Categories
Current Events

Commercial Sync

It used be one of the lowest forms of selling out when a musician signed over their work to a brand campaign. Such was the stigma, Nike was sued for using The Beatles’ Revolution in one of their commercials. With declining revenues for recorded music, touring and merch remain the main sources of income for a working band. For older musicians that have family and want to stay close to home, Commercial Sync, or composing music for a brand campaign, can be a lucrative alternative.

A long way from the earworm jingles of the 60’s and 70’s, television advertising has become a way to not only earn the equivalent of months of work for 30 seconds of art but also a way for relatively unknown artists to break into the charts. Apple introduced America to Feist with the launch of their iPod Nano. It’s good money for the bands and if the product is right, playing back up to a brand can actually augment the band’s image and their association with a cool brand.

In the same way that Dissolve held a mirror up to the use of stock video in today’s commercials, Canadian musician Jon Lajoie has laid it all out plain as day in his video Please Use This Song. Brands are the patrons of the 21st Century.

Thanks to @jr conlin for the pointer

Categories
Current Events

Where is the Microsoft Surface theme song?

For the launch of Windows95, Microsoft licensed Start Me Up from the Rolling Stones as a way to kick off the biggest software upgrade in the company’s history and forever brand Mick Jagger’s crooning with a key feature of Win95.

Now we have the Surface. Where’s the theme song?

Categories
Current Events

Yo La Tengo in Portland

Yo La Tengo previewed a track off their upcoming album, Fade, on YouTube. The track in the video above is Ohm and features a tree from Overlook Park in Portland, Oregon that is also on the album’s cover. Fade will be released in January.

yo_la_tengo_fade

 

Categories
Current Events

Giant Steps Visualized by Michal Levy

You know that sudden panic when something you used to count on is no longer there at the end of a trusty purple link? Like forgotten memories, as the web gets older, the synapses that link to dusty old internet memes crumble and fade. Link rot sucks

I recently went looking for an old .swf file that I used to show my son when he was a baby. The animation below is over 10 years old so that dates him but back in the day, this 4mb file enjoyed millions of views. I almost didn’t find the file so I took the time to download it so that I could archive it on my public Dropbox account for others to enjoy.

If you want to read more about this visualization and how it was made, there is a short write up on Michal’s site who built this for her BFA degree, “I worked on this film from morning to night, doing only this, for 4 months,” says Levy. Yes, times have changed since 2001.

For a more recent work, see her latest work, One from 2010 as well as a recent video interview with her at the DLD conference in Tel Aviv.

UPDATE: Five years later and now Adobe Flash files are no longer supported in browsers. I converted the .swf file into a .flv file and uploaded it to YouTube. Progress!

Categories
Current Events

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 a 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.

Steve Ballmer Developers Rap

Mad props for getting Linus Torvalds into a rap song. This has to be a first.

Smixx – Developers (feat. Steve Ballmer) by Smixx

Categories
Current Events

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?

Bohemian Rhapsody on Ukulele

TED has a video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on his Ukulele. As Jake says, “If everyone played the Ukulele, this world would be a much happier place.”

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