“Radio Nowhere”: YouTube Rules the Airwaves
I got an email early this morning from a friend in Kansas City that said he had “watched” the new Bruce Springsteen single and liked it.
Intrigued by his choice of words, I immediately called up YouTube and typed “radio nowhere” into the search box. It gave me a list of videos, including the official Columbia Records version. I clicked on it and wound up hitting replay – a bunch of times, in fact.
Looking farther was instructive. The song has been out about a week, and fans are already involved, too, and seriously interactive. Apparently unhappy with the official version, many have already mashed their own video versions. Some are using the music and adding their own Springsteen images. One is an old video of the E-Street Band from the Hard Rock Café with the new song superimposed that almost works. R.M. Rueff shot his flag waving in the wind and added “Radio Nowhere” as the soundtrack.
Enterprising amateur guitarists have added videos of themselves playing the song in their dens and living rooms. One guy offers a tutorial on how to play the chords. Another fan who calls himself Tele0009 (hint: let people know your actual name) has 35 other Springsteen covers online. He’s not bad.
But what this really got me thinking about was how quickly things are changing in the music industry. But the principle is the same. When I first started listening to music, I relied exclusively on the AM radio dial, which, when the late-night frequencies were clear, brought an astounding diversity of music into my transistor radio.
Today, I watch the new Springsteen single on my computer, then copied “Radio Nowhere” — it’s a free download — and it’s already crowding for position in the Jukebox in My Head. And reading this weblog, you can “watch” the same music I’m writing about.
A couple clicks of the mouse, and the job that Columbia Records once assigned to radio stations (and sometimes paid them well to do it) had been done. And you just gotta think that this is a cheaper and more efficient way to promote your product than back in the good old days, or even last year, for that matter. Columbia is giving away the single, betting that all of us will rush out and buy Magic, the first studio album with the E-Street Band since The Rising.
And whether it’s a transistor radio or an iPhone, it’s just connecting people to the music they want.
More as we watch Columbia, the label that hired producer Rick Rubin to save it, promotes one of its biggest artists in the last days of the music industry as we know it.