Monday, February 3, 2014

Musical Monday - Dimetrodon by The Doubleclicks

Okay, so despite my deep and abiding love for The Doubleclicks, this wasn't my first choice for this week's Musical Monday. This song, Dimetrodon, extolling the glories of the massive shark eating pre-dinosaur lizards, would have been a Musical Monday selection at some point, but my original plan was to have a different song right now.

At first, I wanted to use Bruno Mars' The Lazy Song, because the alternate official video features Leonard Nimoy being an irascible old coot who is simply not putting up with any crap today. But that video, while available on YouTube, is blocked for viewing on other sites.

So instead, I decided to pick the song A Little Fall of Rain from the musical Les Misérables, sung by Lea Salonga and Michael Ball as part of the 25th Anniversary "Dream Cast" concert. I saw a community theater production of the play this past weekend, and it made me think of how storytelling works, and how to signal the importance of events to the audience. But that video, also on YouTube, is also blocked for viewing on other sites.

And so I picked the Doubleclicks video for their adorable song Dimetrodon. I picked it because the song is funny and cute, but also to illustrate a larger point. And that point is this: The people who block videos from being used on other sites are really penalizing no one but themselves. If you are concerned with your music being sold, what you are looking for is exposure - the opportunity for people to hear what you have to offer and decide they want to hear more of that. This is why music is played on the radio. Recording labels aren't being altruistic and letting radio stations play that music to fill air time because they are being benevolent. They are doing it so that you, the listener, will hear the latest song and decide you really need to purchase it and listen to it whenever you want to. There is a royalty system where labels are supposed to get compensated for radio plays, but it is so screwed up that I'm not sure if anyone ever sees any money out of it.

And the videos of musical performances on YouTube serve much the same purpose. People see a Bruno Mars video, or a Lady Gaga video, or a Les Misérables video on YouTube and some decide they want to own a copy of the music they have just listened to. And to a certain extent, having a video on YouTube does meet this goal. But when you prevent the video from being embedded elsewhere, you limit the reach of your video, and limit its ability to draw in new viewers and listeners. What I think we are seeing with rights holders who make the choice to impose these limitations is the reflexive action of "old media", which seeks to exert heavy handed control over their property.

But this sort of heavy handed control deprives those rights holders of the power of the internet. On the other hand, a group like The Doubleclicks or the other internet savvy musicians such as Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm, Molly Lewis, and others have figured out that if they simply put the seeds out there, they will be able to grow their audience. The Doubleclicks started by simply putting their songs on YouTube. People listened to their music. Based upon this, they were able to book concerts. And then they were able to record a CD. And then another. And now Aubrey and Angela have a Kickstarter campaign going where they seem likely to meet every stretch goal they have set. By not restricting their music, they have created fans, and by creating fans, they have found success, or more to the point created success. While "old media" was foundering about trying exert elusive control, The Doubleclicks created a career for themselves by essentially making their music available for free and then letting people choose to buy it. They, and not the slowly dying record labels, are the future of the music industry.

Previous Musical Monday: Let Her Go by Passenger

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