How to build a unicorn-fan relationship with distributed workSeptember 23rd, 2010 by Tommaso De Benetti
“Lots of people are into it” I say, walking after them, trying to justify my love with a description of Robot Unicorn Attack, an indie game with hundreds of thousands of fans.
Incredibly, some people remain sceptical. For them (if they are still in earshot) I bring out the big guns: the adventures of Charlie the Unicorn. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 of this series are, in my humble, pro-unicorn opinion, among the most hilarious animations on YouTube. With their perverted nonsense, these episodes have attracted nearly 100 million viewers. (Move over Tea-Party!) You can now even buy handsome unicorn merchandise, or as I have, download delightful Charlie-flavored ringtones (to clarify the scale of this achievement, this is the first ringtone I have ever bought).
Distributing the creative workload
If there is one problem with the Charlie series, it is that there is not enough of it. The long wait between episodes have led strung-out, addicted fans to create imitations of the original. Although the results in this case are not brilliant, this fan-based, creative crowdsourcing is something we here at Microtask find very interesting.
More successful examples of such fan-motivated crowdsourcing abound in the music world. As we mentioned in a previous post, both Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have pioneered this collaboration between artists and their fans.
Continuing this experimentation, Radiohead have recently released a free-to-download video of an entire concert made from “crowdshot footage”. This followed the release by Nine Inch Nails of a free HD version of the band’s tour Lights in the Sky, also made from “distributed filming”.
Star Wars Uncut: A new hope?
Other examples of fan-made crowdsourced content abound. Star Wars: Uncut, is a project where Star Wars fans from all over the world (and, it would seem, galaxies far, far away) were asked to re-enact 15 seconds of the saga. The segments with the most votes were then put together to form a complete, hilarious remake of the movie. (If you’ve seen Jack Black’s movie Be Kind, Rewind or any “sweded movies”, you will have an idea of what to expect).
Crowdfunding is another area where the relationship between artists and fans can be one of collaboration and respect rather than the traditional one-way, idol-driven dictatorships. For example are sites like IOU Music, shaping new landscapes for artists of the future.
At a time when technology is blurring the lines between creators and consumers, there has never been a better time to get involved in creative activity that you are interested in. Fans with no musical ability may never write a great song, but one day I hope they will be able to assist or influence its production, in a way that is beneficial for both them and the artists. Until that day comes, I’ll stick to just watching unicorns.