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I know a lot of musicians, at all levels of success and exposure, and I know it’s a tough profession to truly “make it”. Many will try to take the “hobbyist to professional” approach. They have another job, play a couple gigs a month, and then hope that it works out. How many musicians, or any other type of creative professional, do you know actually found success with that approach? As a filmmaker I know I didn’t really start directing or shooting with any level of success until I actually went ahead and invested in quality gear, software, and truly devoted myself to my chosen craft. So it frustrates me to see a musician spend countless hours writing a song, a great one, and then totally skimp on the music video, which just ends up bringing down the quality of the song, and the musician’s “brand”. Which makes me think, why even do the video at all? I’m sure there are a few musicians reading this thinking, “Easy for you to say, Mr. Filmmaker. Of course you want me to spend more money when I work with you!” Look, I’m not suggesting you break the bank, but why not treat your video project with the same respect as your album? The music is, of course, the most important aspect of your “brand”, but everything you produce is a part of it too.

I want to present a short case study: When The Black Market Trust first approached us, the band knew they wanted a video that was slick and well-crafted, it needed the eye of a professional team. (Full disclosure: I met frontman, Jeffrey Radaich, years ago when he was the sideman to the guitar virtuoso, Gonzalo Bergara, and I was shooting a short documentary about the group.) The band was ready to invest in a high-quality video that matched their musical standards because they wanted potential audiences and venues to see them as professionals.

So I sat down with Jeff and had a conversation about quality video production as a direct representation of your band/brand. For The Black Market Trust, and the type of audience/venues they were trying to reach, it has been a great success story, and they very much view the moment they decided to invest in quality branding material, as a turning point in their career.

Carlos Foster (co-founder, Creative Manager): Usually bands come to us for music videos, but our first project together was something different. What was the purpose of that project?

Jeffrey Radaich (vocals, guitar): I think the purpose of the first video was to introduce… Uh, I hate to say “the world” (laughs) It sounds goofy, but it was to introduce the world to the band; here’s our music, listen to us. More of, this is why we’re doing what we do, and how much we love doing what we do… Basically, we were trying to strike a deeper chord with people.

CF: Why was it important for you guys to do that with video?

JR: I think video, for me, it tells a story. On top of that, I love that media form. When you get somebody who’s good, like you guys are, being able to tell stories through images is just very powerful. I think you guys do that so well.

CF: When we were making the film, what was the experience like working with the Blue Barn team?

JR: Honestly, here’s the way I describe it to people: I didn’t have to say anything — I didn’t have to tell you guys to do anything. You guys showed up, did what you had to do… it was almost like you guys weren’t even there. The project was over, and then the first cut you guys sent me was amazing! It was just a wonderful experience. And I think, I don’t know if it’s the fact that you’re all musicians as well, but you just get it. You just really get it.

CF: Let’s talk about the initial response to the video. The reaction was pretty quick, you guys put it on your FaceBook page and immediately there were comments and “likes” coming in.

JR: It was really great because, as you know, in the Gypsy Jazz world there’s a lot of content out there… But, in this day and age, when everyone has a computer and a camera, when you do something professional, it really sticks out. And I think, in this style of music that we play, people put stuff out all the time, but as far as presentation there’s not a level of professionalism.

So I think it was kind of a shock to a lot of people, who knew us from what we had been previously doing, to have this very polished, professionally-shot video, and yeah the response was pretty amazing.

CF: I’ve talked to a lot of musicians before, and their approach is generally: “We’re going to let the music speak for itself, so we want the cheapest crew that we can get…” But with you guys, you were willing to invest, and get that higher quality. Why was that important for you?

JR: I think was important for us to do it this way because, with this new band, we wanted to project a very polished professional image. And yes you’re right, bands spend so much time practicing with the attitude of, “Hey man, if we just play and we’re great, everything will happen for us.” But I’ve been doing this long enough to know, that’s not always the case. You want to have as much as you can in your corner, helping you out. And a very polished video is a huge thing. It’s a huge thing. 

It all goes back to what I said earlier, that anyone can cut a video on their computer now, or make their own records — When you send this to a promoter, and they see how thoughtful it is, how beautifully shot it is, they automatically say, “Oh, these guys are serious! These aren’t just some guys playing for a hobby, these are serious guys who want to be successful and try and do something.”

CF: How did the video change things for your band, like with booking new venues? I know you went on a tour with the group soon after it came out.

JR: It changed everything. Everything. And I’m not making an assumption, I’ve been told this from bookers: We will play some place like say Green Valley, Arizona, and we’ll have a packed house. And all of us are surprised, like what’s going on here? And the promoter will say, “You guys gave me material. I took that video, posted it, and that’s what got everyone out.” So, it’s not a theory, the video has worked for us.

CF: We recently collaborated with you guys again, why did you want to come back to Blue Barn? I mean, you have a great video you could take to somebody and say I want replicate this, but you went back to the same filmmakers.

JR: Pick your reason, man. You guys are easy to work with, your results are proven, and I go back to you guys being musicians too… I think you understand a lot that, from my case, is what I’m looking for. The sensibility of your whole team is just great. And for the third video I’ll be using you guys again, it’s just the way it is (both laugh).

CF: Last question, what would you say to other musicians who are on the fence thinking, “Do I really want to spend the money for a professional video or can I just get anybody with a camera?”

JR: I have been playing music, professionally, for ten years… I had the first video done with you a year ago, and I’ve had more success in the past year than I have had in the past nine because of the video! I would definitely say to anyone on the fence wondering if it’s worth the investment, it is. It has been for us. I don’t regret a minute of it, and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

A version of this interview first appeared in an earlier iteration of our production blog. Since publishing this interview, Blue Barn has recorded Black Market Trust live shows, and supported the group with another EPK. The band currently still actively tours music and arts festivals across the US.

Making Video That Matters

We love to work with brands that are ready to create quality videos so their business can flourish. 

This paves the way for honest advertising, enhances your reputation, and saves you time and money in huge ways. If you are looking for help on your next video project, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation

Picture of Carlos Foster

Carlos Foster

Carlos is the co-founder and creative manager at Blue Barn Creative.

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