The Web's most intriguing music-related destinations. This week: Lulu.com, SongwriterUniverse and the Gospel Music Workshop of America.
TO COLLABORATE, WITH LOVE: The Internet's defining characteristic is that it allows people to interact and communicate with others around the world who share interests. Lulu.com offers musicians the logical extension of this concept: the opportunity to literally collaborate on art over the Web. The similarly themed Tonos network -- run by Carole Bayer Sager, David Foster and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds -- shut down last month, but Lulu is still eliciting collaborations between artists of many genres.
Lulu members can upload unfinished recording projects to the site, "audition" for any other project in the community and confer with other musicians or artists on the message boards. Artists will post unfinished songs in MP3 form, and list what they are seeking to add to the music -- vocals, a lead guitar solo or synthesizer strings, for instance. Others download the tracks, record versions with their "auditions" for parts, and repost them for the original artist to approve. Finished versions can then be listened to, rated and discussed on the site.
Lulu also serves as a creator-to-consumer marketplace for music, books and images. Lulu allows members to host display pages on its site and the site takes a 20% commission on any works sold, allowing the artist to pocket the remaining 80%. Sellers can charge whatever they want and Lulu takes care of the secure sales process.
SOUNDS OF THE UNIVERSE: SongwriterUniverse, the Web site launched in January 2001 by veteran music publisher and music journalist Dale Kawashima, has just launched its first "best song of the month" contest, Jim Bessman reports in this week's Billboard magazine.
According to Kawashima, the site will honor and publicize the top five songs submitted to the site each month. The winner will then be interviewed in the site's magazine section, which will also include an MP3 of the winning song with links to the writer's site and e-mail address.
The remaining finalists will also have MP3s, Web sites and e-mail links posted.
"We will be encouraging publishers, A&R execs and music supervisors to read about the winner and to check out the top five songs each month," Kawashima says.
According to Kawashima, his steadily growing Web site/online magazine, which fronts the motto "Empower the Songwriter," now attracts about 55,000 page views per month. "If you type the word 'songwriter' into the Google or Yahoo search engines, you'll see SongwriterUniverse listed on the first page," he says.
SongwriterUniverse is a free Web site. Its magazine section features interviews with hit writers and publishers, along with music education articles. It also provides extensive music resources and a message board section. Song evaluations and individual consultations are offered, and a music store sells industry resource books in connecting visitors to A&R and publishing executives, film/TV music supervisors and music attorneys.
GO TELL IT ON THE WEB: The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) is hosting its annual convention this week in Tampa, Fla., and it is inviting online fans to join in on the festivities on a pay-per-view basis. The GMWATV.com site offers fans streaming video of musical performances and gospel sermons, at subscription prices of $8.95 per day or $19.95 for the entire week.
The convention began last Saturday (Aug. 9) and runs through Friday (Aug. 15), but the streams will be archived on the site, and viewers can purchase and watch the Webcasts at their leisure, for up to three months after purchase.
The Webcast will include performances by Angie Spivey, CeCe Winans, Vicki Winans, Richard Smallwood, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Norman Hutchins, Smoky Norful and Byron Cage, as well as streaming video of the GMWA Gospel Music Excellence Awards and a tribute to Albertina Walker, the "Queen of Gospel." The first 500 subscribers to sign up for the full-week package will receive a free DVD of Angie Spivey's "Live."