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Tongal gets into the music video business


2013 has been a very good year for Tongal.  The site received $15 Million dollars in funding in January and since then the site has been landing one gigantic client after another.  It seems like every few weeks they launch a new $100,000+ commercial contest.  Just yesterday I read an announcement for a new $150,000 Tongal “Super Project” that’s sponsored by Gillette.  Two years ago that would have been a huge piece of news.  But now it’s just another big contest that casually gets revealed on the company’s Facebook page.

On Friday the LA Times reported that Tongal is going to try and capitalize on their new found momentum and branch out into the world of music videos.  From the Times:

Tongal, a Southern California start-up that has crowd-sourced video ads for big brands such as Pringles and McDonald’s, is expanding into music.

The Santa Monica-based firm has made a name for itself linking writers, directors and actors with brands to create video ads in exchange for cash prizes. The sponsoring brand chooses the best entries from the users’ submissions.

Tongal will now use its platform to field ideas and production for music videos as online streaming becomes a key way that people consume content, the company said Thursday.

Why would a band use Tongal to produce their next music video?  Here’s the answer:

Crowd-sourcing music videos could also save money for the labels, and increase the number of videos they can make, Wolfe said. While $250,000 music videos were once the norm, record companies have pulled back. 

At the same time, the demand for videos has increased as fans desire more content to watch on the Web through YouTube and Vevo.

“All the recent research clearly shows YouTube as being the No. 1 place where people consume music,” said Wolfe. “Labels used to spend a quarter-million to make a video that would get one spin a day. The way we do it, we make a video for every track on an album.”

There’s already a video contest site named Genero that’s almost exclusively dedicated to running music video-themed contests.  But to be frank, I am not a fan of that site.  The problem with Genero is that the prizes are just way too low.  Creating an interesting and entertaining 3-minute music video takes a hell of a lot of work.  And the job becomes much more difficult if you can’t film the featured artists.  If you cant use footage of the band, you’re pretty much making a 3 to 5 minute short film set to music.  Gereno usually offers one or two prizes ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 for each contest.  So there isn’t a lot of incentive for people to do really great work.  But I’m thinking Tongal will probably do this right.  If they start offering $50,000+ in prizes per assignment they’re going to be able to lure in some really talented filmmakers.


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2 Responses to “Tongal gets into the music video business”

  1. Thanks for posting….this is pretty interesting stuff at least for our studio. We love making music videos for clients and love to throw our hat in the ring for commercial contests as well. I really don’t see how one would make a music video without the band performance though. Maybe they could supply the footage of the band playing for people to download, however, the problem with that is when we create a music video we like the performance footage to be matched with the idea of the video – for example when we created a video last year for The Last Vegas “Evil Eyes” and we shot the performance on a roof top to match the story. The video was voted “6th best video of the year” by Classic Rock Magazine in the UK and without matching performance footage I doubt that would have happened.

    By the way a $50,000 prize for a music video would get us to throw more than our hat into the ring, whether we had matching performance footage or not! We’re used to creating music videos with a much smaller budget, but since we love making them we really don’t mind. Our latest music video created for the same band for a song called “She’s my confusion” is finally due for release by next week.

  2. Dan says:

    Hey John,

    I think the tongal music video contests will probably be worth your time. Tongal usually runs a “pitch phase” for each of their contests. A filmmaker is asked to send in samples of their previous work and describe how they would go about producing their entry. If you win the pitch phase, you get money to shoot your submission. Some of these pitch prizes can be pretty big. Right now tongal is running a pitch phase for a Gillette razor contest and they are giving out 3 pitch phase prizes of $20,000. And each pitch phase winner is guaranteed to win a prize in the video round. You have a really strong music video track record so If tongal runs their music video contests the same way, I’m sure you could win some pitch money.

    Not being able to film the band is a different problem. But these days bands just need music videos that they can constantly pump out to their fans on facebook and twitter. So they don’t even care that they’re not in them. They just need (relativly) cheap content. So I like i said in the article, these music videos are sort of like short films set to music.

    There’s a contest site called Genero that is already running small-ish contests like this. Here’s a video that won a contest run by Owl City. It doesn’t feature the band at all. Pretty much all of Genero’s winners look like this:


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