Music 2014: Transmedia Storytelling in Experiential Product Design
I’m beginning to plan my MA thesis for 2014 and these are my first ideas about what I’m doing. As this feels a long time in the future, and doing this will take me a long time, I’m betting on some of the most visible macro trends to hold true for the next 2 years.
I am assuming that in the attention economy, a single type of media (just an album, just a video) is no longer sufficient to capture the full attention of a viewer for a prolonged time. A media product needs firstly to be present, but also high quality and attractive across channels, be it the music store, the app store, or the movie storie. A single brand, best memorable as a character, because people relate to people. Music as the tentpole, because music creates the deepest emotions of all media. I propose a transmedia album that spans the audio, the visual, and the textual, and the participatory, where viewers can play a thematic song themselves, complete with a social network, that facilitates fans to connect with each other.
- App. An App Album with character backstory.
- Video. A music video.
- Dance. Particular dance moves that fans can copy.
- Wristbands. Physical objects that communicate being part of the group and give superpowers.
- Live. A live event in a secret location.
- Game. A participatory alternate reality game?
- Network. A social network to connect fans together.
- Websites (Should these be seen as separate platforms?)
Character is what people best recognized and remember, thus developing the central character is the starting point from which transmedia extensions originate from. IN PROCESS.
The character extends into a storyworld with a recognizable and memorable set of aesthetics. Like in Star Wars, where the dusty and scratched metal of every set piece of the movie made the world look ancient and gave it a feel and scope, the transmedia musician needs an aesthetics that crosses platforms.
A number of MIT Media Labs theses touch of multi-platform storytelling, as do a number of transmedia blogs, most notably transchordian, however an encompassing academic analysis of transmedia music has not been undertaken. IN PROCESS.
Existing Transmedia Artists
An incomplete list of existing artists whose work is notably multiplatform, remediatory, or makes use of transmedia storytelling – with relevant analysis, description, or in one case a concert experience, where available.
- The Gorillaz (Laura Sterritt)
- deadmau5 (Selina Fiorini)
- Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails (Mike Monello)
- Soulja Boy (Henry Jenkins, Albert Thompson)
- Lady GaGa (Tom Ewing)
- Jay-Z: Decoded (John Hartman, Paloma M. Vazquez, Mike Monello)
- Björk: Biophilia (Krista Peck, Matthew J. Watson, Evelyn McDonnell, Laura Sterritt)
- Amon Tobin (Laura Sterritt, Mont Watanasiriroch, Peter Kirn, Isabelle Rousset)
- Nicki Minaj (Simon Staffans)
- Kanye West (Sparrow Hall, Tom Ewing, Henry Jenkins)
- Arcade Fire (Suzy Bureau)
- Danger Mouse & Daniel Luppi (Laura Sterritt, Bryce J. Renninger)
- Hatsune Miku (CMF)
- Etc… An evolving list of links can be found on my Quora transmedia music board
This is something I will spend a lot of time thinking about in coming months and years, so I welcome any ideas, criticism, collaboration offers, contacts, etc. Send me an email (or tweet me for the quickest response). You can also reach me by phone: +372 53073123, although I might not always be available to talk; just call again.