Apr 062012

Remember when you would watch a music video, lust after the clothes you’d seen, and then scour the internet searching for similar threads? Gone are those days! Ssense, an online clothing retailer, has styled the “World’s First Interactive Shoppable Music Video.”

The music video “I Think She Ready” features duo FKi, rapper Iggy Azalea, and Grammy-nominated producer Diplo, and they are all styled by Ssense. The video uses interactive hotspot technology to allow fans to view and shop for every item that is seen in the video. During the music video, white square icons with the letter “S” pop up on the screen. Rolling over the icon will expand the “S” to “SHOP THIS LOOK”. Clicking on those icons will take you to a screen that shows each of the products worn in the selected shot. Each article of clothing links to the Ssense product page where the item can be viewed and added to a cart for purchase.

Figure 1. Interactive video for shopping items; Image Courtesy of Ssense.com

Even though the white icons only appear sporadically throughout the video, do we really want music videos to display these distracting icons each time we watch them? If this trend catches on (and I think it will), perhaps the icons will become smaller or less intrusive in future music videos.

Fashion is used heavily and to great effect in music videos. Outfits ranging from the most mundane to the most outrageous have a chance to be featured by recording artists. The fashion seen in music videos can cater to any and all tastes. The ability to purchase articles of clothing while you are watching the video accelerates the decision-making process of consumers. If a viewer has to take the time to find the clothes on their own or has to remember what exactly was in the video, there’s less of a chance that those items will be viewed let alone purchased by those viewers. Being able to shop for the look right at the moment you are most interested in the clothes means that there is a higher probability that you will purchase those items.

While some music videos have been produced as artistic short films, a number of them have become glorified advertisements. They advertise the singer, the clothes, the location, and create an enviable style using all of these elements. Music videos are ripe for fashion and commerce. They are viewed multiple times, and they are easily distributed across the world.

Figure 2. McQueen’s designs in Lady Gaga’s music video; Image Courtesy of SelfServiceuk.wordpress.com

However, there is a strong possibility that fashion will begin to play a more vital role in the video than the music itself. Will the message of a recording artist’s song be overshadowed by the endorsement of the products he or she is wearing in their video? Some might argue that we are already at that point in culture. In late 2009, Lady Gaga’s music video for Bad Romance showcased looks from Alexander McQueen’s newest collection including the jaw-dropping armadillo stilettos. To be honest, I heard about McQueen’s designs being featured in her music video before I actually watched it. The clothes were so fascinating that I paid less attention to the lyrics of the song which in fact do include the word “fashion”!

Films and television shows have likewise started to embrace the role that fashion plays in creating characters and settings. A number of television shows already offer easy access to the songs that are featured in each episode. Interactive television shows that allow fans to purchase their favorite clothes from the show as they are watching it is very likely imminent.

  One Response to “Interactive Music Video: Shop While You Watch”

  1. Fashion and music have enjoyed a long and intertwined relationship. I think it could be argued that fashion, as a uniquely commercial art form, has served to further commoditize popular music. Not that popular music wasn’t already a commodity to begin with. What I mean is that one of the primary reasons for viewing a music video is to check out the fashions on display on the bodies of the artists. Music is an auditory art form. By definition we don’t have to be able to see it to appreciate it. So what then are we actually looking at when we view music videos if not the sartorial aesthetics of the artists therein? I do find the literal commercializing of music videos really interesting, though. Over the last couple of semesters I have been studying the tendency of popular culture towards consumerism. Or moreover, I’ve been studying the consumerism inherent in popular culture. In fact, I don’t believe that pop culture could exist without it commercial underpinnings. The very drive that fuels pop culture trends is the same one that fuels commercial ones. The ubiquitous integration of consumerist practices into actual popular culture artifacts is really fascinating though for it’s paradigm shifting potential. What I wonder is if indeed this becomes a trend, and I agree I believe it will too, will music video’s actually cease to be music videos and become…well commercials? I suppose they were always commercials in a way, however with this Ssense innovation, instead of being commercials for the artists or the music, they are now literally fashion commercials. So then designers will become literal rock stars. Also, will this shift how we consume music video’s as the need to interact and shop the videos will take precedence over the purely passive consumption of media? So then we’ll watch music video’s on our tablets, smart phones and pc’s instead of on television as we have in the past. Hmm…it will be really fascinating to watch this new commercial media unfold.

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