Knitting A Better Mouse Trap

Knitting Factory Entertainment has a better idea.

It’s all about live concert footage. When you consider all the potential avenues for performance clips, like artist Web sites, advertising campaigns and DVD releases, the need for quality produced content is greater than ever. That is, if you can keep your production on budget and not get sandbagged by problems that might get in the way, such as royalty issues, ownership of the finished work and permission grants.

KFE calls this better idea Knitting Factory Digital Services, which is all about providing services for record labels and artists to help capture and distribute live content.

"We have outfitted our New York and Los Angeles clubs, and will do the same in Spokane and Boise in the following quarter, with state-of-the-art, semi-automated, robotic-driven, HD audio-video camera systems," KFE president and CEO Jared Hoffman told Pollstar. "It allows a single operator working in a booth to control a four- to seven-camera shoot. One operator at the simplest level can control four separate cameras, each with pan, tilt zoom. So it allows us at a very, very low cost, us to provide capture services for incredibly high-quality content."

The difference between Knitting Factory Digital Services and past business models for capturing live content at the club level is its no-strings-attached philosophy. Unlike other companies that retain part ownership of the finished product, Knitting Factory is merely providing a service: a high-def, professionally produced shoot at a price that’s affordable to both up-and-coming bands and established names.

"This isn’t a rehash of old business models," said Hoffman. "A club is a great point to aggregate content. A club is a very poor point to try to aggregate or control the rights in content.

"In other words, that web spins out into a myriad of individuals, artists publishers and other interests. So, every thing that we’re doing here is a ‘work for hire’ on behalf of the record labels and artists who are saying, ‘Give us a low-cost way to get this content delivered.’"

Along with providing the technological back end, Knitting Factory Digital Services has also partnered with several companies to provide distribution opportunities for the finished product. While a complete list of companies is expected to be released within the next few days, YouTube and AOL Music are already on board.

"We’re going to be announcing a list of about 15 different services," Hoffman said. "Everything from broadcast, Web 2.0 to wireless partners. … We will be able to help package it with the metadata and deliver it to many of these channels on behalf of record labels and artists who already have relationships with these services."

Knitting Factory Digital Services is the latest KFE project intended to extend the Knitting Factory brand. Recently the company launched its own weekly series on XM Satellite Radio and has extended its reach through other media outlets as well.

"The point where we’re working with a platform, such as XM, that’s typically a situation where it’s sponsored and branded. In that case we’re able to work with a label and say, ‘Look, this is completely subsidized,’" Hoffman said. "So, you capture the content, we’ve got a great way to promote the artist. In addition to the basic service at a price we provide for any artist and any label, we’re also working with partners and brands to say, ‘Here’s a band that we’re interested in. We can offer up great promotional exposure across this radio network, this television show. Are you interested in participating?’"

Music industry vets already know how much video promotion has changed since the early days of MTV. With user-contributed video sites, artist Web sites, venue, promoter and label sites all needing video promotional content, Knitting Factory Digital Services provides a bridge from idea conception to the finished product. Plus, through its partners, it helps get projects out the door and onto the TV screens and computer monitors of music lovers everywhere.

"Live recorded music has relatively limited appeal," Hoffman said. "In most cases, without the visuals, the excitement, the lights, the personality, live music often doesn’t generate more excitement in recorded form than the studio album. … When the sweet spot went to videos, the hunger and the call for videos from the consumer end made it clear to us that we finally had something we could collect on our stages that was of value to everyone."


Napster City

Napster and Circuit City have partnered to launch a new online music service.

Essentially, the new service is a Napster-branded download service directed at Circuit City customers. It includes everything people like about Napster along with a brick & mortar presence to complement Napster’s virtual reality.

The new service also has elements unique to the Circuit City + Napster online music experience, including access to exclusive songs and new releases on a weekly basis that will not be available to Napster customers. Like Napster, consumers signing up for the Napster / Circuit City hybrid can choose between buying music downloads or purchasing monthly subscriptions offering an all-you-can eat quantity of music that plays as long as you keep up with the sub fees.

The Napster / Circuit City alliance provides an environment that has the two major components of online music – music downloads and gadgets upon which to play the downloads. While the new service will not be tied to any individual player, iPod owners probably won’t be among the target audience because Napster uses the iPod-unfriendly digital rights technology from Microsoft.

"We are delighted to create this new alliance with Circuit City which is one of the top destinations in the U.S. to learn about exciting, new digital entertainment products," Napster chairman and CEO Chris Gorog said. "Circuit City’s strength both in consumer electronics and as a music retailer should be an ideal environment to introduce Napster’s industry leading music subscription service."



Can’t get enough of the Phil Spector murder trial? The legal voyeur in you will find plenty of satisfaction on the Web.

In case you’ve been locked up in Gitmo during the past few years, the legendary producer is facing a murder rap for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Cable channel Court TV is broadcasting the trial live, but if your boss doesn’t allow you to watch television while at work, you can log on to for all the latest action, including a behind-the-scenes blog covering details that might not be included on evening newscasts, such as this description of Spector’s courtroom entrance:

"With a slow, almost pained gait, Phil Spector enters the courtroom. He is dressed in a beige suit with a long jacket, matching vest and a deep purple shirt open at least three buttons. He is accompanied by his wife, Rachelle Short. He walks right past his estranged son. If he sees Louis Spector, he doesn’t acknowledge him in any way."

Of course, the Spector trial is a Los Angeles trial, which means showbiz glitz mixed with law and order, Hollywood style. Capturing all the important legal action is the Los Angeles Times’ courtroom blog.

"Bailiffs brought boxes of leftover food, apparently catered, from the courtroom as the lunch break ended. Visible were brown rice, something a deputy described as chicken kebabs, the chickpea dip called hummus, and pita bread. Another reporter said he saw what looked like fresh sliced pineapple from the meal."

Not since the O.J. Simpson trial has there been a murder case as intriguing. And thanks to the Web, every utterance, every objection, every strand of Spector’s ever-changing hair styles is only a mouse click away. Isn’t technology wonderful?