Topspin and the Kindie Artist

ts_rgb_363x80.jpgI think the first time I became aware of the Topspin media widget was a couple years ago when David Bryne and Brian Eno promoted their new album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today using it. As someone who writes a website, the content-filled nature of the widget appealed to me, but it appealed to me as a fan as well. Sure, from a listener perspective, it's just a way to give an e-mail address to get an mp3, but it did it in such an elegant and well-designed way that it typically was the only type of widget that I'd actually respond to. In time I realized that kids musicians were starting to use the widget, too. At this point enough of them are using the platform that I thought it'd be worth asking the users what they thought of it and its good (and bad) points. Among the artists who responded were Debbie Cavalier, Jeremy Toback, and Kevin Salem from Little Monster Records, along with one of his artists, Key Wilde. I also talked some with Mike King from Berkleemusic -- if you need an overview of Topspin, you could do far worse than checking out the videos King made with Topspin CEO Ian Rogers. What made you interested in working with Topspin? Most artists came to Topspin via some personal connection -- Debbie Cavalier first heard about Topspin nearly two years ago when, as the Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee, they started to plan the development of the “Marketing Music with Topsin” course. Jeremy Tobck knew Topspin cofounder Shamal Ranasinghe when he was developing the idea for Topspin, and was "super intrigued" by his idea of deepening the direct relationship between artists and fans. Toback says that Ranasinghe, dug Renee & Jeremy, wanted then to be beta users, and "helped convince us that we had built enough on our own to benefit" from the platform. As for Kevin Salem, he says that Robert Schneider’s manager told him about it, though he "was slow to respond." (Robert Schneider is another Topspin artist, both for the Apples in Stereo as well as his Little Monster Robbert Bobbert project.) But the Topspin representative was an "old acquaintance" from Salem's time as a solo artist after giving him a quick tutorial, Salem thought it could "help plug the considerable holes in [his] physical distribution network." He also says he thought it could help create "unique products" for the fans and "shift the ratio of physical-to-digital sales in our genre." [I'd note that at Kindiefest, Salem noted that the next Little Monster release, a compilation, will be entirely digitally distributed.]

KidVid Tournament 2010: Robbert Bobbert vs. Readeez

It's the final first-round day of KidVid Tournament 2010, featuring the Woody Guthrie Region. The first matchup pits the top seed, Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine's "We R Super Heroes" from the self-titled debut disk, against "Counting for Pleasure" from Readeez and the Readeez Volume 2 DVD (and Songeez disk). Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, but the official results are based on the poll at the bottom of the page. One vote per person, please. Votes due by midnight tonight (Thursday) East Coast time. And, as always, play nice! Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine - "We R Super Heroes" [YouTube] Readeez - "Counting for Pleasure" [YouTube]

Video: "That's My Family" (from Yo Gabba Gabba!) - Apples in Stereo

Well, it's not family in particular, but there's only many family types you can describe in exactly 90 seconds. Or at least, in a bouncy pop tune. While it's not quite as incredibly awesome a tune as "We R Super Heroes," the animation for this video for "That's My Family" looks similar in places as the video for "We R Super Heroes." (Unsurprisingly, they share the same illustrator.) This tune's from Yo Gabba Gabba!, and, yeah, while it's an Apples in Stereo song, it sounds like a Robbert Bobbert outtake. Or vice versa. The Apples in Stereo - "That's My Family" (from Yo Gabba Gabba!) - [YouTube] Oh, and if you like Apples in Stereo...

Video: "We R Super Heroes" - Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine

I have two words for this, the video for "We R Super Heroes," from Robert Schneider's debut Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine album. TOTALLY. AWESOME. No, scratch that -- it challenged "totally awesome" to a 100-yard dash and crossed the finish line before "totally awesome" got out of the blocks. Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine - "We R Super Heroes" [Spinner]

Interview: Robert Schneider (Robbert Bobbert)

RobbertBobbertStill.jpgEvery time I hear or see Robert Schneider, head man for the indie-pop group Apples in Stereo, I'm totally convinced that his side project Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine isn't some cynical grab for attention -- he's 110%, maybe even 120%, jazzed by the stuff he does for kids. His fun debut album as Robbert Bobbert for Little Monster Records -- Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine -- may have just come out this year, but as you'll read in the interview below, he's been working on a lot of this stuff for a long time. Zooglobble: What music do you remember listening to growing up? Robert Schneider: I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, so my early years were in a beach city. South Africa is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans merge; they have awesome beaches and surf. After our family moved back to America, I eventually discovered the Beach Boys. I think their music reminded me of the feeling of living by the ocean. My parents listened to a lot of Cat Stevens. I love his music – Tea for the Tillerman and the song “Moonshadow.” I saw Harold and Maude when I was around 12, and it is one of my favorite movies with its great Cat Stevens soundtrack. However, the Beach Boys are still my favorite band. My son Max (age 8) likes them too - he heard Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds when he was in the womb; and later saw him perform the songs from Smile - but I think he likes the Beatles a little bit more. He came into the Beatles on his own, hearing the music around the house and from other family members who are big Beatles fans. What impact did other pop culture (e.g., TV, movies) have on your musical tastes? TV was banned in South Africa until 1976. There simply wasn’t any TV there because the government thought it would corrupt the populace. In my last year there when I was 6, I can remember seeing TV for first time…there was a little picture of a springbok going across the savannah in black & white and thinking, “Wow – a movie in my house!” Prior to that, what people did was play movies at home on projectors. You could rent movies at the local store. When our family moved to America, I watched a ton of TV that first year. Between the ages of 6 and 7 (1977-78), I watched a massive amount of reruns and basically got caught up on American culture. I also listened to a lot of 70’s pop and disco, mostly from TV. This permeated my mind. So, the TV world of the 1970s probably influenced me somewhat. When I was in middle school, MTV first came out. We lived in the college town of Ruston, LA. The local cable TV service would not carry MTV, but Louisiana Tech had a satellite disc. My dad was a professor there, and I went to a school on campus (it was awesome! We had a planetarium, regular music class, art classes). Every day after school, once MTV started, my friends and I walked over to the student center on campus and watched MTV on the giant screen. I had to go out of my way to get it, so it was really special. I have great memories of the early years of MTV. There was a great show in the 80s called The Cutting Edge. I also watched 120 Minutes -- the absolute hippest music was on there, like REM and Robyn Hitchcock. I discovered this noncommercial, alternative music existed, and it blew my young mind. Most of my early musical influences came from buying records, reading magazines and listening to Louisiana Tech's great radio station KLPI. What came first -- the songs (or the album) or Robbert Bobbert?

Reminder: Win Robbert Bobbert and His Own Bubble Machine

Well, not his bubble machine specifically, but after (or before) you enter the contest to win a couple of Putumayo Playground CDs, go here to win a copy of the self-titled Robbert Bobbert debut album along with an actual bubble machine. Entries (for the Robbert Bobbert package) are due by 8 PM West Coast / 11 PM Snow Coast East Coast tonight. Go now!