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“It speaks volumes about where music video is going,” says Williams, who’s happy to pass the torch. “It’s a young man’s game.”

At the website dedicated to the film (, a viewer inputs his or her childhood home address. The film starts with a hooded figure running down golden suburban streets. Another browser window opens full of fluttering birds. Others pop open, too, that use Google Street View and Google Maps to show the old neighborhood. At the end of the film, the viewer is urged to write a letter to his or her young self.

Within days, the site received some 20 million hits and 3 million unique views.

The video, made possible by the Web programming language HTML5, was directed by Chris Milk, who has previously done more traditional videos for Gnarls Barkley, West and others. He has been thinking about using the interactivity of the Web for music videos and earlier this year released “The Johnny Cash Project,” a Web-only video that gathers portraits of Cash submitted by fans and sets them to the song “Ain’t No Grave.”

“Because we’re in this transitional moment, we’ve all been making music videos as if we’re making them for a television broadcast,” says Milk. “But really the Web is a totally different canvas from broadcast. It allows for a whole different set of rules.”

Many of the new, Web-oriented videos are made possible financially because of advancements in technology, especially DSLR cameras, which are relatively inexpensive and provide excellent production value. The comedian Tom Sharpling used such a camera to shoot the recent Ted Leo and the Pharmacists video for “Bottled in Cork,” a parody of jukebox musicals made for less than $7,000.

The video premiered not on a music blog, but the comedy site Funny Or Die. It’s been watched by more than 105,000, which Leo notes is several times more those who have bought his latest album, “The Brutalist Bricks.”

“People are actually able to present images that to them relate to the music that they’re making, as opposed to feeling like they need to present images with quick cuts, flashy, hi-fi performance shots and pose-y things that for a while were dictated by wanting to get played on MTV,” Leo says.

Music videos haven’t completely vanished from television. They can still be seen on Fuse, VH1, MTV and Palladia, the high-definition channel owned by MTV Networks. Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, says MTV networks together play more videos _ about 600 hours worth a week _ than MTV did in its video heyday.

MTV puts its focus on blending music video into its programming, and having its online properties _ which brought in more than 53 million unique visitors in August _ work in tandem with its broadcast.

“The notion of infamy on multiple screens has given music videos a shot in the arm,” says Toffler.

Williams goes further: “I don’t know why anyone would watch a music video anywhere other than the Internet.”


MTV is owned by Viacom Inc.