Feb 282009

Unearthly Adelaide and McClaren Vale 21

“so please don’t forget to support artists like myself who have never had a fair chance in the record industry” guess who…

I have talked endlessly of the best ways for corporations or brands to engage with communities inside social media and it is always fascinating to watch the first baby steps of ‘old school’ celebs or real talent (mixing metaphors) dip their first toes in. But there is also an uneasy feeling watching those ‘media enhanced’ celebs of yesteryear showing their human (everyday?) side and here are a few I stumbled across in the last week or so. Good ones, regular and keeping the punters interested with little morsels cast over the side, ugly ones (just why bother!) and bad ones (they don’t quite get it do they?).

One of the best ways for talent to engage with an audience is to carry them along through their normal daily ‘glitzy’ activities. We see this happening more obviously on twitter. Following Stephen Fry as he travels the world getting fit, making films or eating at nice restaurants. Or Richard Branson’s appearances at Virgin terminals around the globe and many more (lots on Laurel Papworth’s post Famous Twits 50 Celebrities-on-Twitter. It is even more profound for fans when they talk back and give the sense that they read ‘some’ of the many thousands of responses expectantly flying into the usual vacuum. I do wonder though whether this entry into social web by celebs is more to do with a sense that their ‘celeb’ status is decreasing – as the attention for eyeballs is democratised and top YouTubers, Flickerers, Tweeters and MySpace/FB stars mean there is much less time spent on ‘them’. So it becomes a little of, lets go down to their level? Perhaps.

One artist I have mentioned before who is trying to engage across many ‘richer’ social media channels is Imogen Heap. She has kept at it as well with a regular vlog about her new studio fit-out and 4th album. She has at least done 500+ updates on twitter, plus music/travel writing blog, social networks and so on. Here is her latest vlog (which incidentally talks about the ridiculous YouTube/Warners fiasco – them taking down fan videos with her songs on) and more positively about her ‘tweeting’ and charity twestival project.

“On a less fun note…what I actually wanted to say re: youtube videos with my music in, is that it’s been a right nightmare trying to sort out why it’s been happening coz it’s NOTHING to do with me! Total cock up, like I said. My camp is (enjoying) slapping wrists as we speak and trying to sort this mess out. I am not guilty on all counts.. so those of you blaming and bad mouthing me (you know who you are) QUIT IT! I’m one of the good guys, OK?”

It is hard for artists and celebs to bring thousands of adoring fans into their world, so like the L Word Fanisode (I wrote about many moons ago) (where the fans helped write episodes of a high quality soapy) Imogen is bringing her muso fans into the mix, literally by allowing them to add ‘music tracks’ to her raw vocals – a sort of remix but affording much more creativity on the part of the co-creative audience. (BTW re: the quotes above and below – nice to see unfettered personality here vs the measured tones of the older school celebs, who still think they are on Letterman or Parky?). Remember this is for the water charity run via Twestival FM.

“Due to legal crap and crossed wires the song never ended up being in the movie. So… rather than it go to waste.. and just sit around, I thought, for a bit of fun some of you might like to throw some music at it so it lives. A bit like that game where you draw the head on the paper, fold it over and give it to the next person to draw the body. So I’ve drawn the head. You’re turn!”

To explain the mix thing simply. Imogen has provided…

  • isolated vocal tracks that together sound like CLICK HERE TO LISTEN. Pretty dry, incomplete and using basic tracking software any style of music can be integrated
  • So a little fun while writing this blog and few minutes later – some apple loop quickies, here is a ‘world music’y’ one CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • and one more ‘orchestral’ sounding CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • and where would we be without something a little techno CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • I will actually do a proper version which involves playing tracks in! and even add some machinima (like the one I did to Speeding Cars at the bottom – but that’s another hat and another blog 🙂

Looking at other celebs joining in the social media fray it is worth comparing those with a real passion to communicate and share vs those just pushing product or perpetuating an existing image. Below we see the much more famous (perhaps) Annie Lennox doing what Imogen does but without the trappings of Imogen’s ‘work in progress’ narrative arc and Annie strangely comes across as a  ‘fish-out-of-water’? – nervous, not quite sure how to talk to a broader audience? I must say just sitting and talking straight at camera, regardless of who you are, exposes your human frailties – and perhaps that is what is going on here. Celebrities who were cast up by old school scarcity of distribution now trying to show to the world they are indeed real? Annie brings the music biz ‘implosion”, jokingly (but many a true word said in jest) front and center, quoting from this YouTube…

“My album the Annie Lennox collection is coming out on the 9th March, so please don’t forget to support artists like myself who have never had a fair chance in the record industry, and as its all imploding now I am really begging you to buy my album and keep me in luxury and comfort. Thankyou”

Even Francis Ford Coppola has joined in recently. Here he is, camera attached to one arm, showing us around his house and talking about his new film Tetro. Not sure of the reasoning behind it beyond the likely scenario of a younger relative saying “it would be cool if you did a vlog dad/uncle/grandad etc – it’s what all the trendy celebs are doing”

David Lynch is creating an episodic series on YouTube which is far more engaging than some of his feature films 🙂 The David Lynch Daily Weather Report sees him giving 30 second enthralling insights into the state of the sky and temperature (celcius and farenheit!) in LA. In this excerpt he takes it even further and tells us that it really is him on Twitter…remarkable stuff.

There are lots more examples no doubt (you will tell me in comments of course!) and I really wonder if we are indeed deep inside the transition now from distribution scarcity = celebrity to distribution plenty = 15 days of fame? As more and more ‘normal’ folk (those with talent who wouldn’t have been given the time of day by traditional A&R, TV or film studios) rise up to the surface – we can expect enlightened talent to meet them coming from the other direction. As media form and channels equalise a twitter star may one day be the equivalent of Shakespeare, known for writing 140 character tweets that make millions laugh and cry – in fact I do that, but for very different reasons 🙂

ADDITION: Hattip to Tanja (missglamourpuss) for the link to this video looking at the case of Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) who beyond just dipping his toes in social media decided to seriously burn all bridges with the Music Biz hand that used to feed him (with the morsels they had left!). The speaker here exploring what he did (not rocket science: Connect with Fans, give them a Reason to Buy – sales 101) is Michael Masnick (Editor/President & CEO, Techdirt Blog/Floor64 and more from Wikipedia below.

“In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website condemning Universal Music Group—the parent company of the band’s record label, Interscope Records—for their pricing and distribution plans for Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero. He labeled the company’s retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as “ABSURD”,concluding that “as a reward for being a ‘true fan’ you get ripped off”. Reznor went on to say that as “the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more.” Reznor’s post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention. In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on Universal Music Group at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to “steal” his music online instead of purchasing it legally. Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to “steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin’.” Wikipedia

Oh and as promised a quick machinima I did to Imogen‘s ‘quaint’ track, Speeding Cars

Talk to your TV at last

 Posted by on October 15, 2005 at 8:40 pm  Innovation, Interactive TV, Interactivity, TV  No Responses »
Oct 152005

A bit gadgety this post but falls squarely in the personalize space – this time the personal interface. No longer the domain of low budget 50’s sci-fi movies the era of speech control entering our domestic abodes is upon us. One Voice Technologies have introduced basic speech recognition for the Windows Media Center. It has on the site some sample commands

Sample Voice Commands: Play Artist The Beatles, Play Album Abbey Road, Play Genre Jazz, Play Hawaii Vacation Slideshow, Call Pizza Shack or Record Channel 5 at 7 PM

more importantly you can add your own personalized commands:

Now, with My Commands, you can add your own custom commands to Media Center Communicator! After adding a command you can simply speak it, as you would the preset commands, to run your favorite website, program, movie or audio file. The possibilities are limitless!

OK this is unlikely to turn the heads of those thousands of PhD HCI students but it may mean the dawning of a non-finger based interface at last. I have used NHK’s wonderful eye control system at NAB a couple of years ago – to navigate a selector across the TV simply look at the part of the screen you want, blink and the movie starts, also various motion detectors that sense body movement to control TV interfaces. Speech though has long been the domain of the PC, which of course the Media Center is – so with increased processing power we should see other ‘controllers’ hopefully come onto the market over the next year or so. But does it also mean we have to shout very loudly over the din of the TV 😉 No it has a remote wireless USB mic too – ooh.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

Oct 022005

Mesquite Dunes ©Gary Hayes 2005The level of interest in personalization combined with rich media is really bubbling up. It is nice to think one is riding a on the crest of a wave – and not in a ‘race towards an early grave’ (prizes for the band and the song;-). Recently Dan Rosensweig introduced the concept of the Four Pillars of the future reported in MediaPost. If you know who Dan is then you have some context and it seems that there is a great deal of correlation going on at the moment with the larger ‘channels’ of the future. This was from a talk on Tuesday at the Museum of Radio and Television (who are they kidding – still I can see a Museum of the pre-Internet 2.0 not far away!). Anyway here are the said ‘pillars’ in my recommended and preferred order:

Personalization: Features like “My Yahoo!,” which Rosensweig says 60 million people use globally, and “My Media,” are about what he calls “discoverability.” Personalization and customization features are what will ultimately help marketers build relevant and engaging messages. “We will know more about consumers, not less,” through these types of features, Rosensweig says. In addition, automatic synchronization, which is the synchronizing of all devices across multiple platforms, will enable the steamlining of all information, including consumers’ dislikes and likes.

Content: Tools and resources for enabling consumers and businesses to find, create, use, watch, listen to, buy, enhance, manipulate, and share content. Basically, this is Yahoo!’s way of saying, “We want to help you do something with content — anything you want.”

Community: Functions and features to help people connect with one another via groups, instant messaging, and more. There are currently 100 million Yahoo! IM users, by the way. The feature “My Web” reveals what fellow community members read and enjoy. The community, in essence, becomes a filter for preferences, and helps us navigate our way through what Peter Weedfald, Samsung’s head of marketing, calls the “ADD [attention deficit disorder] economy.”

Search: Tools for finding, organizing, displaying, and publishing relevant content, information, and images. These include mobile, video, desktop, TV search functions and more.

They all resonate strongly with my posts of the past two weeks especially the themes of synchronized personalization across platforms, tools for rich media tagging and of course collaborative filtering.

“In addition, automatic synchronization, which is the synchronizing of all devices across multiple platforms, will enable the steamlining of all information, including consumers’ dislikes and likes. ”

One of those “but-I-was-just-talking-about-that-moments” see my “be what I expect you to be” from a couple of days ago. Personalized cross-platform. There must be ‘something in the air’ (name the year and artist). The journey is of course also about new content or media types which is an area I am currently exploring from ground-up, again in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. Trying to look at it from a back-to-basics (after conversations with those who are just getting it). Another cycle for me – “Round like a circle in a spiral like a wheel within a wheel. Never ending…” But that’s another song.

PS: Well I still have you. Do I? Dan talked also about the fact that the world has a population of 6.5 billion while only 1 billion can access the internet. Not exactly ubiquitous or fair – is that about to change? A little at least. For those who have not caught up with NASA and Googles plans for the developing world – link here.

Posted by Gary Hayes©2005