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I’m old. I accept that. And being old means there are some things that I just don’t understand. Like why anyone would want to watch the lead singer from All-American Rejects (I hear they play that “rock and roll” music) sitting in an airport, mumbling into the video camera on his mobile phone. Evidently Universal Music Group thinks
suckers the kids will, as the music label and Kyte have announced that the startup will be the online and mobile video platform provider for UMG artists worldwide.
There is a whole business angle to this story. Kyte, after all, is a small startup, while UMG is huge and the deal involves brand-name celebrity involvement from the likes of Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, Pussycat Dolls and the aforementioned Rejects. Also, UMG is in the midst of talks to renew its licensing agreement with YouTube, so there could be implications on that front (CNET’s Greg Sandoval has that angle covered).
But it’s Friday, and the end of a long work week, so I’m more curious about what this means for music, and how new media moves like this kill rawk stars.
Before the Internet, popular rock bands and artists were like gods. They weren’t like you and me. They were on a stage in front of thousands of cheering fans. That and the occasional TV appearance was the only time you saw them, so you savored those moments. This lack of exposure created a mystique. You didn’t know everything about them, so what you could learn became more precious. There is power in not revealing everything.
Technology — be it in the form of blogs, MySpace, FaceBook, webcams or, now, the magic of live mobile video — has made it possible for fans to connect with their favorite artists more often and in new ways. But is watching the lead singer of your favorite band sitting at an airport, chomping gum, really rock and roll?
Short answer: No, it is not.
If I were, say, 13, I’d probably think these mundane moments caught on mobile video were cool. More importantly, after sharing my own life and the lives of my friends through all forms of social media, I’d probably expect the same level of sharing from the bands I listened to. But as we’ve established, I’m old. So I’m going to hobble over to the phonograph and put on my copy of Steely Dan’s “Aja.”