Lyrics Videos Establishing Effective New Genre on YouTube

In the past, lyrics videos were largely just the simple creations of music fans. However, the market for lyrics videos has changed dramatically in recent years, and name brand artists are leveraging the technique as a means of greater exposure and profit. According to YouTube, the number of views for these videos, which are typically fast and cheap to produce, has increased seven times since 2011. The top 500 lyrics videos attracted 624 million views this year.

“We’ve seen them getting more creative and sort of becoming this other art form,” said Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s head of culture and trends. “It offers artists a lot of things you can take advantage of before you have an official video.”

There are multiple advantages to lyrics videos. For instance, they are typically cheaper to produce than professional music videos. In many instances, they do not require sets, costumes, lighting or a professional director. They also can be released right when a song first comes out to attract fans.

“Lady Gaga, Vampire Weekend, One Direction and even the Rolling Stones are all pumping out official lyrics videos to pair with (or preview) a song’s release,” reports The New York Times.

When the lyrics video for Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” was released in October 2010, it was one of the first of its kind. It incorporated “sharp fluorescent backgrounds and moving block type” that helped popularize the song on YouTube.

“Since then, official lyrics videos have grown as creative exercises in using animated text effects and clever conceits to share a song’s meaning with its fans,” notes NYT.

One artist who has truly taken advantage of lyrics videos is Katy Perry, whose video for “Roar” received 45 million views even before the official video was released.

While mainstream artists are creating lyrics videos, so are lesser known artists, such as Sydney-based group, For All Eternity. Some of the lyrics videos are outperforming the standard videos, according to the band’s lead vocalist, Shane Carroll. Carroll says the lyrics videos may be popular because they help fans connect better with their Christian music.

“It’s a lot easier to share our music with people that may not listen to our style of music,” he said, “if we can link them up to something like a lyric video.”