Today I found myself reading a newspaper. An unusual event for me. These days my access to news is usually via my computer. I was in a coffee shop with no computer in sight so the newspaper was it. There was a double page spread about The Black Eyed Peas and included was an interview with will.i.am, frontman for the group.
Interestingly, will.i.am had quite a bit to say about use of the internet and its importance to the record industry today. Much of it has relevance for education and the way we can be teaching our students to harness it to make meaningful connections. Here’s a bit of what he had to say;
“I was telling my record company ‘It’s all about the internet’ and they were saying ‘No, that’s piracy, we’re suing those people’ and I said ‘No, that’s what you need to do, put the song on the internet’. They wouldn’t listen. So I executed all the things I was talking about with Yes we can.”
The celebrity heavy video for will.i.am’s Obama ode Yes we can clocked up three million online views in a week.
will.i.am went on to say;
“It’s about connecting people, giving them tools to connect, if it’s a song or a blog or a sketch or a speech you’ve turned into a song. As long as they’re passing it around. We did that with Boom Boom Pow. That was leaked, it was all over the net, DJs played it, radio stations found it. I learned a lot from that solo record. It taught me a lot. We wouldn’t be here had I not gone through that.”
Boom Boom Pow has had 11,346,947 views on the official Black Eyed Peas channel on YouTube.
(Interestingly, in the same paper appeared a report that an Australian retail store, JB Hifi, has made the decision to stop the sale of CD singles. I can’t remember the exact details, but it was something like only 340 singles were sold in stores of the number one single in the last week. By contrast, it was downloaded over 13,000 times in the same period of time.)
As educators, we need to be paying attention to what will.i.am has to say. Who knows? We may just have the next big thing sitting in one of our classrooms. And even if we don’t, shouldn’t we be imparting this kind of knowledge along to all of the students we teach? Let them showcase what they do, share it around, give them an audience. Who knows where it might take them and the meaningful connections they may make in the process?
Given the success of The Black Eyed Peas latest release I’d say they’ve figured it out. Time for school to catch up.