When you look at it that way, you begin to realize that perhaps the only real issue is that one segment of the industry is becoming obsolete. But the other parts of the industry are more than making up for it — indeed, the larger music industry has grown from $1.26 billion to over $1.4 billion. So why are we wasting so much time around the globe trying to pass laws to buck up that one obsolete segment? And why do politicians and the press buy this false story that the industry is in trouble?
Archive for the 'music' Category
Just as with the first New Yorker cover ever drawn on an iPhone, it really boils down to a gimmick that is (arguably) inconsequential, but it’s still neat.
Ari Kuschnir of m ss ng p eces has co-directed what I am fairly certain is the first “pro” music video shot entirely on the new iphone 3GS: “Love Love Love,” by Reyna Perez
Ã¢â‚¬â€iTunes Store, offering 41 MJ albums, devoted its top homepage promo to Jackson, saying: Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking at a spectacular array of pop and soul.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) MP3 in the UK and US published a homepage tribute and opened a condolence book, linking to 121 albums
Ã¢â‚¬â€SpotifyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blog hailed the Ã¢â‚¬Å“King Of PopÃ¢â‚¬Â; the European streaming app, which does downloads on an affiliate basis, filled its weekly office playlist with Jacko tracks, but MJ didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t figure on the welcome page of the app itself, which is set aside for new releases.
Ã¢â‚¬â€We7 turned its lead promo over to a staff-compiled tribute playlist.
His literal version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” has received over 2 million views. But how does he choose which videos to satirize?
David Scott couldn’t quite put his finger on what it is about 80s music videos that makes them ripe for satire, but he said it has something to do with the fact that the 80s witnessed the birth of the medium and artists suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with three to four minutes to provide visual acrobatic interpretations of their lyrics.
“This is when it stops becoming just a performance clip and goes on to become this whole audio visual extravaganza,” he told me. “So everyone would be throwing everything and the kitchen sink into these visuals, whether they made sense or not. They could go for this grand metaphor that nobody gets or something else entirely.”
Scott lives and works in upstate New York creating videos and commercials for local businesses, and though you likely haven’t heard his name, you might have seen his work. A few weeks ago he posted a literal version of Bonnie Tyler’s music video, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” to YouTube, and since then it has received over 2 million views. The literal music video is a meme that first gained popularity a few months ago, starting perhaps with a literal version of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” video. The genre involves taking a music video and dubbing over the original lyrics with ones literally describing all the actions and reactions of the characters in the video, often adding in humorous commentary and pop culture references. For instance, in the literal version of Total Eclipse, at one point you hear the Bonnie Tyler impersonator describe the “close-up on some candles and dramatically posing” of Tyler as she looks out a window.
Scott said he became intrigued with the literal music video meme when it first gained popularity and began playing with some ideas with creating his own, putting together literal interpretations of Monkees and Beatles videos in February. He went on to create a literal version of Meat Loaf’s “Anything for Love,” which proved to be especially challenging.
“There’s just quite a bit of technical trickery involved, so it can be more fun in hindsight to talk about,” he said. “The Meat Loaf one for instance, that took awhile to just get the instrumentals. There’s no karaoke track to match up against the video. He put that out as the album version, and there’s all these different single edits made from this 11-minute album version, and then they’re all different from the version that appears on the video, which to my knowledge never appeared on a CD. And so I had to take two CD versions, and then thankfully I was able to use Adobe Audition to filter out the vocals for the most part, and I was able to insert my vocals in there. It’s harder than it would seem. So you definitely have to really like the artist and the song.”
He explained that it’s not just a matter of replacing the lyrics, but also managing to uphold and mimic the inflection and context of the original lyrics, matching up how they’re being presented. This creates a kind of authenticity of the satire because it correlates with the “cognitive memory” of the original.
I asked Scott how the “Total Eclipse” video became so popular, and he said that the only thing he knew about how it spread was that it did so organically. When he launched it he only had a few hundred subscribers on YouTube, and he also placed a link to it up on his Facebook news feed. It eventually began to spread so quickly that his own friends were getting sent the link from people who didn’t even know him.
The artist puts together the videos from where he works, usually during after hours. He said it often can take a few hours a night to line up the lyrics and the music, and he can finish a video within a matter of days. He got the idea for the Total Eclipse video after someone on a message board thread about the literal video meme suggested it.
I asked him if he had any plans to somehow incorporate his YouTube exploits into his career, but he seemed to have little interest in mixing the two. He said that he prefers to keep his work life and his “goofy side” separate, leaving his more creative endeavors into his after hour video creations and acting in a local dinner theater group.
Though he said he wants to mix things up a bit, he has definite plans for more literal music videos. His next target?
The 80s soft rock duo, Air Supply.
Steve McGookin emphasized to me that it’s a popular misconception that people become street performers as a “last resort,” but given his own journey leading to his decision to pick up his guitar and join them, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps for some people, the subway is the last refuge.
McGookin took a severance package from his journalism job at Forbes.com about a year ago, and since then has proceeded to burn through his savings while looking for further employment. Like the thousands of other out-of-work journalists that are trying to find jobs in a shrinking industry, he hasn’t come up with any offers. So not long ago he decided that he wanted to try an experiment: for years he had been fascinated by the culture of performers that roam the underground of New York; he watched them play on his daily commute and sometimes even stopped to talk to them and give them money. What if he decided to join them?
“Coming from Ireland, you obviously have a tradition of playing in public, and sharing songs in pubs and stuff like that,” he told me. “It’s something that’s always there, once you learn to play with people, it always just stays with you. And I think putting the two together, the music and the subway — there’s something about not growing up in New York, not growing up with something like the subway, when you experience it, it’s like a marvel. It’s something that has a sort of life of its own. And the music is something that resonates across that. When I talk to people about what I’m doing, the thing is that everyone has a subway musician story, either good or bad. It’s always there in your psyche, even if you don’t live in New York, if you’ve just visited New York, you know all about the people in the subway, and the musicians in the subway, and it always struck me how great some of these musicians were.”
About a week ago, McGookin launched a blog called The Beat Below the Street and used it to record and reflect on his experience. Every week day he picks up his guitar and play book — he says he has a repertoire of about 200 songs — and makes his way to a different station. His idea to perform in the subway is only a means to understand the musician culture that prevails down there. He spends much of his time meeting and interviewing other performers, using a camera to sometimes record their narratives and performances.
“I want to know more about what this person is doing, why they’re doing it, and it’s out of a natural curiosity,” he explained. “And I thought that all these musicians have a story to tell … If you’re just a passenger and you’re just passing through, you can have a conversation with a musician, but you can just have a nodding acquaintence with them. But if you have a guitar with you it gives you more of a connection to them. And I hope that in a way it allows them to tell their story with a little more authenticity.”
As for how much money he’s making in donations, when you subtract the cost of entering the subway, on most days so far he has come out in the negative. Rather than finding a strategic location that’s good for foot traffic and acoustics, he has wandered from station to station, sometimes playing in noisy sections where passerbys are unable to hear him (and therefore are less likely to throw change his way}. On one of the days he made a dime — though he’s not even sure the coin was intentionally tossed to him — and some days he hasn’t made anything at all.
It was interesting drawing an analogy between the street musicians’ attempts to monetize their music and journalism’s own struggles with the same problem. Both mediums are offering up content for free. The donation approach seems similar to both the “micropayment” ideas that some newspapers are contemplating and the NPR/PBS approach to soliciting money from their listeners. McGookin said that he thinks the performers make most of their money selling CDs, and some of the people he spoke to are approached and offered gigs playing at parties and bars by people who like their music. In this way, the street performance is a “loss leader” that leads to employment offers.
“To extrapolate that analogy, all I will say is that quality content usually will win out,” he said. “In the newspaper world, if something is worth paying for, people will pay for it. If a musician isn’t that good, they won’t prosper. But from an analogy perspective, this is much harder work.”
I asked the journalist if there was perhaps a future book to be written after all is said and done, but he said it’s much too early to decide whether he wants to embark on such a project. For now, he plans to continue on with his experiment for 48 days — one for every year of his life — and to speak to dozens of subway performers in an attempt to blog their story. He recognizes that this journey likely has nothing to do with his future career aspirations, but he compared it to his own experiences riding on the subway: sometimes the journey — and not the end destination — is all that matters.
Sometimes I’m so focused on mining blogs in search for the obscure gems that I somehow miss the huge memes that float across the internet each week. It’s a weird occurrence, that feeling of “How the hell did I miss this with all the internet surfing I do?”
The video embedded below fits into this category. I had seen it referenced on several blogs without actually clicking through to the link. Titled “Pork and Beans” it’s Weezer’s homage to the the internet’s biggest online video stars:
Though there have been countless news stories on the decline of newspaper advertising revenues and the impending doom of the industry, magazine ad sales have remained mostly steady. It seemed for awhile that they would be able to ward off any major competition from the web. Also, magazines often focus on niche topics — and therefore, niche advertising markets — making it much harder to track general trends in the industry.
But now we have word that the decreases in offline record sales are reverberating to music magazine revenues. “Ad pages for the three biggest music magazines slid 26% in the first quarter,” says Crain’s New York. “Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, the category’s iconic publication, saw a 33% drop, according to just-released numbers from Publishers Information Bureau.”
Because music listeners are now purchasing songs online, advertisers are migrating to the web. This makes sense for them, really, because online music offers an advantage over print magazines — impulse buys. If I see an album advertisement in a magazine, I have to have the impetus to leave my house or go to my computer to purchase the song. If I see an advertisement online, in a few click-throughs I can not only sample a song but then quickly follow up with a purchase.