Buzzmedia has just launched a new music video site called The Live Buzz, under the curatorship of Nic Harcourt. How famliiar you are with Harcourt depends on whether you buy your CDs from Walmart or stream music from Hype Machine.
Harcourt rose to indie-rock prominence over the last decade or so with his program "Morning Becomes Eclectic" on KCRW, the Los Angeles public radio station, by showing a knack for spotting up-and-coming talent. The New York Times dubbed him "The Star Maker of the Semipopular" in 2005. "He has impeccable taste," the Times quoted Coldplay's Chris Martin as saying—perhaps self-servingly, since Harcourt was the first to put Coldplay on American radio. He also was an early champion of Interpol, Norah Jones, Franz Ferdinand, and many others who thereafter went platinum.
Fast Company caught up with Harcourt to ask him a few questions about his plans for The Live Buzz, whose initial documentary-style videos have an aesthetic that steers well clear of the inanity and spectacle of MTV and Vevo, while also avoiding the dull, static feeling of the plain concert broadcast. Indeed, it looks like Harcourt and his new site might be heralding a new age of the art house Internet music video.
How did this all begin?
It was probably around December of last year. Somebody told me they [Buzzmedia] were looking to get in touch with me. We had a couple of conversations. As with a lot of these things, you have to have a couple of conversations and figure out if you want to play with each other before you make a commitment. We jumped into it together in the beginning of June, and it's pretty remarkable that they've built this site from scratch in three months.
What is the central ingredient missing from Internet music video sites?
I think a sense of intimacy. The stuff that I've seen out there up until this point has been fairly—has been good stuff, don't get me wrong—but fairly bland-looking in that it just showed the band on stage. With Live Buzz, we're getting up close in personal in the way we're shooting sessions. You're feeling like you're closer to the music, and I haven't felt that in anything that I've seen before.
Who, if anyone, do you see as your competitors?
I don't think we do. I think we're creating something that's new. It's obviously gonna evolve. Day one is gonna look different from day 51, and from day 101. We've been working for 3 to 4 months building this out, shooting sessions with great unsigned indie bands out in Los Angeles—which we're hoping to do in other cities as well. The reason we got into this is we identified something we felt wasn't being served.
Will your focus be on spotting new artists?
It's gonna be a mix. I have a history, a reputation or whatever, for launching new artists, and the funny thing is that whenever you read a bio of me, it usually mentions Coldplay or Norah Jones or these artists I was fortunate to, I guess, hear before a lot of other people did. But there are plenty of other artists I've championed over the years who haven't become platinum-selling artists. At the end of the day, I'm a fan. I come at this with the perspective of a fan, and I have this personal thirst for discovery. You can't be too hip and groovy, you know—you have to have the glue that holds it together. We don't want to be a marginal site. By having sessions with people like Interpol, which we're hopefully gonna be doing next month, that will help bring an audience to the site to discover the other bands and artists we're supporting as well.