BEHIND THE AWARD
In a first of its kind, voting for the My VH1 Music Awards will take place only online, and winners will be tallied instantly during the live program Nov. 30 (vh1.com). ”Unless there’s some horrible technical glitch the day of the show, our plan is for the announcer to come out and say, ‘We’ve now closed the voting for [the category] Your Song Kicked Ass But Was Played Too Damn Much,”’ says VH1 Group senior VP Fred Graver. Not quite as reliable as PricewaterhouseCoopers, but those Oscar fuddy-duddies are sooo last century. Graver is also promising that strategically placed Web-connected spy-cams will be turned on during the Shrine Auditorium ceremony. Thus far, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Christina Aguilera have agreed to perform at the gig.
In Hasbro’s new ”.com Edition” of Monopoly, there’s no Park Place but there is Priceline.com. And given the NASDAQ these days, we suggest replacing the game’s fake money with all those worthless stock certificates you own (www.monopoly.com/dotcom/dotcom.html).
Movie studios despise Grant Karlin. Two years ago the 28-year-old Web developer scooped up a handful of movie-title domain names, which he’s lately been selling back to studios for a tidy profit. Karlin says Fine Line recently agreed to give him 70 DVDs in exchange for invisiblecircus.com; the domain is the title of a Cameron Diaz movie due next year. DreamWorks, meanwhile, is taking the legal route to gaining control of baggervance.com, and charging Karlin with cybersquatting it. When asked why the studio decided against a Fine Line-style settlement, a DreamWorks spokesman replied, ”I’ll trade him another website we’ve got registered: www.getalife.com.” A fine offer, perhaps, except that the name is already owned by a production company in Arizona.
Playing a round of poker online with someone from, say, Japan isn’t too hard because the game is played roughly the same way the world over. But how do you introduce a new Internet-worked game to a global audience speaking different languages and living in alternate time zones? Sega will attempt to answer that question early next year with Phantasy Star Online. The sci-fi role-playing game uses iconography rather than language, and Swatch’s universally synchronized ”BEAT” time instead of Greenwich Mean, thus enabling multiplayer online action regardless of geography (phantasy-star.net/pso/pso.html).
Move over Billboard, there’s a new music chart around. Most people have never heard of Gracenote (gracenote.com), but just about anyone who’s seen its CD track listings automagically updated on a digital jukebox has used the company’s database. About 24 million people access the storehouse of album and song information each month, and until now it’s been an untapped data gold mine. Today’s industry standard, SoundScan, tracks album sales well enough, but it can’t tell you whether Radiohead’s top-selling Kid A is still being played a month later. On the other hand, Gracenote can track listenership and tell, for example, that one week after Kid A’s release, 100,000 people were skipping the first four tracks on the album. The database can also track the popularity of MP3s and promotional pre-releases. All five major labels are testing the service.