Is the Lyric Video Dead?


snow-informerLyric videos have been a staple of the metal scene since shortly after YouTube arrived and changed the online music world at large forever. Ever since 2007, record labels and bands have been leveraging YouTube’s power and reach by create engaging video content at a fraction of the cost of traditional music videos, utilizing flashy, modern graphics to display a song’s lyrics in real time. Quaint in concept — recalling the bouncing-ball videos of yore — but modern in execution, lyric videos quickly became a go-to option for single premieres and song streams, and they’ve been a fixture of both ever since.

But here’s the thing: are any of us actively watching lyric videos anymore?

Sure, there’s the die-hards: any given band’s fans who eat up absolutely everything they do and wait with bated breath for their next move will dive right in. There will always be a cadre of fans who are interested in songs’ meanings.

But what about the rest of us? If you’re like me, “lyric video” has basically become synonymous with “song stream,” and the fact that the lyrics are being displayed too is mostly unimportant. Without the engaging plotline or performance of a traditional music video, my attention wanders: I pop the YouTube player open in one tab, then get back to the task of whatever I was previously doing in another tab or my inbox. At this point it feels as if a lyric video is no different in effect than a Soundcloud or Bandcamp stream; its primary purpose is to stream audio.

I’m not suggesting bands ditch YouTube as a streaming medium. Since being on YouTube is a major necessity for both labels and bands, it seems as if a video with a simple album cover image and “Buy here” link would accomplish basically the same thing, only without the time and expense of putting together all those fancy shaking, dropping and zooming effects. Sure, a small contingent of fans might be less stoked on the experience, but these bands will presumably be buying the album and poring over the liner notes anyway… plus, there’s always the myriad lyric sites all over the web for those enthusiasts.

So: do you actively watch lyric videos? Or do you just put them on in the background like any regular song stream and go about your business? Vote in the poll below, then share your thoughts in the comments section.

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