See you at MidemNet 2009

Next week I am headed to France to attend my first MidemNet conference. I’ll be offering a “master class” called “Making the Most of Online Music Fandom” in which I will overview the social activities that motivate fans to engage one another, how the internet transformed those activities in ways that empower fandoms, why this terrifies people used to having all the control in the relationships between musicians and fans, and I’ll suggest some key principles for forming symbiotic relationships with fans.

When I was first asked to do this, it inspired a long line of thought about who I would invite if I were going to put together my dream program to hear people talk about building relationships between musicians and fans.

I’d include people having great success with the patronage model of fan funding for recording costs like someone from Marillion or Jill Sobule.

I’d want some people from labels who have been genius about opening new avenues for artists and fans to interact, people like Terry McBride or Martin Thörnkvist.

I’d want people from companies like ReverbNation who are always one step ahead in figuring out how musicians can marshall fans’ enthusiasm in ways that benefit them both.

I’d want a good analyst from the outside, like Mike Masnick from Techdirt.

And then, you’d need some people who lead successful fan sites, like MadonnaTribe.

Get some managers who’ve been really good at communicating with fan boards, like Robbie Williams’s manager.

Add in some executives from the important companies.

And then, for good measure, include at least one artist who’s now representing many artists trying to make sense of the digital music industry, someone like Feargal Sharkey who, in his late 1970s incarnation as singer of The Undertones drastically improved the quality of my life for decades even if I’m not sure I like what he’s up to now.

So imagine my glee to read the final program and see every single one of these people on it, plus many other excellent choices, and this list doesn’t even include the keynoters (the full program is here in PDF form):

Norman Abdul Halim, President & Group CEO, KRU Studios (Malaysia)
Amul Batra, manager of James Yuill and Managing Director, Fwinki Music (UK)
Nancy Baym, Social Media Researcher, Online Fandom Blog (USA)
Tim Bierman, Manager, Pearl Jam Ten Club (USA)
Michael Bornhaeusser, Managing Partner, 5 Continents Consulting Group (Switzerland)
Bryan Calhoun, VP of New Media & External Affairs, Soundexchange (USA)
Neil Cartwright, Managing Director, Million (UK)
Tim Clark, Manager of Robbie Williams & Managing Director, ie:music (UK)
David Cushman, Director of Social Media, Brando Digital (UK)
Michael Doernberg, CEO, ReverbNation (USA)
Ben Drury, CEO, 7digital (UK)
Mark Earls, HERDmeister, HERDconsulting (UK)
Marcel Engh, Managing Director, SBX / VP Brand Entertainment, Sony Music Europe (UK)
Daniel Graf, Founder & CEO, Kyte (USA)
Allen Guo, Founder & CEO, (China)
Denzyl Feigelson, Consultant, advisor to brands such as iTunes & Coca-Cola and Founder & CEO, (UK)
Duncan Freeman, Founder & President, Band Metrics (USA)
Betty Yip Ho, CFO, Executive Director, A8 Digital Music (China)
Peter Jenner, Emeritus President, IMMF (UK)
Mark Kelly, Keyboard Player, Marillion (UK)
Eric Korman, President, Ticketmaster (USA)
Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General, UK ISPA (UK)
Gerd Leonhard, Media Futurist & Author, (Switzerland)
Andrew Martyn, Founder & CEO, Mubito (Sweden)
Michael Masnick, Editor of Techdirt Blog and President & CEO, Floor64 (USA)
Rob McDermott, Manager of Linkin Park & President of Music Division, The Collective (USA)
Kenth Muldin, CEO, STIM (Sweden)
Cory Ondrejka, SVP, Digital Strategy, EMI Music (USA)
Pharrell, Editor, Fluokids Blog (France)
Paolo Olivi, Co-founder & Webmaster, MadonnaTribe (Italy)
Shailendra Pandey, Senior Research Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media (UK)
Juan Paz, Head of Research, Music Ally (UK)
John Possman, President and Co-Founder, Two Four Seven (Japan)
Ian Rogers, CEO, Topspin (USA)
David Schulhof, co-Founder and co-CEO, EverGreen Copyrights (USA)
Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music (UK)
David Smith, CEO, Global Futures and Foresight (UK)
Jill Sobule, Singer & Songwriter (USA)
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive, BPI (UK)
Martin Thörnkvist, Managing Director, Songs I wish I had written / The Swedish Model (Sweden)
Tim Walker, Co-founder & Managing Director, The Leading Question (UK)

And how much do I love that angry rants in response to one of last year’s MidemNet keynotes serve to get me invited rather than ostracized!

If you’re planning on being at Midem or MidemNet this year and ever peek at this blog, I’d love to meet you. Shoot me an email so we can connect.

If you’re not able to be there, the MidemNet blog may be your next best bet.

Fans: Curatorial Masters of the Web

Now in their 1970s, my parents have belatedly come around to Beatlemania, suggesting strongly that either my fandom genes are inherited from parents who’d simply failed to express them, or there’s some kind of reverse inheritance going on in which my parents have picked up fandom from me. Either way, John Paul George and Ringo are getting a lot of loving and critical dissection from this pair of retired literature professors.

One of the discussions we had was when I visited over the holidays was about the lack of a proper Let It Be DVD despite the ease of finding low quality bootleg versions through Amazon and other online retailers. My mother explained how the guy with all 72 hours of footage couldn’t bring himself to go through it all to reedit the film. I said this sounded like a perfect project for fans, who would surely do a magnificent job.

So it was fun this weekend to see the curatorial wonders of Beatles fans popping up in a New York Times article. The question posed by the column was what’s wrong with the music business that it can’t reissue material people actually want to purchase:

And how many record labels, just now, are facing an army of consumers who are saying, in effect: “We’ve bought this music several times already — on mono and stereo LPs, on picture discs and audiophile vinyl, perhaps on cassette and most recently on CD — but please, we beg you, sell it to us again.”

But fear not:

While EMI and Apple have been squabbling, collectors have taken matters into their own hands, pooling unreleased tracks and compiling anthologies that are far more ambitious than anything EMI is likely to release. Usually, these unauthorized desktop bootleg projects which are of course illegal have attractive cover art and copious annotations, and these days money rarely changes hands for them: the people who compile them distribute them freely and encourage others to do so either on home-burned CDs and DVDs or, increasingly, on the Internet.

Some are curatorial masterpieces. A label called Purple Chick has assembled deluxe editions of each commercially released album, offering the original discs in their mono and stereo mixes, along with the singles also in mono and stereo released at the time, as well as every known demo, studio outtake and alternative mix.

What can Purple Chick offer my mother, the Let It Be fan?

And if you want to begin the new year by commemorating the 40th anniversary of the “Let It Be” sessions, which ran from Jan. 2 to 31, 1969, you still have a few days to find Purple Chick’s “A/B Road,” which offers nearly 96 hours of those sessions on 83 CDs.

96 hours. 83 cds.

And people put them together lovingly because of their passion for the band and the knowledge that the fruits of this creativity would be savored with appreciation by others.

Too bad about that “which are of course illegal” part…

Bringing Trauma to Your Mobile

I am just back from a very inspiring weekend attending the Futures of Entertainment 3 conference hosted by the Convergence Culture Consortium. One of the most exciting elements was getting to hear directly from several media producers who are doing fascinating transmedia “world building” projects in association with their television shows and movies.

One example was Lance Weiler (seen on the far left), director of the horror film Head Trauma, recently named one of the 18 People Who Changed Hollywood by Business Week magazine. He spoke about extending Head Trauma beyond the film (transcribed by Xiaochang Li on the C3 weblog — click through to read the whole panel discussion):

The movie is about the fragmentation of memory, a guy who comes back home after 20 years to settle his grandmother’s estate and finds it inhabited by squatters; he hits his head and starts having recurring nightmares that start to turn into reality. So we started to play with what’s real and what isn’t. We started with interactive comics and there were all kinds of easter eggs and rabbit holes as you moved through it.

We interjected mobile experiences so when the movie had a world premiere we handed out these Jack Chick-style comics and there were ciphers and clues within them. On the back it asks “do you want to play the game?” and when you called the number that’s there you’d get the nemesis of the movie; they’d hang up and then we’d call or text them back. This continued back and forth. Even when you went to the website, we could figure out that you were on there and call you during your visit to it. Throughout the premiere there was a whole give and take with phones – about 86% of the audience was engaged mobilely.

And we had an online series with all these subliminal things in it, and there was a remix area, where people could remix their own fragments. At one point when people showed up somewhere based on the clues in the game for a secret movie showing I ended up calling the LAPD and they came by with the helicopter and I executed all these SMS and phone calls saying things like “We’re watching you!”

They built a fake exit box into the website associated with the game so that when people tried to get out of the site they instead got a telephone call that said “Where do you think you’re going?”


But wow.

There are many things to admire about this, but I was particularly struck by the integration of film, internet, telephone, and face-to-face encounters.

I will write more about the event in the coming days, but if you just can’t wait, check out the thorough coverage of every panel on the C3 blog here.

The Risks and Advantages of Social Network Sites

I was recently a guest on Kansas City current affairs show Up to Date on Kansas City NPR affiliate, KCUR. My co-guest was Michael Zimmer of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who is an expert on issues of ethics, privacy and the web. Our guest-host Stephen Seligman led us through a lively and high quality discussion of social networking sites and what people ought to understand about their advantages and risks. It’s an hour long show with a call-in segment.

And, best of all, it’s available in mp3 form.

Life on the Move: Social Network Roundtable audio now up

Last week I attended the Association of Internet Researchers’ 9th annual conference, this time in Copenhagen Denmark. One of the things I did there was participate in a roundtable about social networking research called Life On the Move put together by Daniel Skog (Umeå University, Sweden) and Lewis Goodings (Loughborough University, UK). The other panelists included Malene Charlotte Larsen (Aalborg University, Denmark), Raquel Recuero (Catholic University of Pelotas, Brazil), Jan Schmidt (Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research, Germany) and Amanda Lenhart (Pew Project on the Internet and American Life, US).

We look at a diverse range of sites in different countries, including LunarStorm in Sweden, Brazilian use of Orkut, Danish youth on and more, as well as taking broad perspectives such as Amanda’s work with Pew that starts with users rather than sites. Despite this, we found ourselves agreeing on many many points, particularly the need to acknowledge that people move amongst many different sites both online and off (I was intrigued by Malene’s point that people spraypaint their Arto usernames on subway walls). The discussion with the many people in attendance was very high quality.

Thies Willem Böttcher was kind enough to record the session and an (85MB) mp3 is available here.

Many thanks to Daniel and Lewis for getting us together, and I hope those who were there found it helpful and that those who weren’t will enjoy the audio.