YouTube user JoshuaMutter, who makes a lot of Minecraft machinima, created this video that mashes up the gameplay from Deus Ex: Human Revolution (which I still have to get) and Men Without Hats’ 1982 dance-synth-pop classic, Safety Dance. All it needs is the little minstrel from the original music video.
No tech workshop is complete without a little goofing around on an accordion, and I certainly didn’t want the MeshU day of workshops (which preceded the Mesh Conference) to be incomplete. I did a quick interview with Anita Kuno in which I performed a classic computer programmer song parody and promoted The Empire, which you can see in the video below:
CNN/Fortune hated the idea so much that they listed it in their 101 Dumbest Moments in Business article. In 2007, Radiohead made their album In Rainbows available for download before physical copies were available in stores. You could choose to simply download the album or voluntary pay an amount of your choice. Radiohead didn’t reveal any statistics related to the download; the known data comes from comScore, who reported that:
- 62% of the downloaders chose to pay nothing
- The remaining 38% voluntarily paid an average of $6 for the album
Based on these numbers and Radiohead’s silence, the CNN/Fortune article inlcuded the sneering line “Can’t wait for the follow-up album, In Debt.”
It turns out that Radiohead’s experiment was actually a success. Techdirt points to a report on Music Ally that says that Radiohead’s publisher Warner Chappell will tell all about the In Rainbows experiment at the “You are in Control” music conference now taking place in Iceland.
The “success” of which they speak isn’t the hand-wavy “artistic”, “critical” or “proving a point” kind, but the sort of success that bottom-line thinkers like: In Rainbows made more money before the the album was physically released than the total sales for the previous album, Hail to the Thief. Even when preceded by a free or “pay what you can” downloads, In Rainbows has still sold 1.75 million copies of the CD to date, and it’s still in the top 200 selling CDs in the U.S. and U.K..
The Music Ally article has more details and includes these statistics:
- After being made available online for free for 3 months, In Rainbows hit number one on both U.S. and U.K. charts.
- 30,000 copies were sold on iTunes in its first week.
- 1.75 million CDs of the album have been sold since its release.
- 100,000 box sets have been sold through Radiohead’s sales and merchandising site, W.A.S.T.E..
- 17 million plays on last.fm.
- 1.2 million fans will see their tour.
- The digital income from the experiment made a material difference to Warner Chappell Music’s UK digital revenue this year.
U.S. album sales plunged 9.5 percent last year from 2006, continuing a downward trend for the recording industry, despite a 45 percent surge in the sale of digital tracks.
I remember watching an interview with William Gibson in which he talked about the 1992 L.A. Riots and the Digital Divide. He remarked that while many stores were looted, it was notable that a store that had laptop computers in their window display went untouched; he looters simply saw no value in them, whether for themselves or as things they could “fence”.
Looking at tech devices that people are stealing is a pretty good indicator of their mainstream appeal. Had the riots taken place today, the laptops would probably be among the first things taken by the looters. Here in Toronto, GPS navigation systems have replaced car stereos as the must-steal items.
As for console games, Rock Band has now been established as the most in-demand game, if you’re using theft as your yardstick of tech popularity. A truck carrying more than 1,000 copies of the XBox 360 the game — which includes a guitar, drum and mic controller — was hijacked in Long beach, California last weekend.
According to the L.A. Times article on the theft, “Thieves are increasingly targeting the nearly $260 billion of goods that move through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports each year, especially targeting high-priced electronics shipped from Chinese factories.”
Meanwhile, we Canadians still have to wait — Rock Band’s Canadian release date has been delayed until the 17th.
Back in the 1980s, I was a regular reader of Keyboard magazine. I always rolled my eyes at the two-page ad spread usually near the middle of the magazine that bore the headline “Don’t let them do DAT”, a campaign whose purpose was to keep DAT — that’s digital audio tape — recorders out of consumers’ hands. The worry was that giving consumers access to technology that could produce recordings that could be duplicated perfectly would kill the music industry (you young’uns would laugh at the audio fidelity of compact cassettes). The ad looked like a contest — in exchange for adding your name to their list of musicians who wanted to keep technology out of people’s hands, you’d get a chance to win some nice musical gear. Needless to say, I never participated in that silly campaign, which these days seems as quaint as Ned Ludd and his followers.
That’s not the first time that there’s been tension between musicians and technology. Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, movies with sound were still new. Most films were “silent films” with the dialogue appearing on screen and music performed by live musicians in the theatre, a la Vern and Johnny, the vaudeville duo from Family Guy:
Here’s an ad that talks of the dangers of using recorded music in movies instead of musicans from 1931 titled The Robot at the Helm:
Here’s the text of the ad:
Here is a struggle of intense interest to all music lovers. If the Robot of Canned Music wrests the helm from the Muse, passengers aboard the good ship Musical Culture may well echo the offer of Gonzalo to trade “a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of ground.” Are you content to face a limitless expanse of “sound” without a sign of music?
Monotony of the theatre — corruption of taste — destruction of art. These must inevitably follow substitution of mechanical music for living music.
Millions of Music Defense League Members cordially invite you to join them in putting the Robot in his place. Just sign and mail the coupon.
As neat as having live musicians performing in sync to films would be — and hey, there’s room for that sort of thing — if anything is killing art, I’d say it’s Hollywood’s lack of creativity.
Here are a couple of shots from a presentation made by Harmonix founder and CEO Alex Rigopoulos in which he talks about the pros and cons they considered when trying to decide whether or not to make a guitar game:
The “pro” argument is all you’d need to convince me!
Update: It looks as though Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood beat me to the punch and has even more details. Damn you, Atwoooooood!