Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How viral video can save the music industry

The Justin Bieber phenomenon is only the latest youngster to hit the top of the charts after being discovered on YouTube.

AdMaven Nicholas Kinports goes into some detail about how YouTube has replaced TV as a platform for showcasing/marketing hot musical talent. And echoes British actor, writer and director Peter Serafinowicz's lament that physical media is disappearing.

"If our industry as a whole won’t come off of our high horse of pricing [physical] albums at $13.99 to match or best digital prices, consumers won't see records on the shelves anymore.

If they aren’t buying it at Best Buy and they aren’t buying it at Target where are they buying it? The answer is they aren’t. They are streaming it on sites like YouTube and Facebook"
a source at Universal Music Group told Kinports. "Music has become so fluid you can literally listen to it anywhere you want. It’s not confined to a car or iPod. The music industry has to figure out a way for them to pay for it without paying for it. The artists have to be sold in a different way.”

Again, the solution being forwarded is radical, but already being done by independents: give your music away for free.

But where's the profit? Kinports thinks it would come from releasing a limited number of physical media and selling them as collector's items at $100 a pop.

He might be onto something. If physical media becomes rare, it becomes worth something.

Why I steal movies ... even ones I'm in

That's the provocative header on a piece British actor, writer and director Peter Serafinowicz wrote recently for Gizmodo. Serafinowicz frankly admits that he downloads movies illegally, despite the fact he earns his living from DVDs, movies and books. It's one I struggle with, as well. I've downloaded music that I already own on cassette, vinyl or CD, rather than digitize my original copies, because it's easier and I've already paid for it once. Next post will be about how the music industry is reacting to the fact very little physical media is being sold any more.

Which is another point raised by Serafinowicz: physical media is disappearing, in favour of downloads and digitized media.

Serafinowicz rationalizes that torrents are too geeky and hard to use for the average Web user for illegal downloads to gain real traction. I disagree: you might have to be a tiny bit tech-savvy to download a torrent app and VLC or another media player ... but it's not rocket science.

His most valid point is that even though he downloads illegally, when given the opportunity to download legally, at a fair price, from iTunes, he will - largely for the same reasons I've cited:

- better quality video and
- it's a good thing to have pirates promoting your work and getting it in front of new eyeballs, to grow your fan base.

The music industry didn't get that and paid for it dearly, as artists found out they could promote their own work on YouTube, cut out the studio as a middleman and keep all the profits, and learned how to give away free samples to reel people in and make them want to buy the collection.

It's a lesson TV might be starting to learn (as evidenced by the growing number of shows that can simply be downloaded from network websites) and one Hollywood has yet to learn.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'Poof, you're gone' - Twitter bug magically makes followers disappear

Gizmodo reports on the bizarre Twitter bug that surfaced when a Turkish tweeter ostensibly discovered by accident that if you "accept username" (fill in username with the tweeter you accept) it forces them to follow you. So he and his girlfriend had a lot of fun making famous people follow them.

That's not all. Twitter's attempt to roll back the forced follows reset the number of followers of those famous people to ZERO. There is, of course, an arcane explanation - the bug is part of an old text command.

Reader Rhainor explains on Gizmodo:

"Its intended use was for people who have their tweets protected. If you try to follow someone who's protected, instead of instantly following them, it sends a request to the user ("'username' has requested to follow you"). To allow them to follow you, you 'accept' the request (in my experience, by clicking a button, but for people who rarely use, the text command makes sense)."


What a way for Twitter to discover the bug.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Producer thanks pirates for stealing his film

"Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download," Producer Eric Wilkinson wrote in an email to RLSlog. "Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded “The Man From Earth” has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!"

Read more about what he said here.

This is exactly what the music industry got wrong, and what Hollywood still needs to learn. Word of mouth, even by "pirates," is worth more to your success than trying to squeeze a few extra sales out of people who are evangelizing and promoting your art for you. The marketing machine has changed not just to include your consumers but you need them to spread the word.

Conan O'Brien's comments in a recent appearance at Google highlighted how broadcast executives failed to understand the role of social media when a groundswell of support for him materialized after it became clear he was being shunted in order to give Jay Leno back his time slot. They thought it was something O'Brien was doing and wanted him to stop it. They didn't understand that he didn't start it, but was responding to it on social media's home turf. But they finally realized that sanctioning his tweets would just be dumb.