Our goal is to push for improvements in the music video process to be more respectful, transparent, and minimize free work on behalf of the thousands of music video directors our organization represents.
WDMV started when Daniel Kwan, one half of the directing duo DANIELS (Swiss Army Man, Turn Down For What) started complaining on twitter about the crushing challenges of making music videos. The response from directors was overwhelming. They quickly realized they were not alone and began to ask the question: What are they going to do about it? Now, WDMV is a non-hierarchical organization of volunteers made up of producers and directors from all levels of experience, who are working to help the music video industry see itself as a community that can and should change for the better.
That’s why we have started by creating the Guidelines and Best Practices for the Pitching Process, which outline the basic expectations all parties can have in the beginning stages of the music video process. These guidelines are based on the feedback from directors, reps, production companies, commissioners and record labels.
We believe these guidelines will make the pitching process more efficient and more respectful—not only for directors, but also for reps and commissioners. Notable directors who have already pledged to support WDMV’s mission include Spike Jonze, Melina Matsoukas, Paul Hunter, Hiro Murai, DANIELS, Emily Kai Bock, Alma Har’el, and many more!
This is just the first step. We plan on building out more guidelines for other parts of the process, creating more educational resources to help directors leverage better rights, and eventually find a path towards unionization. But before any of that can happen, we must ensure the success of these pitching guidelines!
In order for our organization to succeed, we have to understand our collective story.
Here is our story: Music video directors are some of the only directors in the entire entertainment industry without a union or labor protections. Because of this, labels can continue to rely on directors and their collaborators to donate time, equipment, and even their own money to make most music videos possible. This continual rise in expectations paired with a lack of respect and transparency has left directors unstable financially and demoralized with no clear path to continue their careers.
To better understand this story, it’s important to look at the facts and data of how the music industry is doing overall, and how music video directors factor into that.
WDMV COMMUNITY SURVEYS
How often do you perform other roles (e.g. DP, Edit, VFX, Produce) in the making of a music video due to budget restraints?
How often do you waive your own director fee to ensure the music video is completed and meets both your and the client’s standards?
How often do you ask crew and other members working on a music video to lower and/or waive their fees for music videos you’re directing?
A Majority of directors (60%-70%) said they had to perform multiple roles, waive their fee, and ask their crew members to do the same “always” or “often”.
Only 6.2% of directors polled said they could make a living salary directing music videos as their sole source of income.
This isn’t a pool of new young directors trying to get their foot in the door, in fact, of the directors we polled, 60% were over the age of 30 and over half have been directing for over 5 years.
It would be easy to blame directors for getting themselves in this situation, but studies have shown that passionate people are more likely to be exploited. “It is scary to think that when we see someone in a bad work situation, our mind may jump to the conclusion that they must be passionate about their work. While not always factually incorrect, this may serve to legitimize instances of mistreatment.” SOURCE
On average, 80% of all music video budgets were under $35k (for comparison, the American Association of Advertising Agencies found the average 30-second commercial cost $358,000) SOURCE
SOURCED FROM WDMV’S 2019 COMMUNITY SURVEY (300+ PARTICIPANTS)
2018 INSTAGRAM POLL RESULTS
100+ DIRECTORS PARTICIPATED
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Multiple financial institutions have predicted that annual revenues for the music industry will surpass their late-1990s peaks: according to Goldman Sachs, the inflation-adjusted $25 billion-per-year music business could reach more than $41 billion annually by 2030. SOURCE
YouTube is the largest streaming music service worldwide. As of 2019, 90 of the 100 most viewed videos of all time on YouTube are music videos, ranging from 2.5-6 billion views per video. SOURCE/SOURCE
Music videos reach 1 billion views 10 times faster on YouTube today than in 2010. SOURCE
According to a Google report, from October 2017 to September 2018, YouTube paid out over $1.8 billion dollars in ad revenue to the music industry. SOURCE
Through the numbers, we can begin to see how music videos are being undervalued, both culturally and financially, and if we do not act now, the people making music videos will be left behind.
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
We organize events, mixers, panels, and screenings around the world for music video directors and our collaborators to grow and learn from one another (and also meet new friends!). We know the change we want to see in our industry will take many years and the only way for us to sustain our movement is to build a strong and lasting community.