In Da Club: TheWB.com's Rockville, CA off to rocking start
In recent days, I have decided to stop freaking out about the end of the TV business as we all know it and to instead start embracing wherever it is we’re all headed.
A good example of what that future might look like is TheWB.com’s original Web series, Rockville CA, which premiered yesterday on TheWB.com.
Essentially Rockville CA is your standard Web series. It opens with a pre-roll ad from a sponsor – in this case, Applebee’s, and I really hope the ad sales guys at Warner Bros. find another sponsor for the show and quick because I’m sick of hearing that ad over and over – and each Webisode runs about five minutes long. Like other original Web series I have seen, the show itself is pretty unspectacular. It features lots of fast-talking, older-than-their-years kids that Dawson’s Creek made famous. They all hang out in a club every night where they run into each other, have drinks and make smart-ass comments. But they also check out bands, and that’s what makes this entry different and interesting.
Each of the 20 episodes features a band, hand-picked by Alexandra Patsavas, who is perhaps the only famous music supervisor in Hollywood. Patsavas has picked songs for such shows as The O.C., Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl and more, and also selected the soundtrack for the hit movie Twilight. Patsavas is credited with turning TV into a place to break bands and make careers. In fact, artists such as Snow Patrol, The Fray and Brandi Carlile all got big bumps due to TV gigs found for them by Patsavas.
Each band gets a little cameo in the episode and then has two songs features on the show’s Web site so people can check them out more thoroughly. I watched four episodes of Rockville CA and grew less interested as the show and its annoying characters wore on. I then watched all eight performances by the featured bands – Nico Stai, The Kooks, The Broken West and The Duke Spirit. I found the bands far more compelling. Keep in mind that I have three Grey’s Anatomy soundtracks, The Fray is from my hometown and I’m going to see Brandi Carlile live next month, so I’m predisposed towards Patsavas’ tastes.
But breaking bands on TheWB.com is good business for The WB.com and for Patsavas: she has her own record label, Chop Shop Records. TV and the Web have become great places to hear new music and Patsavas has been the force behind a lot of that. With the record industry in turmoil, there’s no reason new artists shouldn’t have the opportunity to strut their stuff on whatever venue they can find. Packaging them into an online TV show with a big name like executive producer Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl) behind it is great exposure for growing bands.
To me, the WB.com is the precursor to the media of the future. When IPTV becomes a reality, TheWB.com will be ready to roll as one of the first full-fledged interactive networks.It’s customizable, interactive and it allows for all the social networking anyone could ever want, including easy links to Facebook. Ads run quickly before episodes, and product placement is baked in. Shows are about entertaining audiences, but they’re also about commerce. In Rockville, CA’s case, they’re about breaking bands, creating a fan base and selling music. Why shouldn’t TV do all of that in one place?