The Transmedia Potential of Music Videos, Part 1: The Band
With the uneven future of the music industry and its models, I've become really interested in exploring the potential that music has by integrating these old tactics into transmedia storytelling and cross-platform distribution frameworks.
Previously, I've gushed about how the hit television show Glee has experimented with these methods with respectable success. The Glee model takes advantage of the ease of cross-platform distribution as a business model; however, it's a bit difficult to discuss the transmedia storytelling elements of its story. In my Glee article, I attempted to speak to the idea of affective economics, "which seeks to understand the emotional underpinnings of consumer decision-making as a driving force behind viewing and purchasing decisions" (Henry Jenkins, in Convergence Culture). Glee's story extends beyond its original narrative when expressed by its consumers and especially its fans, by understanding characters better through playing their songs, or by performing favorite dance routines.
Unfortunately, what I can't argue is that the producers of Glee have themselves extended the story across mediums. In response to this basic fact, I've been trying to look for the appearance of other types of stories that span multiple forms of media. Today, I want to discuss the band OK Go and how the story of not the songs but the band has succeeded in with a transmedia model.
And now the story continues... On Wednesday, OK Go announced that they will be leaving EMI to set up their own independent label.
Michael Zimmer, executive committee member of the Association of Internet Researchers, gives his opinion on the ethical implications of Pete Warden's 215-million-user data set of public Facebook profiles.
Jean Burgess produces her own review of the criticism on Google Buzz's privacy issues evolving on the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list.
And, finally, enjoy (or be surprised at) this video:
What is a Browser?
A representative from Google asks 50 strangers in Times Square if they understand what a browser is and does? Given that most of the online hype around Internet development addresses early adopters, here's a look at how the general public perceives the Internet. The results: Less than 8% of those interviewed knew what a browser was.
Memes as Mechanisms: How Digital Subculture Informs the Real World
In the last week of January, an interesting conversational thread broke out on the Association of Internet Researchers mailing list regarding a video about scholarship in the "critical commons," on the debate between digital humanities and media studies. The video follows below, but judging by the preview image it might not be exactly what you expect:
How profoundly disappointing, if not on the edge of insulting. If (a) you know German reasonably well, and especially if (b) you've seen the terrific film, Der Untergang, that is ripped off here - it doesn't strike me as funny at all. (emphasis mine)
It is actually just a spin off of a meme that uses this clip from that movie, there are probably 30 or so different re-texts and mashups i've seen of this clip. The joke, i think, of the meme is that it never ever comes close to the German, nor is it ever supposed to, nor is the content really supposed to be evil or really related to the clip, it is a play of contrasts and a play of hyperbole. I think you hit it on the head, it is supposed to be contrary to intentions, that's sort of its point. ... however, i'm pretty sure that neither german, nor evil is supposed to be the point here. (emphasis mine)
Before elucidating the above situation (the entire thread of which can be viewed in the AoIR archives here), I want to take a step back to examine the idea of "meme" -- a unit of cultural information -- once more.
Apologies for the void in articles last week. The C3 team has been busy with research and prepping for our move (with the Comparative Media Studies department) to a new office space in the (old) MIT Media Lab.
Look forward to a handful of new articles starting tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy (in Josh Green-esque fashion) this video of a piano-playing dog:
It's very evident why they choose to mute the entire audio track of a positively ID'd video instead of just the part with the problem audio: The fingerprinter can only reliably say "yes, [one particular song] is in here, somewhere," but it doesn't know exactly where in the video the infringing content starts or for how long it plays. It's far easier to just nuke the entire audio track than try to figure out precisely how to cut into it.
The Value of "Free" Content: Youtube Silences Music Videos in the UK after Licensing Dispute
Strange news from across the pond: due to a dispute over licensing, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) in the UK, YouTube is no longer going to host music videos in the UK. For a more detailed breakdown of the situation, cnet as a thorough write-up, but gist of it is that PRS want more licensing fees for the right to host the material, the costs of which YouTube considered "prohibitive." There is also reported to be a lack of transparency about what content will be included in the licensing deal. Meanwhile, the PRS suggested that YouTube is not paying a fare share of their revenue.
It's somewhat unclear as to what stands at the heart of the controversy, whether it is centrally a question of IP or of revenue share, though it does speak to the struggle and difficulty of finding models ownership and compensation in the digital space and takes us towards a much more complex problem of how to determine whether content drives people to YouTube or if the social relations on YouTube drive the circulation of content. According to the cnet article, there is also the question of if record companies are profiting from having their content on YouTube. Putting aside the issue of whether or not YouTube is sharing enough of its revenue, this issue of the "profitability" of putting music videos on YouTube seems, in my mind, to miss the point.
On October 14, a YouTube video appeared on a new account entitled "vlad and friend boris presents 'Song for Sarah' for mrs. Palin."
It bore no identifying markers of its creation beyond the names Vlad and Boris. A music video attesting a Russian crush on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, it slowly began spreading via email, Facebook, and blog links. Within a week, it had surpassed 100,000 views, and appeared on television newscasts in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Soon top political blogs like Daily Kos, Andrew Sullivan, and Talking Points Memo were linking to it; as of Election Day, it received over 430k views, over 600 YouTube comments, and maintains a perfect 5 star rating.
I was fortunate to be an early adopter of Vlad and Boris, having received the link from one of my former students. I've been tracking the video's spreadability, and have been impressed both by the quality of the piece (it's really re-watchable, which accounts for a good number of those views) and the dissemination with little effort by the producers. Certainly much of this success is due to how central YouTube has been to the 2008 election, as it's hard to imagine a video on any other topic making as big a splash so quickly. But I think much of its success is also tied to the underlying mystery surrounding the piece - is it really produced by a couple of Russians? Was it "professionally done"? (I've seen sites that suggest it was a stealth SNL piece.) What would it mean to the election if a VP candidate were the subject of sincere affection and/or mockery by Russian videomakers?
The truth is a bit more mundane, but still quite impressive. The creators of the video are four recent graduates of Middlebury College (three majoring in my department of Film and Media Culture) living in New York City. They told me about the video upon its release, and I've enjoyed monitoring its success. And I realized that the world of online video tends to be fairly anonymous, especially as videos are spreading. So I figured I would take advantage of the happenstance of my connection with Vlad and Boris to interview the creators and explore how they see their own practices and culture circulation.
Revoking Spreadable Media: Soulja Boy take-down notices
Last week, just in time for the holiday season, CMS colleague Kevin Driscoll received a Youtube DMCA take-down notice for Crank Dat Roflcon (video viewable here on Fred Benenson's blog). Crank Dat Roflcon was part of the Internet Conference held at MIT last year in conjunction with Harvard Free Culture and the Berkman Center, as well as the follow-up to our own CMS Soulja Boy project, Crank Dat MIT with free software guru Richard Stallman.
As an Australian, my experience of the US political system has always been a mediated one. As such, this is the first US election I've ever experienced 'live', and what an election it has been; Regardless of the outcome, this has been a unique and significant campaign season for a number of reasons. As we've pointed out previously in discussions about election monitoring, campaigns and fandom, Facebook and campaign building, and politics in the age of YouTube, the 2008 campaign has seen unique, interesting and savvy uses new media tools, particularly social media and online video publishing for grassroots campaigning, campaign financing and connecting with constituencies.
These will be some of the things I'll reflect on this afternoon, when I participate in a live chat over at PBS' MediaShift site. At 4 pm EST/1 pm PT I'll be chatting about the election coverage and online media specifically with PBS blogger Mark Glaser and my old friend Alice Robison, Assistant Professor of English at ASU. Come on over if you'd like to join in. They've got a whole afternoon of discussion lined up.
Oh, and whichever way you fall, please do vote. And for the junkies out there, Twitter's election feed makes for interesting reading throughout the day.
As part of ongoing work about YouTube and the nature of online video sharing we've been pursuing, I've been looking lately at the some of the reasons for the ascension of the service to almost generic status as a shorthand for online video-sharing. The reasons for YouTube's rise to Xerox status in the US are many and murky, some having to do with diverse matters like site design, early mover status, canny marketing, the width of the stripes on their sweaters and champions they picked up along the way. Undoubtedly, however, I think that one of the reasons for YouTube's particular success is the downmarket quality of the video on the site. This is due to change, with the service currently testing technology that's been in development for a while now to increase the video and audio quality of the site, so it is perhaps prudent to point to some of the reasons I think grainy quality equalled success in YouTube's case.