A few weeks ago Bob Dylan released his first music video for Like A Rolling Stone, a song nearly 50 years old. A interactive video that allows the audience to create their own video mash-up by channel surfing through a cascade of real and fake TV shows who are performing the song in real time. One moment you are watching the History Channel and the next you are watching the Cooking Channel and everyone is sining Bob Dylan. At the end of the video you can share your unique channel surfing experience with others on social media. Sounds pretty cool right? Well is.
WHAT IT DOES RIGHT
The video creates a unique experience every time you watch it. Because there are so many channels to flip through, there are endless combinations of video experiences that you can have. It makes the viewer truly want to share the video with their friends. The viewer is taking part in the video creation at that point, so their desire is not to share a Bob Dylan music video, their desire is to share the unique Bob Dylan music video experience that they created.
WHAT IT DOES WRONG
The video is not designed for mobile, which is a big mistake. This needed to be a free app and not just a website. That may have been a technical issue, I really am not sure but Dylan certainly lost viewers but not allowing this to be mobile friendly. The song is also quite long and the interaction only allows you to change the channel. So once you’ve flipped through every channel (which takes less than one minute), then for many people the experience is over. I think using either a shorter song or creating another element of interactivity could have allowed viewers to stay even more engaged throughout the video experience.
WHAT IT MEANS
This isn’t the first interactive music video (Pharrell Williams and Arcade Fire have also tried it) and it won’t be the last. And that is a good thing. Music vides have always paved the way for media in general. Action movies today are simply long music videos with a break-neck speed of editing and effects. Music videos were the first media that was all about visuals first and story second. Today movies and even TV have followed that format. If music videos can continue to become more interactive and can show that they can engage with the audience in ways that passive media can not, then it may mean it is the beginning of a larger trend within media. I think many people still like to sit back and be passive viewers in the experience, but it is interesting to see how much viewers want to engage with the media they view.