When a talented group of students from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at the Tisch School of the Arts first began recording a cover of Rihanna’s single “Diamonds,” they had no idea it would go viral.
The music video, which has garnered 30,000 views as of publication on YouTube since it was published on Saturday, Dec. 15, has been featured on BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The students created the video for a competition organized by Universal Music on Campus. The record label asked college students to compose a video rendition of Rihanna’s hit track. The winner, selected personally by Rihanna, will be awarded the chance to meet the R&B musician herself.
Under the direction of Tisch junior Hannah Babitt, who worked as executive producer and video production manager for the project, the students at Clive Davis took the competition’s parameters a step further. The collective, including Kiah Victoria, recorded a full cover video featuring nine vocalists and rappers singing in the recording studio at Tisch, and at locations around the Washington Square Park area.
Babitt decided to undertake the project after learning about the competition at the end November. She posted a message in the Clive Davis Facebook group, asking her classmates to partake in the video.
Babitt assembled a group of vocalists, engineers, editors, sound and video . The team sat down on a Sunday afternoon in early December to determine the style of the video.
“We each took turns singing to figure out what part [of the song] sounded best on each of our voices,” said Tisch freshman Cari Fletcher, a featured vocalist in the video. “The entire point of this video was to showcase each person in some way. Each artist at Clive is so unique, and we all have our own styles, and I think the team was really able to make that shine through.”
The group began recording vocals and filming in the studio a week after their initial meeting. Because each vocalist recorded his or her part separately, they were unsure how the final product would sound.
“When we met to shoot the video, we got to hear the rough mix with everyone’s solos added in and all our mouths dropped,” said Tisch freshman and soloist Sabrina Reitman. “It already sounded so incredible, and it wasn’t even the final mix yet. That’s when I knew this was going to be huge.”
Tisch junior Jason Moss was responsible for mixing and mastering the track.
“It was a challenge to take such a diverse group of vocalists and make them work together on one record,” Moss said. “Everyone involved in the process bringing this track to life … really delivered. This made my job so much easier.”
“The first time I heard the final version of the song, I freaked out,” Fletcher said. “I knew it was going to be great all along, but the final product just blew me away. I thought to myself, ‘If we could make an awesome video to go with it, this could be huge.’”
The team began filming around the city after recording vocals. The entire process only took two and a half weeks to complete.
Ryan Hutchins, a junior studying film at Hofstra University, filmed and edited the video, having previously worked with Fletcher on previous video projects.
“Because everyone involved in the production of the song was in NYU … we decided to shoot in and around campus to give the video a real NYU feel,” he said.
Hutchins shot the video over three days, and spent between 25 and 35 hours editing the footage for a week.
The students hoped to gain recognition for their work, but did not expect the reception to take off as it has.
“I really didn’t intend for it to get more than a few thousand views at first,” Hutchins said. “I knew everyone had a lot of supportive friends share the video, but once I saw it was getting as many as 3,000 views an hour, I knew it was really out of our hands.”
“We are excited that this video has started to go viral and really appreciate all of the support,” Babitt said. “Music is what we love, and it is exciting to share our art.”
Nicola Pring is features editor. Email her at [email protected]