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Take Away Shows

  1. 1. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Take Away Shows Music streams Xurxo Martínez UW MCDM Web Strategies for Storytelling COM 597b–FALL 2009
  2. 2. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Abstract This paper is concerned with the online video series Les Concerts a Emporter, created by French collective La Blogotheque–from now on I will use the English translation, ―Take Away Shows‖, as a generic term for what I argue is a new genre of music videos, employing the French version to talk about the videos created by La Blogotheque, and their role as a seed for a number of projects around the world that try to set up a new way to film musicians, alternative to both concert filming and the music video, or video clip. In these videos the musicians are filmed in unusual spaces–the street, a roof, an elevator–in a guerrilla style and depriving them of the kind of sound facilities they are used to when performing on a stage, keeping all the small mistakes on the final footage and allowing the interaction with the environment. I will also explore how the new technologies and social media tools make it possible to create, distribute and organize culture artifacts without the involvement of any institution, public or private. The main instruments that I've used for this paper, other than researching literature–academic or from news sources–on media theory, social media and culture distribution in the internet era, are a survey on like-minded projects and a direct interview with the creators of the concept: filmmaker Vincent Moon–real name Mathieu Saura–and blogger and entrepreneur Chryde–real name Christophe Abric.
  3. 3. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Introduction One of the most famous quotes in rock history, credited to Brian Eno, puts that "only a few thousand people bought Velvet Underground records when they came out, but all of them started bands" (Kidder & Oppenheim, 2008, p. 255). The creative force that has produced the Take Away Shows has found in the internet a perfect ally for the distribution of their work. That, connected to the easy access to video technology and an engaging concept, is beginning to kindle a fire that has more than a hundred sources all over the world and generates tens of millions of views. That also proves how terms such as mainstream begin to lose meaning in the new niche culture. The main conclusion of this paper is that we are in presence of a whole new, popular, and democratic form of culture creation. In its core and purest essence, the Take Away Shows are cultural artifacts created with cheap technology that look for an intimate relation between the musician, the space and people present in the recording environment, and the spectator. These artifacts are, then, distributed world wide without the participation of any public or private institution through free internet video services. In first place I will give a frame to explain the relevance of the Take Away Shows, overview the history of their creators and other related projects and will start to define the concept. Then I will explore with examples the three main characteristics of this new form of expression, with the work of Vincent Moon as reference: compromise with the artist, a preference for a non-conventional disruption between music and image, and the interaction with people and space. Before analyzing the results of the survey conducted among producers who create similar video works, I will talk about the roots of this new way to film music performances and how these are created and distributed: from the counter culture movements of the 1970s to theoretical works that propose a more active role of the users in the creation and distribution of culture artifacts. On the mainstream—the old mainstream—side of music video history, I will also show the differences between the concept of Take Away Show and MTV Unplugged. As REM's singer Michael Stipe said, talking about the Take Away Shows: "Let's put the final nail in the coffin of the term 'music video' and allow it to be something of the past, because that's exactly what it is. But now music and film hasn't been in a more exciting place for 20 years. There's a beauty and rawness there" (Cole, 2008). Basic Data I‘ve decided to include this data section at the beginning of the paper to state the empirical relevance of a poorly known project that hadn‘t been subject of academic writing to date. All the data included in the paper is dated December the 1st, 2009, except noted. The web sites URLs are included as endnotes. La Blogoteque1 begun to create the Concerts a Emporter2 in 2006, uploading their videos to official channels in both YouTube3 and the French site Dailymotion4. A year ago they started to post them on a regular basis in the web site Vimeo5, gradually stopped using Dailymotion and only have used again YouTube for the last weeks to promote the takes on the French band Phoenix. Overall the videos in their official channels have been seen around eighteen million times–ten in YouTube, six point three in Dailymotion and one point five in Vimeo–(Chryde, personal communication, December 14, 2009).
  4. 4. The Take Away Shows: Music streams As it usually happens in most video services, it is also possible to find clips produced by them but uploaded by others. In their case these 'others' usually include the own bands portrayed in the Concerts a Emporter or even fans that want to share their content. One example of the former is the video collection that La Blogotheque filmed for US group Beirut, shooting one clip for 12 of the songs–All but the 18 seconds introduction "A Call to Arms"–included in his record The Flying Club Cup. The videos were published in special channels in Dailymotion6 and YouTube7, and had a combined total number of 2,470,060 views. Talking about Beirut, one clip previously filmed, titled "Nantes", was also uploaded by other YouTube user 8 and so far got 2,324,020 views. Another 'pirate' version of their Take Away Show with Arcade Fire, showing only with the fragment where the band plays inside an elevator, has 1,193,857 views9. Other popular non- official version of their videos would be the Bon Iver version of "For Emma‖, which accumulates 487,412 views10. Among the official videos that have reached higher number of views we should talk about the Kooks' "Ooh la"–with 1,430,034 views11, the two Grizzly Bear videos–with 431.254 and 451.830 views each–in YouTube12, or the three Phoenix videos, that got 228,000 views in just eleven days–as December the 13th–in Vimeo13. Their YouTube channel is the fifth French one with more subscriptions–22,766, nearly double than the Universal Music channel–13,34014. The La Blogotheque web page has also felt the impact of the Concerts a Emporter' popularity, rising from 3.000 visits a day in 2006–where the web site was already established and three years old–to the actual 10.000 visits a day (Chryde, 2009). We must also add 1.4 million video downloads through the video podcast15, which started in January 2007 and obtained more than one thousand subscribers during its first month. The number continued growing steadily, as the distribution through video sites started also to be more regular. Right now they have 4,700 subscribers, according to La Blogotheque' Feedburner stats (Chryde, 2009). Analysis of concept and creators Who are they and why they do it Before talking about the Concerts a Emporter let's introduce their creators and the reasons that moved them to start this series. Chryde is the man behind the French music blog La Blogotheque. He wanted to create music videos that were completely different for the usual MTV stuff, and found an associate in the filmmaker Vincent Moon. In Chryde words: The Blogotheque was three years old by 2006. Three years of just written articles. I wanted to make videos, but not the typical bad shooting of a concert. Then I went to that Arcade Fire show, their first in France. At the end of the performance they went into the street and I told myself 'this is it'" (Chryde, personal interview, November 13, 2009). He is also focused on websites about humor or projects related to food and French music while tries to figure out how to make the Blogotheque economically self dependent without partnerships with music labels (Delye, 2009). On his side, the self-taught Vincent Moon had previously worked as photographer and video editor, and wanted to focus his work on moving image. As an improvisation music fan, and "frustrated musician", he doesn‘t like to have a fixed plan before shooting. ―I‘m really excited about the process. Just go the street and start to try different things‖ (Moon, personal interview, November 18, 2009). He even emphasizes the casual and impressionist side of his works when says in another interview that ―when I see my films I realize that I don't try to make beautiful films, but to come across beautiful moments, beautiful stories―(Anima, 2009). As his name has become more known because of the Concerts a Emporter and his works for artists as Arcade Fire16–as cinematographer–, The National17 or, specially, REM18, Moon has been approached by established music video companies. He considers this ―quite funny‖, arguing that with his work he is ―fighting against
  5. 5. The Take Away Shows: Music streams them, against what has happened with TV in the last 20 years. MTV was cool at the beginning, but now the fast cuts have totally devastated our cultural ecology. They are disrespectful with the audience‖ (2009). His critique to most of the commercial TV is influenced by the thoughts of director Peter Watkins, one of the precursors of the docudrama and theorist on the mass media language. In his main theoretical work, The Media Crisis, Watkins argues that commercial TV and cinema perpetuates themselves creating the belief that their formats are the only acceptable by the public and through the trivialization of the audiovisual language. And these formats are displayed in a way that the only role the audience has is that of the passive consumer: We can no longer separate or differentiate films in terms of being artistic, pleasurable, aesthetic vs. those we consider as rubbish–without understanding that nearly all contemporary cinema films, documentaries, and TV programs–including news broadcasts–which are intended and shaped for a mass audience, share certain common elements: a Monoform structure and a hierarchical relationship to the public (2007, Conclusion). Other related projects of Moon are the site Temporary Areas19–aimed to look around the world for creators experimenting with new visual languages and technology–, Tanzanian music project Changes in Rhythm20, or Fiume Nights21, a radical approach to the one-shot video combined in this weblog with thoughts on filming, among others. Both Moon and Chryde were included in 2008 in a list of 10 Innovators to Watch by Daily Variety "to build the entertainment industry of the future" (Variety, 2008). Other than Moon and Chryde, the Concerts a Emporter are also the result of the work of other very talented directors, audio recorders, technicians and a production team that makes it possible to film in the best possible locations. But in this paper I will focus my research and analysis in the episodes filmed by Vincent Moon, even at risk of being partial and overlook any feature present in the work of other producers. Developing the concept Then, what is a Take Away Show? In the La Blogotheque site is defined as a video podcast where they invite an artist or a band to play in the streets, in a bar, a park, or even in a flat or in an elevator and film the whole session. The idea is to capture instants, film the music just like it happens, without tricks or professional editing, keeping the raw sounds of the surroundings, the little incidents, the hesitations... And they have been succeeding in creating a new way to present a music performance. Chicago based music writer Chris Catania had reviewed concerts of groups like Fleet Foxes or Ra Ra Riot when he discovered their Take Away Shows in Current TV. Suddenly he realized that in these performances he could notice "the feel and emotional elements of a live show even though they didn‘t have most of the basic elements and surroundings of a live concert" and asked himself questions as if these videos are redefining the concept of concert or how he can feel the same or more intimacy from a screen than from a live performance (Catania, 2008). In a deeper way, one of the other creators that also make this kind of videos, and part in the survey, Hannah Baker, says: It creates a union between cinema and music, sound and image, color and rhythm. A Take Away Show is an object of wonder that inspires people to realize their potential, as what Gabriele D'Annunzio called 'mystical creators' in the constitution of Fiume, the pirate state. Moon himself has also talked about Fiume–hence the name for his blog–and D‘Annunzio, saying that his hope is ―to be able to realize in the 21st century, what he did after the World War I‖ (Videology, 2007). D‘Annunzio was an Italian writer and war hero who created an independent state in a small port between Italia and Croatia, proclaiming that music was a fundamental principle of the state and poets were among the "superior" human beings, alongside heroes, prophets and supermen (IstriaNet.org, 2007).
  6. 6. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Les Concerts a Emporter and other La Blogotheque works The first twelve episodes of the Concerts a Emporter were shoot by Moon in Paris. Then they came other directors–Jeremiah, Nate Chan, One Shot Seattle, One Take New York, Ty, or Val3rie–and other spaces– Buenos Aires, Osaka, St. Malo, New York, Copenhagen, Seattle… but always with Moon and Paris as main references. To date, they have released 98 numbered sessions–some compound by several videos–and other 86 unnumbered. The idea is to reach the hundred with special features and stop numbering them at all. Another Concerts a Emporter series is named City Series, where the La Blogotheque team go to a French city and organize a series of Take Away Shows with local bands. The first one had Bordeaux22 as base camp and a second one is focused on the Rennes music scene23. In the same vein, some of the like-minded projects included in my list also focus their work on a local showcase of their cities' music. Some examples would be Athens Soundies24 or Osheaga–in Montreal25, as happens with the similar The Duluth Scene26, while the latter lacks of the urban element. Other than the content posted in La Blogotheque and the Beirut videos we told about before, there are another twenty-six original Take Away Shows filmed for both Sony's Crackle TV–2127–and Current TV– 528–during 2007 and 2008. In the episodes, all of them recorded in the US, we can find performances by Fleet Foxes, The Dodos, Grand Archives, Quasi or Bowerbirds. Current also published in their web site several of the videos included in La Blogotheque and a couple of clips with interviews with founder Chryde29. There is also another three Take Away Shows created for French mobile network operator Orange30, for what Chryde and Moon were even protagonists of an advertisement31. Other creators and the expansion of the concept But the Take Away Shows, as a new way to shoot music performances, are not just confined to what's issued in the La Blogotheque web site. In the last two years other projects that found inspiration in their work or that were also looking for a new way to film music have started to publish their videos. In order to create a list of similar projects I started focusing on the Vimeo group ―Everyone's Take Away Show‖32. Created by La Blogotheque in November 2008, these group hosts more than 700 videos created by like–minded projects. Vimeo was also a good start point as is a web focused on original video content. Other than in their personal web sites, a number of video producers also host their content in Vimeo. In this group I have identified one hundred and five producers–not counting members of this group that shoot regular concerts or the alternative Vincent Moon project Fiume Nights–. Then I found another thirteen projects that didn't have presence in Vimeo or do not have works represented in the referred group, making a total of one hundred and eighteen like-minded creators. The validity of the projects was double-checked with Chryde, so I made sure that the list was accurate. The growth of the group is noteworthy, with 210 videos added in the last 30 days. Quite less popular in terms of visits than other video sites as YouTube, Dailymotion or Metacafe, Vimeo is a community of video creators and lovers that only accept original content with no commercial intention. So Vimeo is, in the context of video production, a place where to find and spread ideas in a context much more quiet and reliable than the YouTube kind of ‗far west‘. In YouTube people stumble upon the videos, while in Vimeo is still possible to look and discover, a fact that is slowly adding popularity to this site. Taking a look at the Compete.com data for the November '08 to November '09 period–see screenshot after the endnotes–, Vimeo traffic has grown a 125.6%, compared to the 34.46% rise of YouTube, the 16.66% of Metacafe or the 30.8% of Dailymotion. Another site focused on independent creators–Blip.tv–has also experienced a growth of 59.02% in the same period, showing how original content is gaining appeal between online video consumers and how it looks for niche websites that provide a more focused and clean experience than the big video aggregators. As Clay Shirky says, the activities of the amateur creators are self-reinforcing. "If people can share their work in an environment where they can also converse with one another, they will begin talking about the things they have shared" (Shirky, 2008 p. 99).
  7. 7. The Take Away Shows: Music streams La Blogotheque has also created other related video series, like the ones for the Soirées de Poche33, 'regular' concert films under the name of Back on Stages34 or the animation series Piticlip35. As it is said before, the concept of a Take Away Show is quite simple–to film a musician while playing in an unexpected environment trying to capture the freshness and spontaneity of the moment–and, at the same time, attractive and easy to replicate. Vincent Moon explains how he tries to make the viewers part of his work: "be transparent and show them that if I can do it they also can. There‘s no longer an audience that just see what you do, but people who after viewing your work and realizing how simple it is can decide to make it themselves" (2009). So anyone can create a Take Away Show, share it through the internet and get new viewers for this kind of video that can themselves shoot another of these videos that will keep on expanding the idea. Ten years ago a concept like this might have ended as ten videos compiled in a VHS tape and then distributed to five or six film libraries through France. But now, with the viral nature of the social media tools, anyone in Bangkok looking for a video of their favorite indie musician can discover, promote, and ever become producer of a Take Away Show. In the last statement I mention the other two key elements in the development of this video format: the followers or like-minded creators, and the musicians portrayed. As I've stated few paragraphs before, there are a growing number of video creators that are filming the same kind of video or others with a very similar vibe. Some of them have well established projects, as the London Based Black Cab Sessions36–that, obviously, locate their films in a black cab–, other are related to a music label–as Tugboat37, magazines–as Tracer38, music venues–As the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee39, radio collectives–as Dublab40, and there are even musicians–as the Swedish singer Lykke Li41. All of them have a different approach to the concept, and sometimes only part of their music videos can be really considered a Take Away Show, but always keeping the idea of a performance where some of the elements–the instrumentation, the place where it happens, the traditional seated audience–are unusual and the result has some rawness, intimacy and natural feeling that makes it stand away from the traditional music video. Another important point when talking about the success of these shows is the fact that musicians all over the world–but mainly French, US, and UK indie singers and bands–have agreed to be subjects of these films. Even when the Take Away Shows are becoming a marketing tool for them and, so, reach a bigger audience, the presence of bands and soloists with strong base of fans was key in the popularization of the format. Chryde explains that at first "it was terribly hard to get to the bands. Now that we are more popular is easier. Even some bands contact us in order to have their Take Away Show. They know we can help discovering or rediscovering some music to the people" (2009). But other than the promotional side it seems obvious that they also enjoy the experience and the challenge. And that's how medium and big–in terms of sales–groups that have been filmed by La Blogotheque have decided afterwards to work on further video projects with Vincent Moon and other Blogotheque's producers as Jeremiah. Examples of that would be films, already distributed in DVD as the previously referred works with Arcade Fire and The National, a soon–to–be– released work with Scottish band Mogwai and the two collaborations with REM: the film This is not a Show18 and the project Supernatural Superserious42. And what happens when you produce tons of videos of independent musicians and post them on the internet? That their fans will sooner or later discover them, share them and even prefer them to the official video clips: both with Beirut's ―Nantes‖ and Arcade Fire's ―Neon Bible‖ the Concerts a Emporter have up to ten times more views than the traditional videos43. The freshness of this kind of videos, the feeling of viewing something special and the non-openly commercial nature help to distribute them.
  8. 8. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Basic elements I've identified three representative elements of Vincent Moon's Take Away Shows: compromise, a preference for a non-conventional disruption between music and image, and the interaction with people and space. Let‘s see some examples: – Compromise in this case means to be true to the musician that he is portraying. While filming, Moon is another performer and places him at the same level as the musicians. If the video asks for any challenge he will be the first taking it. An extreme example would be the video where Sufjan Stevens plays ―Lakes of Canada‖ on the roof of Cincinnati‘s Memorial Hall44. This is a video of a raw beauty, where the performer transmits both physical–the wind makes him step back and forth–and emotional fragility while the camera floats around him in an impossible trip through the roof. On this idea of the camera being another instrument Moon says: ―I feel myself closer to music than to cinema. In a way I play with the camera.‖ (2009) We can see this approach in the second fragment of his series with Japanese cult folksinger Kazuki Tomokawa45, that more than a Take Away Show are fragments of what will be a full documentary on the figure of the artist known as the "screaming philosopher", La Faute des Fleurs–French for Because of the Flowers–. This video series, arguably Moon's best work to date, is also the perfect example of how any person can become part of the process of a Take Away Show: its origins are in an email that a Japanese fan of Vincent Moon send him talking about Tomokawa and inviting Moon to go to Osaka in order to film his performances46. – About the marriage of sound and image, Vincent Moon says "a very good audio gives you more freedom at the time of being more experimental with the image". He even likes to play with rough dark images, hiding elements: ―If you don‘t give the audience all the information they‘ll have to use their imagination. That‘s another way to make them part of the process‖ (2009). And he also uses the audio as the linear element that gives coherence to the moments where the camera decides to go on trips that the viewer don't know where end. One example would be St. Vincent's ―Marry Me‖47, where from the start of the song there is two minutes wait until we discover–maybe Moon too? –the shot that will protagonist the video. – Interact with the people and the spaces where the performance takes place means make it–the Take Away Show–as natural as taking a photograph, capturing a moment and putting it into context. It can be a group of children that joins the primitive street performance of Man Man48, Noah and the Whale playing in the Paris Subway49 or Architecture in Helsinki playing in a back alley with the collaboration of curious neighbors, a choir of fans of the band congregated thanks to MySpace and–after a problem with the amps–the electricity taken from someone's kitchen50. Following the thread of the MySpace calls, and although is not a stylistic element, is inarguable that the internet also plays a key role in the Take Away Shows. Chryde says that the influence is triple: First it makes it possible to produce and distribute a video without having the funds of a TV channel. Second because it gives you immediate exposure to your prospect audience. Finally, because in our work we adapt the spontaneous language of the internet. He even points to a fourth influence, as it has been a way "to discover myself new artists through music videos like ours done by other producers. That‘s the way I knew about groups as Girls, Tune Yards or Sharon Von Etten" (2009).
  9. 9. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Where do the Take Away Shows fit? The above question will be answered in two different sections: one focused on other film versions of live music performances and the meaning of the concept of authenticity in the show MTV Unplugged51, while the other goes back to counter culture movements in the decade of the 1970s and different theoretical works on the active role of the users in the creation and distribution of the culture artifacts. MTV It's been said in previous pages of this paper that the Take Away Shows are videos where the musicians are filmed creating new versions of their songs, usually with acoustic instruments, in an unusual environment, mainly urban. Looking for precedents other than any kind of recorded street performance, and if we put aside the film location, it comes to mind all kind of acoustic sessions taped in video for radios or TVs. Specially one of them, the MTV Unplugged show, that got much of their success and prestige marketing an attribute that is usually linked–see the survey below–to the Take Away Shows: authenticity. Let's summarize quickly the origins of MTV Unplugged. In the first 80's MTV created a postmodern video way of displaying a music performance, the music video–also a new advertising–oriented commercial tool (Radcliffe, 1996, p. 27)–, in which the form had a higher hierarchy than the music itself. At the end of the decade Unplugged co–creators Robert Small and Jim Burns recognized a need for an alternative to the new wave and heavy metal merry–go–round that dominated MTV's music videos during the 1980's... viewers would be left to form their own interpretations about the music, in contrast to the story provided by videos (Radcliffe, p. 2). The show consists on an onstage acoustic performance of the artist songs or those that inspired him or her. The series got a massive commercial success, not only as a TV show but also through the sale of the recorded albums. Authenticity, rebellion, and spontaneity were some of the adjectives linked to the show and that paved its reputation, even as a rara avis inside MTV. However, the result is another commercially crafted product filmed on a basically static set and aimed to promote the artist, make profit with both the records and the air emission, and smart enough to capitalize the appeal of the acoustic sound as opposed to the saturation of the pop productions. Unplugged also keeps many of the MTV clichés, as the use of very short cuts to engage young users. Radcliffe mentions as an example "Nirvana's two-and-a-half-minute song ―Dumb‖ 52, in which there were forty-nine camera changes. This does not include zooming or shifting of an existing shot. This means the camera changed on average every three seconds while moving and zooming continually" (Radcliffe, p.51). So what happens with the idea of authenticity in a product that is designed to appeal both the general young MTV audience and those who are looking for a more organic relation with the music and the musician? As Groosberg points, "authenticity has increasingly become a self–conscious parody of the ideology of authenticity, by making the artificiality of its construction less a matter of aesthetics and more a matter of image-marketing. The result is that style is celebrated over authenticity, or rather that authenticity is seen as just another style." (as cited in Radcliffe, p.34). In contrast the Take Away Shows not only benefits from the interaction of the musician with the space where she or he performs and the people they come across, but also of an intimacy feeling–Vincent Moon argues that ―people get touched by the videos because you can feel the human hands that are behind. Some times we don't even know what we are doing‖ (2009)–, and a broader freedom to choose and be part of the cultural artifact, because here we don't find a broadcast, but the infinite multicast of the internet. And we don't have a single point of production, because any viewer, if mesmerized by the format, is invited to become a creator. In the survey that I have conducted, producer Theyshootmusic explains, when asked about what makes these videos special, that Take Away Shows "transport a lot more emotions and intensity than 99% of "classic" MTV-style music videos. You get a very different view of bands and musicians and at the same time experience the life of a city".
  10. 10. The Take Away Shows: Music streams And what about the commercial element? Is easy to imagine how some independent artist in the present and other kind of musicians in the near future will use this style of videos mainly as a way of promotion, even trying to limit the challenge represented by the interaction with the space and the lack of resources. But even though it would embody a new and different format that has roots in both music and film and looks for a more open and natural connection between any performer and any viewer. As another of the producers surveyed, Bandwithfilms, points out "is a democratic art form, as democratic as being able to pick up a guitar. And so these videos appeal equally to musicians and music lovers, filmmakers, and film lovers." The culture created by people Once La Blogotheque created the concept of the Take Away Shows and it proved to be both consistent with its time, similar to other initiatives, and easy enough to be reproduced by others, we must state that is no longer an exclusive brand, as their work converges with those of like-minded projects, creating between all of them a corpus not driven by any company or institution–public or private–. This is a piece of the still not set folklore of our time, as it is a cultural object created by any individual–as the price of the technology and the distribution is almost free–and open for comment and review by any other user of the internet. Trying to state what kind of culture production system could be related to the creation of those videos, we can take a look at Jenkins definition of 'participatory culture' as one in which consumers and media producers doesn‘t occupy different roles and even interact with each other according to a new set of rules that contrast with older notions of passive media spectatorship (Jenkins, 2006, p.3). Also following what Benkler explains in his book The Wealth of Networks, "the networked information economy makes it possible to reshape both the ―who‖ and the ―how‖ of cultural production relative to cultural production in the twentieth century. It adds to the centralized, market–oriented production system a new framework of radically decentralized individual and cooperative nonmarket production. It thereby affects the ability of individuals and groups to participate in the production of the cultural tools". (Benkler, 2006, p.275). So through transparency and participation not only surfaces a new way to create cultural items from the base, but also to be critical through the referred comments, reviews or even creation of new items that reply each other. And coming back to Watkins, in his The Media Crisis he writes the following sentence that connects to the idea of making the viewer‘s part of the creation process of the Take Away Shows: If we can somehow develop the idea that individuals and community groups–i.e., the public–can and should play a greater role in deciding and creating what they–we–see on the mass audiovisual media, then we will have taken a major step forward (2007, Public-alternative Processes and Practices). We can even go back to the decade of 1970's and link these ideas of the users being also part of the production in the counter-culture video collectives of the early 70's in the US, capitalized by the book Guerrilla Television by Michael Shamberg and exemplified in the work of the UCV of Minneapolis– University Community Video–where, as Deidre Boyle explains in his book Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited: There were created non-professional, magazine-style productions in which individuals, unfettered by reporters or editors, told their own stories. The informal magazine format was designed 'to bring the power of information to people who haven't had it before'. Access–and I refer here to the access of individual storytellers to UCV equipment and the access of UCV to the public airwaves–was the key to success in this endeavor, which began its run in 1974 on KTCA, the local Minneapolis PBS affiliate (as cited in Won, 1998). Also Mark Davis already talked in 1977 about the coming wave of 'garage cinema,' drawing an analogy to the garage bands associated with Punk Rock: Changes in technology will bring about a merging of independent video producers and home video makers into a broad and active market sector... When the tools and infrastructures are in place to
  11. 11. The Take Away Shows: Music streams enable cheap and effective home use of video annotation, retrieve and repurposing tools, the garages of the world will be the site of the 'New New Hollywood' creating hundreds of millions of channels of video content. The conditions of production and the use will have changed such that a large group of amateurs and home users will be regularly making video that can compete in the information marketplace of networked computers (as cited in Burgess, Green, Jenkins, & Hartley, 2009, p. 110– 111) Another author focused on media culture and TV is Douglas Kellner. In the 90's he suggested that the media culture is always a ―top-down form of culture which often reduces the audience to passive receiver of predigested meanings‖ (1995, p.33) and that we could only talk about Popular Culture if it is of, by, and for the people, in which they produce and participate in cultural practices that articulate their experience and aspirations. (1995, p.34-35). The difference now, as I have stated before, is that both the lower price of the technology tools and the rise of the Social Media sites and its powerful free distribution makes this kind of 'Popular culture' possible. Focusing on the distribution part of the equation, the internet enables novel forms of collective action, making it possible, as Shirky explains, to create collaborative groups that are larger and more distributed than at any other time in history. And coming back to the idea of a production that is not controlled by institutional groups, that collaboration–as the one that shows up between Take Away Shows producers and viewers in social web tools–signifies a profound challenge to the status quo (Shirky, p. 48). Survey At the beginning of this paper I used a Brian Eno quote on The Velvet Underground as an example on how one cultural product can become influential and be the seed of a number of others even if its diffusion is originally limited. Another instance took place in Manchester, when forty people attended, on June 4 1976, to the first Sex Pistol concert outside London. Between the crowd there were many would–be notables including Howard Devoto and Peter Shelley–Buzzcocks and Magazine–, Bernard Sumner and Ian Curtis– New Order and Joy Division–, Mark E. Smith–The Fall–, Morrissey–The Smiths–or Tony Wilson–founder of Factory Records–(Crossley, 2009, p. 31). So the magnitude and the direction of the fire cannot always be inferred by the size of the spark, maybe by its intensity. And in 2010 we must also take in account the way social media spreads content and reaches other users not only eager to share the finding, but also ready and able–thanks to the low price of technological tools–to create their own artifacts. We have already said that there are more than a hundred of projects that follow or share the path that La Blogotheque and Vincent Moon are walking. Will the Take Away Shows be the spark that ignites the relation between music and image? Time will tell, but their popularity is rising and the format is spreading among video creators around the world, with projects in Mexico, Australia, Norway, Japan or Italy. Now each of their videos is watched by thousands of people, some of them–as we had pointed out before–even by millions. And among the viewers are also creators those film videos that are seen by other hundreds and thousands, using the power of social media and the internet viral distribution in a way that was impossible just a few years ago. What we can do now is ask these video producers about their thoughts and the reasons that took them to shoot Take Away Shows.
  12. 12. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Details Between November the 18th and 30th, 2009, I conducted a survey among the video creators included in the list of like-minded projects. The questionnaire was created in the service SurveyMonkey and promoted from the 'Everyone's Take Away Show' Forum53 and through e-mail communication with the members of the list. The only mandatory fields were e-mail and URL of their video website. From the fifty two original answers to the survey eight were discarded because several reasons–the user didn't create the kind of videos we are talking about or only answered to enough questions, so the following data and conclusions will be based on the forty four that answers that meet the requirements. There were a total of six questions, four of them consisting on free textbox for the participants to explain their experiences and opinions, as to add detail to the sentiments that this kind of video creates in them. The format for the other two was multiple choice, allowing them to use the field 'others' in case none of the questions matched their preferences. I chose not to limit the possible answers to closed ones because of the nature of the surveyed. They were not just fans of La Blogotheque, but creators who can have very different reasons to make themselves this kind of videos. In this sense it can be argued that it was more a series of conducted interviews than a questionnaire. For the multiple choice ones the order of the answers was randomized. Regarding geographic distribution, we can see a majority of participants from English and French speaking countries–i.e. 34% from USA, 11% from both Canada and UK, or 9% from France, but also how the Take Away Shows have reached places as Spain, Austria or Japan. See excel Appendix for more details. Questions Let's now see each of the six questions and review the findings showed in the answers. 1) How did you first know about Les Concerts a Emporter–Take Away Shows? Here almost half of the video creators discovered the videos made by La Blogotheque through links in other sites–mainly blogs, online magazines, and video sites as Vimeo or YouTube, while 22% say that was a direct friend recommendation. As the diffusion of these videos is linked also to the popularity of the musicians, many of the surveyed discovered the videos while searching for info about their favorite artists. The musician or group most frequently cited is Grizzly Bear–11%. Many of the mentions talk about one particular video, where the group creates an acappella rendition of their song "Knife"12 while walking through the streets of Paris. In my conversation with Chryde he also mentioned this as one of the most rewarding videos they have realized. 2) Why do you like to shoot this kind of videos? In this case we can group the answers in three different sections: a) Those that focus on the special relation between the artist and the viewer–with them as special first person guests. As Bandwithfilms says "their–the band or artist–true personality shines through when 'exposed' to the elements, taken out of their comfort zones and taken away from the safety net of amps and a stage". Another surveyed, Lecargo points out that when filming the videos "I am alone as audience", connecting with the second groups of answers. b) Here the focus is less on the artist and more on words as 'intimacy', 'fragility', 'real emotions', 'magic' or 'sincere'. For Handheldshows the key is that the artist is "right in front of you close not only physically but mentally". He also points out "the boundary between artist and spectator called "the stage" is torn down. Gives a much more intimate performance and experience for the viewer". For Nathanaël Le Scouarnec "it's also a new adventure, full of humanity".
  13. 13. The Take Away Shows: Music streams c) Here the creators talk about the interaction between the artist and the space where he or she performs and about the role that the streets and the cities themselves have in the final video. One of the producers–Manuel Soubiès–even talks about "taking back the public spaces". Other, Hoovesotheturf, says that this format "removes music from its commercial/industrial context". The absence of the commercial side is also pointed out by Concertvole when says that "the viewer can almost fell that magic because it's a one shot without artifacts, money or laws involved". 3) What does it make these videos special? This is the first of the Multiple Choice Questions–see excel Appendix for details. There were two focuses: one on the work of the artists and other on the relation that is created between performer and viewer. Clearly the second one was the preferred, not only because 59% selected the answer 'They are intimate–you feel that they are with you', but also because half of the 'Other' answers were broaden versions of that one: Theyshootmusic comments that these videos "don't use the stage/audience hierarchy". On the same vein Playgrrround says that are intimate "because it is an offstage, no produced video. Call it authentic". Here again we come across the topic of the interaction with the space where they play and the people they meet. Applecrisp is interested "in the connection between the artist and the space they are occupying..., their interaction with the surroundings". 4) Describing a Take Away Show As viewers and creators of Take Away Shows I wanted to know where they locate the style or genre itself. I proposed seven ways to describe the genre and this time the results were more balanced than in question 3– see excel Appendix for details–, with the votes divided between 'A new video experience', 'A way to attend a music performance', 'A guerrilla video' and 'A short experimental film about musicians'. Again, in the category 'Others', half of the answers are broad versions or mix between the proposed answers. And again it raises the relation with the environment. One of the surveyed that chose 'Others', Showtogo, believes that is ―a new interdisciplinary art form that combines music, acting, filming, performance, street art, and new media‖. 5) Do you think that this kind of video will ever be mainstream? Why? Being as difficult as it is nowadays to define 'mainstream' the question tries to find out how much do they think the popularity of these videos can grow and if this would mean that the style would be incorporated by bigger video producers. Most of the responses argue that these videos are already mainstream because they are highly distributed and imitated, even in big televisions, as Manuel Soubiès argues that happen in Spanish public TV RTVE with the program Fuera de Lugar–Spanish for Out of Place54. Another group thinks that its own nature–independent, experimental, consumed mainly between small circles–will make it impossible to get to mainstream audiences because "it doesn't appeal to popular tastes", as Raymond Concepcion says. A third big group of answers state that they will be mainstream not for themselves, but because in some point the Music Industry will decide it: using these videos as a way to promote mainstream artists. Allournoise thinks that Take Away Shows are becoming a regular promotional outlet, while Playgrrround says that it is becoming almost mandatory "for bands and musicians to do these kind of videos" to succeed in the independent market. We can also set a fourth group stating that mainstream as a concept is dead or blurred. Tracermagazine states that "we become more and more of a niche culture every day".
  14. 14. The Take Away Shows: Music streams 6) Social Media The last question tried to answer how relevant has the Social Media been for the distribution and popularization of the Take Away Shows. Here most of the answers capitalized the role of Social Media as fundamental and focused on concepts as 'viral', 'instant communication', 'word of mouth' or the fact that the fan/listener can intimate with his or her favorite artist 'one to one'. Handheldshows points it in a very simple way: "No social media, no audience." Another group of answers put emphasis in the ability–for the users–to find and hear artists based on their personal taste, not on marketing, thanks to the exposure that Social Media makes possible. Shoottheplayer explains that "Social media is immediate; it connects you to the world and democratizes access". Two people also point out that this way of distribution also makes possible for the artist to experiment and learn through the method of trial and error, in what is a clear reference to what Clay Shirky calls ‗Publish, then filter‘ (Shirky, chapter 4). Lafilmvideomagazine thinks this kind of social net has a main role, as they let you upload your videos and wait for other people to see it. Don't need nobody's permission to issue your work." Discussion From this survey we can say that the emotional side–the intimacy with the musician, the physical environment as another player, the freedom sense and the perception of something more natural–is far more valued than the technical issues or the novelty of the format. Also is acknowledged some sort of purity in the making, as it almost lacks of tricks or artifices and present the bands or soloists 'nude' in front of their actual and prospective audience, creating a new way to experience a musical performance that set itself very far from the production of the studio. One of the surveyed, Southern souls, even says that he can't listen to records anymore because "they are pretty sterile". So what this kind of videos represents for their creators is a new way to portray a musician performing his or her songs through a piece of film and then make this experience more accessible to any user through the use of Social Media. And I put the stress in the use of social media and the internet because this is a genre of films that not only is distributed through the internet, but also seems to fit to the new generation and their needs. As says Pablo Gil, Spanish music critic and one of the surveyed, "this is a format that is internet native and exploits the best features of it: instantaneous, direct, simple and real". One of the main followers– because of his activity in the Vimeo Channels and Forums–of the Take Away Shows, Croytaque, compares the experience of this kind of video with "the perception of music when you're from the iPod generation". For him describing these shows as more natural or more intimate is just part of the picture: "'The music we dream' could be a better way to describe it. Something of music poetry into the daily life". Moon himself seems to share the feeling, when he says that ―Being on the internet and having those videos– the Take Away Shows–available to people on their iPod was something different–from the regular music videos–. I think it‘s the best way to watch them–walking down the street, on the subway or in the bath– because a similar environment surrounds you. It all mixes together in a way that creates a unique viewer experience.‖ (Traynor, 2008). He also talks in another interview about the difference between editing for a movie screen or for a portable device. "The smaller the screen is the more open the edits should be, and the more open the film should be. The interaction should be more important on small screen than on the big screen" (Bandur, 2008).
  15. 15. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Final conclusion As the amateur and intimate musical videos that La Blogotheque started to create in 2006 not only have been increasingly successful in terms of views but also the seed for a number of similar projects all over the world it was necessary to identify its main characteristics in order to state if we are in front of films of a regular acoustic session or something else that could represent new genre of musical video. Through the analysis of the data, the direct communication with both La Blogotheque creators and other video producers, and the research of theoretical work on media production and social media I back up the relevance of the Take Away Shows as a cultural artifact created, distributed and shared through a collaborative effort not supported by any kind of institution, in which the musicians show a remarkable degree of intimacy, usually through the interaction with the space of the performance and–if there are any–its inhabitants. Both if the Take Away Shows remain as objects produced and consumed by music and film lovers harbored within social media networks as Vimeo, or if it gains mainstream attention and is supported or adopted –as a concept–by public or private institutions, this works signify a remarkable example of participatory culture made possible by the new social tools developed in the internet.
  16. 16. The Take Away Shows: Music streams References Anima (2009). 05/11/2009: Vincent Moon. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from http://blogs.ccrtvi.com/anima.php?itemid=26021 Bandur, M. (2008). The Union Forever | Vincent Moon. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from http://www.livemusicblog.com/2008/06/11/the-union-forever-vincent-moon/ Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press. Burgess, J., Green, J., Jenkins, H & Hartley, J. (2009). YouTube: Online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity. Catania, Ch. (2008). Do Blogotheque Take Away Shows Redefine Concerts? Retrieved November 14, 2009, from http://christophercatania.com/2009/08/14/do-blogotheque-take-away-shows-redefine-concerts/ Cole, J. (2008). Music video is reinvented on the Web. Associated Press. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from http://dawgguide.onlineathens.com/stories/090108/mar_325961067.shtml Crossley, N. (2009). The man whose web expanded: Network dynamics in Manchester's post/punk music scene 1976-1980. Poetics. 37 (1), 24-49. Delye, H. (2009) Les Projects Très net du Blogueur Chryde. Le Monde, March 15 2009, Le Monde Télévision page 4. Istrianet (2007). December 14, 2009. Gabriele D'Annunzio (Gaetano Rapagnetta). Retrieved from http://www.istrianet.org/istria/history/1800-present/dannunzio/index.htm Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press. Kellner, D. (1995). Media culture: Cultural studies, identity, and politics between the modern and the postmodern. London: Routledge. Kidder, D. S., & Oppenheim, N. D. (2008). The intellectual devotional modern culture: Revive your mind, complete your education, and converse confidently with the culturati. Emmaus, Penn: Rodale. Radcliffe, S. A. (1996). Unplugged: A cultural studies analysis of authenticity on MTV. Thesis (M.S.)-- University of Oregon, 1996.
  17. 17. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press. Traynor, C. (2008). Looking for life: Cian Traynor interviews Vincent Moon. Film International, 6(3), 56- 59. Variety (2008). Tuning in the next wave. May 5, 2008 v299 i21 pA1(5)Daily Variety, 299, 21. p.A1(5). Videology (2007). Interview with Vincent Moon. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from http://www.videology-tv.com/director.php?id=10 Watkins, p. (2003, revised 2007). The Media Crisis. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from http://pwatkins.mnsi.net/part1_home.htm Won, J D (August 1998). Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 18, n3. p.481(2).
  18. 18. The Take Away Shows: Music streams Websites URLs 1. http://www.blogotheque.net/ 2. http://www.blogotheque.net/-Concerts-a-emporter- 3. http://www.youtube.com/user/lablogotheque 4. http://www.dailymotion.com/lablogotheque 5. http://vimeo.com/blogotheque 6. http://www.dailymotion.com/flyingclubcup 7. http://www.youtube.com/user/flyingclubcup 8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc3ZAs17uAg 9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjxef8AfVQg 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDj44n5bjWU 11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8DRxQATErY 12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ltvjOj9m-c & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjy2P0MSVlo 13. http://vimeo.com/blogotheque/videos/search:phoenix/sort:plays 14. http://www.youtube.com/channels?p=1&s=ms&gl=FR&t=a&g=0 15. http://feeds.feedburner.com/concertsaemporter & http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=151924564 16. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1352383/fullcredits#cast 17. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1244140/ 18. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1533811/ 19. http://www.temporaryareas.com/ 20. http://www.changesinrhythm.com/ 21. http://fiumenights.com/ 22. http://www.cityseries.net/ 23. http://www.blogotheque.net/City-Series-2-Rennes 24. http://www.athenssoundies.com/ 25. http://www.osheaga.com 26. http://www.theduluthscene.org/ 27. http://crackle.com/search/blogotheque 28. http://current.com/items/89607413_la-blogotheque-show-ep-1.htm & http://current.com/items/89782066_la-blogotheque-show-ep-2.htm 29. http://current.com/items/89784131_the-beginning-of-la-blogotheque.htm & http://current.com/items/89517418_chryde-la-blogotheque-on-fleet-foxes-take-away-show.htm 30. http://vimeo.com/4833261 31. http://twitpic.com/5zi02 32. http://vimeo.com/groups/takeaway/ 33. http://www.blogotheque.net/-Soiree-de-Poche- 34. http://www.blogotheque.net/+-Back-On-Stages-+ 35. http://www.blogotheque.net/+-Piticlip-+ 36. http://www.blackcabsessions.com/ 37. http://vimeo.com/tugboatprod 38. http://vimeo.com/tracer 39. http://vimeo.com/pabsttheater 40. http://vimeo.com/dublab 41. http://vimeo.com/user716553 42. http://www.supernaturalsuperserious.com/ 43. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=nantes+beirut&search_sort=vi deo_view_count&suggested_categories=10 & http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=arcade+fire+neon+bible&searc h_sort=video_view_count&suggested_categories=10,24 44. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uceNZtKZAnc 45. http://vimeo.com/7098973 46. http://fiumenights.com/?p=336
  19. 19. The Take Away Shows: Music streams 47. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x35qs9_672-st-vincent-marry-me 48. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x665xt_955-man-man-a-day-at-the-races-and_music 49. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GijLH986ho8 50. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2jst9_architecture-in-helsinki-581-heart_creation 51. http://www.mtv.com/music/unplugged/ 52. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vxsHzJPSL0 53. http://vimeo.com/groups/takeaway/forumthread:10081 54. http://www.rtve.es/rtve/fuera-de-lugar/ Screenshot of year-to-year data–main video websites–from Compete.com Retrieved December 12, 2009 from the URL included in the screenshot