Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, July 01, 2006
# 12:36:00 PM:

Ethan Kaplan of Warner Brothers Records about fans at Gnomedex

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How does a big record company learn how things should happen in this new world?

  • Only been in the record industry a year.
  • A music fan for the rest of his life.
  • Created in 1996, when he was 16, and it was the first R.E.M. website.
  • came later.
  • Tries to get people in the record industry enthusiastic about technology.
  • A rock concert is where boundaries are drawn, and they're broken down on the Internet—or they can be.
  • An R.E.M. concert in San Diego in 2003, things happened online that started to break down the physical spaces.
  • Took set list requests online.
  • Ethan did statistical averaging of set lists over the past two decades that fans would vote on.
  • Audience organized by SMS and algorithms asking people to meet in certain places.
  • Trying to take a monolithic beast of an industry to understand that participatory culture is here, active, and necessary.
  • Hierarchies have been implied by the media they were distributed on.
  • That's not necessarily so on the Internet.
  • Murmurs gets more than twice the traffic as R.E.M.'s official site, and makes money while theirs doesn't.
  • Fans matter ore than the bands, because the bands are fans making music.
  • How do you explain tagging to Madonna fans? Maybe you don't: just try to tag as much as you can.
  • How do you explain Technorati to a 16 year old?
  • Mailing lists are no longer all that interested in message boards.
  • It's mostly LiveJournal and MySpace, and private backchannel.
  • Message boards are a pain in the ass.
  • Warner Records isn't Warner Music and the RIAA, so Ethan doesn't get involved in those conversations.
  • How do you explain MySpace to Paul Simon, while also explaining to Head Automatica that they shouldn't post nude photos of themselves to the web?
  • Pop is a machine, not necessarily a music style, and that isolates them from their fans.
  • Newer bands need to know not to put out too much stuff.
  • The great challenges come from artists who get it, like Neil Young.
  • Money can come in all sorts of different ways, especially with all the additional material *around* the regular album release.
  • Easy, micropayment-based transactions can make that happen.
  • Compelling content, easy transactions.
  • Remove the magic of the "mystery" and build a new magic of interaction.
  • Can every artist get this sort of treatment?
  • A balance between the different divisions of the company.


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