The band OK Go is quite the fan of videos. Their fans are even greater fans of their videos. In the few minutes it took to watch their latest masterpiece, “Upside Down & Inside Out,” viewership had gone from 8,697,631 to 8,902,131. The reason? It was filmmed in one take, as always, but this time, “We shot this in zero gravity, in an actual plane, in the sky. There are no wires or green screens.”
The result was, in a word, astounding.
“Hello, Dear Ones. Please enjoy our new video for “Upside Down & Inside Out”. A million thanks to S7 Airlines. #GravitysJustAHabit”
OK Go, being the consumate content marketing pros (in the true definition of the phrase, it’s a compliment, believe me…and no, it’s not ‘selling out’) led fans to this day via a variety of Facebook posts starting February 1, and a series of teaser videos, like this one, where the band is getting their medical tests along with instructions from their Russian flight crew. Watch how bassist, Tim Nordwind, hangs on every word.
OK Go also had to take their choreographic skills to the next level. Was there a bit of Russian Ballet training involved?
Then there was the topic of gravity itself on #3, and the plan for how to get around that whole science, schmience thingy.
#4 – show time. “I have mixed emotions right now. Fear of the unknown, and more fear of the unknown,” Nordwind.
It’s interesting that OK Go chose to premier the “Upside Down & Inside Out” video on Facebook only, versus doing distro on all the platforms like Vimeo and YouTube right off the bat. That bet has certainly paid off, especially if there was some kind of algorithm advertising arrangement made between the band and Facebook. Not that it would have been necessary. The sheer entertainment value of the video, which was directed by Trish Kulash and her brother, OK Go singer and guitarist, Damian, is what’s caused such huge and quickly rising view numbers (in the time I’ve taken to write this up, it’s now over 10 million).
It’s been six years, almost to the day, when Damian Kulash wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about his frustration with their record label at the time, EMI, who wanted to use the rising success of OK Go’s videos to make a few bucks, “They saw videos, suddenly, as potential sources of revenue.” When that happened, EMI went after YouTube and blocked the ability for fans and media companies like Kaffeine Buzz to embed OK Go’s videos in our content. They stopped the ability for us to support OK Go’s creative works and help spread the word. Idiodic. This caused conflict between the label and band, and eventually led to OK Go leaving EMI and forging their career on their own terms.
Taking note of the hugely successful “Here It Goes Again,” Kulash pointed out in the op-ed, how the video had been “viewed millions, then tens of millions of times. It brought big crowds to our concerts on five continents, and by the time we returned to the studio, 700 shows, one Grammy and nearly three years later, EMI’s ledger had a black number in our column.”
Here’s the thing: when a company that doesn’t understand the evolution of business and digital’s impact on it, when led by people in positions of power who keep their heads in the sand while the rest of the world moves on and changes, is leading themselves down the failure path. “Curbing the viral spread of videos isn’t benefiting the company’s bottom line, or the music it’s there to support. The sooner record companies realize this, the better — though I fear it may already be too late,” said Kulash. It reminds one of a certain non-profit sports entity who is also over protective of its content.
I’m not sure what it cost for OK Go to pull off a video production like this, but you gotta know it was much less than the estimated $20 milion dollars companies spent to hire an advertising agency to produce a commercial to then air during “The Big Game.” To put it into context, there are many, many traditional corporate marketing departments, dare I say advertising agencies as well, that could learn some valuable lessions from the brand that OK Go has built. A brand that’s utterly transparent while being highly entertaining and extremely valuable to their audience.
To help fans understand how the “Upside Down & Inside Out” video all came together, OK Go put together their own FAQ, including the answer to the question on everyone’s minds about puking in zero gravity while making a music video, “A lot of our crew got sick; over the 21 flights, there were 58 puke events. Luckily, this was a group of very committed adventurers, so we all soldiered through and eventually got accustomed to the crazy sensations.” Read the rest of it here.