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Summary:

Name-calling isn’t polite. That’s how my mother brought me up, anyways. So I kinda feel bad about starting off today’s review with the following: OK Go, you guys are morons. But, frankly, it needs to be said. Why? It’s simple. The indie rock band was but […]

Name-calling isn’t polite. That’s how my mother brought me up, anyways. So I kinda feel bad about starting off today’s review with the following: OK Go, you guys are morons.

But, frankly, it needs to be said. Why? It’s simple. The indie rock band was but a blip on the mainstream music scene until 2006, when it made jaws drop with the viral smash video for Here It Goes Again. Four dudes took eight treadmills and made one of the most joyful and exuberant music videos of the 2000s, and its online success (currently approaching 50 million views on YouTube) created a worldwide audience for the band.

However, last Friday OK Go premiered a stunt-heavy music video for the new single This Too Shall Pass, featuring a cast of 200 — including the Notre Dame marching band — who perform the tune in one take, with some fun surprises along the way. Alas, though, the video has so far only acquired about 10,500 views, which is surely disappointing to the band, yet easily explained: The video is geoblocked by Capitol Records in many international locations, and embedding in all regions has been disabled.

Copyright issues as they relate to the distribution of music videos are increasingly complex, which the advent of Vevo so far has shown no sign of curing. That’s understandable — the music industry is freaking out, YouTube is bending over backwards to accommodate it, and while fans miss out on content as a result, I personally am optimistic that this is simply a transitional phase that, eventually, will lead to a workable solution for all parties.

What makes OK Go appear to have the relative intelligence of a box of rocks — with all the smart rocks removed — is their video message to fans, released two days after This Too Shall Pass‘s premiere. The minute-long “apology” is really a passive-aggressive “why don’t you like us anymore” rant where lead singer Damian Kulash practically begs fans to watch the new video. “What did we do wrong?” he asks — the unspoken question being “Why isn’t our new video as popular as the other ones?”

And since the video message isn’t geoblocked, and it is embeddable, the fans are speaking up in the comments as to what OK Go did wrong: expect their 2006 viral success to happen despite 2010’s legal restrictions. Because here’s the thing — if you want your video to go truly viral, you have to make it possible for it to spread. Which means you have to enable embedding, and you have to make it watchable internationally. It’s a simple enough equation, and by playing dumb in this video message, OK Go just ends up looking dumb.

Look, OK Go, you’re certainly in an awkward position, and it is a shame that This Too Shall Pass is going tragically unseen. But instead of blaming the fans for your videos going unwatched, maybe instead you should put some pressure on your record company to, you know, allow all your fans to watch it.

  1. You are absolutely correct!

    I can’t stand that geotagging / geoblocking bullshit!!! How can these companies be sooo stupid?

    I live in Canada, and most sites: hulu, mtv.com, comedy central block their content to Canadians. How ridiculous is that? They want LESS people to look at their ads?? As if Canadians don’t buy the same things Americans do.

    Some day these companies will realize what they’ve done and it will be too late. Screw capitol records.

    JON.

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  2. Here’s the thing – the video premiered last night, not 3 days ago. Believe me, I know. It shows up on Youtube saying it was added Friday, but it was kept private until last night. 10,000 views in less than 24 hours, while certainly not viral, is not bad. As for the video where they ask for Youtube’s forgiveness, that was a joke, also filmed awhile back. You’re finding connections that don’t exist.

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    1. You’re right that it’s not bad, but if that’s the case why does the apology (released on the 10th) specifically reference a video that has not yet premiered? Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but the point stands that expecting this video to go viral isn’t feasible given the legal restrictions.

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  3. I think maybe the lack of virality could also be due to the fact that the nostalgia for “viral” OK Go videos is mostly gone.

    It’s like going to an M. Night Shyamalan movie and not being surprised by the twist ending. Of course it has a twist ending, it’s an M. Night Shyamalan movie!

    I feel the same way about OK Go — maybe if they weren’t trying so damn hard to be “viral” all the time, people might want to share this innovative new video where, “Oh my god, you won’t believe what happens!”

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    1. Ummmm I’m not quite sure their main goal in life actually is “going viral” so much as “making cool shit and hoping people notice.”

      Besides, if you’re going to look at it that way, isn’t that EVERY bands goal??

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      1. Excuse me that, should ready “EVERY bands’ goal,” with the appropriate apostrophe. The goal being going viral, of course.

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  4. The song sucks.

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    1. Exactly! If your main asset as musicians is how wacky you can be in your videos, you don’t have a lot going for you.

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  5. The band’s apology video is clearly tongue in cheek…

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  6. Height of arrogance and idiocy. Make good, interesting songs and videos – then let people watch them. Don’t bitch. Ever.

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  7. geobanning is suicide. I just wanted to post up the video in our music blog but I was not able to watch it from Europe. Music blogs are the most serious promotional field for music these days, so they missed all that support what they previously got from bloggers.

    But hey maybe this is the viral method itself? not letting the fans to get what they want! everybody is complaining and we all talk about OK go now ;)

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  8. What’s surprising is those guys are actually very smart about this stuff. I know the singer at least studied a lot of semiotics and the band seem to be pretty media savvy overall. The fact that you can’t embed the video is probably a big part of its perceived lack of success, but it also probably owes more to the fleeting nature of viral videos themselves, too – no one ever really knows why or when something is going to go viral. Maybe one or two low-budget videos was all the Internets wanted from OKGO?

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  9. [...] Videos, YOUTUBE Embedding by You Are the Music This a a repost from a recent article/post from here. We wanted to make sure this is seen and read here on YATM because this is really a frustration for [...]

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  10. Well, i don’t like their music too much, but their videos are usually very nice. And i don’t really unterstand the fuzz about this video being geoblocked, i tend to think that it’s kind of going viral by not going viral, because everybody who wants to see it, just has to put a little effort to see it (youtube isn’t the only video-site of the world, remember?).
    For (at least) german users it can be seen at http://www.myvideo.de/watch/7228322/OK_Go_This_Too_Shall_Pass (just let the commercial pass).
    Anyway, if i didn’t read that article i might never have seen it, so this reverse psychology-thingy seems to work pretty fine ;-)

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