Tag Archives: music

Flaming Lips makes the upsell into an art form

I’ve written about the innovative use of the premium upsell as something instructive for anyone selling premium content. I just learned about the Flaming Lips Gummy Bear skull which they released earlier this year which has turned the whole premium upsell thing into an art form. I love it!

Embedded inside a 7-pound gummy bear skull is a USB stick with an unique set of songs from the Lips. The catch is you need to eat your way into the skull to “extract the music. As front man Wayne Coyne says, “You’re gonna eat it, you’re going get a stomach ache…but you’re gonna love it!”

And here is a clip showing Wayne dropping off the first five to buy the Gummy Bear Skull at a record store in Oklahoma near Wayne’s house.

The world is not going to change. Each one of us will change.

It has been two weeks since the disaster in Japan. We can choose to look at this as a setback or an opportunity. Mother Nature has taught us all a valuable lesson. A lesson we seemed doomed to learn again and again.

We are not masters of our domain, we are but passengers on this lonely rock hurtling through space. We can choose to either get along and celebrate our life together or continue to fight each other to rule over our patch of dirt and make it our own. The choice is ours.

Retired martial artist Genki Sudo is a performance artist in Japan with the group World Order and has this message for Japan but also for all of us looking at Japan.

“We are one.”

The sooner we realize that, the better. This is the lesson.

Sudo’s message in the YouTube video description:

The unprecedented disasters unfolding in Japan; earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear explosions, will somehow change things to come. And to send my message about this, I have expressed it here with WORLD ORDER.

These disasters can be interpreted as a turning point for civilization. I think that we have arrived at a time of revolution, shared with all the people of the world, in today’s society, economy, and political systems.

Incidents themselves are neutral. I believe that every single one of us, wandering through this deep darkness, can overcome anything, if only we let go of our fear, and face the it all in a positive light.

The world is not going to change. Each one of us will change. And if we do, then yes, the world will be changed. It is darkest right before the dawn. Let’s all rise up to welcome the morning that will be so very bright for mankind.

- via Pink Tenticle

will.i.am on chips talking to chips

In a post last year, I paraphrased a quote, “If you are not paying for a product, you are the product.” Will.i.am recently updated this quote with the line,

You are either the person getting pimped, or you’re the person doing the pimping.

The video below of will.i.am from the Black-Eyed Peas speaking with John Battelle at a recent conference he hosted in LA has been looping away in my mind for the past week. In it, he questions the 80/20 revenue split with Apple of iTunes digital distribution as something left over from the days of Tower Records when distribution meant up-front manufacturing commitments, inventory stocking, and shipping of physical goods. The fact that record publishers still keep this uneven split for digital “licensing” to places such as iTunes is the, “dirty secret nobody’s talking about.”

will.i.am’s description of how the Black-Eyed Peas negotiated a new type of advertising unit for the Super Bowl and collaborated with Marc Benioff and Salesforce to promote Chatter.com through the mini-site thebabypeas.com is a glimpse at how switched on celebrities are using modern tools to manage their brand without the help (or interference or commissions) by an agency.

But the most visionary thing and something I keep coming back to is will.i.am’s vision of the next generation internet. It’s a world where brand “alliances” pool together to subsidize content producers. A world where, “chips talk to chips” without a middleman to make the free flow of content seamless and automatic. In this new world, a collection of devices will marry themselves to a library of content and work seamlessly together.

Extended further, it’s a world in which we no longer need the internet to connect us all. When you text someone next to you, why do you need to connect to a cell tower and send the message over a network only to round trip it right back again. If you extend the chips-talking-to-chips metaphor, why not just have the phone turn itself into the modern version of a walkie-talkie and beam the message right over? Bluetooth and NFC have started this vision but taken further, why can’t cellphones self-organize into mini-networks so that a group of phones together could share information without having to connect to the cloud?

Fun with SoundCloud

I’ve been playing around with a service based here in Berlin called SoundCloud. It’s geared towards DJs who want to distribute their mixes making it drop-dead easy to upload typically large files and embed them across the web in widgets. The closest thing I would compare it to is the flickr badge for photos or YouTube embed for videos.

What’s nice about SoundCloud for the professional DJ is that plays on the widget and also back on the profile page are collected for reporting back on the artist’s SoundCloud home page so the DJ can see where their tracks are getting the best, er, traction.

It’s also a great service for someone like me who would just from time to time to shine a light on my favorite live music sets. Here’s a set from the April, 1999 run Phil Lesh did with Trey and Page from Phish at the Warfield in San Francisco. And see that little widget over in the sidebar to the right? Yeah, I listen to a lot of music so if you have a mix you think I might enjoy, use the Dropbox to push it my way.

Enjoy.

Scarlet > Fire > The Eleven by Ian Kennedy

Misa, a touchpad guitar

Misa

The Misa is “not a guitar” says Michael, it’s creator based out of Sydney, Australia. The Misa is designed to play electronic music.

In electronic music, the timbre (or colour) of the sound can be morphed in an infinite number of ways. For a guitar to accommodate this, the right hand needs more control than just plucking strings. You need to be able to control elements of the sound, such as sustain, pitch, filter cutoffs, contour or any other synthesizer parameter, in a way that has no physical constraints.

Misa digital guitars to acoustic guitars or electric guitars. Those are different instruments, for different artforms, for different music. This is electronic music.

The Misa plugs into a MIDI controller and runs a Linux kernel. The instrument’s software is open-source and designed to be enhanced by the community.

Here’s how it works.

if you tap on the left side of the screen you play a note with an effect parameter knob turned more to the left and if you tap to the right side of the screen the note is played with the knob turned to the right. Similarly with the top and bottom of the screen. Since there are two axis’ (X/Y) you can actually control two parameters at once.

Pretty cool.

Phish, Embracing the Remix

Jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish have always been ahead of the curve with how they let their fans record their concerts because as Jerry Garcia famously said, “Once we’re done with it, it’s theirs.”

These bands have always made more money on their tours than record sales anyway and because each show was uniquely different, fans created a community around the trading of bootleg tapes on sites such as etree.org

phish summer09

Phish made the jump to digital and saw an opportunity to feed the demand for high quality recordings of their concerts and turned it into a business on their site, livephish.com. The site featured high quality FLAC format recordings of their concerts just days after each show. Included with each download was a pdf file of artwork related to the show, title tracks with timings, all formatted to fit into the standard jewel case for the CDs that you’d burn at home.

The downloads are non-DRM but are priced such that it’s really not worth trading anyway (unless you want to gift someone) and the site offers special discounts for people that order all concerts from a tour in advance, kind of a futures market for the band’s performances.

Today I got an email which explains their latest innovation in conjunction with a big show they are doing for Halloween in California where they will famously appear in “band costume” and play an entire album from a yet-to-be-announced other band.

THE HOUSE OF LIVE PHISH

It’s back for Festival 8 with a nice twist. Get out of the heat, the House Of Live Phish will be air conditioned! Think you can do a better job mixing Phish? The House will feature mix-your-own-track stations complete with skilled instructors from ProMedia, and you’ll be able to re-mix tracks from this Summer’s Tour while drinking a Shasta (Wait, scratch that last part — Shasta’s just pulled out). Final tracks will be uploaded to a blog at livephish.com for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Also, everyone who visits the House of Live Phish will receive a free card redeemable for a Live Phish Summer 09 Sampler. Download and burn your own sampler onto CD using a Mac from our buddies at Small Dog Electronics in Vermont, or just enjoy listening to any of the songs at LivePhish.com on a Sonos listening station.

We’re also making each show from the weekend available on slotMusic micro SD cards, so that you can grab them on your way out of the concert field and listen back right away. Each card comes with a USB sleeve ensuring interoperability with all computers as well a microSD-enabled mobile phones and MP3 players. Listen to the concert on your way back to your campsite (you will never not be listening to Phish. Get used to it). Stop by the Phish Dry Goods tent for more details.

Letting fans remix their shows and uploading them to a site so that others can listen in? Cool!

Providing a kiosk where fans can download their favorite tracks from the tour and take them home on a CD? Nice!

Liked the show? Grab a microSD of the show on your way home. Priceless!