Tag Archives: daily dot

The SoundCloud bootleggers

28 Aug


Copyright law is a funny thing. Mostly written before today’s digital technologies for creating and distributing music and art existed, it’s selectively enforced by creators, rights holders and content platforms, to say the least. Go on any popular music website, from YouTube to Bandcamp to SoundCloud, and you’ll find copyright violations galore. SoundCloud, in particular, seems like a service that was practically built on unauthorized reuse of other people’s sounds.

I wanted to figure out why sites like SoundCloud, while paying lip service to copyright law, allow so much casual infringement to take place. I never really got a good answer to that question (SoundCloud wouldn’t comment, except to reiterate their anti-infringement terms of use), but exploring the question with remixers, lawyers and music professors was pretty fascinating.

How remix culture lives and dies on SoundCloud (Daily Dot)


Tell me a bedtime story, MC Frontalot

27 Aug

Photo by Deborah Lopez

Question Bedtime, the new album from nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot, features hip-hop tracks based on fairy tales, but it’s not really a children’s album. Although hey, if you want to play your kids a funky song based on a Native American myth explaining why our assholes are wrinkly, knock yourself out, you progressive, hippie parent, you.

We didn’t talk about this, because it was too off-topic, but Frontalot and I are both Wesleyan grads. I’m not always the world’s proudest Wes alumnus, but I’m glad I went to a school that produces smart, successful oddballs like Front with some regularity.

Even though this was also off-topic, we did talk about the fact that the red tuxedo jacket the Muppet version of MC Frontalot wears in the “Stoop Sale” video is the same one my Muppet stand-in wore at my wedding. Because my wife and I (well, my wife, mostly) are huge Muppet nerds. So that was a fun little interview aside that wound up on the cutting room floor.

Mostly, though, like a responsible journalist, we talked about the album, and Front’s bookworm childhood spent poring over dusty volumes of world folk tales.

Behind the fractured folk tales of MC Frontalot’s ‘Question Bedtime’

Music videos, minus the music

2 Jul


Mario Wienerroiter has a strange and wonderful hobby: He takes classic music video, removes the soundtrack, and replaces it with his own soundscape of ambient noises and awkward grunts, gasps and sneezes from the performers, imagining how absurd it might have been to shoot these videos in the first place. It’s a simple idea, and he’s not the only one who’s done it, but there’s something about his “musicless music videos” that’s so clean and well-executed that it heightens the comedy and makes them endlessly watchable.

I was really happy when Daily Dot accepted my pitch to interview Mario, because too often, when the creator of a viral video is behind the scenes and not starring in their own clip, you never get to hear their story. So here’s Mario’s:

Meet the man behind your favorite musicless music videos

“Going viral” with OK Go

19 Jun

OK Go Writings on the Wall video screenshot

Added a new outlet to my arsenal this week: The Daily Dot, or “the hometown newspaper of the World Wide Web,” as they like to say. Like a bajillion other sites, they’re basically just doing content curation—but unlike most other sites, they tend to back it up with solid writing and original reporting, so you get some context to the latest YouTube viral hit or strange-but-true news story.

Case in point: When I pitched them a piece about the new OK Go video, they asked if we could get an interview with one of the band members to find out more about how the clip’s various optical illusions were created. Amazingly, I was able to get frontman Damian Kulash on the phone in a matter of hours and have the whole Q&A posted before dinner. I love how fast things move in our digital age.

The interview turned out great, but the quick-hit piece that just features a link to the video is actually the piece of content that’s gotten the most traction, racking up 6,800 shares in the two days since it was posted. That might make it the most “viral” piece I’ve ever written, which is a pretty cool way to start my latest freelance gig.

OK Go’s latest elaborate video is out, and it’s bonkers (quick hit)

Behind the scenes of OK Go’s must-see new video (interview with Kulash)