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Vlog: The Independent Will Inherit the Market

Although my previous vlog was skeptical about the near-term, broad promise of vlogging — a skepticism that Jeff Jarvis has written into the timeline of vlogging — I personally enjoy doing it and, in general, can't rest until I've followed through on an idea once it's lodged in my brain. (Mr. Jarvis has two new vlogs, by the way, below the post to which I linked.)

I've managed to extract the latest idea from between my ears, and I give you "The Independent Will Inherit the Market." Click the picture to watch the the newly interactive vlog (you'll need the free RealOne player [on the right side of the linked page]); click here for a high-quality Windows Media Player file; click here for the dial-up version; and see below for the transcript and all relevant links.


[Intro: "Nonchalant," by Mr. Chu.]

As a teenager working in a record store on a highway outside of New York City, I experienced the truth of the great independent film, Clerks. Part of what can make independent films so compelling is that they haven't gone through the Hollywood homogenizer to appeal to the broadest possible audience. In the case of Clerks, the movie captured characters who might be suppressed for the sake of mass sensibilities. With fresh faces playing roles that are taken directly from life, some independent films foster a connection that recycled superstars in slick productions cannot achieve.

Independent music is similar. When I wasn't busy recommending Heavy Metal tapes to mobsters or sleuthing out shoplifters, I would peruse the racks for unknown bands. To be sure, I often wound up with garbage in interesting packages, but the failed attempts proved worth it when I hit gold. There's just something about being among the first fans of an artist — a closeness as you follow his or her career.

Now, with the Internet, the risks are lessened, and the closeness is enhanced. First, independent artists are generally much more generous with the samples that they offer. Second, if anything, the range is broader — from jazz ["MC Has Arrived," by Joe Parillo] to digital pop ["The Video Store Song," by Victor Lams] to intriguing blends of styles ["August on the Vine," by Rosin Coven]. Third, once you've found something that you like, email will often generate a personal response.

When it took folk musician Larry Long a couple of months to fill an order, he sent me a note explaining that illness and surgery were to blame, and he signed the CD. But this closeness has another dimension. Mr. Long also sent a complimentary three-track CD commemorating Paul Wellstone and the suggestion to donate its worth to any charity ["Who Are the Terrorists," by Larry Long].

Tell me, who are the terrorists?
Are they Arafat and Sharon?
Who are the terrorists
in this world we call home?
Are they Christian, Islamic?
Are they Arab? Are they Jew?
Are they that homophobic neighbor
Who lives next d...

I'm going to make my own political statement by sending this CD back to Larry Long with a note explaining my position. Imagine being able to do that with big stars who live in a safe world of yes-men and trendy opinion.

Rather than fashionable relativism, reflexive anti-Americanism, or just plain cowardice, Mr. Long's pacifism seems to derive from the same religious faith that inspired me to order his CD, The Psalms. So, I will continue to enjoy that album and to recommend it.

Whether you seek music on this Web site or another, such as CDBaby or mp3.com, you can be sure that your patronage will mean more to the artists. Plus, you'll encourage the development of channels that can enable the independent to inherit the market. And you may even help to shape a future star... one way or another.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 12:46 AM EST


Good job Justin. Nice to have the script so accessible. As a listener, I'd prefer shorter pauses between paragraphs.

henrycopeland @ 01/02/2003 09:22 AM EST

Mr. Copeland,

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I was overcompensating for my tendency to speed up when reading out loud.

To any other visitors: please feel free to offer similar comments and suggestions. I've had music being torn apart over at garageband.com for over a year now, so I can take it... and I certainly need it with video!

Justin Katz @ 01/02/2003 09:59 AM EST

Good job. There's a couple things you can do and a few that you can't.

Try to become more familiar with what you've written, so that it's not so obvious you're reading from the teleprompter. Memorization is out, I understand, and maybe when you're more comfortable with the technology your announcing skills will improve.

Reducing the space between pauses is important as well.

If you do more Vlogging, try experimenting with a better microphone. There may be something out there that will reduce the effect that makes it sound like you're broadcasting from an empty hall.

If you broadcast more sound clips, consider adding subtitles for those of us who have trouble understanding the lyrics.

Otherwise, it was a sound effort. Good opinions, nice ancedotes and wiping the screen with CD covers is a very good idea.

Bill Peschel @ 01/02/2003 12:12 PM EST

Ok - I am liking this vlog thing. good job. Did you ever find out who the terrorists were? Personally I think it's fairly clear, but I digress. Looking forward to your next vlog!
Practice and effort pays off.

Don Giannatti @ 01/02/2003 12:25 PM EST

Mr. Peschel,

I've already modified the file so that the lyrics appear for the one song in which they matter to the point of the vlog. If only I had the technology to insert a follow-me bouncing ball...

I do intend to get a better microphone than the built-in one on the camera, but my funds for such things are depleted for the time being. Another investment is a tripod so that I don't have to hunt my shelves for books that are just the right width.

Justin Katz @ 01/02/2003 02:09 PM EST

I'm a bit confused.

Religion is good enough to proclaim except as it relates to pacifism?

If Mr. long's pacifism was derived from a source you didn't approve of you would have also returned the CD you did find value in?

Peculiar bird you are.

Christopher Filkins @ 01/02/2003 04:20 PM EST

Mr. Filkins,

I have no problem with expressions of pacifism that derive from faith. In this area, I'm of the opinion that there are very few people who don't desire to strive for peace, and I've engaged in lengthy discussions about Just War and related topics. However, believing in God and, further, believing that, with reference to Him, one should oppose war in any form and for any reason still does not excuse a false — even offensive — equivalence.

In an online video that was already a bit longer than I'd wanted, I had to be concise. But the underlying reason for my reaction was that Mr. Long's equivalence is of a piece with a pacifism that emphasizes joint humanity. For this reason, while I'm offended enough to express my opinion about a specific manifestation of Long's faith, I see no reason to let a side-effect taint the broader position.

Were Mr. Long's equivalence an indication of any of the other possibilities that I list, I tend to doubt that he would have been the type to record The Psalms CD that I originally ordered. If he had, I can't say I'd be optimistic that it would be as compelling. And, yes, strange bird or not, I would have chosen to have nothing to do with the man.

Justin Katz @ 01/02/2003 04:46 PM EST

I was (and am) skeptical about vlogging, however, your latest was a great use of the form. I will be checking into two of the artists thanks to hearing them in your piece.

As for criticism, it's big of you to welcome it, and it can make for fun conversation, but I'll just offer encouragement. Vlogging is much more demanding than blogging. I'm just amazed you manage to do it at all. Great job making it work! Congratulations. Keep making them and the improvement will come naturally.

Drew Wells @ 01/02/2003 05:12 PM EST

I'm a bit confused.

Religion is good enough to proclaim except as it relates to pacifism?

If Mr. long's pacifism was derived from a source you didn't approve of you would have also returned the CD you did find value in?

Peculiar bird you are.

Christopher Filkins @ 01/02/2003 07:43 PM EST


I'm beginning to think your confusion is nothing I've the qualifications to alleviate. However, because it was an aspect of the piece on which I wanted to expound, I'll give it a few more paragraphs.

The expression of the pacifism isn't my objection; I object to the equivalence that is too often aligned with pacifism. Similar statements spoken out of relativism, anti-Americanism, or cowardice don't truly represent pacifism. Perhaps, as I pared down my script, I shaped an awkward line, here. The pacifism is meant more to be parallel to the other isms than to be the broader category to which the isms and faith are all differently tinted potential contributors.

As I already noted, I doubt Mr. Long would have been "in a place" to record The Psalms CD if he weren't so centered around faith. As it is, the return of just the one CD (and an explanatory note) will be my way of making a statement that may, in some small way, contribute to Mr. Long's reconsidering his broad definition of terrorism. If he had turned out, for example, to be a folk Susan Sontag, I would have returned even the CD in which I found value. Having watched the vlog, you should have inferred that the ability to communicate with the artist is part of the appeal of independent music, and a Sontagian character is beyond communication. You might also have inferred that there is so very much that is of value, music-wise, that very little of it is irreplaceable.

I hope that helps with your confusion, but I'm afraid that I don't have anything to add to the point.

Justin Katz @ 01/02/2003 08:36 PM EST

I enjoyed your vlog. I didn't realize that there was such a wide selection of independent artists out there and that it is that easy to gain access to their work.

God bless. :)

Tom Abbott @ 01/07/2003 09:46 PM EST