Friday, August 27, 2010

Dum da dum dum...

I am writing this while sitting in a hotel located in what is known as the Central Business District of the open-air insane asylum called New Orleans. I am here for a music law seminar, listening to people much brighter than myself (and yes, a couple who, well, aren’t) discuss how to build a bigger butterfly net to use when chasing the fewer and fewer dollars that are available in the music industry. My mind was starting to wander this afternoon when one of the seminar speakers brought me back on task by saying, “And here’s another revenue stream. You all have heard of e-books? And Kindle? There’s talk of adding music to e-books.”

Whoa.

Now, newer versions of Kindle have an application which will let the user upload (download? Sometimes it’s not clear in which direction the digital river flows) music to the unit to play while reading. You connect your precious up to your computer via a USB port and uplo…er…downl…uh, transfer the music from computer to Kindle. What the speaker was talking about, however, sounds like something else entirely. This is music that would come with the e-book. As contemplated, it would be 1) genre appropriate (romantic for romance books; spooky for horror novels; and heavy metal for John Gilstrap); and 2) instrumental, so as not to distract those of us who cannot walk across the room and hold a thought at the same time.

This raises a couple of questions: 1) where is the music going to come from? 2) who is going to pay for it? and 3) will the author have controlling, or at least some, input into whether they want their precious to have musical accompaniment? It is questions 2 and 3 which should concern the wordsmiths out there. If you have signed away control of how your e-books are marketed, the answer to #3 may be “no.” And as for the answer to question 2, it may or may not be the author who is passed the check directly or indirectly, depending on how things shake out on the whole thing. Music on television and in movies and video games is not free; someone paid a lot of money to put that catchy song you walk around humming into a commercial, or at the beginning of CSI: Miami. It won’t be free for e-books either.

It is not my intent to give you something else to worry about. But authors: keep your collective ear to the ground. And you eyes open.

*****
My New Orleans sojourn is part of a ten day trip which began with three days in Franklin, Tennessee at Killer Nashville. A smaller conference which is very user friendly, Killer Nashville is aimed primarily at hopeful authors and is a wonderful way to network and learn writing tradecraft. P.J. Parrish was seemingly on every panel (that’s an exaggeration, but not by much) and showed us how a P.J. Parrish book created. Different color Post-It notes affixed to a cardboard backing are involved and it was truly a wonder to look at. It was an extremely interesting and marvelous over-the-shoulder glance at how the collective Parrish team gets the job done. Jeffrey Deaver was the guest of honor, and was extremely friendly and easily accessible to all, including his multitude on Number One Fans. He generously spent over an hour telling a jammed-to-capacity ballroom how he works his magic, from idea through completion. Jeffrey began his presentation with a basic premise that is sometimes forgotten: writing is a business. He spends eight months outlining and four months writing and when he is done and turns in the manuscript he sits down and does it all again. There is more to it than that of course but it was great to hear a strong and basic fundamental advocated so forcefully.

****

What I’m reading: THE THOUSAND by Kevin Guilfoile. Pythagoras meets a girl with a dragon tattoo who kicked a hornet’s nest while playing with fire. If I hadn’t been so busy these past ten days I would have read it in one night.

Next time: The coolest place in the world is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Seriously.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads up.

    Music, huh? Sounds like a good way for the publishers to justify that $49.95 sticker that they want to slap on all their new e-books. Call me sarcastic, but that's what first popped in my mind.

    Something about this just isn't right. I don't see readers necessarily wanting multimedia books. We already have movies and video games so why add music to text? Video games are superior because (1) the player controls the story and (2) the music/text/action/etc. are all integrated and synchronized into a singular, immersive experience.

    I just don't see adding music as a benefit. This sounds like a marketing technique gone bad in an attempt to fix something that isn't broken. People want good, strong writing. If they can't get that at a reasonable price, then no amount of gimmicks will increase sales.

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  2. weird, music to books. I don't think it would be a feature I'd want added to my e-book. I hope for others sake its optional. thanks for the heads up on that.

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  3. I hope it's better music, and less generally annoying, than the kind they put in greeting cards nowadays.

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  4. Heavy metal for my books?? Nah. I write Kenny G books.

    Interesting--and scary--post.

    The industry doesn't seem to be getting the pint that consumers are searching for CHEAPER entertainment (the only hope for book, IMO, in this crowded entertainment marketplace), while publishers and producers are trying to find excuses to charge more.

    Anyone else notice how the rush-to-3D pretty much bombed at the box office this summer?

    John
    www.johngilstrap.com

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  5. Music added to ebooks will undoubtedly jack up the price of the ebook, thereby automatically cutting sales.

    Now that's my opinon, but you know I could be wrong. When they added videos to music, I thought they were crazy. "Music is now something to be watched?" I said in disbelief.

    Well, maybe ebooks will soon become something to listen to.

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  6. I can't imagine anything more annoying than having music playing from my book while I'm reading. Frankly it seems as an obscene coupling as Ari Onassis and Jackie Kennedy.

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  7. There's something called Enhanced E-Books which means extra content like on a DVD: music, video, interviews with author, whatever else the marketing gurus think up along the way. The younger generation is raised multi-media and this may be the way to attract their attention. Avid readers won't need extra features, but teens? They're the readers of tomorrow.

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