OK Go – one go “Music Video Masterminds”


As part of the success of both videos, the band has begun auctioning props from the videos, including uniforms worn by the band for the marching band video and the individual ping-pong balls from the second video.

The Rube Goldberg video was included in a shortlist of 125 entries out of 23,000 for inclusion in “YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video”, a showcase of the best user-created videos from YouTube in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museums, but ultimately was not selected as one of the 25 winning videos.

Despite the success of the videos on the Internet, this has not translated into sales for the album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky which the song is a part of, selling only 40,000 copies since its January release.

Part of this is attributed to the “unremarkable” music on the album and for the video; musician Max Tundra suggested that the band should “record an innovative, exciting piece of music – and make a plodding, nondescript video to go with it.”

However, ticket sales for OK Go concerts have seen a surge since the video’s release, as well as sales of digital downloads of the song through services like iTunes.

According to Nordwind, the band is not concerned with album sales, as their successes have come from “untraditional ways” through the band’s career.

Kulash has stated that with the continued success of their music videos as viral videos as was the case for “This Too Shall Pass”, the band has seen more touring opportunities and an expanded audience they don’t believe they would have gotten with more traditional videos under corporate label control.

This has led OK Go to “look at making videos like they look at making records — it’s part of the art of what they do”, according to Nordwind.

In part of the success of “This Too Shall Pass” and their previous videos, OK Go won the 14th Annual Webby Special Achievement Award for Film and Video Artist of the Year.  The video was named both “Video of the Year” and “Best Rock Video” at the 3rd annual UK Music Video Awards.

In May 2010, after the band split with EMI, the single debuted at #39 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, their first appearance on the chart since “Here It Goes Again” in 2006. The song eventually peaked at #36.

At the time of the creation of the video, Syyn Labs has just been formed; the viral success of “This Too Shall Pass” brought the company to light for several similar creative projects involving the innovative combination of technology.

When OK Go appeared on The Colbert Report on April 29, 2010 in which they performed “This Too Shall Pass”, Stephen Colbert opened the show with another, shorter Rube Goldberg machine created by Syyn Lab’s Brett Doar, one of the chief creators of the “This Too Shall Pass” music video, using assorted props from the show.

Syyn Labs have since created advertisements for Disney and Sears, and have been contacted for future work in music videos and movie opening sequences, and are considering a reality television show based on their creative process.

Difficulties with EMI

The marching band video sparked much controversy online immediately after its release.

Because of deals between the band’s label, EMI (through Capitol Records), and YouTube, the video was not embeddable, nor was it viewable across the globe, frustrating many fans and music industry professionals who wanted to post the video on their blogs.

The band, led by singer Damian Kulash, explained the label’s rationale via the band’s blog and through an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

According to Kulash, EMI disallowed the embeddable play of the video because they only receive royalties for views on the YouTube site itself. He further pleaded to allow embedding of their next video, citing a 90% drop in viewership when EMI disabled embedding on existing videos, affecting the band’s own royalties from viewership.

The band was able to secure the rights to allow the “This Too Shall Pass” Rube Goldberg video to be distributed via embedding prior to its premiere, in part due to funding support from State Farm Insurance, which helped to settle issues with EMI; in exchange, State Farm had some say in the creative process, and the video includes elements with the State Farm logo, including a toy truck that is used to start the machine.

The video was completed a week later than expected; according to sources close to the band, Capital Records considered the window of opportunity for promoting the single to radio to be closed due to the delay, and would not be available again until June 2010.

The band has since decided to break away from the EMI label on amiable terms, due to a combination of the issues of video embedding and radio promotions, and has become its own independent recording label, Paracadute Recordings

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