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The Music Industry and Online Piracy: Infographic April 15, 2010

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Oddee.com, one of my favorite list-loving sites (but rarely safe for work), has produced this interesting and well-organized infographic on the changing state of music and how it has affected the music industry. This graphic is definitely worth mulling over. Click on the picture for a large (and complete) view of the infographic.

From Oddee.com

Why I Still Listen to Bad 80’s and 90’s Pop Music March 16, 2010

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The man in the office next to mine at work plays his radio all day long – let’s call him George just to make writing this post easier. I suppose the volume would be a smidge too loud for some people, but since I generally like the music on the station he plays, it doesn’t bother me. It’s mostly an oldies/light fm style station – the kind of music I grew up listening to in my mom’s station wagon as a kid.

George is a bit older than I am; to be generous, I would call him a solid middle-ager, and I am entertained all day listening to him impart wisdom to his younger co-workers about “classic” movies, tv and music (and actually quite a few other topics as well, but I’m already getting off track).

Today, I overheard a conversation he was having with one of his older co-workers, a woman around the same age as my parents. They were in his office and a song came on the radio – I don’t remember which, but it might have been the Beatles, or some contemporary of theirs. The woman commented that whenever she hears songs from her youth, they remind her of things. For example, the Beatles’ Hey Jude was popular while she was learning to drive, and even now, every time she hears Hey Jude, she remembers what it felt like when she was learning to drive.

From joannamkay's flickr stream under Creative Commons.

The conversation then turned to “kids today” and whether they have the same experience? I had to chuckle (very quietly) as they decided that the “music kids listen to these days” can’t evoke the same emotion, you “can’t even understand what they are saying half the time”.

Obviously, this would be less amusing to me if I agreed. I may not be a “kid” anymore by George’s definition, but I definitely did and still do form associations to songs. Ask anyone I went to college with how annoying it was every time I heard a “GAP song” (those songs played on the store intercom on an infinite loop while I worked retail during high school). Even now when I hear those songs, I feel the urge to start folding tables of sweaters and polo-shirts.

Songs that were popular when I was a teenager remind me of all kinds of things when I hear them now, from high school friends, to my first summer with a car, to driving to off-campus lunch.

OK – so, I know George and friend are wrong. Here’s my example, when I hear Aerosmith‘s Livin’ on the Edge, I remember my first time away at summer camp, when one of my new friends let me borrow a mix tape, and Aerosmith was my new favorite band! Now, tell me how you know George is wrong!

OKGo: Rube Goldberg style March 2, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Amazing, Just for Fun.
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This is the greatest Rube Goldberg Machine I’ve ever seen. And even better – it’s the new music video by OKGO, for This Too Shall Pass. Enjoy!

Treating Viral Videos Like a Virus January 21, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in InformationIssues.
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When the music industry and the free internet collide there is bound to be problems. Back in October, we discussed Radiohead’s decision to release their 2007 album In Rainbows, solely online (at first) for a consumer-named price. How they got around the contract with their record label or convinced label execs that this was a good idea, we’ll never know. We also noted that this unprecedented strategy did not hurt record sales in the least. Of course, Radiohead is a chart topping, well established band. But what about Ok Go – a band formed in 1998 who credits its success on the viral nature of its offbeat music videos? Frontman Damian Kulash notes that upon presenting the “A Million Ways” video (a video that received 10 million hits), “the head of the digital department said, ‘If this gets out, you’re sunk.'” (Mashable.com). But Wikipedia notes that, “Oh No gained popularity for its first single, ‘A Million Ways’, thanks to its video, which proved to be a viral Internet phenomenon in the fall of 2005.”

By now we all know what “viral” means –that a video/meme/song/article etc. gains vast popularity by being posted to social networking sites, reposted and discussed on blogs, and forwarded via email. By what are the keys that lead to viral status? While I can’t name the je ne sais quoi that led millions of people to repost “David After Dentist”, “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” or “Charlie Bit My Finger”, I can tell you the one factor these all share is that they are free to distribute. So what happens when you can’t spread these videos anymore? What happens when studio execs decide to lose the “embed” button on YouTube? Well, this is exactly what happened to Ok Go and Damian Kulash (via an interview with Mashable) has a lot to say on the matter, most of it, calmly.

Kulash points out that, “it’s just a redistribution of numbers and that’s the kind of stuff that basically matters to the marketers, and to a certain degree it affects our careers, because…it is better for us to have 40 million hits on one site than one million hits on 40 sites.” But is that what will happen? Isn’t the nature of viral memes to spread across the internet so that, for instance, someone who does not frequent YouTube, might serendipitously stumble across the video via Digg or Buzzfeed? If the video is still free, but limited, why are the suits limiting it to one site? Are they being paid by YouTube (or the ads on YouTube)?

Kulash’s calm acceptance of changes to YouTube is a fast departure from his stance earlier in the article, particularly when he notes that, “The thrill…was that there was no middleman, and now we’re dealing with exactly the fact that there’s somebody stopping us from having the video embedded the way we want it to — the middlemen have returned.” Still, Kulash is a working man and realizes that if he wants to make money there must be some concessions.  He notes that, “the line between owning music or streaming music or hearing music has gotten so blurred, and is only going to get more so, operating on a system that basically looks at music as discrete units that people individually own is just getting silly.” His solution? “Larger rights organizations” and a “legitimate marketplace for music online”.  But how, Kulash, how? While there might not be any clear answers now, more questions are sure to arise if the rumors are true that Apple will be creating a free live music streaming service based on their acquisition of Lala.

The New York Times has made their stance public. What’s yours?

Read the full interview by Mashable here.

United State of Pop 2009: Blame it on the Pop December 31, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Amazing, Just for Fun.
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The video below is a Mash-Up of Billboard’s Top 25 pop hits of 2009, put together by DJ Earworm. I don’t care what you think of the songs or the artists, there is no denying that this mash-up is one of the absolutely coolest mixes ever, and this DJ Earworm guy is incredibly talented.

Complete song list:

* The Black Eyed Peas – BOOM BOOM POW
* Lady Gaga – POKER FACE
* Lady Gaga Featuring Colby O’Donis – JUST DANCE
* The Black Eyed Peas – I GOTTA FEELING
* Taylor Swift – LOVE STORY
* Flo Rida – RIGHT ROUND
* Jason Mraz – I’M YOURS
* Kanye West – HEARTLESS
* The All-American Rejects – GIVES YOU HELL
* Taylor Swift – YOU BELONG WITH ME
* T.I. Featuring Justin Timberlake – DEAD AND GONE
* The Fray – YOU FOUND ME
* Kings Of Leon – USE SOMEBODY
* Keri Hilson Featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo – KNOCK YOU DOWN
* Jamie Foxx Featuring T-Pain – BLAME IT
* T.I. Featuring Rihanna – LIVE YOUR LIFE
* Soulja Boy Tell ‘em Featuring Sammie – KISS ME THRU THE PHONE
* Jay Sean Featuring Lil Wayne – DOWN
* Miley Cyrus – THE CLIMB
* Beyonce – HALO
* Katy Perry – HOT N COLD

(via thebooreport)

Music for the New World December 18, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Amazing.
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Everyday I seem to find another amazing use of social media. This particularly fantastic project, Bb 2.0, is “a collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon from Science for Girls, and developed with contributions from users.” Click on the link and then begin the videos one by one. Be sure to read the FAQs as well. It’s refreshing to know that there is no end to creativity even as the art form continues to change.

Niche Blog Friday: Last-Christmas.com December 18, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Niche Blogs.
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Just in time for the holidays, Dataduchess stumbled across a blog dedicated solely to the different versions of the song “Last Christmas” by Wham. What could possibly be more niche (and hysterical) than that?!?!

Just how many covers of Wham’s “Last Christmas” are there, you ask? The blog has found 430…so far.

The Future of Reading AND Publishing; and music? October 30, 2009

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LibraryJournal.com, the online companion to the eponymous periodical read by all types of librarians nationwide, has just posted an article entitled “The Future of Reading”. This article is important for anyone interested in emerging technologies, business, and information. This article is great because it points to a number of new (or increasingly popular) trends in reading: e-books, graphic novels, kindles, audiobooks, even cellphone novels. While many believe that librarians are luddites, clinging to their dusty out-of-print books and handwritten card catalogs (we are not), this article shows that libraries and librarians are willing (and enthusiastically willing!) to change and meet the needs of today’s “reader”, whatever that may mean.

While this is a comprehensive article from the librarians’ point of view, it doesn’t take into account what publishers and authors might be concerned with and that’s the illegal proliferation of their work online. One author has circumvented this process and made much of his work available for free online: the award-winning Cory Doctorow. His site, craphound.com, provides free downloadable versions of many of his works including the well-reviewed Little Brother, “a daring gesture,” which the New York Times book review notes, “hasn’t hurt its print sales in the least”.

Doctorow’s move reminds me of Radiohead’s unprecedented release of their most recent album, In Rainbows (2007), in digital format for whatever price the consumer was willing to pay. When the actual album was finally released in “hard copy” (aka CD), it topped both the UK Album Chart and the US Billboard 200.

What do these counter-intuitive occurrences mean? I think it means people will still pay for things worth paying for. What do you think?


Ubiquitous web=ubiquitous music October 29, 2009

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A new service is attempting to change the nature of online music, again. Playdar is an organization that is trying to take all the music (not downloadable, but stream-able) on the web, on personal hard drives, and from anywhere else you might digitally store music and make it immediately available. What does this mean? It means that a song you write about, suggest, or mention in your blog, Facebook page, tweet, etc. will be immediately available for play. An article by New Scientist explains this service with better clarity.

This is all hypothetical speak, of course. While Playdar is up and running, the instant gratification promised above will only be available should social networking sites choose to opt into this service.

Like many of the web’s musical services designed to let netizens listen but not download (Last.fm, Pandora, etc.) this concept raises a whole host of copyright issues. While both New Scientist and the Playdar page explain that this service does no more than the aforementioned seasoned music-playing sites do, Playdar, if widely adopted, has the ability to make any song playable, on demand, which is not something other sites offer. And while the songs may not be downloadable, who needs to download anymore as the web continues to grow ever more portable in the form of smartphones and netbooks? While musicians and streaming sites are silent on the nascent service as of yet, this infomaven predicts a violent backlash.