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ain't really ain't nothin' but a movie...
BMG Partners w/ Akamai & Virage and UMG's Music Trivia Game
By Dick Metcalf
(more articles from this author)
2000-11-28
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"You don't need to be in no hurry.
You ain't never really got to worry.
You don't need to check on how you feel.
Just keep repeating that none of this is real.
And if you're sensing that something's wrong
just remember that it won't be too long
before the director cuts this scene
'cause this ain't really your life
ain't really your life
ain't really ain't nothin' but a movie..."

"B" MOVIE
by Gil Scott-Heron (1981)
published by Brouhaha Music (ASCAP)

My apologies to one of the true poetic heroes in modern American culture, Gil Scott-Heron, if I've rendered any of his lines incorrectly. These are verses from an album called "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," & I've taken them (ever so slightly) out of context to illustrate a point about recent press releases regarding video technology.... maybe it WILL be - "videoized," that is!!

On November 16th, 2000, Bertelsmann AG, announced overall plans for its online video content syndication initiative, which will make music videos available for streaming to syndication partners. Kevin Conroy, Chief Marketing Officer and President New Technology, BMG Entertainment, said "BMG is pleased to partner with Akamai and Virage [the partners who will provide the technology to make all this possible] on this initiative. Our efforts to establish a syndication business for our music media assets further demonstrate BMG's ongoing commitment to creating a digital connection between our artists and their fans." While this is an amazing piece of news, small producers (like myself) have to wonder where this will lead for them. As higher and higher speeds become available across the country and around the world, will the small producer be left out if they don't join the video frenzy? Or will fans choose the glitz & glamor of music video over "straight-up" music? Trends over the last few years show that listeners are (ever more frequently) choosing indie over (or at least on a par with) major!

Another release, on November 20th, 2000, in which Universal Music Group's eLabs (UMG) announced a brand-new music trivia game, "Name That Jam," was interesting, too. Larry Kenswil, President, eLabs, Universal Music Group stated that "Universal Music Group is the first major label to focus on the broadband space in a meaningful way." The game will test fans knowledge of current music across the genres of their choice, and score points by correctly matching hundreds of music clips from UMG's most popular artists to album art, album titles, and artists. You may remember (from an earlier article of mine) that some of UMG's (own) artists (Courtney Love was the one I wrote about) have their own little disputes about honesty & payments from the company. So, can WE trust UMG & their game? Will the game focus on nothin' but the "biggies" (more than likely), or will it evolve into something that challenges fans & listeners with material/artists they have NEVER heard before? If not, they run the risk (I believe) of fulfilling Heron's prophecy... that the game will truly be "nothin' but a movie".

None of us can "blame" the major labels for using the content/artists they have... that's where the draw is, of course, & sites that are syndicating from them will (more than likely) want the "big name" artists. I would be the last to discourage these technological advances, since broadband and syndication of digital content are unquestionably the Internet's future, but nothing would be more boring (to me & to many hundreds of thousands of other fans) than high-speed capability that featured the same old "top" artists... no diversity, nothing "strange" to grab hold of with my ears/eyes. One of the main reasons I listen to (so much) music is that I'm constantly in SEARCH of the "new," the "different" - the "life" in today's music. So I'd suggest that the broadband efforts of all the players (& especially majors like BMG) be aimed at conceptualizing ways & means that will allow them to turn listeners on to new musicians (as well as the "high ticket" artists)... be proactive (instead of corporate) in attitude & use the resource to provide visual and sonic content that challenges the listener to realize just how MUCH life there is out there! Turn the public ON to what's out there.

What we NEED, then, IS a revolution... the difference (could be) in WHAT gets "televised" (or put on the music videos). That may be the only way of getting those with the dollars to turn the wire up to light speed to realize that diversity is the KEY to their success, rather than a thorn in their side! Will this all happen? One can only guess at this point, though history makes me believe that Gil was right... it's a lot easier for the corporations to follow a business model they've been successful with (rather than strike out in bold new ways) & in that sense, Mr. Heron's words may well apply ... "this ain't really your life, ain't really your life, ain't really ain't nothin' but a movie..." Let us hope that I am wrong!

Linkography

Akamai - www.akamai.com
Bertlesmann - www.bertlesmann.com
BMG - www.bmg.com
UMG - www.umusic.com
Virage - www.virage.com

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» No 'love' Lost Between Courtney and Label (2000-09-20)

Related News from Mi2N:
» Universal Music Group Expands Broadband Pilots With First Music Trivia Game
» BMG Unveils Online Video Content Syndication Initiative
» BMG Entertainment Selects Virage To Syndicate Music Videos On The Internet


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