As you’ve no doubt noticed, video content is one of the most important aspects of any band’s promotional strategy. People consume a ton of music on YouTube, it’s a great way to extend your brand, and it can even become a pretty legitimate income stream if you play your cards right.
And now, thanks to YouTube, artists should maybe start thinking about a new video idea: the album-length music video.
On its surface, that might sound like a prohibitively expensive proposition. But Fredrik, a Swedish trio whose haunting third album, Flora, comes out next week, made a surprisingly effective, remarkably affordable album-length video to preview it, and the results are fantastic from both artistic and cost-benefit perspectives.
I grabbed some time with the band’s Fredrik Hultin to discuss the video’s artistic and promotional success (240,000 views in just over a week!), and here’s what happened.
This has been a pretty big success – over 240,000 views already! How does it feel to have a video on the front page of YouTube?
Fredrik Hultin: Well it feels excellent. I’m quite surprised actually. Yeah, it went pretty fast. It’s been out for six days or something. And then it had 30,000 views; it’s pretty amazing. We just did it, in an afternoon, we thought it was a pretty cool idea, taking a tour of Malmö with our band wolf. People think the content is pretty good.
I think it’s a great fit, especially considering you didn’t know that this was going to happen when you started making Flora. But when this opportunity came up, how did you and Olaf figure out what to do? Coming up with video for an entire album is tough. What went through your heads?
Well we wanted to do something that, tempo-wise, was slow, but that wasn’t boring. [laughs] So we were thinking like a journey with the music, at the same time, so we were thinking like slow, you know, but with your mind traveling a bit, something that let’s you think, but that’s it. Slow in tempo, but not boring.
It’s like taking a walk, with music in your headphones.
In some ways it feels very free, and very relaxed, but there are also some moments where the music syncs very well with the visuals. How carefully did you or Olaf map out your ride to sync with the music?
It was me on the bike, actually. It’s actually the walk that I do quite often. It’s a 30-minute walk, and that’s pretty much the road I take.
I didn’t try anything, I just was like, “This is where we live.” It’s what I wanted to show, just going about, doing my daily business.
I think that a lot of bands, if they were given a similar opportunity, they would have put themselves in front of the camera more, whether it’s just introducing themselves, or doing like a long performance video or something. But you guys are totally absent from this video. What went into that part of your decision?
We get that question from time to time, about why we don’t expose ourselves more. But I think our music is more interesting without us, basically. We make music for people too, it’s just, it’s for what’s in their minds. I don’t want them to think about us, really. [laughs]
I mean having our pictures there, standing there posing, might be in the way of the experience of the music. I think we’re also modest a little bit. But it’s something we struggle with. We do enjoy a bit of exposure as well.
Who set this up? Was it the Kora? Was it your publicist? How did this actually happen?
They contacted us directly… I don’t know actually. Basically we got an e-mail. They contacted us, in person, the band.
Wow, really? That’s really cool.
It’s pretty cool. I had no idea how they had ever heard us, but they did. I guess it was the music.
So someone at YouTube likes your music. That’s pretty cool.
Yeah, sure. I mean, we never would have gotten this attention without them featuring us. It’s beautiful for us. It’s perfect.
Your bandmate, Olaf, edited this video, and he also directed your band’s video for an earlier song, “Vinter Barn.” These days, more and more bands have to have video stuff out there. Even if it’s not some big, expensive video, every artist has to have it, and I’m curious about how you guys handle that stuff. Is it something where Olaf has experience, so he takes the lead, or do you both do it together?
Yeah he’s great. He’s in charge of all the digital material, and we’re a visual band as well. We talk in images all the time, and when we make music as well. And rather than talking about technological concerns or how we want things to sound like, we talk about how things need to sound like, I don’t know, trees, or the wind. And I guess we’re always using images, and it sort of appears in front of the camera.
But you and Olaf have been working together for a long time now. Are you guys at the point now where you trust him? Or does he run stuff by you before you make videos?
What we do is that we work on the idea together, make the film, and then he just takes it home with him and messes with it for a while…
And whatever he does. And edits it. So that’s where he gets total control, effectively.
Compared to its predecessor, Trilogi, Flora is a much more muscular, more powerful record. If YouTube had called you two years ago, and they said that they wanted to do this video thing for Trilogi, what might you have done differently?
Oooo. Difficult. I don’t know. Maybe this video now would have worked for our earlier material as well. I agree with what you said too, that Flora it’s more powerful.