Internet Technology: Time to Face the Music

It usually takes a while for an industry to utilize technology in a way that capitalizes on the new tools available to it. The music industry has been especially resistant to converting from physical and broadcast distribution to making use of Internet-based technology. But over the last two years, artists have been releasing videos and collaborations that are starting to test what the Internet can do for them. It’s a breath of fresh air when artists from different genres tap into some of the available technology to create compelling music videos, release interactive environments, or crowd-source content through social media.

The first time I knew the tide was turning was after viewing the short film “The Wilderness Downtown.” Directed by Chris Milk, the Google Chrome Experiment featured Arcade Fire’s song “We Used to Wait” in a video highlighting the new possibilities offered from HTML5. The video introduces three impressive features. The first is the incorporation of a predetermined GPS coordinate and its surrounding area right into the video using Google Maps and Street View. The second is a content-aware design created by the user during the video. Finally, the whole video is separated into numerous screens, removing the notion that a video is restricted to one screen. None of these things would have been feasible before HTML5, and “The Wilderness Downtown” shows the level of personalization and interaction a music video could have.

To view “The Wilderness Downtown,” visit http://www.chromeexperiments.com/arcadefire/.

(The video can only be viewed correctly in Safari or Google Chrome.)

Miranda Lambert’s new music video for “Fastest Girl in Town” offers another take at interaction. Released on July 30, the video allows you to choose your viewing perspective by placing two buttons at the bottom of the screen. Powered by Interlude (http://interlude.fm/), the buttons let you switch the camera’s perspective, theoretically creating a new video experience with every viewing. Additionally, four “Extra Footage” buttons appear throughout the video, offering behind-the-scenes footage if clicked. This gives the viewer some insight into the making of the video and presents Miranda Lambert with additional opportunities to distribute information.

To view ”The Fastest Girl in Town”, visit http://www.mirandalambert.com/interactive/.

In addition to new technology, Internet communities can also be used to create compelling music videos. A recent trend among pop stars has been to release an “official lyric video” before the live-action/animated video. Ellie Goulding gave her fans a chance to incorporate themselves into the lyric video for her new single “Anything Could Happen.” Released on August 9, the video is composed entirely of fan photos uploaded onto popular photo-sharing channel Instagram (http://instagram.com/).

Goulding posted the lyrics to “Anything Could Happen” a week earlier and then requested her fans to send photos that they thought best represented her words. The result was a complete crowd-sourcing project that resulted in over 1,200 photographs, forming a video in a short amount of time and with almost no time or expense on the part of the recording artist (or music label) and, while also allowing fans to be a part of the experience. It’s the perfect concept for the social generation.

In short, artists and record companies are starting to take advantage of what is available to them. Music videos no longer have to be constrained to one screen, showing the same video with every viewing. Videos can be diverse, creating different experiences for each viewer, with plenty of chances for fans to be involved from start to finish. Exciting times for music lie ahead, with the bar being set higher for video quality. It should prove interesting to watch, to say the least.

Author: Zack Smith

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