined visual styling, and expressing the band’s personality through their confidence and energy meaning the audience feels familiar with the band’s style both visually and musically. Though this isn’t genre specific, different genres typically use these codes and conventions differently. Cinematography and editing play such an important role in building the tone, mood and pace and genre for the song featured in the pop-promo with techniques such as cutting to the beat/lyrics and illustrating the lyrics through the mise-en-scene. For example, pop videos usually feature faster cuts and a wider range of shot types than an R&B music video.
With my marketing vision for GLITTERKNIGHT, I realised that Florence & The Machine’s promotional material was extremely similar to the direction I wanted to take my own band in. Her band are very indie and have a strong look and feel to them whilst retaining a darker, more edgy quality which is what I saw in GLITTERKNIGHT; not only in terms of genre but also in image and the entire ‘look and feel’ of the promotional materials. To further this research of meticulously marketing with a clear theme, I looked at other artist’s promotional material for their albums. Britney Spears albums ‘Circus’ and ‘Femme Fatale’ followed the codes and conventions that were made apparent in Florence’s campaign but also expanded on them. Techniques such as utilising social networking to reach a target audience were employed and building up almost character that’s larger than life are absolutely key to the success of a band’s promotional material.
Channeling what I’ve learned about the successes of the bands I’ve studied, I began to employ their techniques in a unique way that suits GLITTERKNIGHT. The song ‘Lights’ has been illustrated quite literally throughout the entire package, using out of focus fairy lights to create a clear identity and theme for the band’s material. We’ve kept everything unmistakably similar in terms of the images we’ve used; especially in the Digipack Design and the Print Ad. The same background and image of the band are used in both designs, as is the band’s and album’s logo. This creates an extremely recognisable brand to an audience and prompts them to consume all of the different types of marketing material used in our campaign.
We've applied a lot of factors to these designs that we've learned along the way from the analysis of other band's promotional material such as the strong cohesive theme, building a star image, aesthetically positioned graphics and clear recognisable branding. We've used the same image of the band on both the CD Digipack and Print Advertisement so the two, with marketing in mind, are clearly linked and distinguishable to our audience. The size and positioning of the band on both Digipack and print ad ensures this is the main focus to the audience and pushes the development of the star image we're trying to achieve. The costume styling for the cover strongly follows suit with the pop promotion for the lead song on the album entitled 'Lights' keeping consistent with the colour theme and the cultivation of star image, carefully directed towards our target audience (who have been defined earlier in the blog). Looking directly into the camera, the star image, similarly to other bands like us, detonates confidence and catches the eye of our potential audience.
For our Print Ad and Digipack Design, we took note of other artists’ fonts, images, layouts and stylistics in order to create something really successful and aesthetically captivating. I’ve learned that having the band as the centre focus in these materials is key to attracting an audience for the band and that the styling has to be very meticulous and close to all of the other components of the campaign and we’ve applied these techniques directly to our own. The fonts and mise-en-scene we’ve used, I think, have developed the codes and conventions used in other bands’ CD designs and adverts. We’ve kept the theme true to GLITTERKNIGHT’s look and feel and not over complicated anything - The typefaces we’ve used are clean, glowy, readable and positioned prominently, making the album title and band name unmissable to the consumer. This description can be seen below - the logo for GLITTERKNIGHT.
Overall, I think we’ve used a lot of the forms and conventions that I’ve mentioned above. Instead of directly copying other artists though, we’ve expanded on these ideas and changed them according to our band’s style which has been very important into shaping and constructing the unique star image needed for a successful campaign.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
Using the previously mentioned forms and conventions I’ve previously mentioned and developing them to produce my own music video has resulted in a really successful and effective finished piece. The mise-en-scene for our piece is very restricted. We chose to keep things very thematic on screen in order to really assert and express our band’s look and feel to our audience. The colour scheme is enforced throughout lighting, costumes, props and locations; gold, blacks, whites and cream. Visually, the video is quite energetic and the tone pace and mood of the video have very typically ‘pop’ qualities with a quirky 80’s edge which I think comes from the colour palette. This, combined with the costumes and styling of the video make us identifiable and relatable to our target audience which, at large, contributes significantly to the success of our pop promotion. The narrative furthers the illustration of the song both lyrically and melodically from our studio shots. It’s just different enough to break the video up, providing a new location and style whilst still retaining the stylistics we’ve defined. The colours are very warm, the costumes are extremely similar in terms of colour and style and the props, especially the box of light link the two locations together perfectly which I’m really happy about.
The tone, pace and mood of the music video is down to the way we filmed it and editing techniques. Taking examples from other media texts and changing them to fit our own provided us with the confidence and knowledge to fully express our ideas when thinking about this. The pace of the song is set by the frequency of the cuts and length of shots. We’ve cut shots to the beat and lyrics of the song accordingly, especially on key lyrics and when entering a new verse or chorus. A great example of this is is 1:10 into the video (displayed on the right). The camera zooms into Kira as ‘when I’m alone’ is sung before the second verse which looks really effective and works well with the tone and pace of this part of the song. Examples such as this really give a visual representation of what the song is and advertises it perfectly, an dark, upbeat indie/pop song - I think we’ve captured these elements really well with the techniques I’ve mentioned.
The CD cover is almost a summary of our pop promo. The costumes featured on the cover are almost identical to those worn in the video and the styling in terms of hair and make-up are too which makes for an easily identifiable link between these two texts. The background too is exactly the same as the lights in the music video, illustrating the album name and the song whilst providing an extension of the band’s image and look and feel that we’ve constructed. Throughout the Digipack, we’ve maintained a strong design theme, repeating the images used for the cover, especially the lights. The text featured throughout the Digipack resembles the band’s logo and album typeface which gives a really professional, clean and put together feel for the album as a whole. Semiotically, we noticed the connotations and denotations of how bands position themselves on the cover of their albums so we used this convention for our own. Positioned prominently in the centre of the cover, Kira and I are looking straight into the camera, signifying confidence and power- two things that are very important for star image construction. The way in which the album cover uses the same stylistics and visuals as the album cover means that this recognisability, in terms of real media products, would attract audiences who may have seen the video instantly, adding to the success of the overall promotional campaign.
Following the CD Digipack, the Print Ad is near identical. As mentioned at the start of this post, we noticed that this was the case for nearly all promotional packages for albums and has been used by many bands. The out-of-focus background, image of the band and logos have been adapted directly from the CD design, again, making a clear link between the two and branding the album in a very careful, thematic manner whilst capturing and advertising our image as a band. The addition of vital marketing information is the only change to this design, as well as the size of the advertisment. This addition of the release date, ratings from popular institutions, social networking links and pointing out that the lead song ‘Lights’ is featured on the album is vital to success of the print ad and I think we’ve implemented these techniques really well without leaving the design looking too cluttered. As we have kept everything so similar, of course, this too directly references the music video for ‘Lights’ visually with the identical mise-en-scene theme. The ad captures what GLITTERKNIGHT is perfectly and defines and represents us in a very positive, very confident way like other artists campaigns have achieved in the past; if anything, the addition of features such as social media networking on the advertisement could potentially make the campaign much more successful as our contemporary image is reflected by targeting a demographic that rely on the internet and social networking for new music.
The out-of-focus lights in particular help us to define our preferred reading and representation. The overall glamourous, confident look, combined with qualities I’ve referred to previously create a very powerful star appeal to an audience in a way that’s not too over the top. This brings a certain level of relatability to our audience but still retains the ‘celebrity’ appeal that so many other bands and artist use to promote themselves. The representation of the genre, I think, has been achieved successfully with these three texts also. We’ve taken the codes and conventions from a variety of genres to suit our own as ‘Lights’ is really a hybrid of pop, electronic music and indie. The energetic, meticulously styled visuals reflect our pop qualities in a very eclectic contemporary/80’s way whilst providing elements of electronic music with the dark vibe and glowing typeface. The indie genre characteristics are subtle but they definitely exist, especially in the video which then comes down to the promotional material - the colours and styling, particularly regarding the band is quite typical of the pop/electro genre but the way it’s not over the top and quite modest brings out that indie tone, giving us a sense of normality and familiarity with our audience. This, I think is vital to the success and in my opinion, we’ve achieved the balance rather well throughout our entire campaign. All three texts relate to, and compliment, each-other perfectly and a strong sense of branding, building the theme and characters within the band is what makes this a successful campaign.
What have you learned from your audience feedback?
The promotional package we’ve produced would be consumed by quite a broad audience due to the hybrid of genres around the featured song ‘Lights’. We’re targeting the campaign at certain demographics though. Typically, are audience consist of non-gender-specific artistic teenagers/young adults. Due to the genre, a female audience may be more present but with Kira in the band, this will surely attract a male following which we are happy to accommodate. We’re aiming the promotional campaign at this group of people due to the quirky, energetic, fashionable and artistic qualities that we’re expressing with our promotional package and therefore, those who are similar this description will be the ones to prominently engage with these texts. This is not the full-picture of our audience though; we’d be missing out on a huge market if we thought it was.
As visually and musically, we’re similar to Florence & The Machine and Ellie Goulding, the fan base will be similar. Expanding from the audience I described above, we would attract audiences that like pop music, electronic music and indie music. I still maintain that our audience will be younger rather than older due to the fact that GLITTERKNIGHT do express a very strongly contemporary aesthetic regarding both the hybrid genre and star image/visuals throughout the promotional campaign. We’re encouraging an active audience through the inclusion of social networking in our advertisement; we’re attracting our audience to become a part of the band so to speak and engage with our media texts actively rather than passively. This aspect of social media too is targeted more at a younger fan-base as typically, these are the demographic most likely to use sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Myspace. This being our plan from the start, I looked at Florence & The Machine’s fan-base early on in the project and this confirmed that targeting the campaign at teenaged-young adult, artistic middle class people, regardless of gender. GLITTERKNIGHT do express some 80’s qualities though, particularly in the lyrics and melodies in ‘Lights’; the song featured in the pop promo. This may extend our audience further, bringing in a slightly older crowd who enjoy that genre; you can never say ‘this is my audience and it’s set in stone’ but rather target the product at who you think will consume the product the most, taking qualities such as age, gender, class, hobbies etc into consideration.
We’ve received a lot of feedback from audiences throughout various stages of production which has been vital to knowing if we’re on the right track and keeping to our original plan. There’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to all three of our promotional materials; particularly the music video which we’ve screened in various locations including college, to friends, family and in public places. These sample audiences commented on how much they enjoyed the lights in the video and the entire conceptual aspect and said the way that it went with the lyrics was really effective. The editing was also called ‘professional’ and thought that it reflected the tone, pace and mood of the song really well, adding a new depth to the song. The effects we used during the edit such as layering shots on top of each-other was also received really well and we got quite a number of positive reactions from that.
Collectively, from the audiences I've screened the pop promo to, I've received a really welcome response to the shot before the first chorus where we transitioned from the narrative back to the studio shots by layering the camera from the narrative on top of Kira, furthering the idea that Kira is the subject of this scrutiny and fear we're expressing with the narrative. We have been told that our pop promotion goes hand in hand with the genre of the song too and that we’ve styled the music video really well using the codes and conventions of typical electronic/indie pop promos.
There has been very little criticism but the comments that weren’t entirely positive were incredibly helpful and were crucial to understanding what is important to an audience - especially as many of the constructive criticisms were from individuals that fell into our target audience. I was told that I was introduced into the video too late, that some more shots of the out-of-focus lights could be featured earlier and in some places, particularly the chorus, the editing could be a bit faster to build up the pace a little bit. This was fantastic advice and now we’ve changed those things, our pop promo has improved significantly and feels more complete. The feedback we received regarding the Print Ad and CD design were resoundingly positive too with much less negative feedback; people really liked how similar these texts were in relation to the music video which was the goal Kira and myself were trying to achieve! The only things that people suggested we change is the positioning in some areas of the print ad and the fact that more information could be included such as ratings and reviews which was fantastic advice that we used. There has also been a lot of internal criticism during the production stages of all three promotional materials. I am quite a perfectionist and I’d quite regularly go back and change things, especially in the Print Ad and CD Design such as the colour of my blazer which has been colour corrected from grey to black, fitting in with the thematic approach more as you can see to the top-left of this paragraph.
As my group this year consisted of just Kira and myself, the work load has been a lot meaning we had complete creative control which can only be seen as a positive, which it was. We were also the band. This meant that we really had to direct ourselves and construct our own direction/star image/identity for GLITTERKNIGHT which was actually a really enjoyable aspect of the project. This also meant that unlike in other groups who held screenings with their bands, us, being the band were hands on 100% of the time with creative and technical decisions, leading to a promotional campaign that we’ve been meticulous with and are really proud of. Metaphorically, we were able to spend far more time with ‘the band’ than any other group which resulted in a finished package that everyone had a say in, everyone had worked hard for and that everyone was really happy to submit.
From the screenings of both the music video and print material I did hold, the response from different audiences was actually quite similar and the readings they expressed were mostly what I was hoping to express. Two people commented on the fact the package had something really quirky and 80’s pop to it which was a welcome surprise as this was not intentional. I did ask, and this wasn’t a negative thing; our friend Jan told us that it added a universal depth to the video and that more people would watch it which is absolutely true and in a way I’m glad that in some areas GLITTERKNIGHT have been represented as a band with a universal quality to them. The feedback from the print material was also really positive and prompted the reaction we were looking for. “That looks really professional, I love the theme of them” I was told, “I can imagine seeing that on the shelf in HMV!”. I asked what they thought of individual aspects of the print material such as the typeface and I got the exact response I was hoping for; I was told it fits in really well with the rest of the design and that it was just big enough to not overtake the entire thing but easy to read and pretty. Perfect. They also liked how the band looked on the front, wearing similar outfits of a very monochromatic colour scheme, they said the styling really fitted in the rest of the cover/advertisement.
In my opinion, both as a member of the group and member of the band, I think there are many things we did right with both the music video and print materials. I also think there were some things that we could have done better; I am known to be a perfectionist though. If we had more money and planning time, I’d have really liked to have more types of lighting in the studio shots of the music video; more flares, gently flashing lightbulbs that could hang from the ceiling etc. I think if we had maybe two studio sets, each featuring different types of lights then that could have been effective but I think we’ve worked well with our budget and the footage we had - Nobody’s said that there’s “too much” of anything in the video which is always good but I would have liked to include more of what I’ve just mentioned.
Some things we did do right though in the pop promo was define a set look and feel for the band and followed that through the entire piece. We extended this look and feel onto the print work too so it looked almost identical to the video and I think I’ve done that really effectively and build a really clear branding for the band. I’m happy with how we’ve reflected the song in terms of pace, genre, tone and lyrically too through clever cinematography editing and mise-en-scene. In terms of the print material, I think we’ve included a lot of useful features and information. The size of the image of the band on both pieces identifies the band instantly and instills the band’s unique image in the audience and public. Features such as bar codes, track listings, a copyright logo and personal note add that professional, realistic touch to the CD cover, as does the release date, social networking information and ratings in the print ad. The overall theme works really well and is extremely consistent throughout the entire package which is something I’m really happy about and feel we’ve done well in as a group.
I feel we’ve reached our audience appropriately. The tone of our pop promotion is very contemporary, very up-beat and energetic and has a good pace to it; it’s an interesting watch with some captivating visuals and locations. The image we’ve constructed is very identifiable as I’ve mentioned earlier which includes the audience, we’ve constructed a unique star image that has both celebrity quality (with the meticulous costume styling etc) but kept a sense ofmodesty that our audience can relate with. Looking into Florence & The Machine was also extremely useful and through this, we learned a lot about who our audience actually are which I mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this evaluation. Through what we learned, we built our image around this very contemporary, mystical surrealist idea that’s extremely relevant in the pop industry currently; it’s been tried and tested and builds and attracts a really sizable audience. We’ve also encouraged an active audience by advertising to them to keep updated and follow the band on social networking sites such as Twitter and Myspace through our Print Ad which creates a great deal of audience pleasure and interaction.
How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
New media has played a vital role throughout all production stages during our promotional campaign for the band. We’ve used the internet a lot, physical technologies to edit, record, shoot etc. and have made good use of software in order to get the promotional material looking exactly how we wanted it to. Of course, every aspect of my coursework has been documented on this Blogger account. This has allowed me to work on, view and change posts from anywhere as well as show others my ideas effectively with the addition of web applications, videos and images.
During the pre-production and research stages of the promotional package, both Kira and myself had really strong ideas in our head for the visual elements of our promotional materials. We got together and searched the internet to illustrate these points to one another and used these images in a pitch to a sample audience to gain response. We found some excellent examples of things we wanted to achieve on sites such as Flickr and Google Images, DeviantArt and various other websites. We’ve also come across some really great video on YouTube that illustrated perfectly what we were hoping to achieve with the out of focus lights and various editing techniques we were interested in. YouTube also allowed us to view bands’ VEVO pages containing their music videos which allowed us to analyse them and embed the videos right onto this blog.
To keep in communication with Kira during this stage, I used a range new media and technology. We talked on Facebook, AIM, texted, called and I used Twitter not only to talk to Kira about the project but also to get feedback from the wider world. This broad range of new media technologies meant that I could reach Kira if I had something really urgent to say about the project quickly.
During the video production and editing, we used a wide range of new media to create the desired effect for our promotional package. Equipped with tape stock, we shot our footage on a Sony Z1 Camera. This camera was extremely easy to use and included useful features such as a built in light, microphone and allowed us to change the depth of field in some shots which was really important to our production. During the editing stages of our pop promo, we used Final Cut Pro. I used this piece of software last year and found it quite difficult at times to operate but I’ve learned so much by editing this piece of work and my skills have improved greatly. I’ve been able to colour correct every shot using this software, synchronize the song with the footage, line every take up in the time line, edited a lot more effectively than last year and have managed to find a lot of visual effects such as glows and editing the opacity of some shots which has resulted in a really nice final product. Using Quicktime, we compressed the video so it was ready for streaming and download, resulting in a much smaller file size without compromising too much on the quality of the video. I then uploaded the pop promotion to YouTube and then embedded it onto my blog.
For the print production stage of the campaign, we made use of Photoshop CS3 and the internet for finding appropriate typefaces. Being familiar with Photoshop has helped me and Kira so much during this stage of production and allowed us to work effectively, quickly and accurately. We were able to express our ideas fully with this software, especially layering, feathering and adding glows to the different components of the promotional material and positioning them. We downloaded the typeface ‘Futura’ from ‘What The Font’ and applied a glow and gradient using photoshop as well as colour correcting images and playing around with the lighting. When all stages of this were complete, we saved the images as both .PSD and .JPEG files and uploaded them directly to our Blogger accounts.
Other examples of new media I have used during the project are; Flashlight for iPhone 4 which enabled us to achieve the flashing light box effect used in the narrative in the pop promo. Downloaded from the Apple App Store, I taped my iPhone to the bottom of the box we used and my iPhone camera’s LED flash was transformed into a strobe light which looked extremely effective! I also used my iPad connected to a pair or portable speakers in order to play the music from iTunes, ensuring that we were lip syncing in time with the music. This also allowed the cameras to record the song which made synchronizing the song in Final Cut much easier and quicker. As I was the band as well as in the group, Kira and I had to record our own song for the project, deciding on ‘Lights’, I used Logic Studio 8 on my MacBook for the music production and my MicroKorg XL Synthesizer and Samson Q1U microphones to capture our voices. These three worked seamlessly together and we were able to layer our voices to create some really nice melodies and samples. I then compressed the song into a high quality MP3, sent the file to iTunes and converted the MP3 into an AIFF file so that Final Cut would read it.
As I’ve already stated at the beginning of the evaluation, I’m really pleased with what I’ve managed to achieve with this project and how much I’ve learned from and enjoyed the process as a whole. I’ve produced a promotional campaign for a band that I’m really happy about and it’s exceeded what I thought it would end up like at the beginning of the project. It’s been received really well by others which is gratifying and I think the use of new media, applying everything I’ve learned from the research stages has allowed me to fully express my ideas and make this Promotional Package a success.