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Josh Catone over at ReadWriteWeb has an interesting suggestion for Warner Bros. to get folks interested in the upcoming superhero feature, Watchmen: Take a page from Trent Reznor’s book. The Nine Inch Nails front man has been experimenting with innovative distribution and marketing schemes ever since […]

Josh Catone over at ReadWriteWeb has an interesting suggestion for Warner Bros. to get folks interested in the upcoming superhero feature, Watchmen: Take a page from Trent Reznor’s book. The Nine Inch Nails front man has been experimenting with innovative distribution and marketing schemes ever since his band said farewell to Universal Music, giving away songs and even uploading an album to the Pirate Bay. Catone admits that Warner can’t completely follow the NIN model, and our resident superhero expert Chris Albrecht had some other good reasons why the Watchmen plan might fail, but Hollywood surely could use some new inspiration.

Now, the music industry isn’t really known as a big innovator. In fact, record labels have long been the lemmings in the coal mine for Hollywood, stumbling from one disaster to another and showing what mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Remember that glorious idea to ship audio CDs complete with Windows malware ? But bands and online music startusp have started to innovate at last, developing a new type of music industry, oftentimes referred to as music 2.0, that is dominated not by brick and mortar, but by MP3 blogs, Last.fm and pay-as-much-as-you-want online sales. Maybe it’s time Hollywood took another look.

Here are five things the studios could learn from the new music biz:

Embrace Facebook And not just as another place to dump your trailers, either. New music startups like iLike and Imeem have been winning over users by the millions with innovative Facebook applications that make it possible to stream a vast catalog of songs in full length. The studios, on the other hand, make widgets that only promote one movie at a time with trailers and “behind the scenes” videos you’ve seen on TV already, boring the hell out of the Facebook audience. Case in point: The iLike app has around 300,000 active daily users on Facebook, whereas the much-hyped Indiana Jones widget only attracts about 85 users per day. Go figure. Or even better: Give me my Hulu app so I can watch and share complete shows and movies with my friends, already!

Learn from MP3 blogs. MP3 blogs have been like the anarchist street teams of the new music biz, giving bands that would have no chance on mainstream radio an audience. Labels regularly “leak” upcoming singles to these blogs to promote their artists’ albums. Hulu’s embeddable videos go in the right direction, but where’s the same sort of smart grassroots promotion for upcoming feature films? The trick is to fire up fans with material that has real value to them, not just the same trailers that are running in the theaters. How about leaking part of an unfinished scene to movie forums? Add some drama to the story by reshooting the “leaked” scene, and you got yourself a bunch of free headlines both in movie buff blogs and the mainstream press.

Do what Trent did. Trent Reznor’s NIN experiments are definitely worth looking at. Sure, Warner can’t release a new feature film online for free in the hopes that fans will pay more for the next one. But releasing nine songs for free to sell the other 25 really isn’t about one big feature, but more about serialized production – and the idea makes much more sense once you apply it to TV. Networks have always given away pilot episodes for free, either as DVDs in Entertainment Weekly or as a free iTunes downloads. So why not be brave and upload them to a torrent tracker, complete with an offer to buy the rest of the season for cheap online? The key is to go where your target audience is, and chances are quite a few of them are scouring Mininova and the Pirate Bay for new and exciting downloads as we speak.

Drop DRM. The major record labels have, for far too long, insisted on DRM, in turn allowing iTunes to become a monopolistic market leader. Indie labels have been smarter from the beginning, embracing DRM-free alternatives like Emusic. Why shouldn’t the same thing work for movies or TV shows?

Embrace the remix culture. Musicians regularly publish their instrumentals and audio source materials online to get fans to remix their tunes. Do the same thing for a movie or a TV show. But you gotta be brave: Don’t lock them into a web-based remix tool that treats them like children and doesn’t allow to export the fruits of their labor. Give them real access to downloadable raw footage and allow them to upload it where ever they like, YouTube included. You’ll not only make the fan film scene happy, but you’ll also get some excellent grassroots promotion in the process.

  1. [...] blogs, Last.fm and pay-as-much-as-you-want online sales. Maybe it’s instance tone took added look. Continue datum at Newteevee.com. Tags: music20, music2.0, [...]

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  2. Very interesting!

    Your are a film maker or film producer, interested in (I quote the article)
    - “experimenting with innovative distribution and marketing schemes”
    - allowiny your audience to “watch and share complete shows and movies with [...] friends”
    - “fire up fans with material that has real value to them, not just the same trailers that are running in the theaters. How about leaking part of an unfinished scene to movie forums?”
    “upload them to a torrent tracker, complete with an offer to buy the rest of the season for cheap online?”

    If yes, have a look on http://www.pumit.com, it could help you going that way…

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  3. [...] Catone admits that Warner can’t completely follow the NIN model, and our resident superhero expert Chris Albrecht had some other good reasons why the Watchmen plan might fail, but Hollywood surely could use some new inspiration. [...]

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  4. [...] NewTeeVee Josh Catone over at ReadWriteWeb has an interesting suggestion for Warner Bros. to get folks interested in the upcoming superhero feature, Watchmen: Take a page from Trent Reznor’s book. The Nine Inch Nails front man has been experimenting with innovative distribution and marketing schemes ever since his band said farewell to Universal Music, giving away songs and even uploading an album to the Pirate Bay. Catone admits that Warner can’t completely follow the NIN model, and our resident superhero expert Chris Albrecht had some other good reasons why the Watchmen plan might fail, but Hollywood surely could use some new inspiration. [...]

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  5. You wrote:
    –Give them real access to downloadable raw footage and allow them to upload it where ever they like, YouTube included. You’ll not only make the fan film scene happy, but you’ll also get some excellent grassroots promotion in the process.–

    That’s absolutely the right idea. I wrote a book about fan films that’s coming out this summer (“Homemade Hollywood”) where in the last chapter, I give some ideas about where the form is going. One of the things I wrote is that it’s only a matter of time before a variation on that idea above takes place, and to some extent, it’s already happened. Last year, there was a Battlestar Galactica contest where they provided downloadable effects and sounds, but you were only allowed to use them for the contest (I’m sure that rule wasn’t followed much). It’s only a matter of time before the idea of providing raw fan film materials is used to promote a brand-new franchise (“make a fan film about our new TV show–here’s clips and some freeware video editing software that we licensed with a custom skin on it based on our show”). It’ll happen.
    –Clive
    fancinematoday.com

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  6. It is very common for internet watchers to confuse that which is cool and neato with that which produces either monetary or other substantive results. What do you know about the actual numbers behind Reznor’s efforts? What do we know about the long and short term financial successes of many internet endeavors? Answer: VERY LITTLE. These are private enterprises with an interest in positive spin. True, some don’t care to make money (does Funny or Die really need to make money?), but in that light what is the definition of success? –perhaps making art for art’s sake, but let’s face it, A TON of what’s out there ain’t art by a long shot. It’s throwaway material like yesterday’s cup of coffee. Back to Reznor. According to a friend who has worked w/Trent for years, the online forays before Ghost haven’t been that productive –at least in any measurable terms. Early reports were that about a third of the people were paying anything for Ghost. Don’t know where those numbers have settled nearly a couple of months later. The reporting here and elsewhere needs more digging into the real numbers behind the assumptions and less sipping of the kool-aid. OR… does depth come only with the paid subscription? ;) ;)

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  7. Excellent article, how about Denouement 2.0, you get to watch the show, film, slobisode for free, until the denouement, when a little red button urges you to pay to find out what happens next.

    That way I can try before I buy and films starring Madonna will never get made, which has to be a blessing.

    On a serious note, negotiating torrent marketing for movies is something we advise on…

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  8. [...] Five Things Hollywood Can Learn From Music 2.0 Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)So you think you look like Richard Nixon?Zack Snyder Talks “Watchmen”Warner Brothers releases first images of Watchmen Cast [...]

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  9. [...] News1. No “Rapture” Allowed in DC2. Hollywood could learn from the music industry3. Rolling Stone and the future of music4. These United States making news5. NKOTB brings an [...]

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