This Project is Your Project: Crowdsourcing Woody Guthrie on YouTube

By Tom McNamara, Digital Producer for THIRTEEN-WNET, New York.

Thirteen-WNET has recently launched the "This is Your Land Project" on Wednesday, November 7. We’d like to get as many stations on board as possible— in both promoting the project, as well as collaborating as content collectors and even producers.

The "This Land" Project is an interactive documentary to record us all singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” That’s the slogan of the website at least. What it means is this project will use the PBS social media network (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc.) to call on its national and local audiences to join-in, record, and submit their own “This Land” cover. The website’s focus will be the crowdsourced “This Land Is Your Land” songs: a place to experience as well as catalog for the historical record a diverse collection of a song that’s a part of our national canon, reflective of our American way of life.

All of this is brought to you by American Masters, the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives (Woody 100), and PBS.

The project is in support of the November 13 American Masters rebroadcast of “Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home.” This year also marks the centennial of Guthrie’s life, which is the basis for the project and partnership with the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives as they have been hosting Woody 100 events, concerts, and programs throughout the past year.

The project will only work if people participate! Along with this blog entry, please find a kit of social sharing images and suggested copy for Facebook and Twitter to get your audiences interested and engaged.  Beyond posts and tweets, please reach out to organizations and friends of your stations that you think might be interested in being a part of the "This Land" Project.

I have about 10 videos/covers of “This Land” for launch. Among them: a submission from Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy), a video made by the folks at Austin City Limits featuring the lead singer of Delta Spirit, and a 2009 Great Performances video of Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, and company singing the song for Seeger’s 90th Birthday concert at Madison Square Garden. There’s also a video of yours truly. (I figured I couldn’t ask folks to record a cover if I wasn’t willing to.)

Briefly, the submission process will be a simple cut and paste of a YouTube link into a form. The website will also include social sharing functionality for each song, a corresponding YouTube playlist on the PBS YouTube page, a history of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” official “This Land Is Your Land” sheet music and lyrics, and a final video mash-up of project songs. Remember, all of this content is embeddable on your station's own YouTube page!

We hope to see your cover of “This Land Is Your Land” in the admin queue!