August 26, 2006

Internet Music Promotion Experiments Continue [4:51 pm]

Followup to the earlier post (I’m Falling Behind the Curve; and waiting for the Terra Naomi CD I ordered a while ago <G>): New rock stars use Web videos to win fans - pdf

Music industry watchers can learn from OK Go’s experience, which shows that Web users can catapult a band to fame, challenging the popular assumption that videos need to cost thousands of dollars or be directed by Hollywood film directors.

The industry is undergoing a slow, at times painful change from the old way of marketing CDs and TV music videos to going digital with music distribution and online videos, which fans view on the Internet or via media players like Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iPod.

Sites such as YouTube, MySpace, PureVolume and others allow aspiring artists to post videos, usually grainy lo-fi productions, at little or no cost.

[...] The success of OK Go and other bands’ on YouTube has encouraged the start-up to open a dedicated musicians channel for up-and-coming artists. YouTube says 120,000 acts have signed up since its June launch.

Michael Powers, senior product manager at YouTube, says the company took the lead from bands that were already using the site to promote themselves.

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Terra Naomi is the ‘most subscribed’ act on the new YouTube channel. Naomi’s YouTube page says she’s currently unsigned but YouTube told Reuters she is already attracting the attention of major record companies.

While OK Go and Terra Naomi try to engage fans using Internet music videos, along with clips from live gigs, blogs that invite comment, and pictures, established names are also getting in on the act.

[...] “We see the social video environment that YouTube has created and the category of user-generated content as being extremely important,” says Michael Nash, senior vice president of Digital Strategy and Business Development at Warner Music.

Nash believes that the next stage is for fans to be able to influence or interact with mainstream music videos.

“Inviting fans into the creative process of making videos could really deepen the relationship with the artist,” says Nash.

And the OK, Go “treadmill video” is worth a look if you’re like me and never seen it!

Counterpoint: The Pitchfork Effect

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Yankovic Makes A Play [4:32 pm]

And what the hell, I’ll give him a link. From his upcoming album, Straight Outta Lynnwood, you can hear (and download) his song, “Don’t Download This Song.” (Hear/get the song from the MySpace tie-in site.)

Once in a while

Maybe you will feel the urge

To break international copyright law

By downloading MP3s from filesharing sites

Like Morpheus or Grokster or Limewire or Kazaa.

But deep in your heart

You know the guilt would drive you mad

And the shame would leave a permanent scar.

‘Cuz you start out stealing songs

Then you’re robbing liquour stores

And selling crack and running over schoolkids with your car.

Chorus:

So don’t download this song.

The record store’s where you belong. (this line has many entertaining variants)

Go and buy the CD

Like you know that you should.

Oh, don’t download this song.

As you might imagine, it only gets more sardonic after this. And, while it’s not deathless songwriting, it’s perfectly listenable.

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Copying and Learning Within Internet (Sub)Cultures [3:28 pm]

Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last - pdf

Like a celebrity sex tape or a Virgin Mary sighting, the video drew hordes of seekers with diverse interests and attitudes. Guitar sites, MySpace pages and a Polish video site called Smog linked to it, and viewers thundered to YouTube to watch it. If individual viewings were shipped records, “guitar” would have gone gold almost instantly. Now, with nearly 7.35 million views — and a spot in the site’s 10 most-viewed videos of all time — funtwo’s performance would be platinum many times over. From the perch it’s occupied for months on YouTube’s “most discussed” list, it generates a seemingly endless stream of praise (riveting, sick, better than Hendrix), exegesis, criticism, footnotes, skepticism, anger and awe.

The most basic comment is a question: Who is this guy?

If you follow the leads, this Everest of electric-guitar virtuosity, like so many other online artifacts, turns out to be a portal into a worldwide microculture, this one involving hundreds of highly stylized solo guitar videos, of which funtwo’s is but the most famous. And though they seem esoteric, they have surprising implications: for YouTube, the dissemination of culture, online masquerade and even the future of classical music.

[...] This process of influence, imitation and inspiration may bedevil the those who despair at the future of copyright but is heartening to connoisseurs of classical music. Peter Robles, a composer who also manages classical musicians, points out that the process of online dissemination — players watching one another’s videos, recording their own — multiplies the channels by which musical innovation has always circulated. Baroque music, after all, was meant to be performed and enjoyed in private rooms, at close range, where others could observe the musicians’ technique. “That’s how people learned how to play Bach,” Mr. Robles said. “The music wasn’t written down. You just picked it up from other musicians.”

In this spirit, JerryC told fans on his Web site, “I don’t plan to make tabs anymore. The major reason is that it takes lots of time, and I think the best way to learn music is to cover it by ear.”

See JerryC’s and funtwo’s versions.

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Strategies In Claiming Ownership of Artistic Ideas [2:41 pm]

The LATimes on reframing legal claims in the realm of ideas: I’ve Got a Great Idea: I’ll Sue! - pdf

Think about it — there is probably no belief stronger than that the ideas that occur to each of us are uniquely our own. But the fact is that hundreds, if not thousands, of others have at one time had the same idea — and believed it to be their own. Must a film studio pay everyone who makes a claim, even if in fact (and it usually is the fact) the idea came from one of the studio’s own employees or contractors?

Well over a century ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. observed that “literature is full of such coincidences, which some love to believe plagiarisms. There are always thoughts abroad in the air, which it takes more wit to avoid than to hit upon.”

Rebuffed by copyright law, most idea submitters recast their claims as implied contracts: In submitting my idea to you, I am making an offer for a contract; by producing a film or reality TV show embodying my idea, you signify that you have accepted my offer; by failing to pay for my idea, you have breached our contract. (Formal contracts are different. If a studio or network wants to pay someone to pitch ideas, it will enter into an express agreement or confidential relationship to that end.)

Courts set high hurdles for implied contract claims, for many of the same reasons they do in copyright cases. Yet, aided by perhaps overzealous lawyers, idea submitters persist. In the clash between legal rules and the narcissistic notion that my idea is unique, vanity all too often wins.

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