Convergence Economics Media

Olbermann, YouTube and Viral Satire

I’m not exactly sure where to start with this … but it seems to be a great example of media convergence, long tail economics, the power of internet media …. and the problems facing institutions like record companies. Since I can’t figure out how to start, I think I’ll just write chronologically.

Warning: adult content (SNL-like) follows:

Sometime in late December or early January, Mike got an e-mail from Jesse (brother-in-law) … with a link to a YouTube hosted clip of a Saturday Night Live musical satire. It was Justin Timberlake and Adam Sanberg, doing Dick In A Box.

Fast-forward to last week … and the debut of Box In A Box, a female satire of the SNL skit. [Revver – shares $ with artist; YouTube]

Here’s the 12 January MSNBC story with Keith Olbermann … he interviews the two young women who made Box In A Box the “most viralist video” of the week.

So what’s special? First, the SNL skit was a slick, costly production, performed on network television. Yes, it got a wider audience after official (and non-official) posting to YouTube. And males with too much time on their hands proceded to film their versions of the song.

Then along came Leah Kaffman and her friends Rick Fredman, a Philadelphia-area producer; Mike Barber, videographer; and Bunny (Melissa Lamm, the lip-synching dancer). Home-grown track; home-grown video. International, radio and TV audience. Blog (Typepad); YouTube, Revver … social media with easy-to-use publish and distribution tools.

Would this had happened if Leah, Rick and Melissa weren’t talented. Nope. Leah is a talented singer and has released an album, Folk and Fantasy. But there are lots of talented singers in the world — and most of them aren’t profiled on NBC.

In addition to Revver income, the blog has a tip jar ($2 minimum). They sold “the box” on eBay for $1525 — money going to charity. The mp3 is on the blog, free to remix. These ladies know what they are doing!

This is a long-tail phenomena. Remember, everyone who sings does not want to be the next mega-hit. Also, the “album” model is broken. It was, with a few exceptions (eg, Tommy, some Pink Floyd), not an artist-driven medium but a studio-driven one … I think to “fill up” the time on an LP, afer that medium was invented.

Most listeners/buyers would have been happy with one or two songs on any given album. Now they can buy just what they want — with iTunes (et al) — at a reasonable price (unlike singles, which cost way too much for what you got because they’re atoms, not bits).

The “bunny” story reflects the fact that control has shifted away from the studios. And if they don’t “get” this, I feel sorry for them … but those disrupted by new technologies often don’t “get” the freight train that’s barreling down on top of them.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.