Kara Swisher

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I'm With the Band: Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda Talks About Online Fan Collaboration Contest

It’s nice to hear enthusiasm on the part of Linkin Park band member Mike Shinoda about an innovative-for-the-music-industry effort to give fans a chance to be part of the iconic Grammy-winning rock band.

That’s because most artists or content creators–while making all the right sounds about the Internet’s impact on their business–often privately cringe at the ongoing flood of user-generated material that has drastically changed the industry.

Not Shinoda, who is certain he will find some real talent via a new online contest, called “Linkin Park, Featuring You,” that gives anyone an opportunity to collaborate with the band to produce an original song based on some of the tracks from the forthcoming single “The Catalyst.”

The song is on Linkin Park’s next album, “A Thousand Suns,” to be released September 14.

“We looked at it as both risky and fun to save a spot on the record that could be just anything,” he said in an interview with BoomTown earlier this week. “It’s creative, lets the fans be heard and, of course, is a great way to promote the album.”

Of course it is, but Shinoda said he is not expecting to have to put any bad-quality music on the record just to sell more music.

“The album could not be any more sacred to us and this is certainly an X-factor, which is kind of a move against the grain for us,” he said. “But the Internet has actually given a lot more people a chance to be heard and, as it has turned out, amateurs are so much better than we ever expected.”

So far, Shinoda said, he has just sampled a few dozen of the thousands of submissions so far, either selecting randomly or via a popularity ranking system the contest uses. He said he’s also using a range of people who are part of the Linkin Park team to filter material.

But, ultimately, Shinoda and his bandmates (pictured here) will pick the winning submission, with either the song to be included on the band’s new album or the winner to be invited to perform with the band on a song on the upcoming record. Either way, a pretty good prize for an aspiring musician.

Shinoda said he is hoping to hear a lot of different sounds from electronic music to keyboards to guitars and even horns (“No one has submitted a horn version so far,” he laughed. “But I hope someone does.”)

Linkin Park is using a group of Internet companies to carry out the massive user-generated effort, including: MySpace Music (platform, promotion and direct fan messaging); Indaba Music (hosting the MySpace application that allows musicians to auto-syndicate their remixes on MySpace); Top Spin Media (using their email for a song widget to deliver audio stems to all participants); and Ning (the back end to Linkin Park’s Web site, where they are also distributing the audio stems to push back to the contest)

There have been remix contests online done before, such as Snoop Dogg’s “That Tree” Remix Contest, which had 8,000 entries and generated a lot of fan interest.

But this effort is clearly more ambitious, perhaps because Shinoda is clearly a techie, with an ongoing interest in filling the Linkin Park Web site with puzzles, games and other interactive features.

In fact, Linkin Park had already conducted a smaller contest for fans to submit designs for characters used in a game the band released in April, called “8-Bit Rebellion,” for the Apple (AAPL) iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. And, after the game was completed by a player, it unlocked a new song, “Blackbirds.”

Shinoda said the band hopes to do even more digitally, trying to involve and engage fans in ways that they never would have tried before.

“There is a huge unknown factor and this is not something we would have done five years ago,’ he said of the latest collaboration contest. “But I am not afraid of my fans being good at music, even if it turns out they are better than me.”

Until a winner is selected, here’s a most excellent music video of my favorite Linkin Park song, “Shadow of the Day,” because I wish I had written the perfect and simple line, “Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple/Sometimes goodbye’s the only way” (maybe some fan will write something as good):

And here’s a blog post by Sam Wick, SVP of marketing at MySpace Music, about its partnership with Linkin Park:

Linkin Park Wants To Put You on Their New Album

Linkin Park is arguably one of the biggest rock acts in the world with more than seven million fans on MySpace and iLike, two Grammy wins and a boatload of accolades from the music community. So, needless to say, we were more than a little excited to help the band launch their next album, “A Thousand Suns.”

This is a band that’s almost as passionate about social media and technology as they are about the music they create–and they came to MySpace, because we have a proven track record of successfully architecting custom album campaigns that uniquely marry music to innovation on a global scale. With this in mind, we knew we had to do something that not only raises global awareness of the new album, but really plays into the intimate artist-to-fan connection that Linkin Park has been cultivating on our platform for years. And so “Linkin Park, Featuring You” was born–a multi-phase program that each of our 30 territories across the world are rolling out locally.

Linkin Park, Featuring You begins on MySpace with a music application that allows fans to create their own original version of the band’s new single “The Catalyst” and ends with the rare opportunity for one worthy fan to have his or her song stripped onto the next album. SERIOUS. To make this happen, Linkin Park and MySpace Music brought together Topspin Media, Ning and Indaba Music–a true technology trifecta–to allow fans to interact and play with the music before it is even released. Again, SERIOUS.

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has this message to share with his fans on MySpace and across the Web:

“In the lifetime of Linkin Park, the evolution of community and music technology has blurred the line between artist and fan. With the release of our new album we want to push it even further and so we are making a commitment to our fans that is a first of its kind: We are blindly dedicating a spot on our new album to something unknown. That space is reserved for you and we’re confident that you will create something that we can be proud to include on “A Thousand Suns.” This is not just a “fan-remix” contest; we want to collaborate with you. This effort is made possible by the global 360 music platform of MySpace, and the dedication and talent of our incredible fans. Thank you. We look forward to hearing your submissions.”

Here’s how it works: By installing the Indaba Music-powered app on MySpace, fans have access to five stems from “The Catalyst” that they can use to re-arrange and re-imagine the song using either their own Digital Audio Workstation or with Indaba’s free, Web-based software. Once submitted, users can vote for their favorite versions and help the band in their quest to identify new talent and ultimately pick a winner.

“Linkin Park, Featuring You” is just the beginning of a much larger partnership between the band and MySpace Music that will provide Linkin Park fans with recognition worldwide with access to live shows, exclusive content and premieres as well as opportunities to connect and interact with the band in ways that only MySpace Music can offer.

Be sure to get your entries in by July 25th and don’t forget to spread the word about the contest to your friends around the world–and go buy the new single on August 2nd.


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