Gnomedex Discussion Leader: Ethan Kaplan

Murmurs.com & blackrimmedglasses.com

Discussion topic: Fans

Murmurs.com was started 10 years ago about the band R.E.M. Started working at their record company a year ago as the “tech guy.”

“There’s a boundary between the performer and the fans which is broken down in the Third Space of the Internet.”

“Participatory culture infers that the fan and the band are no different from each other.”

Murmurs.com gets twice the traffic of R.E.M.’s official site and makes twice as much money since murmurs has Google AdSense ads.

headautomatica.com: the left side of the site has band content while the right side has fan content. It took a lot of work to get the band to agree to do this, particularly when a picture of the lead singer – naked – appeared in the photo gallery.

Alex Williams: “What are the conversations that you’re having within Warner Brothers Records about the RIAA?”

Ethan: “None. We focus on our business and representing our bands properly.”

Eric Rice: “How have you seen the response and the awareness change now that the technology has been introduced.”

Ethan: “Michael Stipe through his Powerbook in a river when he read on murmurs.com that fans thought he was becoming terrible song writer.”

Greg Cohn from Yahoo: “As this moves farther down the tail and everyone creates content, what are some of the other ways that you’re thinking about monetizing music, since fewer people are buying music?”

“Planning for albums start a year in advance with cameras in the studio, lots of b-roll and tons of interactive features that leverages the brand of the band.”

“Why is it that so many bands do their sites in Flash and violate so many user experience guidelines?”

Ethan: “We don’t do that anymore at Warner Bros Records, at least for new sites.”

“How do you determine what artists get these campaigns?”

Ethan: “If Madonna walks in and asks for a site, we drop everything. But it’s not limited to that. Priorities have to be determined on an artist-by-artist basis.”

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