Thursday, March 29, 2007

Satellite Television for Cars...Is This a Good Thing?

First there was the radio, then the DVD player, now the TV!? What will car companies think of next? According to Digital Music News, Sirius recently unveiled a television option to its satellite service; no longer will Sirius be associated with simply satellite radio. This service, "Sirius Backseat TV", will be offered exclusively in 2008 with video packages of DaimlerChrysler vehicles. After the first year, this Sirius service will be offered in models of other car manufacturers.

What does this mean for consumers? Sirius' goal with Backseat TV is to entertain those sitting in the backseat, which most of the time are children. As a result, the Sirius Backseat TV service will feature programming from stations like Comedy Central, The Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. This is part of Sirius' goal to accommodate the driver by allowing family friendly programming to quiet down and entertain children so that the driver is not distracted.

Sirius Backseat TV

On the contrary, such a service may cause even more distraction for drivers. Lawyer Aaron Larson published an article about the relationship between distracted drivers and car accidents. Here, Larson lists the use of DVD players as one of the main distractions for drivers on the road. The article even directs readers to not attempt using such devices while driving because they require so much attention. Is this added distraction really worth the additional $470 it costs to install Sirius Backseat TV plus the additional $7/year + $13/month to maintain the service?

This all really depends on which way you look at it. For most consumers of the on-demand generation, including parents with little patience, this feature is very desirable. However, for those of us wanting to maintain a clean driving record, we may approach adding this feature with caution. All of this new technology is great in theory but when it really comes down to it, how willing are people to compromise their health and well-being for novelty? Well, I guess in this day and age they are quite willing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Simlish--The Future Language of Recorded Music?

I don't know about you, but I love the Sims. I've purchased every expansion pack from "Livin' Large" to "Hot Date" and have even invested in The Sims 2. In order to promote their new Sims 2 expansion pack, "Seasons", EA games has put a video up on YouTube featuring UK artist Lily Allen's rendition of her song "Smile" in Simlish. This video animates Allen's likeness as a Sim and includes the features of the new expansion pack--a very effective way of marketing, if you ask me. So far, this video has generated over 100,000 views on viral video sites like YouTube. Below you will find the finished product.

...And the original

In the sprit of this video (and promoting new software), EA games is holding a contest through online karaoke site SingShot that allows fans of the Sims 2 and Lily Allen alike to re-create the Simlish version of Smile. So far, 85 people have taken the time to re-record this song in Simlish (which is harder than you may think, trust me). The hosting site, SingShot, allows users to rate themselves and each other; ultimately the user with the highest rating is the winner. This is some pretty cool stuff.

But, Miss Lily Allen is not the first to re-record one of her hit-songs in Simlish. In order to promote the release of their new game "Urbz: Sims in the City", EA utilized the talents of the Black Eyed Peas to record one of the tracks from their multi-platinum album "Monkey Business" in Simlish. Additionally, artists like The Flaming Lips, Pussycat Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, and Depeche Mode have lent their talents for the promotion of Sims games. But this is not a one-sided deal--the artists are also recieving a great deal of promotion for themselves. Generally, these artists record their new singles in Simlish in order to also promote the release of their up-coming album, (i.e. Depeche Mode recorded a Simlish-language version of their latest single Suffer Well for the Open for Business expansion pack).

This is a very good idea. Sims games attract millions of users across the globe, spanning from the United States to Europe to Asia. When these artists are featured in such games it allows their music to reach a greater audience and, hopefully, promote an increase in record sales and digital downloads. It would be interesting to see if EA games ever releases a Sims soundtrack of all the hit-songs in Simlish. Electronic Arts may very well be able to do this now after starting their own publishing company.

After all of this, I pose a question; could this be the future of recorded music? More specifically, is the only way to increase record sales synching songs with popular media (i.e. video games, television) and then monetizing those songs in conjunction with the media? It seems to have worked in the past with shows like Grey's Anatomy and The OC...Maybe recording artists stand a chance with The Sims.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thanks Bunny!

I just got word, via Google, that our friends at gave the Maggot a shout out on their blog the other day. In order to reciprocate this random act of kindness, I am going to give one back!

THANKS MY BOX IN A BOX!!!! I can't wait for your next video!

P.S. Note that the Maggot ranks higher than the Hollywood Reporter (was someone eating too many brownies that day???)

I also received e-mails from the business development manager, Henrik, over at Stardoll and Defyingdarwin, the creator of the "Rehabitual Britney" video thanking me for writing about them----You guys are fab, keep up the good work!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Internet's Answer to the Barbie Doll?

Attention all girls (and boys) ages 7 and up: Stardoll
has arrived! Stardoll (formerly known as Paperdoll Heaven) is an online forum started in 2006 that connects users across the globe through the past time of dressing up paper dolls. Featuring over 400 dolls to dress up, Stardoll features dolls in the likeness of everyone from Dakota Fanning to Sacha Baron Cohen,aka Borat. So far, this site has over 5 million users and has generated 10 million dollars to date, (with $6 million three months after its introduction!)

How do they do it? It's pretty simple--by targeting the Tween demographic, Stardoll has successfully been able to monetize access to exclusive paper dolls, in addition to the MeDoll feature. The MeDoll feature allows all members to create a paper doll in their likeness and dress them up in whichever clothes they purchase with their Stardollars. Here's the catch--in order to receive stardollars and, in turn, purchase clothing and gain access to VIP dolls, member must purchase packages ranging from $5.49-$27.98. The geniuses behind Stardoll make it easy for Tweens to purchase Stardollars by offering several different options. Users can purchase Stardollars via Paypal, credit card, and even mobile phone!

Users that don't purchase Stardollars have no need to fear. These members still have access to over 350 dolls that are free for use in addition to the social networking features and games that are available for all users. The social networking aspect allows users from across the globe to interact with one another based on similar interests. Also, Stardoll will hold contests where members compete by creating the best outfit, for example. In turn, winners receive free Stardollars. Additionally, users can visit each other's MeDoll homepages and dress up their personal paper dolls for free.

By allowing extended free use of content, Stardoll allows a greater range of individuals to become acquainted with what the site has to offer. This allowance creates increased interest and a desire to receive the exclusive features of the site--such features that require payment. So far, this model of business is working in Stardoll's favor. I, myself, am I "Superstar member", meaning I pay for Stardollars. Even at 20, I am not ashamed to be engaging in such Tween activity. On the contrary, I am highly entertained by what this site has to offer and I am not alone in this sentiment. There are more 20-something year old members on the site, than one would think. To me, Stardoll is a good way to pass the time when I'm bored--it serves as a good creative outlet for me and clearly serves the same for many others.

Could Stardoll be the Internet's answer to the Barbie doll? Perhaps. Stardoll reaches a broader demographic, is cheaper, more convenient, less time consuming, and far more accessible than actual dolls. Stardoll is the on-demand generation's Barbie doll...This could be the future of interactive entertainment for the younger sect. Already sites like are emerging as a way to incorporate physicality (of the actual physical product) with interactivity (of the Internet). We will just have to wait and see if sites likes these continue to flourish in the coming months.

Paula Abdul's Stardoll:

Paula Abdul Stardoll

Friday, March 9, 2007

Viral Videos Break New Artists!

As we all know, promotion is extremely important to break a new artist into the mainstream. Promotion has been categorized in the past as anything from radio play to grassroots street promotion. Thanks to the advent of the Internet, promotion efforts for artists are so much different---some would even say more convenient. Essentially, the Internet is disrupting the way artists have been marketed in the past.

Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook target specific demographics and enable a larger span of "word-of-mouth" promotion; these sites allow Japanese music fans to become acquainted with American artists, for example. Back in July 2006, the band OK Go gained popularity via YouTube for their "Here It Goes Again" music video, gaining over 12 million views to date. With the gained success in record sales and popularity from this video, the band received a Grammy award for "Best Short Form Music Video" in March.

Continuing in this fashion, artist like Amy Winehouse are getting a name for themselves in the U.S. thanks to viral videos. About a month ago, a video called "Rehabitual Britney" was posted on sites like Spinner and YouTube that featured spliced images of Britney Spears that made it to appear that she was singing along to the Amy Winehouse track "Rehab".

....And the original version

To date, this video has over 1 million views and counting. Thanks to the success that Winehouse has found on such viral websites, she is beginning to get airplay on AC and AAA formats like Star 98.7 in Los Angeles and 92.9 WBOS in Boston, respectively. Additionally, thanks to collaborations with artists like Ghostface Killah on the track "You Know I'm No Good" Winehouse has earned herself a spot performing at this year's Coachella music festival in Indio, CA.

But this isn't all to say that Amy Winehouse hasn't drawn a following before her U.S. debut. Winehouse is actually a major recording artist in the U.K, receiving the award for "British Female Solo Artist" at this year's Brit Awards. Similarly, OK Go, before their sudden U.S. popularity in 2007, did quite well in the U.K. Either the music industry is experiencing a British invasion, or they sincerely need to reconsider how artists are marketed and promoted to the public. I'm guessing the latter is more plausible.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What is Acceptable for TV?

Jack Black and Channel recently announced their attempt at monetizing user-created video content. Jack Black, along with friends Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab started Channel 101 in an effort to create an online forum for original digital shorts. Channel 101 was first introduced in 2003, serving as the predecessor of YouTube and other video hosting sites. In order to respond to the popularity of these video hosting sites, Black and Channel 101 have developed what is now known as the "Department of Acceptable Media".

Expanding on this idea, Black and the guys at Channel 101 pitched a television show to VH1 and, with no surprise, VH1 got on board. The new show "Acceptable. TV" will premiere March 23rd on VH1. "Acceptable.TV" will feature original user-created videos taken from the Department of Acceptable Media website along with original content created by the team at Channel After each show, viewers can vote on the website for which shows should be canceled or continued for the next week.

Black, VH1, Channel 101, and the creators will be able to monetize this content in a very interesting way. The video hosting site is powered by Revver which will allow the creators of original content to retain a percentage of advertising income based on how many people view their respective videos. This will serve as an effective way to attract aspiring filmmakers to create content for the website; not only is there a chance for their work to be shown on national television, but there is a chance to make some money. The Department of Acceptable Media website is already up and running. So far, three videos are uploaded to the site for viewing...We will have to see which ones make the cut on the March 23rd premiere.

It is quite obvious that a goal of "Acceptable TV" is to re-gain the viewing audience lost to sites like YouTube. Instead of presenting the same old reality television shows created by "professionals", VH1 is, instead, accepting the changes in programming accelerated by the Internet. By cooperating with the move towards user created content, VH1 has the potential to attract a wider audience and marginally revolutionize network television. Below you will find some of the trailers for "Acceptable TV"; you are the judge of whether or not this show can be the future of television programming.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

EA Penetrates iTunes!

In a class presentation last week, I channeled the imagination of Steve Jobs and created the new "iPod VG". The iPod VG is a revolutionary device that would include the main functions of the iPod along with WiFi capabilities and access to the iTunes store, where you can purchase and download EA(Electronic Arts) video games, then play them right on your iPod. Additionally, this device would allow for on-demand purchasing of music synched with the EA games.

It seems as though this could soon become a reality. Electronic Arts announced on Thursday that they would be positioning tracks from its catalog on the iTunes store. And, although, this doesn't mean that an iPod VG, or a device of the same sort, will definitely come to be. It does, on the other hand, create much opportunity for the iTunes crowd. This created opportunity will allow for easy access and purchasing of music that gamers enjoy from the EA games they play. Ultimately, this will suit the fast-paced, multi-tasking lifestyle of the Super Connectors.

EA will be able to achieve this task with the help of their new publishing company, called Next Level Music,LLC. By having a publishing company, EA will be able to easily license their exclusive and original music while getting the rights needed to include music in their games and sell them on iTunes. By cutting out the middle man, EA games will be able to collect more of a profit from the 99 cent downloads offered on iTunes. By making their music available on iTunes, EA will be able to consolidate its online audience while tapping into mobile consumers. Ultimately, this is a win-win situation for both EA and iTunes. Electronic Arts will be able to increase both their audience and revenues while iTunes will be able to tap into another media outlet (gaming) and potentially see more traffic and purchases of music.

The iPod VG...It could happen.

iPod VG

Friday, March 2, 2007

Have Viral Videos Gone Too Far???

WebJunk is asking people, through their website, to vote for the "40 Greatest Internet Superstars". These "internet superstars" consist of indivduals who have either popularized themselves through blogging, like Perez Hilton, or via video hosting sites, like YouTube. The viral video stars that you can choose from include Andy Milonakis, Ask a Ninja, Lonley Girl, and Brian Atene--to name a few. Perhaps the most disturbing of all the "superstars", however, is Gino the Ginny.

According to his EPK, Gino the Ginny is an 11 year old from New York who specializes in sketch comedy. Although at first Gino the Ginny's parody is hilarious, it becomes offensive and alarming in retrospect. In his video, "Gino Hits the Clubs", Gino talks about being on steroids, tweezing his eyebrows, buying $500 bottles of wine, going tanning, and being tripped up on ecstasy. An 11 year old could not possibly have come up with this idea..And, in, fact, he did not. A producer by the name of Renzo Da'More put Gino Meluzzio up to this. Da'More's proudction company, has created 19 other viral videos starring Gino the Ginny. Additionally, there is a Gino the Ginny movie in the works and Gino even makes personal appearances at clubs in the Northeast. It seems as though Da'More and crew are exploiting this child more than helping further his "career". So far, Gino the Ginny's "Gino Hits the Clubs" has generated over 670,000 views on YouTube. Gino even has both a website, and a My Space page.

Gino the Ginny

Is exploiting the youth of America the future of online entertainment? More importantly, is laughing at the expense of others a viable means of entertainment? I know that the answer to both of these questions most likely is "yes". So expect to see more viral videos of this nature on the YouTubes and iFilms of the world wide web. But, when you really think about it, such exploitation of others is a direct reflection of the evils that are inherent in human nature. It's sad, I know, but we all need a little laugh every once in a while, right? What ever happened to stand up comedy?