On The Road With The Teen Social-Media Sensations Of DigiTour

“This cross-country cash cow starring seven of America’s biggest Vine and YouTube stars may have all the trappings of a traditional rock tour — long bus rides, concert hall stages in front of screaming fans, staying up late — but it’s the clearest sign yet that the entertainment industry’s star-making apparatus is being turned upside down.”

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“Perhaps for this reason, the DigiTour show itself seems mostly designed to enable the boys to mug for the crowd as much as possible and the crowd, in turn, to scream as much as possible. All told, it feels less like the kind of event you’d expect to nearly sell out a massive ballroom than it does a summer camp talent show, running through a sort of cartoon version of a typical day at a typical high school in a typical town: First, there’s homeroom (introductions), lunchtime (food fight), cheerleading practice (a goofy, strutty dance sequence set to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”). And then, of course, the denouement: prom, during which six girls and one boy are plucked from the audience and matched with a cast member for an onstage slow dance set to Wiz Khalifa’s summer funeral banger “See You Again.” Between these bits, the more musically oriented cast members sing, covering songs by nostalgia or Top 40 pop acts such as Journey and Drake. Four of the kids do a Fallon-style lip-synch battle, and Hayes and another cast member, Tez Mengestu, rap along sputteringly to Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone.” But by and large, the cast do not really perform so much as appear. Roughly once every show, a booming voice prods, “Now, let’s — take — some — SELFIEEEES,” in the way another announcer might implore a crowd to make some noise. The fans oblige.”

Via BuzzFeed

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Visualizing the active years of popular artists

“This week the Echo Nest is extending the data returned for an artist to include the active years for an artist.  For thousands of artists you will be able to retrieve the starting and ending date for an artists career. This may include multiple ranges as groups split and get back together for that last reunion tour.  Over the weekend, I spent a few hours playing with the data and built a web-based visualization that shows you the active years for the top 1000 or so hottest artists.”

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“The visualization shows the artists in order of their starting year. You can see the relatively short careers of artists like Robert Johnson and Sam Cooke, and the extremely long careers of artists like The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ennio Morricone.   The color of an artist’s range bar is proportional to the artist’s hotttnesss.  The hotter the artist, the redder the bar.  Thanks to 7Digital, you can listen to a sample of the artist by clicking on the artist. To create the visualization I used Mike Bostock’s awesome D3.js (Data Driven Documents) library.”

–> Via Music Machinery

Call Them Hippies, But the Grateful Dead were Tech Pioneers

“What sets the band’s “Fare Thee Well” gigs apart isn’t that these options are available, but that they exist in large part because of the Grateful Dead itself: The group and its associates pioneered rock concert broadcasts, making it a regular practice starting with a show at the Carousel Ballroom in 1968.

The Dead, long stereotyped as hippies stuck in the Summer of Love, surely seemed anachronistic by the time it disbanded in 1995 after the death of guitarist and songwriter Jerry Garcia. But the Grateful Dead remains one of the most innovative and tech-savvy bands in pop history. Long before it became necessary (or cool) to do so, the band embraced a DIY ethos in everything from manufacturing its own gear to publishing its own music to fostering a decentralized music distribution system. The Dead’s obsession with technology was almost inseparable from the band’s psychedelic ambition and artistic independence.”

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More genuinely progressive than most prog rock, the Grateful Dead and its legion of fans embraced a spirit of innovation that could be called entrepreneurial if the pursuit of profit didn’t so often seem secondary. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the band’s constant experimentation with sound systems and musical equipment. The Dead and its extended family essentially created the sound of modern rock-and-roll concerts, rejecting the small amplifiers and tinny PA systems of the 60s—think of the Beatles at Candlestick Park—in favor of ground-shaking stereo and quadraphonic sound.

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Only a few years ago, a crew of jam fans created GroupMe, a group texting app ideal for mass communications at shows and festivals, eventually selling it to Skype for millions. Probably, there will be Deadheads using it to find one another in Chicago and Santa Clara, if they haven’t already adapted to some newer tech. Heads continue to play with new configurations, lately including the Bluetooth-enabled Zoku. Billing itself as “the Secret Society App” to anonymously find “tribes off-the-grid in real life,”  Zoku works even when the Deadheads inevitably overload the local cell network, as they did during the shows in California. Others are in various stages of development. The secondary ticket market for the Dead shows has been the hugest of the summer, according to StubHub, but the fans also have the Deadhead-friendly face-value ticket site/app CashOrTrade at their disposal to level the playing field a bit.

Via Wired