Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Future of Music: Do You Hear What I Hear?

I'm putting together a presentation on music, and over the next few days will be sharing some of the thinking and research.

We discover - and rediscover - music in all kinds of ways, and always have. Here are just a few, with some current examples:

Radio - Sara Bareilles. I'd call this the old-fashioned way. Cute girl writes addictive pop songs, gets signed to major label, gets airplay, hits the top of the charts with "Love Song."

MySpace - Five Times August. This might be the new-fashioned way. Cute guy writes addictive pop songs, tours nonstop (he plays sororities, so he's a smart, cute guy), makes 62,000 friends on MySpace, becomes the first unsigned artist to be sold at Wal-Mart.

TV - American Idol has been the engine of success for many. But television has always been a springboard because of the size of its audience - can you even hear the words "welcome back" without singing this theme song by John Sebastian?

Commercials - When a catchy product uses a catchy tune, everyone wants to know what it is. Apple has made a specialty of this, and Yael Naim is the latest beneficiary, in this MacBook Air ad. Shalom, Yael!

YouTube - Speaking of commercials, YouTube visitors loved Tay Zonday's odd "Chocolate Rain" so much that they've viewed it more than 16 million times - and voted it the top music video of 2007. Dr. Pepper got Tay to do a "Cherry Chocolate Rain" that, though it had far better production values, was a relative failure, with only 3.5 million views.

Online Leaks - At this point, putting MP3s online pre-release has become a strategic move for musicians and the people who promote them. The Raconteurs (led by Jack White of the White Stripes) have enough critical cachet and a strong enough popular following that they decided to circumvent the process, recording an album three weeks ago and releasing it worldwide in all formats this week. Click on "video" below to watch. (Love the interface: the screen of my first computer, a Kaypro 2X, looked just like this.)

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