A few days ago an audience member posted a video to youtube from my performance at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. I had chosen not to record the performance because I didn’t want to put any pressure on us to perform in a certain way, but of course I would have liked a recording just as a memento. So when I discovered this audience-posted-video, I was thrilled. I was so thrilled that I immediately wanted to share it with all of you (which I did), without thinking about whether or not the other members of the band would be thrilled. In this particular instance I was lucky and they were equally pleased with our memento from the evening, though that has not always been the case.
My very first appearance on youtube was in an audience-posted-video nearly seven years ago, which was taken at Birdland while I was singing with the David Berger Jazz Orchestra. As usual, I was thrilled and excited and immediately sent it around to all the musicians in the band, only to discover most of them were not happy at all! They had not been paid for the video, they were not aware they were being recorded, they were not happy with the quality of the video, etc. I was surprised by their reaction, and even though I could understand where they were coming from, I couldn’t agree with their point of view.
These videos, which usually seem to be recorded on a phone, are not of the kind of quality where people are going to make any money by selling the video. They are usually taken with the intention of sharing the moment with “friends”, or to replay for themselves. I have heard the argument that these videos are recorded so people don’t have to buy the music from the artist, or that more youtube videos equal fewer people who will pay to purchase a musicians album, but I don’t agree with this at all. In fact, I think people who take audience-videos (or pictures) are more likely to purchase your music, since the very act of taking the video is a demonstration of enjoying the moment and being a fan. Also, I think that many people listen to music on youtube to discover new artists that they can go see live and / or purchase their albums. So in that sense, these videos are exposure and advertising.
I have also heard the argument that live performance is a chance to try new material, new arrangements etc, and the artist should be able to do that without having it recorded and published prior to the artist being fully prepared to release the new material. Personally, I have never felt this way. If I do something on stage then I must be ready, on some level, or I wouldn’t be presenting it to an audience. Maybe it’s not “perfect”, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. To me, Jazz is about a process more than a finished product, and I don’t mind sharing that with my audience, whether they are there in person or looking at a screen.
We all want to have control over our image, not only as artists, but as people. Every month I read another article about how it’s rude to tag your friends in photos if they don’t look their best, and I think that is common courtesy, but I think in this day and age we have to expect that the minute we step onto a stage, we should be prepared to share that moment with our audience, seen and unseen.
How do you feel about these kinds of videos? Do you post them? Do you hate them? Do you think it’s rude? Tell me in the comment section…..
Also, just to prove that I love them, I have a playlist on youtube dedicated to fan videos, check it out.