A little bit about me: I feel indifferent about Demi Lovato. Yet, I found myself watching her new documentary Simply Complicated on YouTube all the way through.
I know; I hate myself.
The documentary, though it had some interesting segments about how fame affects young people, is basically an one long ad for her new album. It was filmed less like a documentary and more like a music video: an impeccably styled piece that transitioned back and forth from sit-down interviews to scenes of Demi singing her new music in the studio.
In the context of this week’s transmedia discussion, I’ve been thinking about content lengths on different platforms, and I’ve noticed that these types of long-form projects seem to be an emerging trend, at least in the music industry.
I’m thinking of Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two Netflix doc released around the same time as her album Joanne, Apple Music’s short film featuring Pink, which follows the singer while creating her new album Beautiful Trauma, and Katy Perry’s 96-hour livestream to promote the release of her fifth studio album Witness on YouTube Red (which was bonkers – that’s right, I watched that too.)
This approach is pretty genius. Music fans are thirsty for content featuring their favorite artists, so why not give it to them in the form of a short film, while marketers have the eyes of consumers for a full hour to introduce product placements and subtlety promote a new album.
And this trend also demonstrates that marketing industry is cyclical. The current thinking has been that shorter is better, due to the dwindling attention spans of kids these days. The fact that these documentaries are over an hour long and get incredible engagement online may prove differently.
That, matched with Twitter’s expansion on the 140-word limit, may suggest that longer-form content is becoming popular again.