The latest issue of earplug points to two interesting, musically-inclined, broadband sites being developed by Microsoft and MTV. Both offer video streams as a core attraction. Crossfader is Gates & Co.’s disappointing attempt to bring together aficionados of what they describe as electronic music. The site currently has features on Dj Spooky and Tony Touch, which include video segments that appear like straight-up commercials for their next projects (The rest of the Spooky video is somewhat interesting if you’ve never seen someone sample and layer tracks before). In what appears as an attempt to harness the interactivity of blogs and forums, the site’s design offers hints of both worlds by allowing visitors to leave comments and make posts. You can even register and create your own profile/blog. The other musician-friendly company is developing Overdrive, which is still somewhat of a mystery since it doesn’t appear to be active for the public just yet. But it looks promising because it will supposedly provide free access to high quality video.

This Or That

But in my opinion, the most interesting site/project that recently launched, that will incorporate video as the major offering, is Google’s brand spankin’ new video upload program. The site will allow anyone…that’s right, anyone, not just distributors or established companies, to upload their work and it will provide a practically free distribution platform (free hosting & bandwith with a pay scheme similar to google ads!). So unlike Microsoft, Google is providing a valuable, quality service to under-represented artists and consumers. I guess while MSFT was trying to figure out how to make money from the music/media industry by organizing ceremonies and inventing fancy awards to give to Grandmaster Flash (he was awarded the Dj Vanguard something or other by Gates himself), Google was actually thinking about how to provide a useful service to artists (and make a profit from it). Do the very-well-paid strategists at MSFT really think that this is the best way to tap into the market? By launching half-*ss commercials dressed up as community sites and offering “branded entertainment experiences” with racially powered characters like Miles Thirst. Will this create that extra stream of revenue they’ve been looking for? Maybe they should reconsider and try coming up with something more like Singingfish or Ourmedia. Instead of being constrictive these projects are open and transparent and end up being useful instead of tacky. But then again, when you’re sitting on billions of dollars in readily available cash maybe you can do whatever you want. Think it’s a coincidence that MTV’s overdrive will only offer video in Windows Media Player format? Think again, MSFT wants a piece of the music/video industry and they’re slowly getting their way. By the way, make sure not to miss MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed on May 12th!

Extra reading: Microsoft and MTV Hang Out, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Singingfish, MSN Teams With Sprite to Create First-of-Its-Kind Online Music Marketing Platform for Teens

Quotes: “The Scenario is a unique place on the Web where teens can experience 10 of the hottest hip-hop DJs in the country, connect with each other through new MSN® Messenger functionality and connect with the Sprite brand in groundbreaking ways.” “The Scenario includes three distinct experiences through which teens can discover new music, connect with each other, and interact with Miles Thirst and the Sprite brand”