The merits of online video and the question of how to make a unique impression as an artist took center stage on a panel moderated by Clay Fain of Blastro Networks as part of the 2008 CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival.

For the most part, the panel was in agreement regarding the useful nature of online videos, and acknowledged the power of the internet: rather than having to seek a fan base through more traditional means, the widespread use of the internet has made it increasingly easier for independent artists to produce and promote their material online to a vast and largely anonymous audience.

John Warden, the owner of Rive Video Promotion, spoke about the effective use of online videos, telling the audience it lies in deftly balancing the expression of one's artistic vision and maximizing exposure. He added that the two do not always mesh, and, more often than not, vision is sacrificed in the name of pandering to the whims of the label, for whom exposure is top priority. "For labels, the bottom line is selling, exposure," said Warden. "Artists are in danger of sacrificing their vision for the label's interests."

Warden continued on to say that once or if this balance is achieved, the artist then has two choices: either send the video everywhere or try for an exclusive release on only one site. Simon Kellman of Sony BMG pointed out that the former is better, "for those trying to follow the viral trend, or for those who either don't have or don't know their defined fan base" and the latter works for known, more reputable artists.

Andy Gesner, owner of HIP Video Promo, said he was a "big fan of the exclusive premiere," whereas Val Emmich of Bluhammock Music went beyond mere methodology. "All that means something is your friends, your fans... everything fades but the fans," he said.

For better-known artists, Kellman discussed how online videos also present a viable opportunity for advertising - either by including ads at the beginning of the video ("preroll") or by having the bottom third of the screen running ads throughout. This, in conjunction with the royalties associated with an exclusive release, can lead to significant monetary gains for the artist, whilst, again, putting at risk, as the panel stressed time and time again, artistic vision.

Finally, all on the panel agreed that the emphasis should be on quality. Beyond luck and barring the extraordinary, the videos that get noticed are those that have been carefully thought out and well-made.