This week on Fordham’s campus is the national Campus Movie Fest event, which allows students to make a short, 5-minute film in a week. The movies compete against other Fordham student films to be the best, and then potentially could win a chance to compete against other college’s winning films in Hollywood. When I signed up to participate in the event for the first time this year, I knew all of that stuff. What I didn’t know, though, is that when they give you the provided computer full of editing software, it is also pre-loaded with an iTunes library full of free music that they recommend you use in your movie.
I scrolled through the music library, scanning the list of artists for any name I recognized, and for any songs I wanted to use in my video. I quickly realized that I had never heard of a single artist in all 1067 songs on the computer. I went to the website for the event, and found out that the music that is supplied by CMF is all submitted by college students and artists from around the world who just want the exposure that can be gained by being a part of this event (according to the site’s banner, the music submitted to CMF is “shared with over 350,000 students”). When I signed up, the student volunteer told me that all of the music on the computer was royalty-free, and that it is highly recommended that you use the provided music because using any other music might have copyright or royalty issues. I don’t know for sure how much the artists get paid, or even if they get paid at all, but I think it is more of an event that gives exposure rather than money.
The ability to share your band’s music with 350,000 students competing in the movie competition is a great experience for any aspiring artist. Another major outlet for this kind of exposure is the organization HitRECord, founded and owned by the adorable actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. HitRECord is a community of artists, and is based on the concept of collaboration and sharing. The organization is a hub for every kind of artist: the website says that
“writers, musicians, illustrators, photographers, video editors—artists of all kinds are invited to contribute their work to hitRecord. Once on the site, the hitRecord community collaboratively edits, builds upon, develops and remixes each others work to create songs, animation, short films, live shows, music videos—you name it!”
HitRECord allows people located all over the globe to upload their own material to the online community, and have other hitRECord members remix it in their own ways. For instance, I browsed the website and found that some hitRECord members are composers who have written songs but have no lyrics to accompany them, and vice versa. Through the community of artists, people can combine lyric-less melodies and tune-less lyrics and create collaborations that would not have otherwise been possible. The collaborations on the site are really cool to browse. A hitRECord member who wants to collaborate can write a short story or what-have-you, and then post what they are looking for from other users: illustrations of characters in the story, music that could accompany it, photos that relate to the subject matter, and even filmed scenes of the story, for example. The talent on the site is incredible, and I spent a lot of time reading people’s stories, watching short videos, and listening to some really good music submitted by hitRECord community members. The content is not uploaded for the purpose of making money, and the website focuses on giving everyone a chance to share their art and collaborations with the internet. As the main page of the site says:
“the point of hitRECord isn’t to make money. A wise man once said ‘we don’t make movies to make money; we make money to make other movies.’”
HitRECord’s content is not solely for enjoyment on the website, either: the company has, in the past, produced physical representations of the online collaborations of user-generated content. Since 2010, when the site began, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has collected his favorite submissions to the community and created multiple books full of art, poems, and stories written by hitRECord members, as well as two CDs of music submitted to the website in 2012 and 2013. Additionally, I think that some of the shirts and bags sold in the website’s store are created from popular artwork submitted by users. The way the hitRECord turns internet collaborations into physical collections is a really cool way to give artists more exposure and popularity.
The acclaim of the hitRECord website, community, and subsequent merchandise is publicity enough for some artists, but since January of this year, the chance at making it big through hitRECord increased when the company launched its own television show. HitRECOrd on TV is hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and features user-generated content from the hitRECord community. Even for people who are unfamiliar with hitRECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is reason enough to watch the show. His fan base is pretty substantial, and is a bonus for user’s who are chosen to have their content appear on the show, because JGL’s popularity means more viewers, which means more people experiencing the artist’s film/music/etc. The chance to be produced by someone of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s renown is a huge opportunity for any artist.
HitRECord is an awesome opportunity for artists to easily get their work out into the world. If being popular on the website isn’t enough, there is a possibility that the content, if it’s really good, can be put into a book, album, or even shown on JGL’s show. If you are good enough to be put into a collection, there is money involved: hitRECord pays the artists that are featured in any of their published works and the artists who appear on the show, and in 2013, sent out a total of $50,000 to the best contributors.
Campus Movie Fest’s provided iTunes library, and hitRECord are just two ways that musicians and other artists can get their work on the internet easily, and with almost guaranteed exposure. Putting a short film or song on YouTube may be successful for some lucky artists, but there are so many videos on YouTube that have only a few views, even if they are great. HitRECord and Campus Movie Fest offer really good chances of getting discovered for one’s music or art, instead of just hoping for YouTube success. Also, the collaborative element of hitRECord is unique to the community, and really helps artists find each other, no matter who they are, or where in the world they are located. HitRECord connects artists and gives them amazing opportunities to not only work with someone as popular as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but also to see their own work in books, CDs, and even on TV.