In a 1999 interview with the BBC, David Bowie foresaw the internet's impact on music and society. The walls between artist and fan would be broken down, but the era of echo chambers and fake news would break internet culture itself.
“We are living in total fragmentation…I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.
Is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here. I’m talking about the actual context and the state of content is going to be so different from anything we can envisage at the moment. With the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”
We all start out with a dream, a goal of someone or something we want to emulate. We keep that dream close, putting up bedroom posters and memorizing phrases that propel us to keep pushing toward our goal.
But then something else happens along the way? The creative gods tell us to do something else instead.
“The grind is not glamorous.”
Casey Neistat wanted to be a filmmaker, another Spielberg that entertained the masses. But he didn't have enough money nor resources. So he chased the dream for ten years and succeeded: he entered Cannes and won some awards etc. until one day he realized he was pursuing the wrong end. “Fuck it,” he said. “I just want to make internet videos.”
See, when we hunt down goals, we usually get redirected to something else that's more personal. Technology broke down all the barriers to traditional creativity, production, and distribution. YouTube is Neistat's movie theater.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Sure, imitate at first and get really good — everything is practice. But we shouldn't forget to reflect and dive deeper into a passion that excites us the most. As Jim Carrey said, ‘your vocation chooses you.'
Don't fight what's natural even if no one else is doing it yet. Give in to the original inclinations and push onward.
Less than 100 views on YouTube is “practically unseen” proclaims the new documentary from electronic producer The Range, aka James Hinton. He pulled vocal samples from strangers' acapella on YouTube to make his newest album Potential.
A&R teams have been using YouTube for years to sign new talent. Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun discovered Bieber on YouTube in 2008. But like some producers, Hinton was just looking to sample lyrics to mix in with his beats.
“There are these people out there that I didn’t know that were just shouting out into the void.”
Hinton spent “something like 200 hours on YouTube over about 35 days,” he told Wired trying to find that “intimate and raw and really unique” voice. He found people from London, Kingston, and locally in Brooklyn. Once he mastered the songs, he tracked down each the artists to get their approval. Some of the Youtubers like
Some of the Youtubers like Kai had inactive accounts; others had posted videos years ago and forgot about them. Hinton agreed to share songwriting credits with all the vocalists on the album, so everyone receives royalties.
Below is the mix of his collaboration with Kai. I did not realize that I had already liked the song on SoundCloud before hearing about its story. It sounds like Burial met Diplo laced with hints of Balearic beats.
Hinton also made a documentary called Superimpose (watch it below) to launch the album. As a musician, Hinton still wonders “what drives people to record videos of themselves in the first place.”
Creative expression, fame — whatever it is — it is a human desire to be heard. Hinton is currently vetting Twitter for possible collaborations. Just wait until he digs deep into vast video archive of Instagram and Facebook.
I'd also make the argument that MP3s you no longer want to hear aren't all that different from old dress shirts in your closet, long-neglected pumpkin-pie filling in your pantry, or expired sunblock in your medicine cabinet. Even in iTunes, even in the cloud, even on giant hard drives, unwanted music still takes up space in a way that makes it harder to find what you're really looking for.
I'm glad I graduated the music hoarding stage. I refuse to buy another external hard drive or upload all my music into the cloud which would take months.
Now I just keep a list of links in Evernote or playlists on SoundCloud and YouTube.
So if you and people like Jon Klein of Tapp are right, what does the future of TV look like? Is it just a set-top box with stations I subscribe to like podcasts?
I think that’s exactly what it is. Everything will become one giant ocean of content. And the people with the best branding will win. You will have to have advantages in search, in sorting, and in branding. If you’ve built a loyal audience, you have a tremendous advantage. Right now, I’d rather be us than them.