Session-style videos rarely match real concert footage

Okay, what do you think about these two kinds of videos?

Session-style videos rarely match real concert footage
A still from a session-style video I made a couple years ago, produced by 12TH ST Sound. I link to this video later in the Update

Imagine you're curating a music festival. (Some of you don't have to – you've actually done it!)

One artist pitches you with this video:

And another artist pitches you with this video:

Which do you prefer?

Depends on the quality of the performance and whether or not you like the music, of course.

But today I'm more curious about the type of video they made. All else being equal...

Which type of video is better? (Remember, you're the curator, needing to judge.)

Live concert vs. session-style videos

  1. The first video has a live audience in the room – it's a concert video, the kind that has existed since the dawn of TV
  2. The second is what I'd call a session-style video. No real audience: what you hear is what you see, recorded live, but in a controlled environment.

Session-style videos are trendy. They're slick, great for sharing clips on Instagram, and apparently valuable enough to deserve Google Ads juice (no, 7,000 views and only 4 comments is not organic).

They're also easier to organize than tapings of real gigs – maybe even a bit lower-budget too, though I bet they're still not cheap.

But you, the festival curator, would probably prefer a true concert video over a session-style video. You'd want to see what the artist really feels like in front of a real crowd. On a real stage.

So why do artists make session-style videos at all? What are they good for – who are they for?

I don't even think they entertain most fans more than concert videos, including concert videos that sound worse.

Video production value used to separate the wheat from the chaff; the ability to make that smooth session-style video of your song showed that you meant business. (I even made one back in the day!)

But it doesn't anymore. TikToks are bigger than movies, and sometimes the coolest thing you can do these days is play into your phone, shoot from the hip.

That's what shows you mean business: showing that you're as unpretentious as possible. Dressing up a studio and pretending to perform is just being a tryhard.

However, you can have it both ways. John Lee made this video back in 2018 where he played a session-style trio set, but doesn't come across as a tryhard at all.

In my opinion, of course.

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