The San Francisco MusicTech Summit is taking place today. I had a chance to catch the Rebirth of Video panel streaming online, featuring a couple of my favorite musicians, Ben Folds (who played Los Angeles just last week) and Jack Conte of YouTube sensations Pomplamoose. They played clips showing the ways that these artists were pushing the boundaries of video online.
Folds' most recent bit was a riff on Chatroulette. There was a guy named Merton who looked and sounded a bit like Ben Folds and did improvised piano bits about people he would see through the random video chat of Chatroulette.
So, Folds took that to another meta level and did the same thing on stage at one of his concerts.
Folds talked about the empowerment that the new medium gives to artists. He said that there was a time when, to get your music out, you had to convince bigwigs at a record label. "Now there's no convincing anyone at the top about anything."
Along with an elaborate MySpace prank and recording then leaking an entire fake album, Folds also discovered a number of college a cappella groups covering his songs via YouTube, so he went and recorded dozens of them doing his songs from around the country and put out an album featuring the best of those recordings.
Documentary on the recording of the album:
Pomplamoose is another band that's become a sensation online. They've started releasing what they call "videosongs," where rather than lip-synching, what you see in the video is what you hear. Everything is recorded live on video, and if you hear an instrument, at some point you have to see it in the video.
Their breakout hit was this cover of "Single Ladies" by Beyonce:
Here's their latest, a cover of Lady Gaga's and Beyonce's "Telephone":
(Previously: The NPR staff doing "Telephone.")
The conference is still going on for the rest of today; you can check out live video at Justin.tv.