February 14th, 2008

Otorevo brings the noise… and a record contract

Matt Romaine, lead developer over at Columbia’s Otorevo here in Japan just wrote on his blog that the Otorevo platform has just announced its first album release.

Otorevo (“Sound Revolution”) is Columbia Japan’s attempt to get on to the social bandwagon, giving the public the power to select which artists get the record deal. First of all, Otorevo is a platform for young music artists to show off their music to the world, then through a social voting process the most popular artists were narrowed down to a short list and finally the first winner and record deal was given to a band called Good Crew with their album, nippon ha:ski!. Amazon Japan is now taking pre-orders.

Its an admirable effort from Columbia and I have a feeling there might have been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to even get the project off the ground. The use of video to display performances was a very nice and I imagine we will see more of that as the Youtube generation gets a hold of more music focussed platforms like this one.

One thing the project does not really address seriously is the changing nature of the music industry. At the end of the day, they are offering the winner, of what is basically a popularity contest, a standard record deal and are selling a regular CD release album. Granted Japan trails most of the world it moving to digital format music sales, but it seems a missed opportunity to redefine itself in the new emerging music economy. Columbia takes all the cost benefit of social media but then fails to pass that benefit on in cost savings to the consumers.

It is hard work making something that changes the model significantly from inside one of the big labels, so big ups to Matt and the other developers for getting as far as they did with this project.

The biggest innovations in music right now are coming from outside the big labels for a reason. If Otorevo shows some success, maybe Columbia and other labels will be ready for the next step.

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