A lot of artists like to say they do things their way. But if, or when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis take the stage to pick up some hardware at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, they could truly make history for DIYers.
You see, with the exception of a few artists on independent labels over the past few years (Matt and Kim, Childish Gambino, Duck Sauce, Mims), nearly every nominee in the 30-year history of the VMAs has been on a major label or major affiliate. But, Mack & Lewis are not just on an independent label, they are the label, which puts them in a completely different stratosphere.
“Technology is obviously changing music,” he told MTV News, about what allowed the pair to release The Heist on their own Macklemore label and score three #1 hits and accompanying videos over the past year. “The availability for people to film their own music videos in 2013 is so much more advanced that it was 10 years ago. Fifteen years ago it was almost impossible to film your own music video without the backing of a major label. I think that that’s the dope thing.”
First, they scored a #1 with their massive hit “Thrift Shop,” whose low-budget video has been viewed more than 376 million times on YouTube on its way to scoring a nom for the coveted Video of the Year VMA. Its equally huge follow-up, “Can’t Hold Us,” landed nods for Best Hip Hop Video, Best Cinematography, Best Direction and Best Editing.
That wide-screen epic, which took an unprecedented 16 days to shoot and found them hopping across six continents and starring alongside camels and wolves and partying on clipper ships, has been screened 88 million times on YouTube. They also scooped up a Best Video with a Social Message for the poignant clip for their equality anthem “Same Love,” which stands at 58 million views to date.
“YouTube has played this role in terms of the modern music video that you don’t have to have the man behind you pushing the music and dumping a million dollars into a Hype Williams [directed] video in order to be successful,” he said, noting that he was not at all taking shots at the legendary video director.
“But there was a moment if you were an independent artist that you just couldn’t afford those directors,” he said. “It’s now given new artists and new directors and new DPs and new lighting people … an opportunity to have their work be seen on a mass scale and I commend [MTV] for getting behind the independent artist.”
Will Macklemore & Ryan Lewis become the most-awarded indie group ever? You’ll have to tune August 25 at 9 p.m. on MTV to find out.