It is no longer enough to ask "How does my song sound?" or "Will radio play it?" In today's visual world, you need to also be asking, "How does this song look?"
Indeed, the platform for music has changed dramatically in just the past few years. Today, a Susan Boyle can become a worldwide phenomenon overnight because of YouTube.
And now, music videos will begin officially affecting the Hot 100:
"Billboard and Nielsen announced this week the addition of U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms, which includes an update to the methodology for the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart. The YouTube streaming data is now factored into the chart’s ranking, enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen’s digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen." (See full story here.)
Groups such as OK GO saw the paradigm shift early on and focused more on how their music looked, creating captivating and creative music videos that caught the attention of both consumers and ad buyers. (See Wall Street Journal article here. Worth the read.) As the lead singer and guitarist for the band stated, "We're just moving out of the brief period—a flash in history's pan—when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone."
It is past time for artists to think beyond the chords and guitar licks when they go into the recording studio. Artists should spend just as much time thinking about what props and locations they will need to create a memorable visual -- and possibly career-altering-- impression.