November Hold Music

Well that experiment came to a short ending.

I got talking with the guys at ccMixter and it’s a pretty fuzzy line on the Creative Commons license (the full legalese version of the license, in my opinion, is pretty flaky) and there was no clear answer either way on how this usage would fall under the framework.

We all agreed, just to make sure everything was on the up and up, to ping the artists and see what they thought.

With a mixed bag of responses the one bit that shot this whole idea down was, unfortunately, the thing that makes CCmixter’s concept so cool. Just about every song on that site is a remix or built up of other artist’s music or samples. So to get a totally clear “okay” for a specific song I’d need to run it by everyone who’s music was used.

This is basically like asking a kid to have both parents, his grandparents and his estranged uncle to sign a permission slip – unfortunately too much work in this context. The risk also multiplies as it’s entirely possible that one song would have a sample from a major artist (Beastie Boys are among the artists who have contributed samples) and everyone knows where that could head.

So I’m going to have to pull the plug on this idea. I still think ccMixter is a great concept (and you really should check it out) but this avenue of exposure just isn’t going to work right now.

Localizing Pop Music: a catchy way to drum up sales?

I was driving in the car with my wife yesterday when Avril Lavigne’s new single “Girlfriend” came on the radio – my wife mentioned hearing that Avril had actually recorded the song in seven languages. Sure enough a quick Google search turned up a couple articles including this one:

Aside from English, the chorus to Girlfriend has been recorded in Mandarin and Japanese for her massive Asian fanbase, as well as Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.

It’s an interesting concept – the notion of tweaking a song for different audiences isn’t necessarily new but I can’t think of something exactly like this done before. Shania Twain, for example, owes much of her success to the careful adjustment of her singles depending on the type of radio station it would be playing on – While the lyrics were the same the accompanying music would be given a country or pop twist to make it more in line with the nature of the station. Pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Shakira have also recorded languages in other languages but generally they have been different albums and the artist has had some connection to whatever language/culture the album they were aimed at. In this case though Avril doesn’t even speak a second language, let alone seven!

It’s an interesting idea to only change the chorus as well – at the end of the day the key to pop music is a catchy hook/chorus, generally the rest of the lyrics are just there to fill the gaps between chorus’. It’s a very commercial co-opting of the notion that Mandela expressed with respect to speaking to a man’s head versus speaking to a man’s heart. In this case they’ve perfectly targeted a catchy pop verse right at the emotional hearts of Teeny-boppers across much of the planet.

That said, I also thought this little tidbit was an interesting example of how localization still isn’t something fixed by just switching the words though:

“We tried Hindi twice but the diction and the meter of how you sing Hindi versus the western rhythms just didn’t match and we just couldn’t pull it off,” McBride, also the CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, said in an interview on Thursday.

Thanks to YouTube I’ve been able to track down all of the various versions:



Covers by our elders

First we had Johnny Cash with “Hurt“, then Paul Anka and his “Rock Swings” album – today I came across this cover of “Fix You” (via Creative Generalist), as performed by Fred Mittle and the Young@Heart chorus:

Love it! I think covers where there’s a significant generation gap between the two artists are really interesting. The song really has two different meanings when Fred sings it versus Coldplay’s original.

If you enjoy it too you can actually buy the MP3 for $3 here.