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Black Country-based Nick J Townsend wants to put other bands in the frame with their videos

By Leigh Sanders | Music | Published:

It's something he's spoken to us about before.

Nick J Townsend, left, and Wesley Smith formed metal band WEAK13 as well as creating music videos and promotional materials to help promote the local scene

Back in March, as part of a special set of Unsigned features providing people with guidance on how to form their own band or musical act, one of the issues focussed on promoting your material once it was recorded.

We spoke to somebody who has spent a number of years doing that for his own band as well as anyone else on the local music scene willing to take the plunge.

Nick J Townsend, originally from Kidderminster but now firmly nestled in the Dudley area, via Wolverhampton, therefore knows a thing or two about what makes this area tick musically.

And he said at the time: "A music video is a short three-or-five-minute visual summary of your band and it's important to have a good, professional-looking video. A bad music video is a bad reflection of you as an artist."

When we speak to him now, he is on his way to shoot the latest promotional video for his own band - metalheads WEAK13. They're working on a new double album [more on that in a later column], but for now he is focussing on continuing to hone his skills as a director alongside his bandmate and NJTmedia co-founder Wesley Smith.

The song in focus that day is from their 2015 debut album They Live, and the industrious Nick is mining his existing material to hone his already multi-award-nominated talents.

"It's called Ashes In The Autumn and it's from our first album, which we're really milking at the moment," he says. "The album was award-nominated and there's a couple of songs off it without videos so we're working through them.

READ MORE: Unsigned special: Realising your musical dreams - promotion

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"It's an outdoor shoot with costumes etc. Fans won't hear the new album for at least a year so we're keeping them happy visually."

[NB: This video shoot didn't quite go to plan as Nick suffered an injury on set and the rest of filming had to be postponed]

His reasoning is that people respond significantly to visual stimulation when listening to new music. It's a theory which has stood tall since the MTV explosion of the 1980s.

"People can discover a song after seeing moving pictures," Nick continues. "People can see an artist in action as well as hear them. It's a great opportunity for unsigned artists."

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Nick's interest first peaked during what he calls the "Myspace generation". It was the first time he saw bands using the internet for promoting their wares, but he could tell many didn't know how.

"It's the most important way to get noticed as most people have a short attention span," he adds. "The easiest way to get traction abroad was videos.

"But they have to be done properly. Your dad stood at the back of a gig filming on his iPhone is just s***. We kept experimenting with WEAK13 when we produced our videos. It meant people saw them and approached us to ask who was doing them. When we said we did, they wanted us to do theirs.

"Some people saw it negatively. They talked about WEAK13 being a "video band". They mocked us, but we did the right thing. It's how people hear your music. They usually see the music video first."

READ MORE: Wolverhampton's Rebecca Downes, More Sinner Than Saint - album review

This all stemmed from Nick making acting appearances in TV shows such as Shameless, Hustle and Doctors. But he wasn't there to start an acting career. Nick was there to learn from the directors, the cameramen, the producers. His focus were on his music video dream.

"When I was on sets I was purely interested in what was going on behind the camera," he says. "I spoke to a few famous actors but wasn't really that bothered as I was there to learn production tips."

He began a film and media course in 2012 at the University of Wolverhampton and also began making regular trips to Hollywood.

"I needed to understand a little bit more about Hollywood and the whole music, entertainment and film culture so that I could work out how WEAK13 were to move forward. I'm glad I did."

The list of artists Nick and Wesley have helped is far too long to reciprocate, but artists they have worked with who have formerly graced the Unsigned column include Elizabeth Fields, Sleuth, WOUNDEDSPiRiT and The Humdrum Express.

The latter - also from Kidderminster and whose real name is Ian Passey - is one who tasted success after working with NJTmedia.

"He got more air play after the videos came out," he says. "[BBC Radio6MUSIC DJ] Steve Lamacq started plugging his tracks and he even dropped a reference to him in his latest video, which Steve liked."

And another Black Country star to use his creations to further their career is Wolverhampton blues rocker Rebecca Downes.

READ MORE: Midlands rockers WEAK13 nominated for music video award at Birmingham Film Festival - WATCH

Wulfrunian Rebecca released her third album More Sinner Than Saint last month and has used Nick's talents on her past three singles. It's a partnership which is working for her as she looks to crack the States.

"She first approached me to do one of her videos and now I've done the last three," Nick said. "They're now on [video hosting service] VEVO, so they get traction.

"When we create a video we have to make sure the artists like it, then we have to make sure the managers like it, and that the fans like it. When videos come out the audience take them seriously, which means they take the artist seriously and view them as professionals. It grows their confidence in the artist.

"I've said to her now she needs bigger directors as we're too small for her. That's exactly how it's meant to happen.

"But of course, her talent and her live shows are just as important ion her success."

And it's not just Nick trumpeting NJTmedia's work - estimated at 30-to-50 videos a year.

"WEAK13 has two videos up for nomination in this year's Black Country Music Awards and two more we filmed for other artists," he adds. "Plus, WEAK13 has another two in other categories and almost every artist we've filmed is up for nomination too in other categories."

To work with Nick and NJTmedia on a music video, contact them on Twitter @NJTpromovids and Facebook @NJTmedia or to see some of his past work visit the WEAK13 profile page on YouTube. This column will take a look forward to WEAK13's proposed 2020 double album release on July 12.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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