Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Grimey blues bar

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A wonderfully late evening with blues and frozen margueritas.

Arctic Monkeys give PR cold shoulder

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David Sinclair reports in The Times:

A reluctant rock band leapt straight to the top of the charts yesterday, propelled to unexpected stardom by a DIY marketing campaign on the internet.

To music promoters they are the proof of two troubling new phenomena — acts successfully promoting themselves to the big time via a website and fans swapping their songs on internet forums.

This morning music PRs were adjusting themselves to a brave new world where emerging bands can market their product successfully before choosing a record label.

Imagine how famous they would be if they had a blog as well! :-)

Music of the long tail

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Classical music lovers may be leading the way in what I am starting call the long tail for producers.

A pair of classical music enthusiasts has spent half a decade combing archives and obsessively re-creating hundreds of obscure pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven for download as MIDI files.

Their hope is to rekindle mainstream interest in the great German composer, and so far they’ve done all right: The National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., performed their reconstruction of an overture originally intended to be part of an opera based on Shakespeare’s "Macbeth."

The two enthusiasts are part of a growing community of amateurs and semi-professionals who are using the internet and other digital tools to bring classical music out of concert halls and academies, hoping to popularize it with the force of the Internet. Classical music sales are about 3 percent of the market. The energy from this classical ’sub-culture’ is emanating from the blogosphere consisting of music fans, the New Yorker magazine’s music critic, Live365 programmes run by home disc jockeys and the eager amateur criticism accompanying this spring’s Webcast of the Van Cliburn piano competitions.

When the BBC offered versions of Beethoven symphonies on its site, in conjunction with a series of features on the composer, there were more than 1 million downloads in just a few weeks. That’s some demand, which had the time and opportunity to aggregate, without the pressure of audience, distribution and immediate impact.

The New York Times for strange reason labeled the performance "a sham and a shame and some scholars, such as University of Manchester professor Barry Cooper, a Beethoven scholar who has reconstructed an unfinished Tenth Symphony, are not impressed either:

Merely playing previously unplayed works, digitally, is not going to create a significant base for scholarly advance. Its main advantage for scholars may be in drawing attention to works they might previously have overlooked.

To me, this shows another crack in the traditional producer-distribution-audience models. It is obvious that scholars and professionals were not the audience. The two Beethoven enthusiasts were first doing what they wanted to enjoy and couldn’t find and now they are hoping to reach the mainstream in a way academicians and virtuosos can’t. As Doc Searls points out, this is the demand side supplying itself. Sure, enthusiasts and amateurs have achieved feats that impressed the official experts and professionals but now, thanks to an unparalled distribution system that the internet has become, they can go directly to the audience. Some consumer-generated content that is scaring those who grew comfortable with the model and the control it gave them…

The idea is to promote listeners getting familiar with unfamiliar music. Scholars have had access to this stuff for well over a hundred years, and haven’t done anything with it.

Effortless passion

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Tonight I had the most amazing musical experience…  a very different one from my usual fare. Many thanks to Clive Davis who made it possible by inviting me to see and hear Taraf de Haidouks at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

The auditorium was packed and the gypsy band was phenomenal. With most music, there is the start, the warm up, the build up to a climax, the climax itself and then winding down. Not with the Haidouks – they go straight into the 300-miles an hour music whirlwind, while looking like they are just standing there, making silly faces at each other and the audience. It is quite a unique experience, one that takes one’s breath away.

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I tried to record some music using my phone and whilst it is impressive that anything came out of it, it wasn’t of sufficient quality to be more than a private reminder of the evening. I shall therefore not torture you with a grainy video clip with dim noise and faint music. However, I did manage to take some pictures and, of course, find websites with better recordings and pictures.

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