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Ariana Grande’s Director, Vevo Discuss the Power of Music Videos at SXSW: ‘You Should Be Filming Everything’

Many of the past year’s biggest pop culture moments have one thing in common: They revolved around music videos. There was Drake’s “God’s Plan” video, where the rapper embarked on a million-dollar donation spree — and inspired a meme in the process. The visual for Childish Gambino’s political masterpiece, “This Is America,” sparked a national conversation that likely played a role in the song’s Grammy wins. Still other videos brought acts like NBA Youngboy and Doja Cat viral fame that they’ve since parlayed into careers. And, of course, there was Ariana Grande’s record-breaking video for “thank u, next,” which has helped catapult the singer to a new peak as an artist.  

According to industry players like “thank u, next” director Hannah Lux Davis, Vevo director of music programming and content Justin Prager and Vydia music and tech company CEO Roy LaManna, the influence of music videos on pop culture — and an artist’s standing — will only get stronger.

Speaking at the South by Southwest panel “Breaking Artists Through Video: Your How-To Guide,” LaManna argued that what appears as the golden age of music videos is really a reflection of the industry’s overall resurgence. The U.S. recorded music industry generated roughly $9.8 billion in 2018, marking the industry’s third consecutive year of double-digit growth.

“It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was talking about, the music industry is going to die,” he said. “Now, I see a ton of money coming into it. I’ve seen a lot of artists that were spending $5,000 a video, who are now spending $50,000 a video, because the views justify that.”

As the format continues to grow, Prager said his team combs through hundreds of new videos every day for new talent. The company is currently funneling its efforts into playlisting, with an emphasis on highlighting new acts. “We go through every

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