Posted in New Media
with tags Peter Gabriel
, The Filter
on 4/16/2008 9:39:00 AM by Rob Barnett
Peter Gabriel's filter
The rock star hopes to shock Amazon with a new web-based recommendation service.
(Fortune) -- There's a reason Peter Gabriel is a household name. One of the founders of the super-group Genesis, the British rock star went on to have great success as a solo artist known for his outlandish costumes, his cutting edge music videos, and of course, his '80s hits like "Sledgehammer" and "Shock The Monkey," which were both artistic and commercial milestones.
What's less known is that the 58-year-old Gabriel has done rather well since then as a digital media entrepreneur. In 2000, he co-founded OD2, which quickly became the leading European digital music provider with clients like Nokia and MSN. OD2's owners reportedly later sold the company for an estimated $20 million.
Okay, so Sammy Hagar reportedly sold a majority stake in his tequila business for four times that amount last year. But now Gabriel has a new business that's potentially much bigger. On Tuesday, he and a new group of partners launch the private-beta version of a web-based service called The Filter that will sort through the vast inventory of content on the Internet and recommend songs, movies, television show and web videos to its users. In May, The Filter website will be open to the public.
Ultimately, Gabriel and his partners in his Bath, England-based company have a grander vision for the Filter than telling you that if you like Sammy Hager, you might also like Van Halen's earlier stuff with David Lee Roth. They hope you'll one day be able to log in and find the perfect place to dine on your upcoming trip to, say, Barcelona -- and a suggestion for the right clothes to wear on your night out. Now that sounds like something an art rocker like Peter Gabriel would go for --- as opposed to a night of tequila swilling at Hagar's nightclub in Mexico.
Gabriel put up $8.5 million along with England's Eden Ventures to start The Filter because he fears that people are being overwhelmed by the web. "Everyone got really excited about the concept of infinite choice through the Internet," he says. "The reality is a little like getting a sore thumb with your remote on your television. Too much choice is not always a good thing."
He describes the solution to this machine-age dilemma in the sort of terms you might expect from a thinking man's rock star. "My friend [recording studio guru to Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay] Brian Eno has been going on for some time about the increasingly important role of the curator over the creator," Gabriel explains. "In many ways, the disc jockey has become as important as the musician, which is one of the best illustrations of that. I would like a life jockey as well as a disc jockey."
The Filter's founders say their service could play that role nicely, claiming its recommendation engine is more sophisticated than anything else on the market. Unlike competing services, the Filter doesn't rely on the ratings that people assign to songs or movies online. It determines its users tastes by observing what they actually do with these items on the Internet.
The engine is particularly interested if someone buys a song, streams it or clicks on a related link. "We like to get real evidence of people's tastes," says Martin Hopkins, co-founder of The Filter and creator of its recommendation technology.
Hopkins also notes that The Filter's engine doesn't push people choices based on what they bought years ago. It slowly forgets what it learned because peoples' tastes change. Don't you wish Amazon's (AMZN
, Fortune 500
) service did the same?
Gabriel and his partners hope to generate revenue at The Filter by selling advertising. They also hope to license their technology to other digital media companies. The company already provides recommendations to the users of its former OD2 customers like MSN (MSFT
, Fortune 500
) and Nokia (NOK
). That's why the service launches with a database of over 50 million transactions from which to make suggestions.
It's a long leap from recommending music to choosing their restaurants in foreign cities. Still, the idea is intriguing. Gabriel isn't just taking about this either. He's putting up a lot of money to make it happen. "This is definitely something that's worth watching," says Gartner analyst Mike McGuire who, like Fortune, was briefed by The Filter before the private beta launch.
As you might expect, Gabriel is in the studio working on new music, too. He owes one more album to EMI. After that, he plans to release his music on his own a la Radiohead. The graying rocker is thrilled that the Internet is giving artists a new means of distributing their music -- especially the ones who couldn't get a record deal even in the industry's better days. "I like it that the inmates are running the asylum,' says Gabriel.
This, of course means more choices for those overwhelmed consumers that Gabriel is so concerned about. All the more reason for his new company, right? No wonder he's so pleased.
|Dailymotion Features Exclusive Debut of My Damn Channel's Bedtime Stories
Dailymotion, the world's largest independent video sharing site, and My Damn Channel, the entertainment studio and new media platform, today announced a partnership that will bring My Damn Channel's original, professionally-produced episodic video content to Dailymotion's audience of over 49 million users worldwide.
New York, NY (PRWEB) March 11, 2008 - Dailymotion, the world's largest independent video sharing site, and My Damn Channel, the entertainment studio and new media platform, today announced a partnership that will bring My Damn Channel's original, professionally-produced episodic video content to Dailymotion's audience of over 49 million users worldwide.
Beginning Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Dailymotion will host an exclusive premiere episode of My Damn Channel's newest web series, "Bedtime Stories." Written and co-directed by Steve Kerper, whose previous work includes infamous sketches such as "Raging Bullwinkle" for HBO's "Hardcore TV," each episode of "Bedtime Stories" will offer a provocative retelling of a traditional children's story. The show stars web video cult personality and one-time pole vault medalist Grace Helbig and features illustrations by Asterisk (Saturday Night Live's "TV Funhouse").
In addition to the exclusive "Bedtime Stories" premiere, Dailymotion will now feature My Damn Channel's original comedy and music videos including "Horrible People," a soap opera with an evil, comedic twist written and directed by A. D. Miles ("Wet Hot American Summer"); "Cookin' with Coolio," a production of Dead Crow Pictures featuring hip-hop star Coolio creating his favorite "funkalicious" dishes and "Wainy Days," an hilarious, fictionalized account of comedian David Wain's ("The State," "The Ten") search for romance. My Damn Channel artists also include Harry Shearer, Andy Milonakis, Big Fat Brain ("You Suck at Photoshop") and Don Was.
Content from My Damn Channel will be programmed by Dailymotion's creative managers into the site's channels alongside licensed videos from Dailymotion's Official users as well as original videos from the Motionmaker program. This curatorial strategy enables Dailymotion to deliver the highest-quality viewing experience by providing content in a manner that is user-friendly and easy-to-navigate.
"We're excited to partner with My Damn Channel, a company that shares our dedication to bringing the freshest and most creative entertainment to the largest audience possible," said Danny Passman, Dailymotion's senior creative director. "We are also elated that they have chosen our site for the premiere of 'Bedtime Stories,' and are confident that our high-quality viewing experience and global audience makes Dailymotion the perfect platform for this debut."
"Dailymotion adds massive global reach and effective promotion for our talent and our original videos," said Rob Barnett, Founder & CEO of My Damn Channel. "We found solid partners at Dailymotion to help fuel our mission to rewrite old media rules by allowing major artists to reach tens of millions of fans without any corporate interference."
A top 30 website worldwide (source: Alexa), Dailymotion is the world's largest independent video entertainment website (source: Alexa; comScore, December 2007). Every day, over 15,000 new videos are uploaded into Dailymotion's global network of localized video entertainment sites, where the site's creative directors turn the user-generated and licensed content into high-quality entertainment for its 50-plus million monthly unique users. In January 2008, Dailymotion registered approximately 800 million video views across its global network. The site's Motionmaker program is designed to identify and encourage the most creative users on Dailymotion. Using the most advanced technology for both users and content creators, Dailymotion provides high-quality video in a fast, easy-to-use Web site that also automatically filters infringing material. Dailymotion's mission is to provide the best possible entertainment experience for users and the best marketing opportunities for advertisers, while respecting content protection. For more information, please visit http://www.dailymotion.com.
About My Damn Channel:
My Damn Channel is an entertainment studio and new media platform created to empower filmmakers, actors, comedians and musicians to co-produce, distribute and monetize original, episodic video content. Programming is created for the My Damn Channel site (http://www.MyDamnChannel.com/) and for distribution on today's most heavily- trafficked online communities and social networks including YouTube (www.YouTube.com/MyDamnChannel), MySpace, Dailymotion, and others. My Damn Channel gives its artists creative control and produces a diverse array of programming from talent including Harry Shearer, Andy Milonakis, David Wain, Don Was, Coolio, A.D. Miles, Steve Kerper and Big Fat Brain ("You Suck at Photoshop"). My Damn Channel is supported by an advertising revenue model, and by licensing the studio's entire portfolio of content across all forms of digital distribution, including online, mobile, VOD and DVD. ###
THE NEXT BROADCAST
by Ben Goldstein
March 2, 2008 -- Web entertainment enters prime time, as Internet networks start modeling themselves on real-world broadcastersBY THE TIME you finish reading this sentence, a 15-year-old mall-punk in central Michigan will have clicked on a YouTube video, gotten bored within seconds, and then clicked on another. It's that kind of insatiable thirst for the next bright, shiny Web-thing that's both fueling and challenging an emerging wave of Internet TV networks.
But for these rapidly multiplying entertainment sites that present original videos, usually released on a consistent schedule, it's also their greatest hope. Because although the audience that looks online for entertainment is fickle to the point of brutality, maybe their attention spans are so short because nobody has given them what they want yet.
Two weeks ago, actor-comedian Damon Wayans became the latest high-profile figure to throw his talent behind the still relatively unproven medium of Internet television, as he announced the impending debut of WayOutTV.com. The site will feature sketch comedy bearing the trademark Wayans Family mix of oddball pop-culture parody and provocative social commentary. Though an official launch date hasn't been established, samples are being released weekly at YouTube.com/WayOutTV.
"There is no urban destination online," Wayans says. "Everybody uses YouTube, but you have to dig deep and for a long time to find something that satisfies you. With WayOut, I'm the filter. I'm creating a brand of comedy as opposed to letting everybody just put up whatever they want."Though the comedian admits that building a Web site's infrastructure is new to him, he sounds like a veteran 'Net-geek when he talks about his big ideas, which include using WayOutTV to create viral ads for corporations, and focusing on content for mobile phones.
He'll need those forward-thinking concepts if WayOutTV is going to succeed.
As the Will Ferrell-backed FunnyorDie.com proved, it takes more than a big name to hold the eyes of an online populace in constant search of novelty. Pulling in about 2 million unique viewers per month, FunnyorDie may be a traffic success compared to other top-notch comedy destinations like SuperDeluxe and MyDamnChannel, but after drawing 4.5 million visitors during its April launch, FoD's numbers crashed and have yet to recover.Besides the fact that the site's videos lacked a predictable TV-like schedule, another reason for FunnyOrDie's somewhat disappointing performance could be its insular nature. The old model was to guard your content vigilantly so that it wouldn't fall into the hands of other video-sharing sites, where you wouldn't benefit from the traffic. (If you want to see Will Ferrell have an argument with a foul-mouthed toddler, you have to come here.)
This may have been a mistake.
New networks are distributing their content all over the Web rather than confining it to a single site, but they're doing so in a controlled way so artists' rights are protected. 60Frames.com, which launched its first series in January, follows a studio model in which professional artists are given resources to create videos that are syndicated to sites like YouTube and MySpace.
Shows produced by 60Frames include "WhoWhatWearTV," which has been theNo. 1-ranked fashion/beauty video podcast on iTunes since its debut, and the hilarious Jersey Shore-lampooning "Douchebag Beach" series."We knew there were a lot of talented artists who wanted to work in this space, but they didn't want to just upload their content to the 'Net without any support, or sell their ideas to media companies where they would be forced to give up ownership and control," says 60Frames CEO Brent Weinstein, who previously led United Talent Agency's digital media department. "When we hear an idea that's a good match for our company, we get behind it as quickly as we can, and once we're in business with artists, we give them quite a bit of free reign. We're the most artist-friendly option in the marketplace."
Of course, you might consider bypassing artists altogether.
A totally different (and more conventional) model for Internet TV is exemplified by Joost, a five-month-old service that presents more than 20,000 shows plucked from "real" TV networks such as Comedy Central and A&E. Original programming is a potential goal for the future, but Joost's main focus is on acquiring rights to existing programming and presenting it all in one place for free.But are more channels what people want?Though more than 5 million people have downloaded the Joost software to date, the company's North American GM, David Clark, says that the biggest challenge in running Joost is "helping people find what they are interested in.
"All of a sudden, that "filter" thing that Damon Wayans mentioned is starting to make sense. If you're lost in an abyss of options that aren't directly aimed at you, maybe you're in the wrong place. And Rob Barnett, CEO of MyDamnChannel, is even more critical of the repurposing strategy.
"I think there's a lot of cynicism in this attitude of, 'The kids are watching all this YouTube stuff, so let's go make another buck off the s - - - we already have,' " Barnett says. "It's rehashed, retreaded content that was made for a different medium. I'd rather say, 'Hey, let's blow their minds and give them something they haven't seen before.' "
Barnett managed programming and production divisions at MTV and VH1 for more than a decade before launching MyDamnChannel in July of last year. The site had 1 million unique users in January, and when we spoke with him, it was having its biggest traffic day ever thanks to a Harry Shearer-produced clip that showed candid footage of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly during moments they didn't know cameras were rolling.
Less is certainly more at MyDamnChannel. Instead of a mass of individual videos that require searching, MDC presents eight highly produced channels, created by artists ranging from Harry Shearer to Coolio, which release a new episode every week. It's about as close to an actual TV network as you'll find on the Web, right down to the consistent scheduling, and it runs proudly against the grain of the user-generated content approach (which ManiaTV.com CEO Peter Hoskins colorfully refers to as "loser-generated content").
Like Wayans, Barnett realizes the importance of submitting to a higher power (i.e., YouTube) for exposure and distribution."If you just drop [your content] onto the Internet, you're in the biggest ocean in the planet, and you're lost," Barnett says.
Words of warning for the glut of new comedy-based Internet TV networks trying to follow the throw-it-all-at-the-wall approach set by FunnyorDie. Recent months have seen the launch of MyBlueCollar.com (Jeff Foxworthy's comedy site), NationalBanana.com (Jerry Zucker's comedy site), and the brand-new Comedy.com (Former UPN President Dean Valentine's comedy site). We don't necessarily recommend you visit any of them.Even though the trend is toward outrageous humor, not every Internet TV network goes for belly laughs. One of the most interesting new models is the development of a group of sites or channels that have nothing to do with one another, but are produced with the same aesthetic.
ONNetworks.com presents more than 20 do-it-yourself cooking, decorating, and green-living instructional shows aimed at the young and hip. The sites launched by the year-old NextNewNetworks.com, which is also led by former cable TV execs, have provided definitive destinations for everyone from vintage Corvette enthusiasts (VetteDog.com), to jewelry designers (MetalChik.com), to people who just like cute pets (UltraKawaii.com).
But there's one thing all these sites have in common: They won't ask you to pay a single dime for your entertainment.
With so much content already free on the Web, those who launch Internet TV networks know they have to be a little more creative when it comes to finding revenue streams. Hence, syndication deals, embedded ads, corporate brands integrated into programming and DVD releases.
Ultimately, Damon Wayans places his trust in the opportunity of the unknown that the online wilderness can be tamed and the pioneers of Web TV can eventually learn how to turn a profit.
"I personally feel that the Internet is what cable was 30 years ago," Wayans says. "It's like clay. Whatever you decide to make it, that's what it will become."
Channel guide: SURFING THROUGH the best of web tv
Concept: Hipster entertainment from the minds that brought you Vice Magazine.
Best Show: "Shot by Kern" gives viewers insight into the artistic process of New York-based erotic photographer Richard Kern and the thought process of his models.
Also Watch: "The Vice Guide to Travel," "Epicly Later'd"
Schedule: More than 30 series are currently in rotation and are usually updated weekly.
Concept: An umbrella group of micro-networks aimed at various niche interests.
Best Channel: IndyMogul.com, resources and moral support for DIY filmmakers.
Also Watch: ThreadBanger.com (fashion coverage with a punk rock 'tude), ChannelFrederator.com (animated comedy featuring Dan Meth's brilliant "The Meth Minute 39" series)
Schedule: Generally in the video blog format, each of NNN's subnetworks are on their own schedules, with daily or weekly updates.
Concept: Boundary-pushing alt-comedy videos and social networking.
Best Show: "The Professor Brothers," wherein two bald, pompous community college lecturers try to make sense of the world.
Also Watch: "All My Exes," Norm MacDonald's "The Fake News"
Concept: An Internet entertainment studio focusing on eight professional-quality channels produced by well-known artists.
Best Show: In "Wainy Days," writer/director/ex-State member David Wain repeatedly and hilariously fails to find his soul mate.
Also Watch: "Horrible People," "Big Fat Brain"
Monday: new episodes of Wainy Days
, Horrible People
Tuesday: Harry Shearer
Wednesday: Andy Milonakis
, Cookin' With Coolio
Thursday: Don Was
, Carnival of Stuff
Friday: "Big Fat Brain"
Concept: Unconventional instructional shows for a range of interests, all produced in HD.
Best Show: "Dinner with the Band," in which chef Sam Mason hosts his favorite bands for an evening of cooking, conversation, and live performance.
Also Watch: "Backpack Picnic," "Stump the Chef"