The Revolution Will Be Downloaded

The first blow of the media revolution has been struck. The unlikely revolutionary is a 19-year-old named Gary Brolsma, whose hilarious lip-sync to a Romanian dance song has already logged more than a million downloads and has earned him an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. What makes this video revolutionary? It’s not production values. The lo-res video merely shows an enthusiastic numa lip-syncing in front of his stationary web-cam.

What Brolsma has done should be much more terrifying to record company executives than Napster, Morpheus and Limewire combined. Teenaged Brolsma has produced a piece of art and distributed it to more than a million other teenagers without a single adult telling him that it wasn’t marketable or that there wasn’t a profit margin in it.

In the past, adults at media companies have held the keys to the kingdom. Records and TV shows have been prohibitively expensive to make and practically impossible to distribute. Every record or TV show you’ve enjoyed in the last 10 years was approved by some media company executive, but to quote an older revolutionary: "Times they are a-changing."

It’s now possible for anyone with a computer to make records or movies. Apple’s $500 Mac mini is practically a recording studio and video editing system in a box. Teenagers all over the country are cranking out songs and movies and art every day in their bedrooms. In their ignorance, they are breaking new ground with no one to tell them how wrong they are. Music has evolved dramatically with each tech-tonic shift; the electric guitar gave birth to rock ’n’ roll, the sampler to hip-hop, digital editing to the mashup, and now affordable computing and Internet distribution means that the power has returned to the people. Gary Brolsma is the new vox populi. For two years I’ve been saying that a 15-year-old would create a record in his basement and a million people would download it before any labels got involved. Though this isn’t the form I was expecting it in, it’s close enough—a sign of the coming explosion of creativity.

So rise up, people, the tools are in your hand, the global village your audience with no one to tell you it can’t be done. Let a thousand points of view be heard and a thousand glorious mistakes be made to lead us out of the stagnation that has happened to modern music. No longer do artists have to wait on the fickle patronage of record companies to make art. Throw off the chains of advertising-driven content and the mass market, and let your voices be heard.

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Small caveats: This isn’t to say that traditional media companies will become obsolete, far from it; rather though, those companies that can learn to capitalize on these changes will make the new fortunes. Also, Brolsma is not really the first kid to make an impact through the Internet. Like most revolutionary leaders, he just makes a good symbolic figurehead.

To check out the now world-famous Gary Brolsma doing his best to dethrone any Karaoke wannabe, click here

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