Leigh Marble is a Portland singer, songwriter, recordist, producer, CD Baby artist, and – in the interest of full disclosure – a good pal of mine. He recently made a new music video for the standout track “Pony” from his recent full-length release, Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows, and instead of just tossing it up on YouTube and peppering some links, he planned an event around the premiere of the clip.
I attended the unveiling last week and can report that it drew a great crowd (especially for a Thursday!) and made for a show unlike any I’ve ever been to. I’m going to tell you what Leigh did at the gig, but first I want to tell you what he did before the gig to make it all happen.
Producing the video and planning for its premiere
First off, I think it’s worth mentioning that this is a professional music video. Leigh hired a director, a special-effects coordinator, a stylist, and an actress to play opposite himself in the narrative that flows through the clip. Now, I’m not trying to say the music video you filmed on your iPhone isn’t legit, but you see what I’m saying: this was a real production, with multiple creative types involved in a collaboration, and the final product reflects that, making it more than worthy of an event such as this.
Leigh planned the event months in advance, which gave him ample time to get the word out on his website and social networks, tease the video with art related to the visuals, and to hit up his email list and let them know to save the date.
He also assembled the four-song Pony EP to coincide with the release of the video. It features the album track, an early and charmingly unpolished demo version, a remix of another song from his last record, and a cover exclusive to this release. It’s like an old-school maxi-single, and a perfect release to accompany an event like this.
So, about the video premiere show itself…
Naturally, they hosted the event in a venue with a projector and an onstage screen, and it was in a room intimate enough to make for a pleasant viewing experience, but big enough to comfortably house a decent crowd. They did a “soft start” while people rolled in, showing some other work from the director on the screen. When that wrapped, Leigh got on stage, said a few words about the clip we were about to watch, and let it roll.
People were excited! Literally no one had seen the video except for the people who had worked on it, and with all the anticipation that Leigh had built in the weeks proceeding, it definitely felt like a premiere event. It was really cool to be the first group to see something that so much time and effort had gone into, even if it was only two and a half minutes long!
After the video showed, Leigh invited the director and special-effects coordinator up on stage, where they were joined by a moderator who led a discussion about the clip: how it was made, how long it took, the inspiration behind the overall feel, and even nitty-gritty specifics about tone and technique. One thing this did for me, aside from answering questions I was genuinely curious about, was remind me how intense the behind-the-scenes work is on projects like this. Hearing the director and his collaborator talk in detail about the clip really drove home how much thought and pre-planning went into the production, and made me even more appreciative of the final project. It also reminded me just how serious Leigh is about his music, which is something I think we all strive to convey in our own ways.
After the panel discussion/Q&A, they rolled the video again so we could watch it with the benefit of the inside knowledge that just got dropped on us. Even though we’d just seen it, it was great to see it again and look for the bits the director had pointed out during the discussion.
After that, Leigh played a solo set, at the end of which he directed attendees to the merch table in the back, where he had his email list signup, promo cards with info about his releases, copies of the Pony EP that he was selling on a pay-what-you-want basis, as well as physical CDs of his previous albums. He thanked everyone profusely for attending and told them that the important thing, to him, was that everyone left with some music. Which, to me, is always the point. Well played.
Then two other bands closed out the night, making for a full show that all grew from a single video clip. It was a great way to promote not only his newest single, but also his latest album and his “brand” overall. It was a great idea, and I can say that as an attendee, it felt very unique.
Some things worth noting:
* This was also a free show, which made it even more of an inviting event.
* By involving the director and other people who worked on the shoot, Leigh opened himself up to not only friends and supporters of those people specifically, but also to folks who might just be interested in film and/or music videos.
* The evening was well planned, and things went off without a hitch. Minimal lulls and lack of technical difficulties always make for a better, less-uncomfortable experience.
* Releasing an EP in conjunction doesn’t seem to me to be essential to holding an event like this, but it definitely added another level to the evening. It wasn’t just “here’s the video.” People were going home with something, too.
Have you ever put on a video premiere event? Do you think you might do one now? Tell us in the comments.