After writing about the “media” part of “consumer generated media” for the last year or so I thought it was time to focus on the “consumer” part too. The topic of the day is: mash-ups. Why? Because I was amused by my friends’ puzzled look when they heard the Beastie Boys colliding with the Bee Gees on my Zen player. I figured out that it was time to do my part to bring this topic further into the marketing mainstream.
Mash-ups are becoming increasingly popular with our favourite target audience: Millenials (and some Gen-X too). Bloggers took over the news by adding their own comments to create new meanings. Media and technology savvy consumers take over cultural products such as movies or music to enhance them, to create something more personal or just for fun sake. Newsweek ran a good feature on mash-ups last month. It’s easy to see why mash-ups are becoming so popular: they are cool.
To make an audio mash-up: mix the instrumental version of your favourite track with the lyrics of another song. If you are musically adventurous, you can take different elements of different songs to create a brand new track (Eminem vs. Stereo MCs vs Eagles anyone?). The best part of it is that all can be done on your PC which affordable software, a bit of time and a healthy dose of talent. A guide on how to create mash-ups is available here. Look at Wikipedia if you are interested in mash-ups history. I personally like PartyBen or Instamatic’s mash-up of Madonna’s ubiquitous single “Hung-up” (“If Madonna calls, tell her I am not here...”). Look at Mashculture too for new releases.
Mash-ups are not only about music. Did you ever think the movie Fight Club could become a romantic comedy? What would happen if Toy Story met Requiem For A Dream? Here again, affordable and user-friendly technology contributes to unleash creativity and give consumer control over content. Check out Mashupmansion or youtube for more.
You must now be all familiar with web mash-ups so I won’t spill much electronic ink about them on this post. Programmableweb.com has a web 2.0. popular mash-ups list.
I believe that mash-ups are another genuine consumer 2.0 trends which is likely to get bigger and bigger. The Beastie Boys published acapella version of their albums on their website, invited their fans to remix them, and posted the new tracks on their online forum. As a result, the Beastie Boys are among the most sampled artists by mash-up DJs. Consumers love it, it creates a lot of positive WOM and certainly helps boost their album sales.
However, mash-ups could pit consumers and corporations’ interest against each other. What about copyrights? What happens when the mash-up is more popular than the original? What are the benefits for the content originator?
A lot of these questions are being asked when talking about open source. This trend could call for a rethink of the movie or music industry’s business model. Let me rephrase that to set expectations right: mash-ups will get increasingly popular with consumers and as a result we will see plenty of lawsuits.
From a marketing standpoint, I can see immediate applications for mash-ups to reach millenials but I am still trying to reconcile mash-ups’ value with company profits. I need to articulate my thoughts on this and I’ll post more on that later. Your comments or suggestions are welcome.