Michael Stipe thinks the music video is a "dead medium" -- but the R.E.M. singer still wants the band's songs to be accompanied by some kind of visuals.

Michael Stipe thinks the music video is a "dead medium" -- but the R.E.M. singer still wants the band's songs to be accompanied by some kind of visuals.

So instead of hiring a top video director to create a clip for their new song "Man-Sized Wreath," they hired an advertising agency. And rather than debut the finished clip on a music network, they took it directly to their fans last night (June 19) and previewed snippets for a sold-out crowd at their concert at Madison Square Garden.

Stipe said it's just the latest way the band is trying to create new ways to connect to its audience.

To promote the release of their latest album "Accelerate," the group has stepped up their Internet presence, starting Web sites that allowed their audience to see the band as it created their songs and others that gave fans audience a chance to take R.E.M. footage and use it in their own video creations.

"It's what I call invisibility of process. Basically we're allowing everyone who cares to kind of peek in on all of the process of creating something, rather than just being handled the finished product at the end, or the finished piece at the end," Stipe told the Associated Press a few hours before the show.

Though R.E.M. has made some award-winning videos in the past, including "Losing My Religion" in the early '90s, Stipe said the time of the traditional video has passed.

"It is what it is, and I think anyone who refutes that is an idiot in 2008," he said. "We can all agree as a medium music videos really found their place in pop culture in the 1990s, (and have been) replaced by the Internet in the 21st century."

It's one reason the trio hired the Canadian ad agency Crush Inc. to create the visuals for "Man-Sized Wreath." "The music video is a dead medium so I didn't want to go to that industry to create a piece," he said.

But while Stipe is adamant about videos being over, he's not quite sure about what will eventually take their place to promote new songs.

"That's the itch that we're trying to scratch, or the question we're trying to answer," he said.


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