PS22 chorus performs “Landslide” on YouTube — the best thing on YouTube

June 11, 2009

News: I was watching Nightline last night and heard about this amazing group of 5th graders at PS22 who sing in a chorus at school in Staten Island, New York. Their music teacher is Gregg Breinberg. They’ve received several million views on YouTube and have drawn attention from media and musicians alike through their postings on YouTube. Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac reportedly cried listening to this video of “Landslide” and invited the students to her concert today.

Here is their website, and YouTube channel.

Analysis: I have received many complaints on how YouTube has gone downhill to a commercialized site filled with unispired videos. While that may be happening, the PS22 videos reminded me of the amazing creative amateur spirit that first pervaded YouTube. Thanks for the reminder, kids. You are the best thing on YouTube right now.

Footnote: The always IP-sensitive Techdirt blog wonders whether the RIAA will send YouTube a DMCA notice of alleged copyright infringement to shut down the kids’ performance of copyrighted music. Well, by the positive reaction from Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos to the kids’ performance of their songs, I seriously doubt it. I have written extensively about how “informal copyright practices” fill in the gaps in copyright law, such as here where no formal license has apparently been granted but it appears the practice is accepted by the copyright holders. You can download my article “Warming Up to User-Generated Content” by clicking here.

Esmee Denters sings Stevie Wonder’s “As”

May 10, 2008

Update on Suzanna Hlinka on YouTube

December 19, 2007

News: Last week, I came across the video of this amazing pianist Suzanna Hlinka, who had just joined YouTube and posted a few videos. Her performance of Rachmaninoff was so mesmerizing I made it my selection for Video of the Week. Now, within a few days, the video has over 1,600 views.

I did some digging and found out her biography (quoted below)–it’s beyond impressive:

Pianist Suzanna Hlinka has been praised by Australia’s Courier Mail as “A prodigious talent” and for her playing style, rich with “poise and finesse.” Born into a Sydney-based musical family in 1984 she began playing the piano at the age of three under the guidance of her mother, Olga Hlinka. Her teachers have included Jana Kovar, Sue Thompson, Natasha Vlassenko, Jiri Hlinka, and Oleg Stepanov, with whom she completed her Bachelor of Music degree in 2004 at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. In the aforementioned institute Suzanna accompanied its Young Conservatorium choirs and won numerous awards including the Griffith University Award for academic excellence during three consecutive years.

Suzanna completed her Masters degree in 2007 at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague as a pupil of Peter Toperczer. Throughout her time in the Czech Republic she simultaneously held a teaching position at the International School of Music and Fine Arts Prague and was awarded for her Thesis entitled “Mathematics and Music: Connections”, the prestigious Gaudeamus (Kapsch s.r.o.) award in the competition “Ceska Hlava,” a project supporting scientific and technical intelligence in the Czech Republic. She is currently based in Bern, Switzerland.

Suzanna has been a prizewinner of the Yamaha Piano Competition in Australia, Concertino Praga International Radio Competition for Young Musicians and the Rudolph Firkusny International Piano Competition in Prague, amongst others. She has performed as a soloist with many orchestras including the Orchestra, Youth Orchestra, Conservatorium Orchestras, and the Chamber Ensemble of Queensland as well as the South Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra. Suzanna is regularly invited to perform in festivals in Australia and Europe and has appeared on Australian and Czech television and radio such as SBS, 4EB, 4MBS, ABC, and Czech radio.

Alongside her soloist activities Suzanna devotes herself to chamber music cooperating with musicians such as Pavel Eret, Christoph Blickling and her father, Vojtech Hlinka. Suzanna has performed in Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland.

Analysis: I know I have a good eye for talent, but, wow, it’s just amazing to learn how accomplished this person on YouTube really is. Suzanna will be launching a website soon.

Terra Naomi headlines launch of YouTube Russia

December 11, 2007

December 11 marks the launch of YouTube in Russia. Terra Naomi will be performing at the opening in Russia.  Amazing.

Terra Naomi + Rachel Thibodeau jam session

December 2, 2007

Oprah interviews Esmee

November 6, 2007

Video click here.  Esmee was very nervous, but there’s no doubt she will be a star.

(Sorry, Oprah’s disabled the embedding of videos, so you need to click the link above.)

Esmee on Oprah

November 6, 2007

News: One of my readers commented that I should have noted that Esmee Denters will be donating all of her royalties from sales of her new song, “Crazy Place” (featured on this video) to charity. The song will be available next week on her website, Justin Timberlake and his label Tennman Records will match the amount with a donation of their own.

Analysis: It was almost a year ago when I first began writing about Esmee. Back then, she was an 18-year-old Dutch girl singing to her karaoke machine from her bedroom in her parents’ house. Now, a year later, she’s signed with Justin Timberlake’s new label and will be appearing on Oprah on Tuesday. Wow, now that’s incredible.

As I said when Esmee first announced getting signed to a music contract, I feel so happy for all the success Esmee is experiencing. It couldn’t have happened to a sweeter person. Although Esmee did once have a desire to become a social worker, my guess is that she will be able to achieve much more good through her music. What musician donates all her royalties for her first single to charity? Esmee is something special.

Terra Naomi to return to “Virtual Tour” on YouTube

October 22, 2007

News: As typical for this amazing songstress, Terra Naomi has posted some very personal blog posts on her blog, discussing why she hasn’t posted many videos on YouTube after being discovered there. Here’s what she says: “A real lack of free time along with a few bad experiences made it really easy to distance myself from myspace and youtube, but i decided that i need to make more time to communicate with the people who actually get something from my music (unlike many of the other people i have to make time to talk to and deal with on a daily basis).” Terra confesses she’s still trying to “transition” from being an unknown artist posting on YouTube to a signed musician.

The good news is that Terra has decided to launch another “Virtual Tour” on YouTube, by posting a video every night of her upcoming tour with The Fray: “i also decided to revisit the virtual tour, and i will post a new video every night of the tour, from my hotel room. or maybe the bus. depends on where i am after each show, i guess!”

Analysis: In the past few months, I’ve wondered a little why Terra Naomi and Esmee Denters (both of whom posted many videos on YouTube before their signings with record labels) don’t continue to post that many videos anymore. Certainly, they have more demands on their time, especially trying to release a new album. At the same time, though, YouTube is where the fan base is that helped them get discovered. It’s great to hear Terra will be launching another “Virtual Tour” on YouTube.

For more information on Terra Naomi, visit here.

New York Times features YouTube’s “Chad Vader,” aka Matt Sloan + Aaron Yonda

October 16, 2007

NewsThe New York Times has a feature article today about Matt Sloan and Aaron, two guys in Wisconsin who developed a runaway hit–with over 19 million views–on YouTube called “Chad Vader.”  Chad Vader is Darth Vader’s younger brother, who works, of all places, at a grocery store.

Analysis:  Hilarious.

Congratulations, Terra Naomi

September 27, 2007

News:  Sorry, I’m a little late in reporting that Terra Naomi has officially released her debut album “Under the Influence” with Island Records in the UK.   If you have iTunes, you can flip your switch at the bottom to “United Kingdom” to buy the album because (for archaic reasons employed by music labels) it’s not yet available in the United States version of iTunes.

Analysis:  Awesome achievement.  From YouTube to a music label within a year.  Without a doubt, Terra Naomi is the most important musician to come from YouTube.  Her song “Not Sorry” is doing well on iTunes (and apparently on the radio in the UK).

Esmee Denters launches “Around the World” video on YouTube

September 25, 2007

News: Esmee Denters is one of the biggest musical discoveries on YouTube. This spring, she signed with Justin Timberlake and got to perform with him in Europe. Here’s Episode 1 of her mini-documentary, “Around the World with Esmee.” For more posts on Esmee, visit here.

Analysis: The best part is the ending, where we get to know Esmee a little more.

YouTube’s “Little Loca,” aka Stevie Ryan, premieres tonight on CW network

September 23, 2007

News: Little Loca, aka Stevie Ryan (who in real life is white, even though she plays a Latina on YouTube), gets her own TV show tonight on the CW network, 7:30 p.m. It’s called “Online Nation” and it will be all about amateur user-generated videos. The LA Times has a feature on Stevie in its Sunday edition. Below is a promo:

Analysis: This is ironic. Just as ABC, NBC, and CBS announced this week free videos of their shows online, online amateur videos will be migrating to TV, albeit on the unknown CW network. One day soon, the Internet + TV will be the same thing–or at least delivered on the same device.

YouTuber Chris Crocker lands TV show deal

September 20, 2007

News:  Openly gay YouTuber Chris Crocker signed a TV deal with 44 Blue Productions.  The show will follow his life as a gay male in a small town.  Crocker recently made a name for himself by defending–in a passionate, teary-eyed rant–Britney Spears from her detractors for her MTV flop.  Crocker’s video got over 8 million views.  More.

YouTube duo Mike O’Connell and Ken Jeong get MTV film deal

September 17, 2007

News:  According to the BBC, MTV just signed faux rap stars Mike O’Connell and Ken Jeong to a film deal, which “will centre around the rise of a delusional rapper and his Asian foreign exchange student friend as they take on the world.”  The pair go by the name Million Dollar Strong.  

Analysis:  Wow.  To make a feature length movie from a YouTube music video, that’s pretty amazing.  Lonelygirl15 didn’t even do that.

Esmee Denters returns to YouTube

September 12, 2007

Esmee Denters is an alpha kitty

September 8, 2007

News:  Former Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein has selected Esmee Denters as one of her “alpha kitties,” which she describes as follows:

“What’s an Alpha Kitty, you ask? Someone who’s brave, creative, fierce, passionate and…well, yes, weird. Weird is the new normal, haven’t you heard? After all, who wants to be cookie-cutter, anyway? Ugh. B-O-R-I-N-G. “Le freak c’ést chic” is our motto in the world of Alpha Kitty. We’re a celebration of being different…of being individuals…of self expression.”  Other alpha kitties are here.

Wall Street Journal exposes YouTube singer Marie Digby as already signed Disney artist

September 6, 2007

News:  The Wall Street Journal has a front page article exposing YouTube singer Marie Digby as a fake of sorts.   She is a fake amateur. 

The WSJ uncovered the fact that Digby had a recording contract with Disney’s Hollywood Records back in 2005.  Digby, however, never revealed her professional status on her YouTube channel or MySpace page, nor did Hollywood Records on its YouTube channel.

Analysis:  Being accused of being a “fake amateur” singer–wow, now that’s interesting.  I guess it’s better to be an amateur on YouTube than a professional singer. 

This is much different from the “lonelygirl” incident where the question was whether the person was real or fictitious.  Here, there’s no doubt Marie Digby is a singer and a real person, so I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Why is the Wall Street Journal spending front page coverage to this story?  It’s only helping spread publicity for Marie Digby (which seems counter to the thrust of the WSJ article).

UPDATE:  I answer in another post whether Marie Digby did anything wrong.

Esmee Denters celebrates 1 year on YouTube

August 25, 2007

News: YouTube sensation Esmee Denters announces a contest, shows a preview of behind-the-scenes video of her rise to stardom, and then performs an original song at the end. UPDATE: Esmee took down the original video with the new song and posted a different video without the new song, but with a souped up version of “Figure It Out.”

Analysis: Happy anniversary, Esmee! It’s been quite a year. Thanks for sharing it with the YouTube community. The best is yet to come.

YouTube turned Andy Samberg (from “Lazy Sunday”) into movie star

August 8, 2007

News:  Larry Ratliff has an excellent article describing how YouTube helped propel Andy Samberg’s career, first on Saturday Night Live, and then in his first feature film, “Hot Rod.” 

Ironically, Samberg’s big break came when someone posted an unauthorized clip of his skit “Lazy Sunday” from Saturday Night Live onto YouTube.  Before that, Samberg was relatively unknown.  But after the video went viral on YouTube (getting over 5 million views), SNL signed Samberg and his Lonely Island crew fulltime.  SNL produce Lorne Michaels also signed Samberg to star in his movie “Hot Rod.” 

Of his YouTube fame, Samberg said:  “We were very fortunate. That YouTube wave was coming, and we just happened to have a nice clip that landed on the crest of it. It got us a lot of attention just as it was swelling.”

Mia Rose new song ‘Better Off” on YouTube

July 22, 2007

Mia Rose resurfaces on YouTube

July 19, 2007

The No.1 most subscribed musician is back with a video on YouTube. Mia Rose hasn’t posted in 3 months, so here she is updating her life in the studio.  She signed with Ryan Leslie’s music label.

Esmee Denters waking up on YouTube

July 9, 2007

She’s out on tour with Justin Timberlake.  Their video together just went over the 6 million mark (in about 38 days).

Esmee Denters update: 21 days, 5 million views

June 25, 2007

News:  Esmee Denters’ video with Justin Timberlake just went over the 5 million mark, in 21 days.  That’s just amazing.  I believe the most ever views for an amateur musician video on YouTube.


Justin Timberlake EW interview, speaks about Esmee Denters

June 24, 2007

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Justin Timberlake about his new record label.  Full interview here.

How did you decide to sign 18-year-old Netherlands resident Esmée Denters as your first artist?
Being in the business for 10 years now, you look around and some people got it and some people don’t. I saw her on YouTube, got wind of what was happening — ”Hey, there’s this girl in Holland who’s got a phenomenal voice.” And the word ”phenomenal” in front of ”voice” doesn’t come often. Usually you hear, ”She’s pretty good, but there’s this great song,” which is usually a bunch of bulls—. And so I turned on YouTube and I was literally blown away — not only by her voice, but also her ear. I love the opportunity of discovering a talent that’s so raw. And now I can just kind of sit back and help her mold herself into a superstar.

Esmee Denters’ first performance in Amsterdam

June 18, 2007

News: Esmee Denters just went from her bedroom, posting videos on YouTube, to performing as the opening act for Justin Timberlake. This past weekend, she had her first performance in the Amsterdam Arena. A review can be found here.

Photos can be found here, here, and here.

Say It’s Possible, Terra Naomi, now on iTunes – 99 cents

June 12, 2007

UPDATE: Terra Naomi’s single is now available on iTunes for 99 cents. You can get the full version and the acoustic version. You can listen to the entire song here. I’ve already purchased mine. Please consider supporting Terra!

As I’ve written already, we all can show the music industry that more amateurs from YouTube and the Internet deserve a chance. Terra’s done her part. Now, it’s our turn. 99 cents, that’s all it takes. You can help change the music industry forever — and for the better.

Official single

Acoustic version

Say It’s Possible, Terra Naomi countdown: 48 24 hours on sale today!

June 9, 2007

UPDATE, Monday, June 11: This is not an ad. This is a request for support. Please consider supporting Terra Naomi, the first musician from YouTube to break through with a major label. She did it with her magical, uplifting song, “Say It’s Possible,” which goes on sale today. You can listen to the entire song here. The official video is below.

I think the song’s beauty speaks for itself. Let me just add this: the music industy is filled with dinosaurs who can be pretty settled in their ways. Because YouTube is new and different, some music industry reps still harbor some skepticism about signing amateur artists from YouTube. As one exec said, “Strong online popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to real sales.”

That’s where we come in. Terra Naomi has opened a door for other amateur artists by showing to the music industry there’s talent to be discovered on the Internet. Terra’s done her part. Now, it’s our turn. We have the power to break that door down, so the music industry cannot ignore all the unsigned talent out there any longer.

You can buy Terra’s single from Island Records here

(.79 English pound, which I think converts to $1.55 US dollar). There’s even a promotion where you can get the track for free if you register.  The single is now available for 99 cents on iTunes (US site), in both full and acoustic versions.

Esmee Denters update: 9 days, over 3 million views

June 8, 2007

News: Esmee Denters’ video with Justin Timberlake singing “What Goes Around” just went over the 3 million mark in 9 days. You can see the video here. I wonder how long it can continue to generate more viewers at this torrid pace. You probably would guess not too much longer.

The significance of Esmee Denters

June 5, 2007

Today, I have to confess I’m very happy, all because of this Esmee Denters record deal with Justin Timberlake.  Like so many others in the YouTube community, I’ve been watching this 18-year-old girl on YouTube blossom into a singer and future star, while waiting for the day when some major label would sign her to a recording contract.  The question back then was not if, but when.  The when is today.  

I first saw one of Esmee’s videos back in the fall of 2006.  She had enough talent in her karaoke videos that I started following her videos regularly on YouTube.  I still remember precisely the moment when I realized how good this young girl from the Netherlands really was.  It’s the day she posted her cover of Mary J Blige’s “No More Pain.”  I had seen the great Mary J in concert, so I didn’t think Esmee could handle this big vocal song.  Thirty seconds, though—that’s all it took for Esmee to prove me wrong.  I was blown away.  And that’s when I started writing about Esmee on this blog because, as I said back then, Esmee could be “the most talented, undiscovered singer on YouTube.”

Well, now that she’s been discovered by the music industry and signed by Justin Timberlake, what are we to make of the Esmee Denters phenomenon? 

I don’t want to make more of the story than it deserves, but I do feel that what is transpiring with Esmee has some very important significance for YouTube.  Terra Naomi was the first to show that undiscovered musicians can be discovered through YouTube.  (Terra signed with Island Records and her first single “Say It’s Possible” comes out June 11!)  I think Esmee Denters proves that YouTube is no fluke (or one-artist wonder), and that YouTube is fast becoming a major force in the music industry.  Some critics might laugh at the idea.  But name one other platform that has the ability discover an 18-year-old girl in a small Dutch town, who’s never had singing lessons or any performances in her life, and make her the most sought after young singer in the music industry?

Congratulations, Esmee and YouTube!

Esmee Denters video goes over 2 million views on YouTube

June 5, 2007

News: Esmee Denters’ video with Justin Timberlake just went well over 2 million views, amazingly in just 1 week. That’s pretty quick. For more about Esmee, visit here.

Esmee on YouTube