The Evolving Music Video

I might not watch a lot of TV, but I've known for a while that neither MuchMusic nor MTV shows music videos anymore. I even remember reading a tweet from someone a week or so ago that the only good thing about Michael Jackson's death was that the two networks were actually airing music videos. That hasn't stopped musicians and record labels from producing music videos, however.

The difference is that they aren't relying on the music networks to show their videos. They are posting these videos directly to their MySpace pages and to their YouTube channels.

Where the music networks used to insert information about the artist, song and record label at the beginning and end of each video, now this information has been incorporated into the video in much the same way that the name of the film and starring actors are incorporated into a film's opening credits.

To see what I mean, have a look at Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" below:

Its also neat to see the ability to buy tracks via iTunes directly via a link on the video. I think the obvious next step is to (unobtrusively) make it possible to buy t-shirts or vinyl from the artist in the same way.

There is also the whole new world of fan-created videos. I won't go into it in much detail here except to say that this video (found via Sean McDonald), featuring music from the band Barcelona, got hundreds of thousands of views and boosted sales of the track on iTunes. (There's more, including a response from the band here.)

On a related note, I've long prophesied the triumphant return of MySpace as an artistic destination. A recent post from shows that has seen over 1000% growth since launching in September 2008, and ranks as one of the top music sites online. I think that all of this bodes well for the future of music in an online world.


Using the Web to Discover Talent

A friend of mine who's a prospective movie producer asked me to act as music supervisor for his (yet to be finished) diploma project. He needed some authentic country and 50s old school rock'n'roll for the soundtrack. Unfortunately there wouldn't be a budget – and he would need the worldwide rights for an indefinite amount of time for all kinds of media (DVD, television, cinema…). Confronted with this task I of course turned to the web – to and Myspace to be precise.

As I'm neither to familiar with country nor with 50s rock'n'roll Last FM's function to look for similar artists came in handy (beginning with Johnny Cash seemed like a good idea...) as did Myspace's search functions, the possibility to listen to several tracks and to contact the band. The seedy bottom of the internet seems to be good for something after all. In regards to  presenting and discovering music it still has quite an edge on Facebook.

In short: There's a vast talent pool out there, pretty much all our needs were covered by (mostly) unsigned or young and upcoming bands.

All this – again – made me realize just how important these platforms became for music and which great chances they offer for both parties involved. Even though we didn't have a budget for the soundtrack what we could offer was a worldwide DVD-release which surely comes in handy in terms of exposing music to new markets – we got great tunes and the bands a chance to introduce themselves to a new audience, all without a middle-man or complicated license agreements.

Another example, even though in a completely different league, are my Australian friends from Operator Please, whose career certainly owes a lot to Myspace. Just recently, they were nominated again for two Aria awards (in one category they're up against Kylie!).

So keep on posting your stuff onto the web, you never know when some random German movie person wants you for the soundtrack of his flick.


PS Check out the trailer for my friend's old movie "Die Schwarze Kolonne" (The Black Platoon), a spoof on comic adaptations with German soap actor Tim Sander.

Remember MySpace? Paris certainly does.

The last time I logged into my original MySpace account was so long ago that I can't remember the email address I used to access it or the password. In Facebook-saturated Toronto, it's easy to forget MySpace. But out in the real world, MySpace is hugely important.

Well, if not hugely important, at least relevant. In a recent article in The Globe and Mail ( hard would it be to put online?), columnist Domini Clark writes MySpace "is attracting a new, intriguing breed: the fashionista" and that luxury-brand Cartier recently started their own MySpace profile.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the rumors that the CEO of MySpace is dating Paris Hilton? I can't imagine that she would have that much influence over him in such a short time, but perhaps it is indicitive of the fact that the MySpace brass is rolling with the upper-echelon these days. And she does have a pretty sweet profile.

I guess it is also worth mentioning at this point that MySpace is still more popular than Facebook in America (according to

As I look into new music related to my blogging side project, I'm reminded again of how important MySpace is to musicians and music fans alike.

I guess it's time to start another profile there. Paris and Cheick Kongo will be my first adds.


PS: Apologies to Jens for mentioning Paris Hilton.

Facebook vs. Myspace

Despite all the hype around Facebook these days (it seems that The Globe and Mail carries at least two stories on it per day), TechCrunch reminds us that MySpace is still way, way ahead in the America market. Their market share is declining, but still sits above 70%, and that's nothing to sneeze it.

TechCrunch's Duncan Riley suggests that "if Facebook is worth $15 billion, on traffic ratios alone MySpace would be worth $67.67 billion."


Will Social Networks Impact The Election?

Todd Zeigler and the Bivings Report led me to an interesting post by Sanford Dickert on his Political Gastronomica site about "the seeming lack of impact social networks have truly had on the 2008 elections so far" (as Zeigler puts it).Discussing the question: Will social networks impact the 2008 presidential election, Dickert writes:

I was asked this question last year by my friend from Wired, after I finished with another campaign, and I can STILL heartily say - even with techpresident's MySpace, Facebook and YouTube counters - I believe that social networks will still NOT impact the coming 2008 election. "Wha?", I hear my poli-tech friends gasp. "Didn't you read the study that shows Facebook numbers are an indicator of relative success of drawing voters?" "Weren't you at the Facebook Political Summit ?" "Aren't you impressed by / using the new Facebook tools?" "Aren't you impressed by the incredible reach of all of the candidates and their supporters through MySpace, facebook, flickr, YouTube?". No. And why not? I think they are missing an essential ingredient: simple, human contact.

Dickert finally concludes:

When I go to the local mall, county fair, outdoor market - I can often see the ardent supporters of candidates "tabling" in the flow of traffic - holding their campaign literature, sign at the edge of the table, looking for eyes that are ready to learn more about the person running for State Senate, Congress or even President. You and your friends are there, giving each other moral support as the throngs of people walk by - nary paying attention to you, until a person walks up and says, "So....tell me about Senator X."Where are the Virtual Tablers?This is where the campaigns can use their volunteers and give them the power to reach across their own networks and chat up people when they are interested in learning more about the candidate. But, it is not easy to go and "speak" to someone in Facebook since all of the communications are not interrupt-driven (as a face-to-face might be), they are addressed whenever the receiver wants to. How do you get people to accept the interrupts? Usually, that is the sense of presence - of human contact. Once that magic ingredient is "captured" and enabled, then I could see social networks truly engaging people.

Dickert might make a relevant point, to a certain extent, but we still feel that this is not the last word.

Our point is that claiming social networks will NOT impact the coming 2008 election because they do not have the ability to – as Dickert puts it – "chat up" people limits many factors about these networks that really might have the ability to impact the election.

Take a site like "One Million Against Hillary Clinton" (Facebook), that encourages people to go viral and recruit friends and neighbours to join them in the fight to stop Hillary Clinton. A sight like this might not have a direct impact on people's voting behaviour. But when it makes CNN because of its viral marketing ability, it has certainly had an impact on the new agenda.

Also, take the "Vote Different" video on YouTube that attacks Hillary Clinton. This video has been viewed by over 3.8 million people. Saying that this video has not had an impact on the election is like saying that ads in general have no impact on elections.

Other notable examples for communities that have the potential to exercise influence on the voting process: or Both caused quite some stir in the political establishments of the respective countries they are active in.

It also seems that Sanford somehow equates human contact with an invasion of privacy and can't seem to accept the fact that people are now able to escape the mall stands and make their own informed choices. This eventually gives the impression that he has an outdated model of the voter respectively of campaigning which sees the voter as somehow without agency. In the internet now this invasion of privacy just isn't possible anymore (except for spam) but the voters are the ones in charge. And we better get used to it – if we need to resort to interrupting peoples' lives as a major way to attract voters then we should really worry about our other campaigning techniques and what went wrong with them.

Also on a more basic level the question is: How do we measure impact? Larry M. Bartels (1993, p. 267), once said that the state of research in the "media effects" area is "one of the most notable embarrassments of modern social science". Over time theorists have gone from claiming that the media have had a strong, almost hypodermic effect that can shape opinions and beliefs, to suggesting that the media have only a minimal effect on citizens because they can not deliver political messages with any predictable effect.

On the other hand theories about agenda setting testify to the power media can have over the community. But then again: Social networks can set their own agendas and influence political discourses.

Eventually we don't think that we have come to a stage where we in the "social network effects" area can exclude a hypothesis stating that social networks CAN or WILL impact the coming 2008 election. The reason: We ultimately do not yet have a clear enough understanding of how we can measure the impact of social networks.

Berelson (in Diamond & Bates 1984, p. 347) once said, musing about his own findings in the "media effects" area over the years, that: "some kinds of communication on some kinds of issues, brought to the attention of some kinds of people under some kinds of conditions, have some kinds of effects" (in Diamond & Bates 1984, p. 347).

So, in Berelson's words, our understanding for now is: that social networks on some kind of issues, brought to attention of some kinds of people under some kinds of conditions, may have some kinds of effects – also on the coming 2008 election.

Espen & Jens

ESA Gives Video Game Voters Network Website Overhaul, Could Use Some Humanizing

The Entertainment Software Association, representing the interests of of U.S. video game publishers, launched an updated website for its Video Games Voters Network in order to “increase the recruitment, education, and mobilization of video game players across the country.” The press release (via explains:

The response to the VGVN is overwhelming and dramatic―over 100,000 members, generating thousands upon thousands of letters defending video games. It’s impressive. Ordinary Americans’ passion for computer and video games is driving a desire to be counted and speak out. They are a political force that not only votes, but actively makes their voices heard in Washington, DC and in state legislatures across the country.Politicians who think easy political points can be scored at the First Amendment’s expense have to know that such efforts will be aggressively opposed. VGVN and the ESA would rather work in a collaborative and productive partnership to educate caregivers about how to ensure the games their children enjoy are parent-approved. 

The site includes a nice over-the-top trailer complete in first-they-came-for-the-movies-but-I didn't say-anything-style and also links to a Myspace profile – check basic social media.

While the whole approach is an applaudable effort there are some issues though.While I don't necessarily see the interests of publishers and consumers as mutually exclusive (coming from a country with a ridiculous gaming legislature and all) I'm inclined to agree with gamepolitic's view on the missing personal component. This could have been achieved by, you guessed it, an additional blog. Not only could it have been used to give updates on recent successes of the campaign to encourage more user involvement, but also to facilitate closer connections and to humanize the whole undertaking.

Furthermore what is missing is a regularly updated overview of lawmakers and their stand on videogame related issues so you know what your representative is up to.

Also the whole approach of giving users the possibility to send already formulated emails is debatable. Not only does it add it to the impersonal nature of the campaign but the emails might simply be seen as spam. As the Australian Federal Minister for the Environment, Malcom Turnbull explained in connection with Get Up! which uses the same method: "When you get 1000 emails, all in exactly the same form, it's not exactly as persuasive as a bunch of emails people have written to independently express themselves." On the other hand: This procedure also allows people who don't have the time to research all the right contacts to eloquently express their genuine concern.

What I really asked myself though was: When is there going to be a German version?


Blog Campaigning: 3.3 Blogs in campaigns

3.3 Blogs in campaigns Whilst political campaign blogs are only a few years of age, it is likely that politicians and campaign strategists started developing an interest in the medium in the beginning of the 21st century when a substantial online blog community rose to prominence in the United States (Bahnisch in Bruns & Jacobs 2006, p. 140). Political commentator blogs started gaining a widespread audience in 2001 and 2002 with Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish on the right, and Markos Moulitsas’ Daily Kos on the left (Bahnisch in Bruns & Jacobs 2006, p. 140). Assisted by the Iraq War and the U.S. presidential primaries and general election in 2004, the subsequent years saw the mainstreaming of the political blogosphere (Bahnisch in Bruns & Jacobs 2006, p. 141). The 2004 U.S. presidential election became the first election ever to see a campaign use a blog as an integral part of the campaign (Rice 2004, p. 1, Williams et al. 2005, p. 178).

Coggins (n.d.) argues that we can distinguish between three types of blogs found within political campaigns. These are: Official Candidate Blogs; “written and kept by politicians and their staff. These blogs are primarily used to report news, events and other information about a specific candidate's campaign trail” (Coggins n.d.); Candidate Supporter Blogs, “'unofficial' campaign blogs written and kept for particular candidates by individual or group supporters who are not officially part of that candidate's staff. Like Official Candidate Blogs, these blogs also contain news, events and other relevant information” (Coggins n.d.); and Political Commentary and News Blogs, which “do not typically support a particular candidate, even though specific bloggers/authors may have personal biases. The main purpose of these blogs is journalistic in nature: providing news and commentaries regarding different candidates' issues, events and platforms. These may be written and kept by individuals or by groups” (Coggins n.d.).

Although Coggins’ categories were coined in relation to the 2004 U.S. presidential election, they still remain useful as the main types of campaign blogs to play a role in elections. We should, however, add two new types of blogs to Coggins’ categories: Official Party Blogs and Party Supporter Blogs. Official Party Blogs basically serve the same functions as Official Candidate Blogs. Examples of party blogs are the U.S. Democratic Party’s official blog, Kicking Ass, and the official blog of the Republican National Committee. Surprisingly, few political parties in other western democracies have embraced blogs. The Germany Socialist party uses a platform or blog, Roteblogs, to encourage members to set up their own blogs in support of the party (Abold & Heltsche 2006, p. 6). In the UK we have lately seen the development of Party Supporter Blogs, like LabourHome and ConservativeHome, which have no official ties to the party they represent and basically serve the same functions as Candidate Supporter Blogs.

However, blogs are used in much more complex ways by campaigns today then they were in the 2004 election. Today, as opposed to the 2004 election, almost every campaign put elite bloggers on their campaign payroll (Armstrong 2007a, Glover 2006), “paying bloggers to write, develop Web sites, connect with energetic allies on the Internet, respond to online critics, and advise their employers about how to behave in the blogosphere” (Glover 2006). Bloggers have therefore, particularly in the U.S., become strategic advisors for campaigns. This might not come as a surprise considering the fact that the blogosphere today is 100 times as big as it was during the 2004 U.S. presidential election (Armstrong 2007a) and has a potential to reach a much larger audience. When blogs mainly relied on text to get their message across in the 2004 election, they have now become multimedia content producers. The creation of new social network sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. has made it easier for campaigns to embed videos, images and text and link to platforms that give them the potential to reach a much larger audience than before (Armstrong 2007a). Blogs therefore provide an arena and an environment that are constantly changing, so it is important to look at how previous literature has assessed the medium’s impact on campaigns and elections.

Blog Campaigning: 5.3 How can we measure the impact of blogs?

5.3 How can we measure the impact of blogs?During the period that the research took place, few bloggers, online communication experts or political commentators explicitly discussed technical aspects regarding how we actually can measure the impact of campaign blogs on political elections. The only reflection that explicitly dealt with this subject was produced by Todd Zeigler, Senior Vice President of the Bivings Group, on the company’s blog, The Bivings Report. Discussing the performances of the 2006 contestants’ official campaign blogs, Zeigler (2006b) raised the following question: “How influential/successful are the campaign blogs?”.

In an extension to his own question, Zeigler writes:

“How many people are reading them? How many people are linking to them? How well networked are they? Are they working? These questions are pretty much impossible to answer in an academically defensible way: we’d need access to the logs of all the campaign blogs to answer adequately. We’re left picking through anecdotes” (Zeigler 2006b).

Zeigler validly raises a relevant point about the complexity surrounding some of the metrical factors that can explain the reach of the content produced on blogs. But it is what he further says that interestingly shows that there are other simpler, non quantitative factors, which also can tell us something about efforts politicians’ dedicate to making their blog successful. In an attempt to somehow answer his first question – “how influential/successful are the campaign blogs” – Zeigler (2006b) decides to use the search engine Technorati to look at aspects that can tell us something about how effective the medium is when used as a campaign tool.

The first aspect Zeigler looks at is how the candidates’ campaign blogs ranked in the search engine. The paper has earlier mentioned that Technorati ranks the blogs in its database by the number of incoming links. Zeigler (2006b) assumes that links are the most effective way we have to measure the influence of a blog. The two next aspects Zeigler examines are how the main campaign sites rank in the search engine and how many links they attract. While these aspects can give us an indication of how much attention the candidates receive from the blogosphere in general, they will unfortunately not teach us much about the influence of the candidates’ blog itself, Zeigler (2006b) argues. The last two aspects examined by Zeigler (2006b) are whether the candidates are doing a good job of actually getting their blog content in the search engine, and whether the candidates have bothered to actually claim their blog in the search engine. Zeigler (2006b) argues that these measurements might give us an indication of how serious candidates are about their blog.

Based on his methodology Zeigler found that:

• “Only 44% of the blogs we looked at had been indexed by Technorati in the last 15 days. And many of these blogs that had been indexed weren't being done so regularly. Seems a lot of campaigns are unfamilar with pinging. • Only 18% of the campaigns have claimed their blog on Technorati. • Generally speaking, these campaign blogs are not linked to that much by other blogs. It was surprising” (Zeigler 2006b).

He concludes that:

(1) “Campaigns haven’t mastered some of the technical aspects of blog promotion This is evidenced by the fact that most of these blogs aren't getting indexed regularly by blog search engines and most campaigns haven't claimed their blog on Technorati. If people can't find your posts, they aren't going to link to them.

(2) Campaigns aren’t networking effectively with other bloggers I know lots of candidates have conference calls with bloggers. And I also know you can't judge the effectiveness of blog outreach efforts based solely on the results above. However, a lot of blogging is building online relationships one blogger at a time. You exchange emails with other bloggers. You link to them. You comment on their blogs. You add them to your blogroll. Given the results shown above, I can't imagine that most of the campaign blogs are doing a good job at building these sorts of relationship. I suspect a lot of them are operating in a bit of a vacuum.

(3) Campaigns aren’t producing compelling content Any successful blogger you talk to will say you earn links by creating good content. Write something great and people will find it and link to it. Click through on the blogs above yourself and see what you think about the content” (Zeigler 2006b).

None of the academic studies reviewed earlier in this paper have considered any of these aspects in the same way as Zeigler does. It should also be noted that many blogs and newspapers are in fact using measurements such as incoming blog links, daily hit rates provided by search engines like Alexa and the number of friends on social media platforms like MySpace and Facebook, as indicators for which of the contestants in the 2008 presidential race that are doing best on blogger outreach (see Easter 2007). There is no reason why future studies should not use measurements like these to test the correlation between online campaigning and electoral success. However, by measuring a blog’s reach and incoming links we still do not examine the correlation between voters that read a candidate’s blog and people that vote for the candidate operating the blog. We also have to take into account that the aspects Zeigler examines can be proxies for a campaign’s overall level of preparedness and organisation. In his analyses of the effects websites had on people’s voting decision during the 1996 U.S. congressional election, D’Alessio (1997) (discussed in chapter 4) found that “the more sophisticated and better resourced candidates were more likely to operate websites” (Gibson & McAllister 2005, p. 6). It might also be plausible to assume that campaigns operating a blog in a modern election campaign are more professional and overall better prepared than the average campaign.

News Feed: YouTube and MySpace campaign for political positions


The Internet battle over the presidential campaign is ratcheting up following announcements by social-networking site MySpace and video-sharing hub YouTube that they plan live webcasts of town hall meetings and candidate debates leading up to the primaries.


In a measure of the growing significance of online politics, key executives from major Web companies — including Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt — took part Friday in the fourth annual Personal Democracy Forum in New York, a gathering of people trying to find new ways of inspiring political action via the Internet.

The potential pool is huge. More than 21 million people had viewed online political videos as of February, Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, told the conference. And, he said, more than 24 million have participated in organized online lobbying campaigns.

Still, those numbers represent a relatively narrow slice of the electorate. In the last presidential election, about 122 million votes were cast.

Read the full story here.

via e.politics

Australian Polticians Utilising Myspace

The 51st state always lags behind a little bit. But now it has finally caught up. As The Age reports, various Australian Federal Government ministers and shadow ministers are to create MySpace profiles before the election in order to reach the alienated youth:

The site's director of safety and security, Rod Nockles, said the project would allow politicians to directly engage with younger voters, a "difficult to reach" but "important" age demographic. (…) Mr Nockles said an Australian version of MySpace Impact would be launched "within a couple of months", most likely via a launch party held in Canberra. He would not confirm specifically which individuals had been approached, but said only federal politicians were initially being targeted. "I can't confirm the individuals but I can confirm for you that we are planning to launch Impact in the near future and that we have quite a number of high profile ministers and shadow ministers from either side who will be participating," Mr Nockles said.

Soon to arrive: Australian politicians utilizing Facebook profiles and tools (and probably Second Life…uh...).That said, according to The Age, MySpace Australia has three million members, 50 per cent of which are over the age of 25, so definitely a huge potential there and a move into the right direction.


Obama’s MySpace handling – How to control a voter-generated campaign

Many of you should by now be familiar with the problems Barack Obama has experienced in regards to his MySpace profile. If not, here's the short version - The full version can be read over at TechPresident, Mydd, or MTV, or you can watch Anthony speak about the incident in person via phone here:

In November 2004, Joe Anthony started an unofficial fan page for the then newly elected Senator Barack Obama on MySpace holding the valuable URL of When Obama launched his campaign in January the site had already attracted more that 30,000 friends. The site has continued to attract friends as the camapign has commenced, generating plenty of headlines about Obama winning the “MySpace Primary”. April 30, the site counted 160,000 friends. Over the night that changed. The site has now only about 25,000 friends. The reason: As attention to MySpace grew over the campaign the Obama team wanted control over the URL and forced Joe Anthony to give up the control of the profile. -Not the best move fromTeam Obama...

In regards to the incident TechPresident’s Micha Sifry asks:

Is it true that once a voter-generated site gets major traction, the campaign affected has to control it? Can a front-running presidential campaign–even one as devoted to empowering supporters to take their own initiatives and connect to each other through social network tools as the Obama campaign–afford a major site run by a campaign volunteer outside their control? Is such control even possible?

The Bivings Report’s Todd Zeigler answers the question:

To me this is a really simple issue. The Obama campaign has to have ultimate control over Period.

Having ventured into the MySpace wilderness looking for candidate profiles, it is almost impossible to tell the real profiles from the fakes ones. Users can be easily mislead into friending the wrong person. By owning the most common profile name and maintaining an official presence, the campaign provides clarity to users, most of whom are looking for the endorsed version of the profile. I’m all for supporters creating their own groups and conducting their own activities, I just see value in having an official presence in addition to the voter-generated ones.

I agree with Zeigler.

However, reading a post by Zephyr Teachout, former Director of Internet Organizing for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, comparing the dilemma faced by Obama over his MySpace profile to the many dilemmas Teachout and her team experienced during the 2004 Dean campaign I realized just how complicated this question is.

I would encourage anyone that plans to work on or with an internet related campaign to read Teachout’s piece discussing the strategies related to the degree of control a campaign should have over grassroots generated campaigns. I personally learned a lot from the piece.

Here’s Teachout’s conclusion and solution to the issue, for those of you that don’t have time to read the whole piece:

In relation to grassroots relationships campaigns should:

…for each relationship, choose whether it is one of absolute control, or no control. In those with no control, you can still communicate, but don't command. In the long run, clear roles won't confuse the press and the thousands of people writing in--at first, perhaps, and on the margins, but they will learn. When in doubt, no control is better, just as it is in friendships--your friends will do everything they can to represent you well and be your supporter, until you start telling them what to say about you.

When you have read Teachout's piece you should further pay Mydd a visit and read what Jerome Armstrong has to say about Team Obama's handling of the incident.

Then you should off course go to Obama's official blog and read how the official campaign experienced the incident.

...And then... when you have read every link in this piece you can go to The Bivings Report's unofficial poll and cast a vote: Should candidates maintain official profiles on MySpace? - Just for fun...

You'll probably not have time to do all the serious stuff you were supposed to do today if you do take my advise, but what the .... You'll always have time for that later.


Joe Anthony's response to the Obama team's handling of the incident can be found here.

- Espen