Enclosed in a monochrome midnight blue cube, the soul phenomena Jorja Smith sings her hit tune Blue Lights. The mise-en-scene is minimalist to say the least: facing a microphone, earphones on, the British artist sings while remaining static for the length of the song as if she's recording in a studio, a rarely telegenic situation. And yet this “Colors show” stamped video has accumulated nearly 20 million views on YouTube. Originally meant to promote young international talent, the Colors music platform has become a veritable reference in the music world. Its YouTube channel has more than 550 million views and it's busy competing with the Tiny Desk Concerts which are smashing it on the American network NPR Music with live performances in an improbable décor that looks like a reading room in a library. The concept of Colors is even more radical with its mise-en-scene like a session studio, the artists singing their track against an orchestral backing track. It's been so efficient that the little Berlin-based studio has today become a huge production machine that’s seen the crazy Mac DeMarco, the Australian quintet Parcels and the pin-up Kali Uchis all filing through its cube that changes colour according to what they're wearing.
Behind the concept is an online Berlin music magazine. The credo of its creators is as simple as their minimalist productions: “All colors, no genres”.
Jorja Smith Color's show – “Blue Lights”
In February 2016, Australian singer Emilio Mercuri, an illustrious nobody, opened proceedings with his track Sienna accompanied only by a guitar. Little by little the platform expanded its register with absolute gems from hip-hop, soul and R’n’B, giving more freedom to more excitable artists: the hyperactive Eddy de Pretto and Tommy Cash certainly shook the cube. As aesthetically pleasing as it is original, Colors’ videos have changed dimension. The underground talent-hunting webzine has metamorphosed into a luxury platform, propelled by the most popular artists. Colors is now a must-do for the trendiest of artists, not matter what the genre.
Ultra-popular, generating between 500,000 and 30 million views for the most famous artists, the Colors shows today act as indicators of popularity and their promotional function is sometimes superior to that of a music video…
“We’re just gutted we didn’t have the idea earlier!” admits French producer and DJ Sébastien Petit. “Colors is simple, modern and pretty all at once. It’s aesthetic and musically it sounds good.” And it seems to be bringing in even the most blasé of American artists too. Behind this brilliant concept is a Berlin online music magazine. The credo of its creators is as simple as their productions: “All colours, no genres.” Pop, rock, soul, hip-hop and neo-soul, all the artists on a level pegging as they record their track in the German studio against a white backdrop. The colour that best suits their world is added in post-prod.
Parcels’ Colors show – “Lightenup”
As the new prescriber of musical trends, these days the Colors show wields big media power. As the unique master of its programming – from the artists to the tunes played – it is relayed endlessly by other media that see in this platform an inexhaustible source of quality content. A must-do for all artists on tour, Colors is also a novel communications tool hankered after by record labels. While the majors might not pay the platform to promote the artists, they have been making it a priority in their launch schedules. Ultra-popular, the Colors shows generate between 500,000 and 30 million views for the most famous artists. They are thus a veritable indicator of popularity and their promotional power is often far greater than that of a music video, which can cost a whole lot more. Hotly anticipated by fans – just look at the recent showing by Belgian singer Angèle – and less expensive, the Colors sessions even allow the label to release tracks exclusively, as seen with the French artist Eddy de Pretto with Random last January.
Eddy de Pretto’s Colors show– “Random”