Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Remix Viral Media to Create Viral Media

Nick Pittsinger, a “20-year-old aspiring music producer in Florida” (according to Damon Brown writing for CNN) has used software to slow down Justin Bieber’s single “U SMILE” eight times and republished his remix on Soundcloud as “U SMILE 800% SLOWER.” Pittsinger’s song version was highlighted on Gawker last week, and to date the song has been played over 1.7 million times.

Any lessons to learn here? Probably.

First, viral media examples like this provide great “flash in the pan” opportunities to not only give individuals moments of mainstream media press attention and fame, but also products and websites. Have you ever heard of the open source program Paul’s Stretch? Me either. But now we have. That’s the program Pittsinger reportedly used to create his Bieber remix. Had you heard of SoundCloud before? The site touts itself as a place “to move music.” According to the site’s “tour” page:

SoundCloud lets you move music fast & easy. The platform takes the daily hassle out of receiving, sending & distributing music for artists, record labels & other music professionals.

Take The Tour - SoundCloud

This incident certainly provides some great, free marketing for SoundCloud.

Although this situation involves an audio / music file instead of a video, it reminds me in several ways of the Greyson Chance / Lady Gaga / Paparatzi / Ellen remix situation from last spring. For more background, see my 14 May 2010 post, “From a church talent show to the Ellen DeGeneres Show: YouTube fame for an Edmond 6th grader” and 26 May 2010 post, “YouTube can change your life: Just ask Greyson Chance.”

In both Greyson’s situation and Nick Pittsinger’s, they rose meteorically to fame (although probably more “passing fame” in the case of Pittsinger) thanks in part to the fact they remixed a song which was already well known in the mainstream press as well as society as a whole. Media outlets appear to be hungry for these kinds of stories, which offer a “breakout” opportunity for individuals who have here-to-fore never been in the nationwide or worldwide press spotlight. If Pittsinger or Chance had NOT chosen to remix an already well-known and well-googled song title, it’s doubtful their original creations (no matter how talented or unusual they might have been) would have risen so quickly to the attention of so many. I’m sure I’m not the only person noticing this trend. My prediction: We’ll continue to see more mainstream artist remixes in the months ahead, given the success of these two individuals (and others I’m sure) in getting the fleeting attention of millions of eyeballs (and ear drums) in our attention economy.

Another lesson to glean here is that ANYONE is just a few clicks away from the mainstream media spotlight. Looking at Nick Pittsinger’s twitter stream. It does not sound like he expected his Bieber “ambient remix” to garner such attention. Good thing it doesn’t appear Nick uses profanity in his tweets.

Twitter / Nick Pittsinger

Twitter _ Nick Pittsinger

If he did, those “digital mis-steps” would be visible by an interested, global audience, and would reflect negatively on him as well as his family, school, place of business, etc. That would detract from the POSITIVE aspects of this story which I’m sure he’d rather emphasize, and could contribute to him becoming another example of “social media use by young people gone bad.” On that subject, if you are not familiar with the Jessi Slaughter situation from this past July, take a few minutes to review it. Kudos to Nick Pittsinger for NOT becoming (at least up to this point) a poster-boy for poor choices with social media. Quite the opposite: He is demonstrating the powerful amplification potential available via social media, and perhaps he’ll find a way to NOT (in his words) “just be a one-day meme kind of deal…” This makes Nick’s situation a good case study for conversations with students and others about Internet safety and digital citizenship.

Can we consider Nick Pittsinger’s remix of Justin Bieber’s song a TRUE remix? Although simply slowing a song down doesn’t sound like much of a remix, it probably qualifies according to the definition of “remix” on today’s English WikiPedia:

A remix is an alternative version of a song, made from an original version. This term is also used for any alterations of media other than song (film, literature etc.)

This situation provides a great opportunity to discuss copyright, fair use, the FCC’s ruling last month in favor of noncommercial uses of copyrighted materials for remixed media, etc. For links to great resources touching on these issues, see the “Copyright and Fair Use Resources” included on the Storychaser’s project wiki.

The last comment I have about this situation concerning Nick Pittsinger and Justin Bieber’s song is: Why all the Bieber hate? I’m not sure I understand it. There’s lots of music I don’t care for, but I’m don’t make it a point to HATE that music, the artists who create it, etc. Perhaps the prevalence of Bieber hate reflects latent anger many people have and want to express, and Bieber is simply a household name (for many kids today, especially) who can become a target of that hatred.

I’ll never forget Holocaust survivor Eva Hance’s message from March 2006: We must reject hate in all its forms. Whenever I encounter words of hate, on YouTube or elsewhere, I’m reminded of Eva’s words.

You may not like Justin Bieber or his music. Those opinions are not valid justifications for hate, however. Thankfully, Nick Pittsinger’s remix of Bieber does not appear to have been motivated by any malicious intentions.

While Nick has YOUR attention, you might take a moment to check out his Halo Nova music project, also on SoundCloud. Nick describes himself on that site by writing:

I’m 20 years old. I’ve been producing for about a year and a half. I love bass. This is just one of my projects!

Kudos to Nick for being a creative media publisher! We need more students to follow in his footsteps, using social media in both constructive and creative ways.

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