Monday, October 29, 2007

Best Song Ever Man... Or is it Wolfman?

Just in time for Halloween...

Veddy scarry!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Still Bloggers Run Deep

So why no blogging? Ok, I commute 500 miles a week, have whole new preps, am on the market, I am dealing with some family issues that are the kind that everyone must deal with at one point in time (illnesses, to be as exact as I wish to be at this moment) and, well, my God, life is just piling on. I miss my blogging, but I did a whole lot more of it when life was boring and, guess, what, I aint bored!

Also, I have been doing some, ahem, thinking. Here's proof... my latest entry for in media res. Check it out and let's all hope my life tones down a bit.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This one is for Indiana! A Real Life Fab Five

I haven't posted in forever and my reasons are more than many -- let's just put it this way: Traveling as much as I do these days has killed my blogging time. Between prepping for classes and all the things that go with running a huge lecture course (there is a lot to it as some of you know) and going back to Ohio just about every weekend, there just is no time. In fact, I am about to go to sleep and I have just enough in me to ask the one question that has been bugging me all week: Why is Kanye obsessed with Daft Punk?

Ok, there is more than that... so let's give you a real life fab five...

1) Bill Simmons - The BS Report - In what has become a reoccurring theme in my recent life is the sudden change that my media diet has witnessed. I gave up premium cable when I moved out of my house and into Katie's and basically all cable when I moved to Bloomington one week later. All of my CDs are in Ohio as are all of my DVDs... as for LPs forget it. Also, because I have no free time, movies are not much of an option. So I have adapted to all mobile, digital driven media, which has meant lots of podcasts. The best new podcast I have encountered so far is Bill Simmons BS report, which is distributed through ESPN. Basically it is an obsessed reporter who has spent a fair share of his time on the coasts and, as a result, has coastal concerns: Red Sox V Yankees (he is pro "Chowda Power"), NBA Basketball (say what you want, but the Midwest is obsessed with Football and college hoops) and the Hollywood set (he hangs with Jimmy Kimmel, for whom he worked for a while at the beginning of Kimmel's late night talk show and Kimmel's friend Adam Carolla of Man Show fame). And because Kimmel is able to traverse the terrain with relative ease he gets the likes of David Stern, Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Carolla and Kimmel to discuss everything from John "The Beast" Mugabe to bad movie ideas. Simmons relaxes into his obsessions with the confidence of a man who has accepted, for better or worse, that to be concerned with NFL point spreads on a Wednesday is kind of silly, a little bit pathetic, and somehow charmingly American.

2) SOMA Cafe - It's eccentric, it's got hipster written all over it, it's not corporate and it's got a great couch and a plastic King Kong in a Television turned Aquarium. Bloomington at its best.

3) Ditching Word, Killing Office - Consider it my new project: To avoid all things Microsoft Office. I recently adopted Scrivener as my composition platform for long-term research projects and committed myself to Pages for everyday composition and finally, I feel free. My contempt from Word runs deep into the 1990s when, because of incompatibility, I was forced to give up usage of WordPerfect so I could, no pun intended, stay on the same page as my colleagues and share word processing docs. So with the debut of iWork in 2005 I became enthralled with the possibility of finally getting a solid Word Processor (I never liked AppleWorks that much). Then Writely (now GoogleDocs) showed up in my life and now Scrivener and, well, I am almost Microsoft free. Once I learn how to use Numbers I may be able to leave Office behind and be pledge my allegiance solely to the Empire of Jobs...

4) The White Stripes - Icky Thump - So far this is, hands down, my favorite rock record of the year. The title track alone warrants consideration for "catchiest single of the year". You want hooks, Jack's got em. You want blues breakdowns and some of the weird ass analog synths, look no further. You want "la la las", you get those as well, and all before track two where Jack and Meg convince you that you don't know what love is... you really don't by the way. And then you get more slacker cum garage revival cum zeppelin/pixie goodness and, well, the only other record that has made me nod my head as much in the last 12 months is Girl Talk's "Night Ripper". In other words, it has a great beat and I can dance to a lot of it, so I give it a 92.

5) The Tibetan Cultural Center- His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be speaking here in Bloomington in the next month and the Tibetan Cultural Center, where His Holiness' brother lives, will receive a the Dalai Lama in grand fashion. If you have ever wondered what Tibetans were like or what Tibetan Buddhism is about, this is the place to start. First and foremost the TCC is one of the most inviting places anyone could ever visit. I have been there twice already and plan to go back this weekend, hopefully to do some work and meditation. When my Fiance' and I visited a few weeks ago, we were greeted by the Arjia Rinpoche, which we only learned later was a real honor. He talked to us about butter sculptures, sand mandalas and invited us to lunch. It was a truly wonderful and hard to describe. It's a special place, the kind that could host both HHDL and Muhammad Ali in an address regarding the need for peace...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Citizen Journalism and I-35 Collapse

Only 24 hours have passed since the I-35 bridge collapsed and the creation of a Flickr set will, undoubtedly, help many of us understand not only the damage, but, hopefully, what went wrong. Here's a few pics for your inspection...

Cell phones and Flickr sets... really, this is an amazing set of photos. I hope you click above and see what people on the scene have put together. To me, this small gesture of collaborative work is quite hopeful for the future of visual journalism.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Chinese iPhone?

This was posted at The London Times a few days ago, and I am impressed by how wonderfully messed up it is. I would love to see Steve Jobs with one. The packaging it comes in is as unaesthetic as it comes would make Jobs freak out. But the fact that when turned on the phone sounds off with Windows chimes, well, you can just imagine...

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here are "The Pillars of Social Media Marketing". Who Knew?

The Following is Cross Posted at TwoWayStreetResearch.Blogspot.Com

As declarations go, this one is interesting. A search for "Social Media Marketing" came up with this post from October of 2006...
this is what I define as the Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing.

The Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing

Any and all forms of Social Media Marketing tactics fall under at least one of these five forms of action. Often the same channel will incorporate two or more of these:

1. Declaration of Identity
2. Identity through Association
3. User-initiated Conversation
4. Provider-initiated Conversation
5. In-Person Interaction

Ok, this is a post that is a little misleading since it is really about marketing "social media" like MySpace, FaceBook, etc. But the list is solid marketing and could look like this...

1. Declaration What You Do and What You Offer
2. We Will Know You Best By The Company You Keep
3. Let Your Clients Find a Path to Talk and You Should Listen
4. Find A Way to Talk to Your Clients and Potential Markets and Find a Way
to Listen
5. Handshakes are Still Needed
Yep, that makes sense.

Anyways, the fact is marketing is marketing and don't substitute tools for ideas and practices!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Social Media = Production of Amateur Ad Agents or Community Members?

Ed Note -- The following is cross posted at a Blog I am beginning about Web 2.0 and marketing that is titled Two Way Street Research and Consultation.

Nothing new to those who market, but marketing is not the same as advertising. Many of us would argue that adverts are a subset of marketing and, well, so much more is involved in communicating your market vision to your prospective and existing clients. But if you have an online conversation with your clients that results in an online video (see Obama Girl) is that an advertisement, is it a conversation, does it matter? And, no, I am not talking about viral marketing. I am really talking about a loud, somewhat public conversation. Take a look at this article on social media and marketing in yesterday's Arizona Republic:
The line between consumer and marketer is getting increasingly blurry thanks to blogs, video-sharing sites and social networks.

These and other "social media" tools not only allow consumers to filter messages coming from companies and their marketers, but also let them create, shape and spread their own messages.

"Consumers and amateurs are really making their place in the (marketing) world as much as ad agencies," said Sheila Kloefkorn, president of the American Marketing Association's Phoenix chapter.

Ok, nothing new here, but let's take a further look...
Companies have been using "viral marketing" for the past several years, creating street armies of citizen marketers who distribute their messages for them.

Now, though, corporations large and small are trying to grab greater control of these tools.

A lot is at stake. Companies that fail, marketing experts warn, will miss out on reaching target audiences and give up what little control they still have over their image.

"Most advertisers have been conditioned for many, many years to totally control their message," said Dan Santy, president of Tempe-based marketing firm Santy. "The Web takes all that control away."

Using social-media tools at least gives firms a way to direct where their messages go.

Ok, this is an extension then of directing messages to an audience. But here is the key: you need to get them engaged in with what you do and make your self meaningful:
Cynthia Drasler, the founder of Organic Excellence, said she used to become frustrated as a guest on radio shows because she was never fully able to explain why she felt it was important for people to use chemical-free personal-care products.

So she decided to take matters into her own hands by starting her own online radio show in May 2006.

The show, Chemical Free Living, airs once a week on an Internet radio station at Listeners can download podcasts of the shows after they air.

On the show, Drasler discusses topics that interest her target customers, and not necessarily Organic Excellence's products.

Even though she does not promote her products during the show, she said the show is helpful in building a brand.

"By having a weekly radio show and having certain shows where I do all the talking for the whole hour, people get to know me," Drasler said. "I become a real person to them, and I think when people know you and if they get to like you, then they go and pay attention to what you're saying."

Crafting honest messages is one key to successfully using social-media tools to shape marketing content, said Francine Hardaway, a local business consultant who helped form the Phoenix chapter of the Social Media Club.

The national organization has branches in cities around the country where members meet to discuss how blogs, podcasts and social networking can affect business.

"I don't think any consultant should ever sell a blog as a way to boost sales," Hardaway said. "It's really a way to brand you're company. It's a way to give out information. It's a way to get feedback from your customers and your suppliers" [emphasis mine].
Hardaway gets it: It's about making yourself meaningful. Driving sales is hard under all circumstances and many external factors affect this. Meaning creation, though, is different. Honestly, we need to pay more attention to meaning making and this involves a number of community-oriented actions and engagement. It is the "community" that, then, is the issue at hand and it is one that is intriguing... more on it later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Real Alan Partridge?

As a fan of the "I am Alan Partridge" TV show (I only get to see what IO torrent unfortunatelye since it isn't that popular in the US), the video below just amazed me. If this guy is doing any of this stuff even halfway seriously then they should just put him on TV 24/7. What a jerk!

LA Times On "Second Life and Marketing..." It is Overrated

Ed Note -- The following is cross posted at a Blog I am beginning about Web 2.0 and marketing that is titled Two Way Street Research and Consultation. I will be doing more of these kinds of cross posts in the future as I develop that site and maintain this one...

I am kind of underwhelmed by Second Life as a gaming reality, but that's a personal preference. I tried it, didn't like it, moved on. Like many I have a number of friends who meet up virtually both here and in World of Warcraft and they tend to love it. Me, well, it's not my cup of tea. My biggest problem was time. But clearly many others love it and, as one of my friends says about World of Warcraft is that there is always something to do and, unlike real life, it is a fairer meritocracy, i.e. you work harder and better you actually get promoted!.

One of the things about these spaces is that because so many people are spending their time engaged many marketers have decided to colonize the space and sell whatever they have to sell. I am certain you can do it effectively, but many marketers are having "second thoughts about Second Life" according to the Los Angeles Times
[It] turns out that plugging products is as problematic in the virtual world as it is anywhere else.

At — where the cost is $6 a month for premium citizenship — shopping, at least for real-world products, isn't a main activity. Four years after Second Life debuted, some marketers are second-guessing the money and time they've put into it.

"There's not a compelling reason to stay," said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that is closing its Second Life shop and donating its virtual land to the nonprofit social-networking group TakingITGlobal.

Linden Lab, the San Francisco firm that created Second Life, sells companies and people pieces of the landscape where they can build stores, conference halls and gardens. Individuals create avatars, or virtual representations of themselves, that travel around this online society, exploring and schmoozing with other avatars. Land developed by users, rather than real-world companies, is among the most popular places in Second Life.

But the sites of many of the companies remaining in Second Life are empty. During a recent in-world visit, Best Buy Co.'s Geek Squad Island was devoid of visitors and the virtual staff that was supposed to be online.

The schedule of events on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s site was blank, and the green landscape of Dell Island was deserted. Signs posted on the window of the empty American Apparel store said it had closed up shop.

McGuinness said Starwood's venture into Second Life did accomplish something. Feedback from denizens gave Aloft ideas for its physical hotels.

The suggestions included putting radios in showers and painting the lobbies in earth tones rather than primary colors. But now that the design initiative is over, he said, it's difficult to attract people to the virtual hotel to help build the real-world brand.

Ok, let's quickly evaluate this... what did the majority of these companies do in Second Life? Well, they simply put their "real world" services and stores in this world where you can fly and build things you could not build today. Mistake number one: Not matching the creative potential of your available space and the desires of the audience. Notice how the hotel chain benefited? Well, they got creative suggestions. In the real world we are all too often limited by our creative potentials. In virtual and fantasy worlds, we want to get beyond restrictions of class, gender and physical abilities. In other words, do something different and more creative in your virtual worlds when you are marketing, please.

Let's look further at the article...
For some advertisers, the problem is that Second Life is a fantasyland, and the representations of the people who play in it don't have human needs. Food and drink aren't necessary, teleporting is the easiest way to get around and clothing is optional. In fact, the human form itself is optional.

Avatars can play games, build beach huts, dress up like furry animals, flirt with strangers — sometimes all at once.

Their interests seem to tend toward the risque. Ian Schafer, chief executive of online marketing firm Deep Focus, which advises clients about entering virtual worlds, said he recently toured Second Life. He started at the Aloft hotel and found it empty. He moved on to casinos, brothels and strip clubs, and they were packed. Schafer said he found in his research that "one of the most frequently purchased items in Second Life is genitalia."

Another problem for some is that Second Life doesn't have enough active residents.

On its website, Second Life says the number of total residents is more than 8 million. But that counts people who signed in once and never returned, as well as multiple avatars for individual residents. Even at peak times, only about 30,000 to 40,000 users are logged on, said Brian Haven, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"You're talking about a much smaller audience than advertisers are used to reaching," Haven said.

Some in the audience don't want to be reached. After marketers began entering Second Life, an avatar named Urizenus Sklar — in the real world, University of Toronto philosophy professor Peter Ludlow — wrote in the public-relations blog Strumpette that the community was "being invaded by an army of old world meat-space corporations."

He and other residents accused companies of lacking creativity by setting up traditional-looking stores that didn't fit in. His column was reproduced in the Second Life Herald.

Nissan Motor Co., a subject of such protests, has since transformed its presence in Second Life from a car vending machine to an "automotive amusement park," where avatars can test gravity-defying vehicles and ride hamster balls. Sun Micro has made its participation more interactive and fanciful, Chief Gaming Officer Chris Melissinos said.

Ludlow isn't impressed. He said most firms were more interested in the publicity they received from their ties with Second Life than in the digital world itself. "It was a way to brand themselves as being leading-edge," he said.

Angry avatars have taken virtual action. Reebok weathered a nuclear bomb attack and customers were shot outside the American Apparel store. Avatars are creating fantasy knockoffs of brand-name products too.
Ok, so they don't have enough residents and the residents that are their can often resent the intrusion of the marketing world that they are probably hoping avoid altogether. Again, please, if you are going to market, be creative, do something different and understand your medium and who are audience is, which is kind of like marketing in the real world.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Winter of the Witch

My fiance' was ranting and raving about this film about 10 days ago... It's pretty great to see it as it is a classic from our childhood. Plus it teaches us that one great lesson that the Ancients always wanted humanity to learn: psychedelic pancakes can create happiness!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wii Will Rock You if You Can Get One

Still having a tough time finding a Wii?You're not alone...
It's been more than seven months since Nintendo launched the Wii, but the consoles are selling so well that supply still hasn't caught up with demand. You can get one, sure, but be prepared to call around and arrive promptly when the shipments do.

"I had to get permission from work," said Regina Iannuzzi, 23, in line since 6:20 a.m. on a recent morning. She'd been looking for a Wii, a 25th birthday present for her brother, for two weeks. Every place was sold out.

Like sleeping in? Wiis also are available online, but at a hefty premium to the console's $250 retail price. A slightly used one from an seller called Hard-To-Find-Stuff recently listed for $595 plus $3.99 shipping. Another cost $398 from a different seller.

"The PlayStation 1 was certainly a big introduction, but I don't recall any game system more than six months after its launch still having this kind of demand," said Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst.

Back in April, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata acknowledged an "abnormal" Wii shortage. Since then, the company has increased production substantially to help meet worldwide demand, spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said.

But Nintendo also has to manage its inventory, said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

"Unfortunately, you can't ask a contract manufacturer to make a million a month, then 5 million," he said.

Sony's PlayStation 3, which launched within days of the Wii last fall, is readily available in stores and online, but sales have been lagging behind the Wii. Cost could be one reason: the PS3 retails for up to $600.

More than 2.8 million Wii consoles have sold in the U.S. since the November debut, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. That's more than double the number of PS3 consoles sold. And Nintendo plans to sell 14 million worldwide in the current fiscal year, which ends in March.

Nintendo's selling point for the Wii has been that it's for everyone, not just hardcore gamers or young men with impeccable hand-eye coordination. Its intuitive motion-sensitive wireless controller lets players mimic movements for bowling, tennis or sword-fighting instead of pushing complex combinations of buttons.

Rein Auh, 30, never owned a console, but he decided to buy a Wii so he and his wife could have some fun and get some exercise. He spent $350 at the Nintendo store on a Wii and some extras. Walking out of the store, he looked back at the crowd of people still waiting.

"It's kind of crazy," he said. "I mean, it's been seven months."

When I was searching for a Wii I went into one local shop and the clerk said to me that he dreams of the day he sees a stack of Wii boxes as tall as he was. At six feet tall I think he might be waiting till 2008.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Maybe they'll just give away the PS3

I'm just not a fan of Sony anymore. The PS2 was great sometimes but many times unreliable. It doesn't really play my DVDs, although it is supposed to. And the quality of the gameplay was never as good as XBox or the GameCube IMHO. So it comes as no surprise to me that the PS3 has run into enough trouble that Sony is crying uncle and cutting prices on the PS3
Sony Corp. slashed the price of its current PlayStation 3 by $100, or 16.7 percent, and introduced a high-capacity model in an effort to spur sales of the struggling video game console.

Starting Monday, the current 60 gigabyte model will cost $499, down from $599.

The Japanese electronics maker also said it is introducing a new version of the PlayStation 3 with a bigger hard drive for storing downloaded content such as video games and high-definition movies.

Cutting the price and giving it a bigger hard drive won't necessarily make the PS3 any better, let alone more fun. Despite the fact that XBox 360s seem to see more flames than the average Kiss concert, it has become the "hardcore" (read "young teen male") console of choice and Nintendo is for everyone else (myself included)

Sony has said it sold 3.6 million PS3s in the fiscal year ending March 31 and expects to sell another 11 million in the current fiscal year. Microsoft said in its most recent quarterly earnings report filed in April that it had shipped 11 million Xbox 360s.

Nintendo, meanwhile, claims it has sold nearly 6 million Wiis worldwide as of March 31, and more than 40 million Nintendo DS handhelds. The company has predicted it will sell another 14 million Wiis and 22 million additional DS systems by the end of the current fiscal year.

The Wii and PS3 were released within days of each other late last year. Microsoft had a head start in the current generation of consoles, having launched its Xbox 360 in 2005.
I guarantee you that more than 14 million Wiis will be sold Everytime someone plays mine it is basically an instant sell. Heck, I think I could sell it to my parents. It just seems to me that in a flat economy where people have no desire to upgrade to yet another disc format, the PS3 has got a long, uphill battle against the Wii, which is not only fun but the best way to experience YouTube in the world.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

April, May, June... July + Googlemapping Question

Ok, it's back to writing, which I have missed. I won't bother you with all of the reasons I haven't been writing, but they are manifold. Some deal with trying to land a job, which is still an operation. Others have had to do with end of the school year break. But now that it looks like I will no longer be teaching any time soon (but that could change too!)my relationship with thinking about communication techs is changing. For one, I have jumped wholeheartedly into web 2.0 techs as it is clearer to me for a litany of reasons that this is something I am passionate about. Put simply, so many remind me so much of why I have always enjoyed popular music: it's on-the-ground technologies that are mobilized for social pleasures and aesthetic debate. Whenever I present so many people talk about how I rarely talk about the music and the truth is I love the music but my passion is what people do with the music and how they make it popular. The simple phrase I have always had is that "I am not as interested in popular music as much as I am interested in what makes music popular!". Web 2.0 is the same for me. More on that later.

So here is a quick call out for anyone who is interested in Googlemaps and KML composition. I have one question: why is semantic tagging seemingly soooooooo damn difficult right now for googlemap locations. I know there there are a lot of programs that allow you to make maps with tagging, but they all feel inadequate when you compare it to the relatively map oriented rather than location-oriented. Any ideas? This is a big question for me since it is key to Googlemaps really becoming a useful tool for all kinds of economic development that is niche oriented. Please, write me and let me know.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Been Making My First Google Map Mash Up!

This weekend has been a lot of student writing so I haven't had much time to do any of my own thinking or reading. However, when I take breaks I have been on the web composing with, which is an online mapping tool. It's pretty easy and in a few hours of messing around I have made this map of pop music in Ohio in the 20th century. I have taken almost all of my info from Wikipedia and utilizing my skills have composed a good beginning map. I will be looking for some collaborators and I hope to expand on it. That said, I am pretty happy with the application and look forward to learning how to develop not only the map, but my own mapping and tagging skills. I have to say, personal geographies really are the s**t if you ask me. I think it has great potential for all kinds of academics, particularly those of us who do critical theoretical/historical work on mass media. For example, one of the things that is quite interesting already for me is mapping the famous funk scene of the Dayton/Miami Valley area: How is it that the Southwestern corner of Ohio got so much funk? Just looking at the bands in this area, you wonder why there isn't a solid book on this.

Ok, I need to get back to reading and grading, but I hope you enjoy it. You can always access the map through the button on the sidebar that says "My Maps". If you have any suggestions contact me and let's talk about making it better. Oh, and remember, Cleveland rocks!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm Taking a Break, Will be Back Soon

It's the final three weeks of grading and my final weeks at Denison, so I have been blogging less. A number of issues have cropped up that I would love to comment on, but I don't get paid to do this. So, I am not gone, just distracted with deadlines. So, if you see fewer posts, that's what's up. Either that or I finally found a Wii.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

With College Kids Inflicting Violence on Each Other Let's Find a Way to Blame Rap Music

At one pm yesterday I wrote the following
somewhere in the rulebook of popular discourse it says, "Whenever there is a cultural crisis that indicts middle class Americans, you must point a finger at whatever popular music is lowest on the totem pole of culture capital to divert attention, see Columbine, etc."
Of course, that position today is occupied by hip hop, i.e. it gets no respect. And, of course, right after I signed off we got something worse than Columbine. And, yes, somehow, somewhere, someone is blaming rap music:
Casually flipping through the news networks last night, when little was known about the shootings and nothing was known about the shooter, I saw that those same conservatives are already using the Virginia Tech shootings as a way to lash out against culture they disapprove of. One particularly scattered conversation on CNN featured an anchor and a pundit using incident to suggest blame lies with a host of perceived societal ills: gun control, violent movies like Grindhouse, violent music, Don Imus. Yes, they somehow worked Don Imus into the conversation. The discussion made absolutely no sense, but it sure was spirited.

Eight years ago the post-Columbine debate sparked what some described as "a witch hunt" against shocking metal, goth and industrial music. If there's a similar witch hunt today, however, it won't be against metal, but rather violent rap music, which our panicky pundit was already chastising last night.

Rap is already in the crosshairs of cultural conservatives, who never succeeded in their effort to censor it years ago. This week they were already making a push against rap music after Imus stepped down: If he can't get away with using racist, sexist slang, they argued, why can rap artists? Now, in the wake of the deadliest shooting incident in U.S. history, they'll almost surely make a renewed call to censor rap on the basis of violence.

This anti-rap push probably won't make a lot of sense—based on the vague description of the shooter, who is described a loner born in South Korea, it's a safe bet that he probably wasn't a rap fan—but neither did the movement against Marilyn Manson. And, like Marilyn Manson in 1999, rap music has been slowly falling out of grace with listeners (sales have fallen steeply). With rap music already down, its longtime critics won't miss this opportunity to kick it.

The British Magazine, Q, has similar worries

So if rock bands will not be singled out for blame, who will? It’s far more likely to be hip-hop, a genre that still retains a frisson of danger and urban threat – even more so now that rap no longer dominates the mainstream. It’s easy to imagine ill-informed moral guardians denouncing the bleak, nihilistic worldview of “cocaine rap” stars such as Clipse and Young Jeezy.
The idea that somehow the violence that has befallen the most paradigmatic institution of "middle classness" in our society, the four year college, is somehow associated with hip hop is simply beyond me. Instead of looking to and blaming rappers, which I am certain people are doing and will continue to do at this very moment for this most heinous violence, we need to be honest: this was not the result of a violent hip hop culture. This was an act of violence that was committed by an English major in his fourth year at one of the top 100 colleges in America. I do not know what to blame; what culture or what attitudes. But I certainly know it isn't hip hop.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Songs I am Obsessing Over and other Stupid Stuff to Start the Week

Between Taxes and Grading, I haven't had much time to be smart. So, while I would like to blog about how the "Imus situation" is somehow turning into an indictment of rap, cause, you know, somewhere in the rulebook of popular discourse it says, "Whenever there is a cultural crisis that indicts middle class Americans, you must point a finger at whatever popular music is lowest on the totem pole of culture capital to divert attention, see Columbine, etc.", I don't have the time... yet.

Instead here's a quick list of songs I am obsessing over. I have had dreams about and/or played these songs out in the last month and a half. I don't know what my playing these over and over means.

  • "The Locomotion" - by Little Eva

  • "Runaway" - by Del Shannon

  • "Baby Hold On To Me" - by Eddie Money

  • "Young Folks" - Peter Bjorn and John

  • "Here's Your Future" - The Thermals

  • "I'm Not Down" - The Clash

  • "Rebellion (Lies)" - The Arcade Fire

  • "Karen" - The National

  • "God Gave Me Style" - 50 Cent

  • "Only the Lonely" - Roy Orbison

  • "You've Got What it Takes" - Dinah Washington and Brook Benton

  • "Bird Dog"- The Everly Brothers

  • "Roscoe"- Midlake

You figure it out and if you have any idea leave a comment.

And I after last night's episode of The Sopranos I was left asking, "what on earth was that song they played at the end?" I knew I had heard it at least once, but couldn't remember at all. Thanks to Idolator we get an answer and an MP3 link. It was John Cooper Clarke's "Evidently Chickentown". Bloody awesome way to end a bloody awesome episode!

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ozzy Goes Willy Wonka in Order to Boost CD Sales

As many of you most likely know, Ozzfest is going to be free this year. Sponsors are supposed to pick up the cost, but it is unclear if the level of talent will be as high as in years past. Nevertheless, it has kicked up some dust as another innovation by one of the more innovative people in the music entertainment business, Sharon Osbourne. In order to get some of that business kicked into high gear, Sharon and the Ozz have decided to go the route of "adding value" to their CDs. Somewhere down the line that decided to go the route of Willy Wonka and hide theire version of the "gold ticket" in their discs.
Though this summer's Ozzfest tour will cost fans nothing to attend, those who want to purchase Ozzy Osbourne's first new studio album in six years, "Black Rain," will now have a better shot at getting in the door, has learned. The initial pressings of "Black Rain" will contain a code that will give fans a first crack at scoring a ticket to Ozzfest.

As previously reported, "Black Rain" will arrive May 22 via Epic. Specially marked copies of the new set will be available at participating retailers. Fans will be able to use a code found within the album's packaging to redeem two Ozzfest tickets via starting June 8 -- four days before they're made available to the general public. Further details are available at
Now that's added value! It's also a perfect way to increase demand and stave off some illegal trading when it counts the most: the initial weeks of release. We'll see if it works.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Trend Continues: Music Biz Going South... and Not for Warmer Weather

You know you need to reconsider your business model when you get press press like this

The music business has to brace itself for more declines this year, Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen warned in a research report.

Overall, the "music market appears headed in (the) wrong direction," she said Thursday, estimating that global music sales fell 2%-3% in 2006.

"The slow start to 2007 (U.S. down 10% year-to-date) suggests another down year is likely," Reif Cohen said. "With digital growth naturally decelerating over time and the decline in physical sales accelerating, an imminent return to growth for the industry no longer appears likely."

Together with her European colleague Julien Roch, Reif Cohen estimates that music retail sales will decline 3% -- globally and in the U.S. -- in 2007. "This is a significant deterioration from our previous forecast of 2% growth both in the U.S. and globally, but may still be optimistic given the weak state of the market," she said. "Sales have declined in nearly all the major markets year-to-date, with the decline in the U.S. particularly precipitous."

Resuming coverage of Warner Music Group with a "neutral" rating Thursday, Reif Cohen said "the outlook for 2007 appears difficult given a weak start to the year, continued market weakness and more challenging comparisons."

Overall, she said she does not find WMG's valuation "to be attractive at these levels and continue to prefer entertainment names with a clearer growth outlook and/or company specific catalysts."

Nonetheless, Reif Cohen said music shares should get support from likely continued merger talk. "The worse the fundamentals, the more likely a merger with EMI becomes," she said.

However, the analyst also said she is "skeptical that there will be meaningful growth in fiscal-year 2008" for WMG.
Yes, we all know that we are ripping and burning you to death, but the only thing consumers are killing is the way you do business, not the music business in general. Note to record companies: think about achieving lower price points for downloads. Cheap will never beat free, but it will go a long way to getting your business back on board.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Narrative Justice and the Sopranos

I caught this ditty and hope to make it a meme of sorts: How should the Soprano's end? James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation has this to say in Esquire
"That's easy. Everybody should die. It's just like any Shakespearean tragedy -- Macbeth or Hamlet. When everybody has, in a sense, been tainted by evil, it's not feasible to let people live and therefore be redeemed. So what you do is just kill everybody off. Watch a Kurosawa film or go see Curse of the Golden Flower. Tony's got to be the last to die, of course. But they all need to go down in flames -- the kid, the wife, Meadow's fiance -- everybody. Nobody is safe."
Given that Carafano is aligned with an institute devoted to cheerleading our imperial moves into Iraq as well as helping to solidify the term The Long War of the 21st Century as a long-term military strategy, advocating that everyone "should die" who has been "tainted by evil" either proves this guy is A) a true believer or B) does not understand the irony of his off-the-cuff judgment.

So how should the Sopranos end? A question of normative narratives, good guys must beat bad guys, right prevails over wrong, i.e. writing straight from the pen of the Church Lady? Let me say this, I would hope that David Chase and his writers avoid this kind of easy-way-out morality play. The Sopranos has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been about how bad guys always get theirs. For me, if Tony gets killed or crushed it should come from the hands of another mobster like Paulie Walnuts or other crews from New York.

Better yet, I would like to see Tony live. I don't think it will happen. Too many forces have their resentments and are willing to damage an already-damaged man. But I say this since, at moments, The Sopranos has been one of the best critiques of American excess I have seen in years, Like the characters in HBOs Big Love, these characters live well-beyond their means (multiple wives, multiple lovers, etc) in tasteless, suburban McMansions where happiness seemingly never exists but multiple car garages proliferate. And despite their sins, the characters in each of these shows seem steeped in a misery that they could extricate themselves from if only they decided to give up their poor habits and make life choices that simplified their worlds. But, alas, they don't and they continue to struggle with how their good intentions beget miserable consequences.

Indeed, if there is any justice, it would be in the liberation of Dr. Melfi, whose death I fear most of all.

So, how should The Sopranos end?

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Idolator asks the Obvious Question: Why Free Music?

While I love cheap music, I am in tune with Idolator's query about totally free music
why the rush to make so much music free, anyway? Sure, we've engaged in our fair share of shady downloading and guest-list wheedling, but the "all music should be free!" cries that have been growing steadily louder are making us wonder if there's been a fundamental shift in the way people value music, or at least a little bit of self-loathing on the part of people charged with leading music-related chatter. We can understand a backlash against the Cribs/Fabulous Life Of... bling-flaunting--heck, we're probably near its forefront--but what about allowing people to quit their day jobs and devote themselves to their craft on a fuller-time basis? Yes, the economics of the music business are currently shaking themselves out, and there's a fair amount of carnage as a result, but saying "well, no one will pay for this, so let's make everything free" is not only short-sighted, it sends out a message to consumers that music isn't worth money--or, one could argue, time.
My basic philosophy is that the music should be purchased at least once. I know that there are many counterexamples in my own collection, for example I have no idea how many "promo copies" I have purchased at used stores, but it is guiding philosophy and one I try to follow myself. Remember, you get what you pay for. And if you pay little, don't be disappointed if the quality of the music you get begins to suffer.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Busy Busy Busy, Stuff

This has been easily one of the busiest weeks of the year so far. Besides about 2 hours that I spent with my friend Yury on Tuesday and my date with the Fiance to seeBlades of Glory (standard dumb fun), that was about it for personal time this week. I'm not complaining, just explainig why blogging has slacked off. I need to finish off this semester and get a job, so that is high priority as well. A few leads here and there, but no offers so far. I think that will change soon. Don't ask me why. It's just a feeling.

Yesterday was an all-day field trip for one of my classes. We brought the students from Denison to downtown Columbus. I will blog about it when my students send me some pictures. Will be interesting.

On a media studies tip, I am just got my copy of The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia yesterday. I have a small entry on the disc jockey in the Midwest, but I wasn't given a comp copy. Given the numbers of contributors and the cost of production it would have bankrupt the press for sure. The book is beautiful. Hardbound and close to 1900 pages, the encyclopedia is a wonderful achievement. And I don't say that just because I am in it . As someone who has come to the Midwest late in life, a book like this is simply a wonderful education in the depth and varieties of the region. Hopefully your library will pick it up. Its got a $75 cover price, but I picked mine up for around $45, new, on Amazon. And it has wonderful entires on Midwestern media topics such as the Mutual Broadcasting Network, the television talk show as a genre, record labels, Essanay Studios, etc. Placed in a geographical framework, reading these genres imbues these media entities with another cultural facet that so many American media scholars simply ignore in their rush to the coasts. Like I said, get to your library and check it out!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Let's Run The Numbers... Downloads Up, CDs Down!

Kids, it's called a trend. The Q1 numbers are out and plastic is losing to digital

Album sales are down 16.6% to 117.1 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan, for the period running from January 1 through April 2. The consensus around the music business is that declines are mainly due to a weak release schedule, the consumer's loss of confidence in the CD and a reduction in store space for the format.

While CD sales were down 20.5%, digital track sales totaled 281.7 millions, outpacing album sales by more than 100 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. When those digital track sales are factored as a track equivalency to albums, album sales are only down 10.3%.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Listening for "The Game" in The Sound of Young America

Killer Mike of Adamsville, GA and leader of Grind Time Official

In hip hop "The Game" refers to two issues that every contemporary performer from poor, urban American realities must negotiate: the hip hop scene and the underground business of illegal drug distribution. Knowing "The Game" is not only essential to success as a rapper (often to demonstrate one's authenticity that is part of the perpetual task of all hip hop and rock performers), but to making it in the day-to-day lives of so many poor young men and women who live in America's cities. To my mind there are only two shows in the US that have dealt with "The Game" with any sense humanity and compassion. The first is the much-celebrated HBO series, The Wire, whose fourth season, with it's depiction of how four young boys must handle the shattered social and political infrastructure of Baltimore, will go down as one of the most compelling seasons on television drama in American history. The other exists in a handful of interviews by a young, educated and ambitious radio host by the name of Jesse Thorn. While his excellent public radio show, The Sound of Young America, claims only eight over-the-air stations, his online efforts as a podcaster make the show a must-listen for anyone with broadband and an interest in American popular culture. More importantly it is the only show available on public radio that seems to have a set of ears that are intelligent and sensitive to the many issues surrounding hip hop aesthetics and culture.

Indeed, when The Sound of Young American deals with hip hop right it gets it right because of Thorn's talent as a compassionate interlocutor who loves and respects his subjects. One can hear how in recent interviews with hip hop expert, Jeff Chang , Atlanta-based rapper, Killer Mike and Philadelphia's own Peedi Crack, aka, Peedi Peedi, Thorn isolates the cultural importance of "The Game", particularly as it relates to the emergence of the hip hop subgenre of "crack rap". The result is that he is able to get his interviewees to open up speak about the many psychic and emotional aspects that "grinding" and "slinging" that bare upon their lives and hip hop in the early 21st century.

For your listening pleasure: 1) In the first clip one can hear the inner conflict that colors Peedi Crack's gratitude for his career as well as the sorrow has suffered in his time in prison and in experience many losses of peers and friends who are still imprisoned or have passed on. 2) In the second, lengthier clip, Killer Mike explains how the theme of drugs in hip hop demands an understanding of the recent social history of black, urban American that is all but unacknowledged and why "grind time", his label, has more to do with a work ethic than it does with drugs. 3) In the final clip, I draw from a recent interview I had with Mr. Thorn in February, 2007, wherein he explains that all one needs to get at these larger truths about culture is respect, an appreciation for the culture, and a willingness to listen.

Peedi Peedi interview segment from The Sound of Young America

Killer Mike interview segment from The Sound of Young America.

Segments from my interview with Jesse Thorn on February 22, 2007

Ed.Note: This is also crossposted at In Media Res.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And The Wait for More Major Labels to do the Right Thing Begins... Drop DRM and Make Songs Available Even Cheaper Than They Are Today!

The much ballyhooed announcement of EMI ditching of DRM is great news. But record companies are stubborn so we should be prepared to wait a while, no matter how much Steve Jobs claims that it is the right thing to do
"The right thing for the customer going forward is to tear down the walls that preclude interoperability by going DRM-free," says Jobs.

EMI's move was met with a string of no comments from reps for the other major labels. But privately, sources at rival major labels are expressing annoyance that EMI is "recklessly" jumping head first into a DRM-free environment without what they view as adequate research and testing about the impact on sales, piracy or consumer demand.

The other major labels remain concerned that selling music sans DRM will cannibalize sales. And some label sources are also expressing dismay that EMI's effort undercuts the industry's ability to correct the security problems that have plagued the CD format by creating a completely secure commercial environment for digital music.

"They're completely wrong," says Barney Wragg, head of digital for EMI Music worldwide. "This is about creating more opportunity in commercialized music by providing the right product to people who are prepared to pay for it...We think it's going to significantly increase the size of the market."

EMI is adopting DRM-free formats after Norah Jones's "Thinking About You", Relient K's "Must've Done Something Right", and Lily Allen's "Littlest Things" were all made available for sale in the MP3 format in trials held at the end of last year.

The other three majors have tinkered with selling DRM-free music in limited tests. The results of those trials have been largely viewed to be inconclusive.

But market observers say that its only a matter of time before the other majors ditch DRM. "This breaks the logjam," says David Pakman, president/CEO of eMusic, one retailer lobbying the majors for DRM-free content. “This is the beginning of the end of DRM in music."
I agree, however how quickly this happens will be interesting. Interoperability has always been a key issue for all forms of popular music. In the 1940s and 50s the question was could you get a player that ran at 78, 33 1/3 and 45 rpms? In the 1970s did you go for 8-Track or Cassette? In the 1980s did you buy Beta or VHS (yes, I know, that was TV, but same thing... in a way).

Now, one thing that does burn me is the cost per song: 99 cents seems to be high, particularly for catalogue items. I always loved the fact that catalogue items have been, traditionally, around 30% to 40% cheaper than new. So, in the 1980s you may have bought a new record for $10 but an older record that had been around for five years or so would be $5.99. Heck, sometimes you could get them 3 for 12 bucks, if not cheaper. The whole point was to get more music in the hands of listeners after the initial demand for these items had waned and build loyal consumers who felt compelled to investigate catalogue. True, I may have made tapes and bought used records, but I also dropped lots of coin on new catalogue. Lots! So, why not sell these items at half the cost? You have already made your initial profits and you want to encourage people to buy your product and make them interested in legal downloads. right? Right?

Echoing my point with a megaphone and cuss words Bob Lefsetz simply goes off on this announcement that EMI's DRM free cuts will cost $1.29 per song:
Why the fuck should they cost more?

One small step for mankind, and one half-step back. It would be like Neil Armstrong getting to the moon and not getting out. I mean if you’re going to go all that way…

This is the kind of bullshit pussyfooting that got the labels into hot water to begin with. If anything, tracks should cost LESS!

Oh, if you buy the complete album, you get the old price. But who the fuck wants a complete album of dreck by lame acts like the Good, the Bad & the Ugly that played this press conference?

You want to sell more tracks at the iTunes Store? Make them a quarter. Or fifteen cents or a dime. Then watch sales go through the roof.

Do you see cell phone prices rising? Do you see T-Mobile canceling family plans or making you include every last living relative to get them?

You don’t make half steps. You go all the way, or not at all. If you’re not willing to bet the company, then you’re not willing to win.

Take the case of Compaq. State of the art computers, using the highest quality many times tested parts, for a high price. Good plan for a while. But then Dell sold hardly tested parts in machines at a low price. So did Compaq lower their prices A LITTLE? No, they changed their business plan, and sold what Dell did at similar prices. And the company ultimately merged with HP to survive. And HP was doing badly against Dell until computers became commodity items and people preferred to buy them at their local retailer rather than call Dell and wait for a shipment. In other words, business conditions change, and you have to adjust.

This is not a new movie. It started unspooling in 1999. People can download music from the Internet. And then they started owning hand-held players en masse. Where’s the mystery? CD sales have dropped since the turn of the decade. Now they’re in free-fall and you RAISE THE PRICE??? Shit, if you’re gonna buy the whole album you might as well purchase the CD, you can rip it at ANY BIT RATE YOU WANT, and there’s NO copy protection!

Unbelievable bullshit. EMI deserves to go out of business. As for its lame competitors, they’re so paralyzed that they won’t even make a move. Edgar Bronfman, Jr. wants higher prices WITH the DRM. And Sony BMG is just trying to stay afloat, with an internal war aflame, with the Sony half fighting for its life. And Universal is so arrogant, it somehow believes since it’s got the largest market share with the biggest selling acts, it’s somehow immune. RIDICULOUS!

Start with the publishers. They’ve got to go to a percentage rate.

Go to the deals. Give the artists a fair shake, or soon none except for the most vapid no-talents will sign with major labels.

Then rejigger the economics so you can sell tracks at a cheap price.

Or, wake up to the future and realize more people want more music at a cheaper price and sell it to them this way. In quantity. Probably as licensed P2P. But not track by track, even album by album, this is even LESS than the labels had before.

Record labels? Your business model has changed forever. Why don’t you wake up and acknowledge this. If you don’t give the people what they want at what THEY feel is a fair price, they’re just gonna continue to steal. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yeah, what he said without the swear words...

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday Fun(nies)

It's Sunday and in Columbus it is sunny with the right mix of clouds and spring showers. It's also the day before another Championship Game Storm with Florida. We saw this game back in January and, well, it wasn't that nice for Buckeye Nation. Heck, the b-ball teams played earlier this year and Florida absolutely waxed OSU. This could get ugly, but I hope it doesn't... go Bucks!

On the fun note, that is Fun 2.0, we have the following...
  • Clancy Ratliff has hepped me to two wonderful sites that make it even easier to share and construct knowledge. Both SlideShare and JumpCut are pretty solid. SlideShare allows you to easily share PowerPoint and OpenOffice docs (not Keynote, but that app exports to PPT with relative ease) and JumpCut allows you to upload and edit video. That's amazing, just amazing!

  • Been listening to a number of new acquisitions, including a download from iTunes of Two of Us by Dinah Washington and Brook Benton. As good as pop music has ever been! Also notable in my mix of late is the soundtrack to Broken Flowers, Fugazi's End Hits and Steve Cropper's With a Little Help from My Friends.

  • I am working on a number of longer blog entries about why every researcher in the world should go with Firefox, the decline of the album as a music industry staple, and 10 top ten things that I thought about in March. And, finally, between job ap after job ap, I promise an submission to In Media Res about Hip Hop and The Sound of Young America.
Now Back to Grading! Woo hoo!

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Framing the Policy Debate: The Fight Over the Satellite Radio Merger is on!

It's well known to most of you how much I love radio. Let me reset that... I love good radio. Good radio programming is coming in many shapes and forms these days. I listen to a lot of podcasts for example, a habit that is relatively new (about 24 months, perhaps). And I would listen to more radio broadcasting in my car or even over my receiver at home if I lived in a country that gave a damn about quality and variety like, say, Canada. But no, I live in the US where the only radio that is distinguished as quality and local are the sports talk stations that pepper the AM dial. It's a cliche, but if you drive through America the rule of the airwaves is similarity, not difference.

Which has spurred conversations with my fiance' about getting sattelite programming just for Air America and Stern. Of course, one is on XM and the other on Sirius, so we choose neither. In light or crap local programming and the loss of our Air America affiliate to an even crappier version of right-wing talk (does anyone, can anyone even listen to ten minutes of Laura Ingraham? Stupid and snoozeworthy is quite a vicious combo), the XM-Sirius merger is the kind of gift but you knew the NAB would fight it. After all they have a monopoly and any competition that erodes audience is to be resisted. And what we are seeing now by both the Sat Radio and Terrestial Radio camps is a lesson from argumentation 101: framing is key to any argument
How Congress and government regulators frame the debate over a merger -- specifically, whether they consider new gadgets and services such as iPods, music-playing cellphones and high-definition radio to be in competition with satellite radio -- could have a profound impact on the future of other media businesses.

The NAB, which lobbies for traditional radio and television companies, is in an awkward position, some government officials say. On one hand, NAB members argue that satellite radio's national coverage does not compete with traditional radio stations' local presence.

"I don't see how anyone can say that Clear Channel competes head-to-head with satellite radio in a national market," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, referring to the radio company that owns hundreds of local stations. "It doesn't have a national footprint in every market in America like satellite radio."

But separately, the NAB is trying to make a case with the FCC that traditional radio companies do compete with satellite radio and therefore should be allowed to own more local stations than current rules permit.

Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin, who testified before Congress this month, defines the market differently. He maintains that satellite radio is only one player in an broader "audio entertainment" market that has changed dramatically since the FCC approved the licensing of satellite-radio providers 10 years ago.

Car stereo systems, he said, are equipped to play music from iPods, while cellphone companies sell sports programming and music downloads. "I can't imagine who could say we're not competing with some of those things," Karmazin said in an interview yesterday. "If you're listening to music on an iPod while driving in your car, you're not listening to satellite radio."
My favorite part of the above block is how the NAB is resisting competition with one hand while trying to lobby for even more of a monopoly position with the other. Gotta hand it to them: too much is never enough!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

A&R 2.0?

In it's own way, not only was this a matter of time, but this is one of the bigger news items in the music biz today and for the future...
Sony BMG U.K. is getting closer to the unsigned artist community through a new interactive Web initiative.

The music major is encouraging musicians to become members of its RCA or Columbia labels' A&R "virtual neighbourhood," where users can post tracks, editorial and visual content on new community blogging Web sites and

Staff at Sony BMG U.K. are participating across the new platforms as bloggers and digital A&Rs.

The project is the brainchild of Sony BMG U.K. and Ireland chairman/CEO Ged Doherty. "This is the first step of the A&R part of our digital strategy," he tells "It immediately fitted what my personal vision of what our company needs to be, which is open, transparent, grass roots, community-based, and employing Web 2.0 technology and the spirit of it."
Ok, first things first, let's make certain that musicians know what they get into...

  • If you choose to do this read the small print. If you don't know what the small print means, get a lawyer to read it for you. - I strongly suspect that there will be something in these end user agreements that give these labels the "pole position" for you if you get hot. Worse yet the labels may be able to claim ownership outright, in perpetuity, like MySpace and MTV's early end user agreements attempted to pull off. In other words, "know your rights".

  • Think hard and see if YOU can do better than a major - Ok, so you want to be a superstar? We all do. But odds are against you and the fact is that signing to a major may get you into the catbird's seat for licensing and promotion, you will have contracts where your percentage of the cut will be low, you won't own your masters and you will spend the majority of your time toiling through a contract that can work more against you than for you

  • This means even more work for the artist and less work for record companies... so where will be your A&R cut? - The fact is A&R is hard work. You spend a lot of time searching for talent, traveling, promoting, handshaking and performing other kinds of social acts (some of which can straddle the law). And then there is the part that includes listening to CD after CD demo. Making your profile available online in these major label sites essentially makes some, not all, of the A&R work more efficient. That's work. That's a labor... so where is your cut? Well, don't expect any. I don't expect A&R 2.0 shifting profits into the hands of the laborers... it's about stakeholders pure and simple and this is simply another, more efficient mode of capital accumulation.
In short, if you don't watch out you will have "new boss, same as the old boss" over and over again. And worse yet, that new boss won't be the artist.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Let's Hope They Get It Right This Time

I have my fingers crossed that the royalties issue will be reversed to help the webcast community grow. Let's hope this happens with a second chance
Webcasters are getting a second chance to make their case against the decision to raise royalty fees of Internet radio services.

Chief Copyright Royalty Judge James Scott Sledge issued a one-paragraph order Tuesday (March 20), granting a rehearing to the groups protesting the Copyright Royalty Board's (CRB) decision to spike rates.

The parties who filed motions for rehearing - including Royalty Logic, Inc, Radio Braodcasters, the Digital Media Association, National Public Radio and SoundExchange – have until April 2 to file written arguments that lay-out their positions.

The CRB will revisit its decision March 6 setting performance royalty rates for streaming sound recordings over the Internet. NPR's VP communications, Andi Sporkin, claims that the new rates are at least 20 times more than the amounts stations were paying in the past.
Come on CRB, don't kill the golden goose. Webcasting can be part of our future, but only if we want it to. Now, do we want it to...?

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iTunes Finally Allows Me To "Complete My Album", Enters 21st Century

File this one under it's about time
The iTunes Music Store has introduced a new feature that allows consumers to buy the remainder of an album in one click after initially purchasing select tracks on an a la carte basis.

iTunes is calling the offering "Complete My Album" and it works like this: If a consumer has already purchased three singles from an album via iTunes at 99 cents each and then wants the whole album, priced at say, $9.99, the balance of the tracks is available as bundle for $7.02. The amount the album cost is reduced depends on how many individual tracks from the collection the user has already purchased.

"Its about crediting you for the things you have already paid for," says Eddie Cue VP of applications for Apple.
Next up, no DRM?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We're Number Seven! US Slips in the Information Economy, Study Reports

If you follow any of this stuff, you knew it would only be a matter of time when other countries that take education and infrastructure more seriously than the US would pass us...and they are
European countries and Singapore have surpassed the United States in their ability to exploit information and communication technology, according to a new survey.

The United States, which topped the World Economic Forum's "networked readiness index" in 2006, slipped to seventh. The study, out Wednesday, largely blamed increased political and corporate interference in the judicial system.

The index, which measures the range of factors that affect a country's ability to harness information technologies for economic competitiveness and development, also cited the United States' low rate of mobile telephone usage, a lack of government leadership in information technology and the low quality of math and science education.
As one cabbie from Somalia told me recently, "Americans hate math and, well, that's a shame and an opportunity for people like me". It is and while the report notes that the, "U.S. market environment remains the best in the world in terms of how easy it is to set up a business, get loans and have access to market capital", we just aren't investing in creating that capital, i.e. minds, well enough.

Note to self... get mobile phone and brush up on calculus...

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Tall People Gettin' The Fashion Shaft

As a tall person (over two meters)this was just too irresistible to not post
France's almost two million tall people cannot find shoes big enough or pants long enough, let alone buy a fitted shirt that hugs the body where it is supposed to.

"Sleeves are always too short, women's waistbands are in the wrong place and you can never find shoes," Didier Mattiuzzi, who heads an association of tall people called Altitudes, said at a media conference Tuesday.

"We are lobbying for help for tall people," said the willow-like Mattiuzzi, a slim 191 centimetres (almost six foot four) tall.

Tall people invariably had cold feet and cold shoulders in short beds, he said.

But the situation was even worse in hospitals, where stretchers as well as hospital lifts also were too short, forcing the sick to have to sit up to be wheeled to a ward. But operating tables nowadays had extensions, Mattiuzzi said.

Car roofs were too low, shower cords too short, baths never long enough and drivers forced to stick a leg each side of a steering wheel. "Tall people even have to sit on the passenger seat of scooters", he added.
Sing it!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Make em Laugh... ONN does it Better than Them All

The Onion TV is the s**t. I was really skeptical, but this kind of video is too good to deny...
In The Know: Our Troops In Iraq

As this article essentially asks, why should we even think they couldn't pull it off?
Having already blossomed as a newspaper, Web site and book publisher, The Onion — perhaps the most dominant provider of fake news anywhere — is bringing its brand of humor to the hot medium of the moment: Online video.

The dispatches on the Onion News Network, which goes live Tuesday, aren't likely to be causing much missed sleep over at CNN and Fox News Channel, unless those outlets start covering fake news stories like Civil War re-enactors being dispatched to

But on the Web, The Onion will be going up against several others who have already established themselves in comedy video, including Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
By the way, The Sound of Young America has a great podcast of the Senior Editor of The Onion, Scott Dikkers. Listen, learn and support the show as best you can!

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Even more TV Music Tie Ups in the Future

I thought that this article in not only interesting but inevitable...
The woman behind the soundtracks to "The OC" and "Grey's Anatomy" is launching her own label.

Alexandra Patsavas, the influential TV and film music supervisor who has helped put Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol and the Fray on the mainstream map, has inked a deal with Warner Music Group's Atlantic Records to form a new imprint, Chop Shop Records. The label shares the name of Patsavas' 10-year-old California-based firm, Chop Shop Music Supervision.

Patsavas has been in negotiations with Atlantic about creating a label since last year. The subject was first broached in a meeting with Atlantic president Julie Greenwald at the Coachella music festival.

"It's something we came up with together," Patsavas says. "A label seems like a natural extension of what a music supervisor does . . . You can come across things very early, and there have been bands along the way I would have loved to have worked with more closely."
Yep, duh indeed! I mean, has anyone ever heard of The Monkees?

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There will be much later... especially about MediaCommons

Still in meetings and I will post some of the things that we want to do that have come out of our three days of meetings. But we have been busy -- 9 hour meetings that continue into the night and I simply have to put the computer down. This project, I gotta admit, is important. Really important. In fact, I have not only high expectations, but some ways revolutionary ones for the way that media analysis cna scholarship can be done in the future.

Call that a tease... ciao!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Flickr Set of MediaCommons peeps playing Wii

Here's a sample of some of us playing Wii...
FYI, we had had some "drink" before... and by some I mean Saki

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I would register for this Weddding Present

From my own nerd tendencies.... I am interested and will buy!
The Wedding Present will release their complete sessions for the late John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show on March 26 via Sanctuary Records in the UK and a week later in the rest of the world.

Complete Peel Sessions: 1986-2004 spreads in-studio sessions, live sets, and band interviews across six discs, and it includes the band's cover of Orange Juice's "Felicity" as well as a venture into Ukrainian folk music.
Hardly media studies, I know. But man, I love the Wedding Present...

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Let's Have a Laugh!

Deadwood Pancakes... published a few months ago and good for a laugh (BTW, not "office safe" as it has Adult Language... i.e. they say the F word)

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Jersey Shore!

It is beautiful. Woke up at six and took a long walk before breakfast. I found some shells and listened to The Church's "Starfish" and blissed out. I am working on some media posts but right now I am meeting the MediaCommons people and will talk about it later. Ciao!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A MediaCommons Note

I am at a retreat with the good people of MediaCommons for the next few days. And while I will try to do some basic blogging, I would love it if you guys made your way to that site and participated. No, you don't have to have a media degree... it is a commons. The debate is scholarly but congenial and if you have any ideas we, the editorial board, are listening. By the way, there are a bunch of wonderful clips here that you can access and post comments on. I will be posting something soon, but for now, I am about to go. Rock on!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

TV Guide develops an "Internet Guide"... kind of...

Data aggregation is tough not because getting the stuff is the problem, rather weeding through it is. So, if you have a brand that is well known as a kind of trusted data aggregator, then you have a head start as more and more of us get our entertainment over the net, or at least that's the way TV Guide sees it
TV Guide, which has helped viewers navigate through thousands of TV shows for 53 years, now wants to do the same for Internet video. Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. will launch a test version next month of an online video search tool that allows viewers to find clips and full episodes of TV shows now being posted on the Web. A formal launch is planned for September.

The tool will not try to aggregate the thousands of user-generated videos featuring pet tricks, skits and other antics being posted on sites such as YouTube and Revver.

Instead, it will scour about 60 Web sites from major networks such as ABC and Fox and other video portals such as AOL and Google to find network and original programming produced by major media companies.

"Everybody says, 'Who's going to be the TV Guide of online video?' and we say, why shouldn't it be us?" said Richard Cusick, senior vice president of digital media at Gemstar-TV Guide. "We're making a bet, but we think it's a safe bet and consistent with our mission."

So, using its brand power as a trusted source, TV Guide will work to maintain it's "trusted source" status by only giving us "corporate media"? Or is this simply another sign about how what was once old will work to maintain it's dominance? Who knows? All I know is that as broadband penetration grows (right now it is around 20% or US HH), I can see how there will be more and more of a market for this kind of limited-but trusted service.

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