Veteran rock band R.E.M. recently launched a website that allows visitors to freely download 10 different takes of a music video—for the song “Supernatural Superserious” from the band’s upcoming album Accelerate—and use the footage to remix their own version of the video, which can then be uploaded to R.E.M.’s YouTube page.
What the commentators said
This is R.E.M.’s “attempt to create buzz” for their new record, said Jimmy Guterman in O’Reilly Radar, but “commercial desperation can lead to innovation, both in terms of the art itself and the art with which you sell.” R.E.M. “knows it can’t compete with what’s at the top of the charts” these days, but at least the band isn’t willing “to rent its songs to Madison Avenue.” And they’re smart enough to know that, “if you can’t play on an even field, change the field”—which proves that “the future, as always, belongs to the clever.”
“R.E.M. has broken interesting new ground” by deciding to open-source their videos, said Matt Asay in CNETNews.com. And the band seems to understand that “the future of media isn’t amateurs uploading and remixing content,” nor is it a “bunch of professionals ramming ‘culture’ down the throats of the mute masses. It’s a combination of the two, iterating toward a collaborative product.”
Don’t get too excited just yet, said Gareth Halfacree in Bit-Tech.net. “Whether anything watchable will come out of the project remains to be seen.” And it’s not entirely clear if this is a “brave move” on R.E.M.’s part, or just a ”cynical ploy to get free advertising”—it’s “likely to help boost the profile of the upcoming album at little cost to the band.”