This Industry Thing Of Ours

A blog that gives you the up to date entertainment news as well as anything and everything related.

Tag: Maker Studios

10 New Ways To Make Money Off Of Your Music In The Digital Age…

by Sheme Jobs

1) Crowdfunding

Kickstarter has lead the way with nearly $120 million going to successful music projects. IndieGoGo is a close second and, unlike Kickstarter, allows creators to keep the money even if a project is unsuccessful (if the creator chose “flexible funding”). The most successful music crowd funding project is of course Amanda Palmer’s project which raised $1.2 million for her album. But there have been over 18,000 successful Kickstarter music projects (mostly funding albums) ranging from $1,000 to $1.2 million. Crowdfunding has been a great way for indie artists to bankroll their albums and tours without a label or investor.

2) PledgeMusic

Some people lump PledgeMusic in with Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. I don’t. PledgeMusic is different. It has changed the way the modern album campaign works. The pre-order on PledgeMusic is much more than just an advanced purchase of the album. Running a PledgeMusic campaign invites the fans into the entire album making process from start to finish. Some bands literally live stream from the studio to their backers. Many large bands who don’t need the money still run PledgeMusic campaigns (without the crowdfunding element) because it increases fan engagement and opening week sales. Artists like 311, Ben Folds Five, Imogen Heap, Howie Day, Korn (with the backwards R) and Lucinda Williams have all run campaigns. Many actually charted on Billboard in the opening week (all pre-order PledgeMusic sales are reported to Soundscan for chart placement).

2) Patreon

The newest of the crowdfunding bunch is Patreon. I call it Crowdfunding 2.0. Creators on Patreon ask their fans for continued financial support (patronage). Most patrons pledge $1-5 per piece of content released (music video, song, blog post, podcast, whatever) But some have pledged upwards of $1,000 PER PIECE OF CONTENT, because they can afford it and they really love the artist. Patreon launched in 2013 and is now paying out over $1 million per month to creators. This model embraces the new philosophy of asking your fans for support, not forcing them to buy. Because album sales are in a free fall, this is the next best solution for independent musicians with a highly engaged audience.

3) Self Managed Digital Download Stores

BandCamp has been the most successful artist-managed music store (no labels allowed) and currently pays out over $3 million a month to independent artists. Their “name your price” model has personally allowed one of my fans to pay me $200 for my new album and another fan paid $20 for a single. BandCamp is moving to a Patreon-esque subscription service in 2015. CD Baby, Loudr and Tuneport also offer self-managed download stores that have become increasingly popular amongst the indie music community.

4) BandPage Experiences

BandPage started as a Facebook app to allow bands to post music to their Pages. It has evolved into a musician-fan experience haven. Artists offer “experiences” like meet and greets, soundcheck access, pre-show ping pong challenges, pre-show guitar lessons, green room hangs and anything else you can think of. These experiences have brought in additional income for bands on tour above the standard ticket/merch income.

5) YouTube Ad Revenue and Sponsorships

Companies like Audiam, INDMusic, Fullscreen, Maker Studios, ONErpm, AdRev, Believe and Rumblefish collect YouTube ad revenue for artists and labels. Multi Channel Networks like Fullscreen and Maker also act as agents for their creators and negotiate high paying sponsorships for their videos and YouTube channels.

6) Online concerts

StageIt and Concert Window are leading the way in the online concert world. Most shows are “pay what you want” and encourage tipping. I’ve played a few StageIt shows and have averaged about $5 a head for a “pay what you want” concert (from tipping and tickets). Not bad for playing songs from my living room.

7) Gig Masters

This is like an online event planning company. I’ve never tried it out, but I have a few friends who get booked for weddings and corporate parties all the time through the site. Customers leave reviews of the artists and the artists’ ranking rises the more positive reviews they receive. Gig Masters costs $200-400 for the annual membership, but one booking will typically pay for that.

8) SoundBetter & AirGigs

Mixing and mastering engineers, producers, instrumentalists, singers, and full demo production studios get hired through these sites by artists for their recordings. Live in a remote village in Tanzania and want your epic 127 track production mixed by a Grammy winning mixing engineer? Done! Well, if you can pay their rate of course. This has been a great way for freelance artists with home studios to get extra work – especially if they aren’t plugged into an active music town.

SoundBetter just implemented a search by location feature so if you want to find recording studios or live sound engineers in your town, you can find them here as well.

9) YouTube tips

This is a new feature just rolled out this year by YouTube (to compete with Patreon). It’s not available to all YouTube users yet (you have to apply), but it’s a great way for fans to pay artists directly through YouTube – without having to leave the site.

10) Licensing Companies

Traditionally, licensing departments were a division within publishing companies. But with more and more demand for independent music on TV shows, commercials, movies and trailers, licensing companies have been popping up every day to connect indie artists with music supervisors. Some of the biggest have been doing it for 5-10 years now and have built up pretty solid relationships. Music supervisors love discovering new music to place in their projects, however, with so much music out there they typically only accept music from sources they trust: labels, publishers, artists who they have build relationships with, and now licensing companies. In addition to these more traditional licensing companies that pitch music directly to music supervisors with big budgets, many companies like, Triple Scoop Music, The Music Bed and Audiosocket, clear music with the artists in advance and put the songs up on their site for a set fee to be used, non-exclusively, by photographers and indie film makers. Passive income baby!

For all the doom and gloom discussions within the music industry right now, hopefully these 10 avenues shed some light onto how you can diversify your income stream and make a solid living as a musician.

All Def Digital Raises $5 Million…

by Sheme Jobs

All Def Digital is Russell Simmons‘ multi-channel network, showcasing comedy, music, and animation. The network launched a year ago, and has partnered with AwesomenessTV and Samsung’s Milk streaming service.
The MCN has raised $5 million in series A financing. The round of funding was lead by VC firm Greycroft Partners, who previously invested in Maker Studios and AwesomenessTV. Advancit Capital, Nu Horizons Investments, and e.ventures also contributed.

As part of the deal, Greycroft partner Mark Terbeek will join ADD’s board of directors. Terbeek says:

“When it comes to nurturing and introducing global audiences to new art forms and new artists, Russell is a one-of-a-kind visionary… He is a prolific entrepreneur who has been very methodically building an outstanding platform and team at All Def Digital.”

Maker Studios Creates A Video Platform…

by Sheme Jobs

Disney is in the process of acquiring Maker Studios, a deal that could be valued at around $1 billion. Now, Maker is announcing exclusive content from Disney brands and from partnerships with other brands.

Maker is co-creating content with Pepsi and will.i.am under the new Labs@Maker initiative. They’ll also be working with athletes, authors, and James Franco’s production firm.

The company has also launched Maker.tv, a web platform that will exist separately from YouTube. Maker.tv will feature exclusive content not available on YouTube. This is a big move, since Maker has always been a YouTube network.

Maker’s COO, Courtney Holt, told the Wall Street Journal:

“We’re really verticalizing the company… It makes more sense for the marketers. We know in the past we’ve had trouble getting them to understand all we have.”

Maker Studios Nearing Purchase of Video Distribution Network Blip…

by Sheme Jobs

Maker Studios, the high-profile MCN and home to online video stars and content, is in the process of acquiring video distribution network Blip. An early internet video pioneer ultimately eclipsed by YouTube, Blip later established itself as a tech platform to distribute videos to multiple platforms and partners, including YouTube, Verizon, and devices like Roku.
Although Maker operates through YouTube and probably isn’t planning on switching over to another destination site such as Blip, the deal gives Maker another place to distribute beyond YouTube.

Maker is also hoping to benefit from technology that isn’t provided by YouTube. With Blip, Maker could distribute content to more places and devices, such as game consoles, streaming boxes, connected TVs, and more smartphones/tablets.

You Didn’t Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral — Corporations Did

by Sheme Jobs

Google’s trend charts of the phrase “Harlem Shake” are seismic. Almost no one looked for the words until Feb. 7, then searches surged faster than any term Google ever had, except for “Whitney Houston” after her death. A few weeks later, they fell close to zero.

20130404-203812.jpgExperts said the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet — accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a “meme” that “went viral.” But this is untrue. The real story of the “Harlem Shake” shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same.

The word “meme” comes from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Bits of information — memes — propagate from brain to brain through imitation, are subject to selection and can be regarded as living structures, he says, “not just metaphorically but technically,” because new information changes our brains. They are often made deliberately — think catchphrases, slogans, melodies — and makers may try to propagate them as fast and far as possible, or make them go viral. The myth of the “Harlem Shake” is that its viral spread was spontaneous, not directed by financial interests — a pop culture, popular uprising. Here’s how the meme and the myth began.

Jan. 30

On Jan. 30, a Japanese-American college student named George Miller posted a three-and-a-half minute compilation of comedy on YouTube. Miller has been posting videos since 2008 and had developed an absurd comic style and an audience of tens of thousands. Miller’s movie began with 19 seconds of “Pink Guy,” (a character where he is mime in a pink body suit who dances and pratfalls) and three friends dancing in Miller’s bedroom to an obscure piece of electronic dance music: “Harlem Shake” by a little-known DJ called Harry Rodrigues, or “Baauer.” Miller’s audience loved the dance. Within hours, one fan had posted a video that looped the 19-second sequence for three and a half minutes.

Feb. 2

Musical imitations are part of YouTube culture. The dance for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” was an imitation of a video the singer saw on YouTube. It then became a subject of imitation itself. On Saturday, Feb. 2, five teenage longboarders from Caloundr, Australia, imitated Miller’s dance to “Harlem Shake.” In response to requests from fans, Miller also posted all 36 seconds of the dance footage he had shot originally. In Orlando, Florida, longboarders Anan Lagana and Jackson Foltz saw the Australian video, and with the help of three friends, imitated it with no knowledge of Miller’s original. Miller’s meme was replicating, but not fast or far. At this point, the Harlem Shake videos only had few thousand views.

Feb. 3

The next day, Sunday, Feb. 3, America came to its annual standstill for the Super Bowl. Shortly after Beyoncé sang “Single Ladies” as part of her half-time show, there was a 22-minute power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in Louisiana. A few advertising agencies reacted quickly via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube: Walgreens pointed out it sells candles; Oreos reminded people they could still dunk their cookies in the dark; and Tide said it could not get your blackout but it could get your stains out. The next day, Forbes declared it the “Super Bowl of real-time marketing.” The talk of the nation was not expensive Super Bowl ads but the brands that took advantage of the power outage. The vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz International (parent company of Oreos), B. Bonin Bough, boasted that his tweet “not only shows the power of real-time engagement, but also the sheer importance of understanding the overall media ecosystem.” Advertisers and their agencies started the week determined not to miss the next big social media opportunity.

Through Wednesday Feb. 6, the five “Harlem Shake” videos (three featuring Miller, two featuring the Australian and American longboarders imitating him) received several hundred thousand views. It was what happened next that made it viral. It had nothing to do with community and everything to do with commerce.

Feb. 7-8

A new imitation of “Harlem Shake” appeared. It came not from YouTube users, but from Maker Studios, a Los Angeles company that specializes in making money from YouTube and is partly owned by Time Warner. Maker Studios employee Vernon Shaw noticed the longboarders’ “Harlem Shake” videos on Reddit, a major tributary of information on the internet. Shaw thought the videos looked “pre-viral” and saw an opportunity to exploit them to promote Maker. On Thursday, Feb. 7, Maker employee Rawn Erickson uploaded an imitation of the Florida video with Maker Studios staff dancing in the Maker Studios office. Maker promoted the video across its many YouTube channels as well as on Twitter.

At the same time, an influential electronic dance music blogger called “EDM Snob” made one of the first Twitter references to the “Harlem Shake” along with a link to the Florida video: http://t.co/Z7QYarObRodrigues and his record label Mad Decent immediately started promoting the video. Rodrigues, using his stage name “Baauer,” record label owner Thomas Wesley Pentz, and Chicago deejays Josh Young and Curt Cameruci, signed to Mad Decent all posted tweets and messages to send traffic to the Australian video on YouTube. Six Twitter accounts — EDM Snob, Baauer, Diplo, Mad Decent, Major Lazer and Flosstradamus — were the cause of views of “Harlem Shake” on Thursday, Feb. 7 and Friday, Feb. 8. EDM Snob was selling himself. The other five were selling the record.

20130404-204216.jpgYouTube rewards this kind of behavior. People who post videos make up to $6 per thousand views in return for letting YouTube show ads on their videos. When a new video is uploaded, YouTube automatically checks for matches to copyrighted material. Copyright holders can block videos or share advertising revenue. Maker got paid every time someone watched its video. Mad Decent got paid every time someone viewed any video featuring Baauer’s song.

Feb. 10

The advertisers and agencies who spent the week after the Super Bowl looking for the next big thing in social media spent the weekend after the Super Bowl believing they had found it: Because of the tweets by Maker and Mad Decent, they started copying the Florida longboarders, doing a two steps removed imitation of George Miller dancing to “Harlem Shake,” believing it to be a pure product of the YouTube community. On Sunday, Feb. 10, while Wouter “Gotye” De Backer was accepting the “Record of the Year” Grammy for “Somebody That I Used to Know” (a record that was popularized by YouTube imitation videos), these companies started posting and promoting their own “Harlem Shake” videos. They included College Humor, a website owned by IAC, a publicly traded company that also owns Newsweek; Vimeo, a YouTube rival also owned by IAC; and BuzzFeed, a viral content website that promoted its video with a story subtitled “If you haven’t done one yet, you better get on it right away!” (The Huffington Post also ran a story, “The Harlem Shake: A ’00s Classic, Having Another Moment”). Thousands of “Harlem Shake” videos were uploaded during the week of Feb. 11, many of them from businesses with something to sell.

This is abnormal. “Single Ladies,” “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe,” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” were made by professionals and first imitated by professionals — Saturday Night Live in the case of “Single Ladies,” indie Canadian band Walk Off The Earth in the case of “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and Justin Bieber in the case of “Call Me Maybe” — then later by fans and amateurs. “Harlem Shake,” was a meme made by an amateur, George Miller, but its rapid replication was driven by media and marketing professionals, led and orchestrated by three companies: Maker Studios, Mad Decent, and IAC.

Feb. 13

On Feb. 13 — after Today Show host Al Roker danced to “Harlem Shake” in a cupid costume and 82-year old economist Alice Rivlin, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, danced to “Harlem Shake” in a stars and stripes top hat to promote deficit reduction — David Wagner, writing in The Atlantic, declared the “Harlem Shake” dead.

March 19

On March 19, a new video was posted. A bespectacled boy danced alone in a crowded high-school cafeteria for 15 seconds, then yelled “Everyone! Do the Harlem Shake!” The cafeteria fell silent. A few people cursed. The boy crept away.

What has changed?
Google’s YouTube, not Apple’s iTunes, is now the dominant force in music. Nearly 2 billion music videos are viewed on YouTube every day. When Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 on Feb. 20, only the 21st song in Billboard’s 58-year history to do so, and the first by a previously unknown artist, it was because of YouTube. This highlights a broader point: Google has amassed unprecedented power as a medium. It is massive, global and central. In addition, its claims about viewership are not audited. Television, radio and newspaper audiences are measured by independent entities like Nielsen and the Alliance for Audited Media. Advertisers can be reasonably certain how many people are seeing their messages. Google’s and YouTube’s audience claims are not measured independently. Everyone initially involved in driving traffic to the “Harlem Shake” had the same incentive: to increase the number of views. Unlike other media, there were no checks and balances except YouTube’s own secret view verification system. Google regards clicks and views as a “currency,” and take pains to get the numbers right, but unlike most other mass media, its figures are not verified by anyone who does not profit from higher numbers.

The brain-to-brain propagation of Dawkins’ memes can now happen worldwide within seconds. We have a new real-time, global culture that is not only technological but also social. Experiences like imitating the YouTube videos for “Single Ladies,” “Somebody That I Used To Know” and “Call Me Maybe” create instant traditions, or “meta-memes,” that prime us to become ultra-efficient human information routers. Memes become themes become meta-memes become norms. A few years ago, few people would have posted a video of themselves singing or dancing on YouTube. Today, for many, doing so is not only second nature — it’s urgent. In our real-time culture, meme speed matters. Primacy is more important than privacy.

What has stayed the same?
Who wins? The “Harlem Shake” originated with a drunken man named Albert Boyce dancing at Harlem’s Rucker Park basketball court in 1981. It was sobered up by children in the bleachers and became a popular dance in the hip-hop community. When Boyce died in 2006, the dance had found its way into some rap songs and videos. In 2012, Harry “Baauer” Rodrigues sampled one of these songs, Plastic Little’s “Miller Time,” and dropped it onto a piece of electronic dance music made in a style called “trap” that is only somewhat related to hip hop. The song was a commercial failure until student George Miller included it in his YouTube video. As the “Harlem Shake” moved from the Rucker to Al Roker, Alice Rivlin and beyond, money moved too: to Google, where more searches and more views mean more dollars, and its large investors like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Blackrock, and J.P. Morgan Chase; to Warner Bros, which owns global distribution rights for the recording; and to Time Warner, with its part ownership of Maker Studios.

Relatively little went to Philadelphia, where Thomas Wesley Pentz, the minor Svengali who signed Harry Rodrigues, collects royalties from Warner Bros., every time a recording is purchased, and from Google, every time the song sells an ad. Harry Rodrigues will benefit, although not as much as many may assume, and he will have to share what he gets with the people whose work he sampled. Boyce, the no-collar black man on the corner who gave world culture a twist, gets a little credit and no reward. George Miller, the originator of the whole thing, gets nothing. On Feb. 20, he tweeted at Rodrigues: “hey @baauer let’s have pizza sometime”

He didn’t even get a reply. The technology may have changed, but the money still flows the same way: to creators of contracts, not creators of content.

You Didn’t Make the Harlem Shake Go Viral — Corporations Did

by Sheme Jobs

Google’s trend charts of the phrase “Harlem Shake” are seismic. Almost no one looked for the words until Feb. 7, then searches surged faster than any term Google ever had, except for “Whitney Houston” after her death. A few weeks later, they fell close to zero.

20130404-203812.jpgExperts said the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet — accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a “meme” that “went viral.” But this is untrue. The real story of the “Harlem Shake” shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same.

The word “meme” comes from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Bits of information — memes — propagate from brain to brain through imitation, are subject to selection and can be regarded as living structures, he says, “not just metaphorically but technically,” because new information changes our brains. They are often made deliberately — think catchphrases, slogans, melodies — and makers may try to propagate them as fast and far as possible, or make them go viral. The myth of the “Harlem Shake” is that its viral spread was spontaneous, not directed by financial interests — a pop culture, popular uprising. Here’s how the meme and the myth began.

Jan. 30

On Jan. 30, a Japanese-American college student named George Miller posted a three-and-a-half minute compilation of comedy on YouTube. Miller has been posting videos since 2008 and had developed an absurd comic style and an audience of tens of thousands. Miller’s movie began with 19 seconds of “Pink Guy,” (a character where he is mime in a pink body suit who dances and pratfalls) and three friends dancing in Miller’s bedroom to an obscure piece of electronic dance music: “Harlem Shake” by a little-known DJ called Harry Rodrigues, or “Baauer.” Miller’s audience loved the dance. Within hours, one fan had posted a video that looped the 19-second sequence for three and a half minutes.

Feb. 2

Musical imitations are part of YouTube culture. The dance for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” was an imitation of a video the singer saw on YouTube. It then became a subject of imitation itself. On Saturday, Feb. 2, five teenage longboarders from Caloundr, Australia, imitated Miller’s dance to “Harlem Shake.” In response to requests from fans, Miller also posted all 36 seconds of the dance footage he had shot originally. In Orlando, Florida, longboarders Anan Lagana and Jackson Foltz saw the Australian video, and with the help of three friends, imitated it with no knowledge of Miller’s original. Miller’s meme was replicating, but not fast or far. At this point, the Harlem Shake videos only had few thousand views.

Feb. 3

The next day, Sunday, Feb. 3, America came to its annual standstill for the Super Bowl. Shortly after Beyoncé sang “Single Ladies” as part of her half-time show, there was a 22-minute power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in Louisiana. A few advertising agencies reacted quickly via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube: Walgreens pointed out it sells candles; Oreos reminded people they could still dunk their cookies in the dark; and Tide said it could not get your blackout but it could get your stains out. The next day, Forbes declared it the “Super Bowl of real-time marketing.” The talk of the nation was not expensive Super Bowl ads but the brands that took advantage of the power outage. The vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz International (parent company of Oreos), B. Bonin Bough, boasted that his tweet “not only shows the power of real-time engagement, but also the sheer importance of understanding the overall media ecosystem.” Advertisers and their agencies started the week determined not to miss the next big social media opportunity.

Through Wednesday Feb. 6, the five “Harlem Shake” videos (three featuring Miller, two featuring the Australian and American longboarders imitating him) received several hundred thousand views. It was what happened next that made it viral. It had nothing to do with community and everything to do with commerce.

Feb. 7-8

A new imitation of “Harlem Shake” appeared. It came not from YouTube users, but from Maker Studios, a Los Angeles company that specializes in making money from YouTube and is partly owned by Time Warner. Maker Studios employee Vernon Shaw noticed the longboarders’ “Harlem Shake” videos on Reddit, a major tributary of information on the internet. Shaw thought the videos looked “pre-viral” and saw an opportunity to exploit them to promote Maker. On Thursday, Feb. 7, Maker employee Rawn Erickson uploaded an imitation of the Florida video with Maker Studios staff dancing in the Maker Studios office. Maker promoted the video across its many YouTube channels as well as on Twitter.

At the same time, an influential electronic dance music blogger called “EDM Snob” made one of the first Twitter references to the “Harlem Shake” along with a link to the Florida video: http://t.co/Z7QYarObRodrigues and his record label Mad Decent immediately started promoting the video. Rodrigues, using his stage name “Baauer,” record label owner Thomas Wesley Pentz, and Chicago deejays Josh Young and Curt Cameruci, signed to Mad Decent all posted tweets and messages to send traffic to the Australian video on YouTube. Six Twitter accounts — EDM Snob, Baauer, Diplo, Mad Decent, Major Lazer and Flosstradamus — were the cause of views of “Harlem Shake” on Thursday, Feb. 7 and Friday, Feb. 8. EDM Snob was selling himself. The other five were selling the record.

20130404-204216.jpgYouTube rewards this kind of behavior. People who post videos make up to $6 per thousand views in return for letting YouTube show ads on their videos. When a new video is uploaded, YouTube automatically checks for matches to copyrighted material. Copyright holders can block videos or share advertising revenue. Maker got paid every time someone watched its video. Mad Decent got paid every time someone viewed any video featuring Baauer’s song.

Feb. 10

The advertisers and agencies who spent the week after the Super Bowl looking for the next big thing in social media spent the weekend after the Super Bowl believing they had found it: Because of the tweets by Maker and Mad Decent, they started copying the Florida longboarders, doing a two steps removed imitation of George Miller dancing to “Harlem Shake,” believing it to be a pure product of the YouTube community. On Sunday, Feb. 10, while Wouter “Gotye” De Backer was accepting the “Record of the Year” Grammy for “Somebody That I Used to Know” (a record that was popularized by YouTube imitation videos), these companies started posting and promoting their own “Harlem Shake” videos. They included College Humor, a website owned by IAC, a publicly traded company that also owns Newsweek; Vimeo, a YouTube rival also owned by IAC; and BuzzFeed, a viral content website that promoted its video with a story subtitled “If you haven’t done one yet, you better get on it right away!” (The Huffington Post also ran a story, “The Harlem Shake: A ’00s Classic, Having Another Moment”). Thousands of “Harlem Shake” videos were uploaded during the week of Feb. 11, many of them from businesses with something to sell.

This is abnormal. “Single Ladies,” “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe,” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” were made by professionals and first imitated by professionals — Saturday Night Live in the case of “Single Ladies,” indie Canadian band Walk Off The Earth in the case of “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and Justin Bieber in the case of “Call Me Maybe” — then later by fans and amateurs. “Harlem Shake,” was a meme made by an amateur, George Miller, but its rapid replication was driven by media and marketing professionals, led and orchestrated by three companies: Maker Studios, Mad Decent, and IAC.

Feb. 13

On Feb. 13 — after Today Show host Al Roker danced to “Harlem Shake” in a cupid costume and 82-year old economist Alice Rivlin, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, danced to “Harlem Shake” in a stars and stripes top hat to promote deficit reduction — David Wagner, writing in The Atlantic, declared the “Harlem Shake” dead.

March 19

On March 19, a new video was posted. A bespectacled boy danced alone in a crowded high-school cafeteria for 15 seconds, then yelled “Everyone! Do the Harlem Shake!” The cafeteria fell silent. A few people cursed. The boy crept away.

What has changed?
Google’s YouTube, not Apple’s iTunes, is now the dominant force in music. Nearly 2 billion music videos are viewed on YouTube every day. When Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 on Feb. 20, only the 21st song in Billboard’s 58-year history to do so, and the first by a previously unknown artist, it was because of YouTube. This highlights a broader point: Google has amassed unprecedented power as a medium. It is massive, global and central. In addition, its claims about viewership are not audited. Television, radio and newspaper audiences are measured by independent entities like Nielsen and the Alliance for Audited Media. Advertisers can be reasonably certain how many people are seeing their messages. Google’s and YouTube’s audience claims are not measured independently. Everyone initially involved in driving traffic to the “Harlem Shake” had the same incentive: to increase the number of views. Unlike other media, there were no checks and balances except YouTube’s own secret view verification system. Google regards clicks and views as a “currency,” and take pains to get the numbers right, but unlike most other mass media, its figures are not verified by anyone who does not profit from higher numbers.

The brain-to-brain propagation of Dawkins’ memes can now happen worldwide within seconds. We have a new real-time, global culture that is not only technological but also social. Experiences like imitating the YouTube videos for “Single Ladies,” “Somebody That I Used To Know” and “Call Me Maybe” create instant traditions, or “meta-memes,” that prime us to become ultra-efficient human information routers. Memes become themes become meta-memes become norms. A few years ago, few people would have posted a video of themselves singing or dancing on YouTube. Today, for many, doing so is not only second nature — it’s urgent. In our real-time culture, meme speed matters. Primacy is more important than privacy.

What has stayed the same?
Who wins? The “Harlem Shake” originated with a drunken man named Albert Boyce dancing at Harlem’s Rucker Park basketball court in 1981. It was sobered up by children in the bleachers and became a popular dance in the hip-hop community. When Boyce died in 2006, the dance had found its way into some rap songs and videos. In 2012, Harry “Baauer” Rodrigues sampled one of these songs, Plastic Little’s “Miller Time,” and dropped it onto a piece of electronic dance music made in a style called “trap” that is only somewhat related to hip hop. The song was a commercial failure until student George Miller included it in his YouTube video. As the “Harlem Shake” moved from the Rucker to Al Roker, Alice Rivlin and beyond, money moved too: to Google, where more searches and more views mean more dollars, and its large investors like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Blackrock, and J.P. Morgan Chase; to Warner Bros, which owns global distribution rights for the recording; and to Time Warner, with its part ownership of Maker Studios.

Relatively little went to Philadelphia, where Thomas Wesley Pentz, the minor Svengali who signed Harry Rodrigues, collects royalties from Warner Bros., every time a recording is purchased, and from Google, every time the song sells an ad. Harry Rodrigues will benefit, although not as much as many may assume, and he will have to share what he gets with the people whose work he sampled. Boyce, the no-collar black man on the corner who gave world culture a twist, gets a little credit and no reward. George Miller, the originator of the whole thing, gets nothing. On Feb. 20, he tweeted at Rodrigues: “hey @baauer let’s have pizza sometime”

He didn’t even get a reply. The technology may have changed, but the money still flows the same way: to creators of contracts, not creators of content.

The Latest! Hack Day SF, Gracenote, BMG, Sanctuary, UMG, Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Tim Dog, Eventbrite, Saavn, Deconstructing Beyonce…

by Sheme Jobs

20130215-191023.jpg

It’s another frenzy of music app deconstruction and reconstruction. Ahead of SF Musictech Summit on Tuesday, hackers will be crowding TokBox for another Music Hack Day SF this weekend (more at sf.musichackday.com…)

Enter Gracenote, which is officially launching its Developer Program at hacking fete. Which means that Gracenote’s music APIs, SDKs, MusicID, and audio fingerprinting technology will all be prime for picking.

WMG snapped ol’ Parlophone, but there are other UMG+EMI goodies. Like Sanctuary, just acquired by music rights management group BMG. The catalog includes storied albums from the likes of Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden. BMG tells us that there’s still a regulatory nod required from the EC, but then again, it’s the European regulators that told UMG to do these deals in the first place.

Speaking of Universal Music, the mega-label has just inked a partnership with LA-based Maker Studios, one that enables streamlined catalog access and licensing. A similar deal was inked between UMG and Fullscreen.

He gained fame with ‘F–k Compton,’ and added another chapter to an ultimately tragic East Coast West Coast beef. Tim Dog, who hailed from the Bronx, has now passed at 46.

So when, if ever, do all the disruptive barbarians devour Ticketmaster’s lunch? Well, it turns out that ‘Ticketmaster killing’ is actually harder than it looks, according to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, who told the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka that important infrastructure and support (not to mention permanent venue deals) offer quite the competitive barrier. Then again, the addressable market goes far beyond the tightly-controlled mega-show, and even the mega-space is under attack from the likes of AEG and AXS Ticketing. Which brings us to one very hungry Eventbrite, which just finished integrating into Facebook’s just-integrated ‘Buy Tickets’ functionality (that was fast). And who’s the first ticketing disruptor that wants to meet with Digital Music News at SF Musictech next week? Exactly…

But will they pay… $4 a month? That’s the latest streaming subscription experiment in India, where Saavn is now opening a Pro tier at the quite-relaxed price point (at least by Western standards). This is a Bollywood-heavy, mobile-intensive concept with a largely Indian userbase, though Saavn does have offices in both New York and Mountain View.

‘Just a cog in the diva machinery,’ pans the New York Times while picking apart Beyonce’s self-advertising autobiography, Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream. Times critic Alessandra Stanley panned the painful self-promotion as a “gauzy, stylish and utterly opaque film that comes off less as an autobiography than a song-and-dance defense brief,” while noting that “this superstar has summoned all her formidable strength, charm and self-discipline to prove that she is, beneath it all, a fragile artist buffeted by the winds of fate and hyperfame.”

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