Barenaked Exemplars

Let’s hear it for the Barenaked Ladies for coming up with some fun ways to get fans involved in their new record. They’ve got fans doing remixes of their songs (the best will be made into an EP with all proceeds going to charity), designing t-shirts (the best will receive cash prizes and be sold on their tour), and competing for best air-guitarist by submitting videos of themselves playing along. You should really read the whole London Free Press article (and forgive them for describing such excellent ideas as “digital daliances”). Among the quotes I liked best:

“People are doing amazing remixes,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Ed Robertson said. “We’re getting these ridiculous disco versions of our songs. There’s a lot of people that are really good.”

“The main thing is just shifting the focus to the fan and letting them decide how they want to consume the music,” Robertson explains … “We just realized it’s really not in our control.”

These are great ways to get fans involved — fun creative things they can do and real ways to honor the best of what they do without exploiting them. I hope we’ll see more bands recognizing that the flip side of losing control are the many great rewards to be found in encouraging participatory fandom.

Community first, Movie second

Here’s an article about, a site designed to make a movie from the fans up:

Established in 2004, Ckrush started out as a sports promotion company but quickly evolved into an entertainment group, producing three independent feature films in two years. First up is “Beer League,” a raucous baseball comedy starring Artie Lange of “The Howard Stern Show,” which opens today. Second is “National Lampoon’s Pledge This,” featuring celebutante Paris Hilton as a queen bee sorority girl. Third is “TV: The Movie,” another comedy starring the cast of “Jackass.”

The most exciting film project on Ckrush’s slate, however, will go into production at the end of spring 2007. “LiveMansion: The Movie” is the company’s fourth and most highly anticipated feature production because it involves a new and highly innovative model for filmmaking: It will be produced, almost entirely, by members of an online community.

Sorta American Idol meets Soaps On A Plane via MySpace?

If you always wanted to break into film but didn’t know how, it’s not too late to hop on over and sign up…

I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Make A Video!

The other day I wrote about The Hold Steady’s efforts to get fans to upload videos they can use in promoting their new record. I chided them demanding the copyright on those videos. Here is a better version of the same idea in promotion of Yo La Tengo’s new record called “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass.” This is a YouTube group:

The concept of this Group is simple. Videotape yourself saying “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”, upload the video, add the tag “beatyourass” and add it to this group. Once the YouTube servers update (between 6-12 hours), your video will appear on the wall of videos located here: http://www.iamnotafraidofyo…

Both the YouTube group page and the Iamnotafraidofyou…com page then have links for more information and samples from the new album. In contrast to The Hold Steady, this has all the appeal of a bottom-up buzz vs. a top heavy fan phenomenon, even though the concept is pretty much the same. With this one you can check in continuously to see if there are new contributions, so it engenders much more continued involvement. It’s a lot less clear in the Yo La Tengo site whether the band and their label (Matador) are responsible for launching this or if it’s a true fan-led initiative, but either way, they’ve succeeded in keeping the feel of a fan-driven activity, and that’s great.

Thanks to David for the tip. Tips are always welcome, so if you see cool stuff happening, please don’t be shy about shooting me an email and letting me know.

Some good news for fans in the WB/YouTube deal

Warner Brothers and YouTube have reached a deal for the use of WB music on YouTube

Under a revenue-sharing deal announced Monday, New York-based Warner Music has agreed to transfer thousands of its music videos and interviews to YouTube, a San Mateo, Calif.-based startup that has become a cultural touchstone since two 20-something friends launched the company in a Silicon Valley garage 19 months ago.

The best part in my POV is this:

Perhaps even more important for YouTube is that Warner Music has agreed to license its songs to the millions of ordinary people who upload their homemade videos to the Web site


To make the deal happen, YouTube developed a royalty-tracking system that will detect when homemade videos are using copyrighted material. YouTube says the technology will enable Warner Music to review the video and decide whether it wants to approve or reject it.

So long as they don’t get too heavy handed in rejecting things, this is a terrific step forward in legitimizing the value of fans’ creative activities.

Hold Steady seeking fan input

Pitchfork says the band The Hold Steady, who specialize in sardonic rants filled with witty and self conscious pop culture references, are starting a new social networking site, but it looks more to me like they’re working on their own personal YouTube, asking fans to upload a homemade video to support their new album Boys And Girls In America and even giving them pointers on how to make home videos. Here’s what they say:

This whole album is about guys, girls, love, and growing up in america. We want to you know about what you think about the opposite sex, relationships, love, the whole shebang.

We want to see you!

We want you to make a video testimonial. Post about your life, your loves, your high’s, and your lows. Your first date to your worst date. Your party fouls and your massive nights. Show us what you got!

Well, that’s really fun, and I commend them, and I go along completely with their three rules:

  • Your video may not contain:
    • Copyrighted material
    • Pornography or obscene material
    • The first and last name of someone other than yourself

However, the enthusiastic welcoming of fan creativity breaks down at the final moment:

All uploaded videos become the property of Vagrant Records. We reserve the right to edit and/or amend uploaded videos.

Why does the record company need to own the videos? If I were a Hold Steady fan, I’d be tempted right up to the point where I saw that they want to own my autobiography.