Inspiring “Hybrids” of Art and Self Promotion: Our New Transmedia Storytellers

  • by Sparrow
  • August 16th, 2011
Lana Del Rey

LA-based "sad core" singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey - When did video editors start looking like this?

From Beastie Boys to brilliant girls, artists of the New Media Age are promoting their work while staying true to their voice by embracing multiple forms of storytelling. Welcome to the world of “hybrid” art-makers.

Some might call self promotion a necessary evil of the new digital marketplace, especially when it comes to getting your work noticed as an artist. But some artists have embraced the challenge as a way to re-examine how audiences connect with their message, and how they’re bringing it into the world. For instance, since I posted the Lana Del Rey video a few weeks ago, I found out that the brilliant editor responsible for it is actually Lana herself—in her bedroom, on her laptop.


Lana Del Rey Video Games by le-pere-de-colombe

But this isn’t just a case of a new artist being resourceful because of a lack of funding. It’s another way for her to communicate her message and establish an aesthetic. The same could be said for the following post featuring the new Beastie Boys short film “Fight For Your Right: Revisited,” which pays beautiful homage to the Beastie’s past while staying true to their latest album. Maybe that’s because it was shot by someone who would know how best to capture that story: the band’s own Adam Yauch.

The Beastie Boys - Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Mike D (Michael Diamond)

There was a time when if you were an artist with a major label, you would NEVER have been allowed to pick up a camera and start shooting, let alone create original content to be devoured by the public for free. The numbers just didn’t add up. But those were the old numbers, when album sales were one of the industry’s strongest revenue generators, and extravagant video shoots were part of the daily routine.

Today, anyone can create content, which sounds thrilling, but unfortunately doesn’t always equate to quality. For every crop of disastrous YouTube videos out there, we have one that truly hits its mark. Case in point: a video created by the band The Morgues from Brooklyn—simple, intimate and evocative. The band found the raw footage online, in which the girl’s boyfriend talks her into filming a sex tape. Edited down to it’s PG-rated essence and combined with the message of the song, the result is sublime.

The Morgues – “He Loves Me”

The fact that these videos are being created by artists associated with a completely different medium illustrates the evolution that’s taking place towards “hybrid” artistry—working in multiple formats to expand the reach of your work (often in gorilla fashion). Where an artist like Laurie Anderson was hard to classify in the 80s with her dark pop songs, complex concept albums and bizarre performance art, today these sound like the makings for the next Radiohead.

O Superman – Laurie Anderson (1981)

When artists communicate their message through multiple formats it allows us to travel further into the material—and our own imaginations. We start to have a deeper relationship with the artist—perhaps valuing them more for their lens than the work itself. Whether it’s music, literature, visual art, film or any other medium—we’re ready to move with them from one platform to the next just to see where they take us. This emerging format, known as transmedia or cross-platform, is slowly becoming the new language of entertainment, and it’s engrained in everything I do as an author and storyteller.

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