Thursday, December 04, 2008

Overlay.TV and the Jonas Brothers lay it on with some very hyper video

If you didn't know this already, I work for a very hip video startup based in Canada called Overlay.TV.

Today Overlay.TV announced a new project that has gone live with Jonas Brothers, the internationally acclaimed platinum recording artists that first climbed to the top of the charts in 2007.  The brothers essentially found a new way to connect with their fans using a new online vocal booth application, an idea that I helped to mature with the Overlay.TV team (and judicious and thoughtful input from some teenage JB fans who were shown early ideas) from the original karaoke widget that we built on Overlay.TV. 

I want to stress that this is live for a limited time only, but more importantly that in the short time it has been live that we already seen tons (marketing speak for not sharing any numbers yet) of fans of the Jonas Brothers singing along with the band online while they watch the video for their latest single, "Lovebug," in this first-ever use of interactive video technology in this way.

Brian Ressler from Hollywood Records referred to the project as a first for online video tools and a new medium for fan interaction. 

"Response to the Jonas Brothers Sing A Long has been fantastic and bringing fans new, highly innovative experiences within these online video tools provides a fun and engaging way to express creativity and interact with the bands they love," said Brian Ressler, for Hollywood Records. "Kids have always loved singing along with their favorite stars, and now we're giving them a chance to share that with the world."

The Jonas Brothers' Overlay.TV Vocal Booth and the core karaoke features available in any video that gets embedded in the Overlay.TV player ultimately define the new level of interactivity we can expect in online music videos, allowing fans to jump right into the action with their very own rendition of an additional vocal, guitar, keyboard or drum track.  All fans need in order to participate is a webcam and a microphone.

Check it out at, fans, go ahead and record their very own vocal accompaniment to the Jonas Brothers as many times as you want. Once saved, their submissions are reviewed by the Overlay.TV content panel for appropriate content, and are then made available to the world right there on the Jonas Brothers' official website.  You can grab the link to your specific version if you want to share it with your friends.

This reminds me of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series for ton of reasons, but there is one key difference.  People are actually recording themselves singing along with the band and then sharing the results well beyond the living room.  Karaoke and singing along with our favorite bands is nothing new as Ressler points out - but culturally we have amped this up to a whole new level over the past few years, in part because of these games, and in part because of social media.  Put it together and you have a perfect storm of talent and sharing capability.

This is important on another front - validation of Overlay.TV as a highly flexible, scalable and customizable platform for the delivery of very unique video experiences.  As we continue our work with customers, agencies and publishers over the next little while I really feel like I have found a true culmination of my background in agency, publishing and online technologies, and am excited to be back behind the podium for a platform that will enable very rapid mashups, applications and use of video in interactive online applicatons in a whole new way.  User commentary, user questions, asynchronous conversations and more are enabled as a fourth wall on a video and add personalization that ultimately makes it more relevant and personal to the recipient of a shared link.  It is really nothing more than a very talented and passionate comment, made in the voice of the content itself, but the natural evolution does not make it any less significant in my opinion.  But then, I am biased right?  Maybe. 

At the end beginning of the day we launched an interactive video platform that takes interactive video well beyond hypervideo and that is an important milestone in the evolution of online video.  

I look forward to moderating your versions.  Please add the link to your version to any comments you make on this article.  :-)

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