Not the same ol' song and dance

    There’s some outstanding articles this week on YouTube and what it means for culture, as people are moving past commenting on just why YouTube is popular.

    First is The NY Times piece uncovering the identity of a mysterious, brilliant guitarist, which is notable because it treats YouTube as just another media outlet. I expected to hear how YouTube catapulted a lone musician to international fame, but what I got was insight into the online community of guitarists who quietly swap advice and music, and the schools of guitar playing:

    Online guitar performances seem to carry a modesty clause, in the same way that hip-hop comes with a boast. Many of the guitarists, like Mr. Chang and Mr. Lim, exhibit a kind of anti-showmanship that seems distinctly Asian. They often praise other musicians, denigrate their own skills and talk about how much more they have to practice.

    I thought the Asian bit was a bit much, but it was an otherwise thoughtful article.
    The piece also shows that journalists need to learn how to track down people through the Internet, with only a video to go on. Anonymous people have great stories.

    Watching the guitarist’s video made me feel like I was watching a bit of media history. Here is this guy playing the guitar next to his bedroom computer, his face unseen, backlight obscuring most of the frame, and in general pretty mediocre sound and video quality. And there I am, watching it on a small screen in my own bedroom. But this guy plays the guitar amazingly well, which is obvious even to someone like me, who knows nothing about guitars. And he’s been seen almost 8 million times now, because he’s that good.
    A second NY Times piece looks how at online music videos are making MTV somewhat quaint.

    Ahead of MTV’s Video Music Awards, Kelefa Sanneh writes that because it’s so easy to make and share music videos, “On YouTube this means that artists sometimes end up competing with their own fans”:

    (More after the break)



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