AT&T today announced two enhancements to its AT&T Mobile Music service that will let users use music to customize their cell phones. With mSpot's Make-Ur-Tones (couldn't they have come up with a better name?), AT&T customers can create their own ringtones using an application downloaded to their cell phone. While that in itself is hardly new, the application gives aspiring musicians a lot more freedom than you might expect. Instead of just offering a selection of Midi tones, users will be able to download an actual music track and then cut their … Read more
I just read Ellen McGirt's poignant feature story on "The Brand Called Obama" in Fast Company, and my marketing head is spinning. "The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news," she writes, "but what has hardly been examined is the degree to which his success indicates a seismic shift on the business horizon as well." Indeed, Obama has introduced a new brand of politics, and he has caused a paradigm shift that goes … Read more
Despite having a working relationship integrating Adobe's media editing technologies on videos, photo hosting giant Photobucket isn't waiting around for Adobe to release Photoshop Express, and instead has partnered with FotoFlexer to serves as its de facto editor. Starting tomorrow, users will be able to edit any photo right inside Photobucket using FotoFlexer's editing tools. Edited photos can replace or be stored alongside existing shots.
In many ways this is an answer to what Flickr has done with Picnik, a move that has cross pollinated both services with new users, and given a hefty boost to Picnik's traffic and premium service subscriptions (see more on this). FotoFlexer has a "professional" service of its own, although it's completely free, unlike competitor Picnik, which charges $25 a year for access to advanced editing tools that later trickle down to free users.
I got a chance to talk to Alex Welch, CEO and co-founder of Photobucket about picking FotoFlexer over building out an in-house editing tool. Welch said that editing was the No. 1 user requested feature on the service, and that choosing an outside company's technology was the better choice given the time frame they were looking at. He said building an in-house editing tool would have simply taken too long.
In regards to the company's relationship with Adobe, going forward Welch said they're sticking with FotoFlexer as the integrated editing tool and that the upcoming Photoshop Express looks to be more of a "finishing tool" than what users were looking for. Welch said FotoFlexer provides more of what "our demographics really want."
The functionality is scheduled to go live early tomorrow morning. In the meantime we have a couple of screenshots of the new functionality after the break.
We live in a remix culture. Open source, user-generated content and its reuse, etc. But overly broad enforcement of copyright threatens to stifle the next generation of creativity and innovation, a new report from the Center and American University's Washington College of Law finds.
The study, entitled "Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video," details how such video reuse fits into the Fair Use doctrine. NBC Universal and other copyright holders, however, are determined to reinterpret the law and this doctrine to the detriment of culture. Our remix culture. (Same as it ever was.)The courts tell us that fair use should be "transformative"--adding value to what they take and using it for a purpose different from the original work. So when makers mash up several works--say, The Ten Commandments , Ben-Hur and 10 Things I Hate about You , making Ten Things I Hate about Commandments--they aren't necessarily stealing. They are quoting in order to make a new commentary on popular culture, and creating a new piece of popular culture.
Big deal, you say? Consider the alternative.… Read more
One of the most interesting jazz releases of 2007 has to be Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters. On it, the legendary composer and pianist covers a number of classic Joni Mitchell songs--only "cover" doesn't quite describe it. In true modern jazz fashion, the takes are more thematic and spiritual than literal. The combination of Mitchell's haunting lyrics, Hancock's revamped melodies, and vocal cameos by artists from Norah Jones to Tina Turner is often stunning.
New Jersey radio station WFMU--which may well be the best radio station in the world--has a blog called Beware of the Blog. The other day, they posted an MP3 file from listener Steve McLaughlin containing all the Beatles' U.K. albums, digitally time-compressed into a single hour. (No Magical Mystery Tour because it was a double EP, not an LP.) It sounds a bit like the sped-up President Bush speech at the end of Godspeed You Black Emperor's vinyl version of Yanqui U.X.O., only, it's the Beatles.
Then, some enterprising listeners took the McLaughlin MP3 and … Read more
On Friday, 30 years to the day after the first Star Wars hit theaters, the film's official Web site, StarWars.com, will relaunch with a new design. One of the hallmarks of the new site is a feature that invites fans to remix video and music clips from all six Star Wars movies, as well as add their own homemade videos. They'll then be able to share them on the Star Wars site with other fans and to embed the mashups in their blogs or profiles on social-networking sites.
I'd always considered Broadway musicals to be a pleasantly low-tech form of entertainment. When something's live on stage, there's only so much you can do to make people look and sound better (not to mention the special effects).
But what happens when you're trying to market a musical to the tech-addicted MySpace generation--and to those willing to admit they once fell into that age group? Clearly, you start a video remix competition. It is, after all, the trendy marketing tool du jour, now that faster broadband connections and improved Web technologies have made it possible for … Read more
Flektor is a new Flash-based content mashup tool. Users can pull in photos from several hosting services like flickr, MySpace, and Photobucket to make slick-looking, embeddable media slide shows for blogs, Web sites or social networks. It's a lot like Mixercast, and other media mashup services like RockYou and SplashCast.
Flektor's interface is drag-and-drop, and has a very short learning curve. To add media to your show, just drag imported media files down to a timeline at the bottom of the screen, where they can be rearranged or removed at any time. There are also "Flidgets" which can be inserted into your show to add live chat, a live broadcast from your Webcam, or cliched film effects like color bars or static. What's really neat is the ability to edit any picture with some easy-to-use sliders that let you do simple, on-the-fly alterations to your photographs--something you'd find on a Web-based photo editing tool like Picnik.
To add a little flair to your show, there are nearly 100 transitions, effects, and filters that can be put on top of or in between your media. You can also edit each effect and change its appearance. Out of the many transitions I've seen on some of these Flash editors (Photobucket's Remix in particular), Flektor has some really snappy and good-looking effects.
The main hindrance in using Flektor is how long it takes to communicate with the third-party services. Flickr in particular takes quite a while to sync up photos from various albums. On the upside, the MySpace integration is very simple; just give it a username and it will pull up photos members have uploaded in addition to any images that have been embedded in user comments. It's also easy to embed your Flektor player on a number of services, with a handy export page that provides special embedding codes for a dozen services (including Google's Orkut).
I've embedded a sample "Flek" I put together using some photo and video clips. For screenshots of the editing interface, keep reading.
This morning, MySpace quietly blocked Photobucket content from user profiles, a move that cuts out a reported 25 to 30 percent of Photobucket's 17 million monthly users from sharing content on the popular social network. Photo slide shows and video embeds are completely blocked, including those edited using the remix tool we covered in March.
The move came under the guise of Photobucket users posting ad content in their embeds, a move that's expressly forbidden in MySpace's user agreement. Previous MySpace blocks include Stickam, Revver and Imeem.
The big question is what major service MySpace will decide … Read more