"My Box In A Box" -- Record Label Prototype

The most viralist video on the Internet right now is a simple clip recorded by two Philly girls doing a parody of SNL's "Dick In A Box" digital short. The girls call their version "My Box In A Box". This whole thing may just sound like another YouTube "can you top this moment" but I think it is more than that -- it's a glimpse into the future of the music business.

One girl (Leah Kauffman) sings the song and her friend, Bunny, lip syncs the video -- and does a damn good job of it (Ashlee Simpson, take note). Then a friend recorded the video -- not on an expensive sound stage, not with Madonna's producer -- but in the Cheese Steak capital of the world, Philadelphia (I spent a lot of my life and career in and around Philadelphia before I moved west so I can't say I am not rooting for them). Lesson number one for the labels: your gut is busted. The market will now lead you. If you choose to listen, when the market speaks, swoop down and sign these girls. And sign them just as they are -- a singer and a lip syncer. Don't make them into something you want them to be. Let them be as they are.

So they get a blog up and running (we know how easy that is, right?). Their blog is called "My Box In A Box" -- what else. No big time label-icious web sites with Java all over the place. And these two girls -- please sit -- give their video away. They do have a "tip jar" where you can voluntarily donate $2 to the author, as they put it. And yes, it's either $2 or nothing. You won't nickel and dime these girls. More lessons for the labels: Imagine pleasing your customers so much that you ask them to donate to you -- and you set the minimum donation amount. I know this takes the control away from you, but imagine the frenzy when happy consumers volunteer to reward you with m-o-n-e-y. Makes suing your customer seem so 90's.

Oh, did I mention -- no digital rights management. You can steal it, refer it, use it as much as you like.

These two young entrepreneurs could also teach the labels about marketing, too. Their web site has related, unpretentious writing about the parody and what they plan to do in the future for an encore. They know a thing or two about marketing. They auctioned off their "box", the one wrapped in a red ribbon and appearing in the video, on eBay for $1,525. They now plan to donate it to a Philly-area charity (Yo Yo Yo). They've got links to Keith Olbermann's MSNBC "Countdown" show where the hard hitting Olbermann was as taken by these girls as I was when he featured them Friday night.

And, Leah Kaufman can sing! But, I digress.

Back to the real world. The girls report about 20 radio stations say that they are playing "My Box In A Box". Find those 20 stations. Hire away their program directors. They get it. You want them working for you if your in the tired, predictable radio business.

The labels? Who knows where they are on all of this. Maybe trying to show how many of their ideas they can come up with to stay competitive in the music media business. Let me tell you. I'd offer these two a contract. I'd bring them west -- wine them and dine (if they're legal) -- and get them to sign on the dotted line for seven years. No, not as singers -- as the future CEO of your label.

It's things like this that begin to reveal only the tip of the iceberg of the new music media industry. It's exciting. Unpredictable. And if those in power fail to take note and respond, they do so at their own peril.