Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Music to My Ears

Since starting a job that involves 8+ hours a day spent at a computer, I can now be counted amongst those with headphones permanently attached to my ears. Like many, I find music to break up some of the monotony of every day life. My iPod provides me with an opportunity to revisit songs I obviously enjoyed at one point or another, and others that require an instant skip (let's not revist that Dave Matthews Band phase I went through). The battery life, however, leaves something to be desired. Thus, in addition to my personal catalogue, I've turned to other sources for my listening needs.

Here's a breakdown of what's been getting me through the days of late, please feel free to add suggestions.

  • NPR's music site. This site is great, especially for those that enjoy live music. They of course have the long-standing "All Songs Considered" feature, which includes a podcast that I regularly enjoy. My favorite part, however, has to be the concerts on demand. They upload it daily with performances from various artists from indie to major label. Highlights include performances by Radiohead and recently, The Decembrists in Philadelphia. Lastly, the Jazz section provides a great introduction for anyone looking to explore the medium. Studio sessions fill this section as well, but the lists of "must listens" are my favorite. Here's a Miles Davis broadcast.

  • Morning Becomes Eclectic. I'll admit, I'm obsessed. This show commands way too much of my time. KCRW is a college-run station in Santa Monica, and (for me, at least) this is their flagship show. It's immensely popular, and widely regarded to have broken many a notable artist. Case in point, a show from 2000, which marks the very first radio appearance from a little band called Coldplay. Say what you will about Coldplay, but this showcases the band at their most earnest, pre-U2-ish, stage. Also a podcast, though not updated frequently, this is another that's great for the live music lover in all of us.

On to the artists most guilty of dominating my iPod (before it dies, of course):

  • Bon Iver. A singer songwriter backed by a small accompanyment, this has to be some of the most heartfelt music I've heard in awhile. The singer relocated to small town Wisconsin after a breakup, and wrote these songs in a cabin by himself in the dead of winter. Think Damien Rice meets Wilco.

  • Fleet Foxes. Very Beach boys influenced, I finally started listening to this band after seeing their self-titled album on just about every music blog I read. I wasn't disappointed.

  • Miles Davis. Not new, I realize, but I haven't been able to stop listening to Kind of Blue lately. So amazing, and so simple at the same time. See NPR link above.

  • Maria Taylor. Ok, so I won't deny, I heard her music on an episode of "Grey's Anatomy", but honestly, she's really good. I've never been a HUGE fan of girl singer-songwriters, with the exception of Fiona Apple, and while this girl is not nearly as angry, her music is fun and catchy.
Well, that's all for now. I'm very open to the suggestions of others! Feel free to comment and recommend!

Monday, October 6, 2008


I'm happy to report that Saturday Night Live is actually funny again! If you haven't seen Tina Fey's spot-on Sarah Palin impersonation, I highly suggest a visit to (one can never tell if NBC's YouTube relations have fizzled).

While I've loved the political coverage, a highlight of this week was "Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals" wherein Andy Samberg (Lazy Sunday, D*** in a Box) depicts the formerly trou-dropping actor in nature.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

What I've been watching this summer...

Well, being the entertainment junkie that I am, I have to admit that this summer-without-TV experiment has been a bit rough. So, I've turned to the interwebs for my television viewing, and thankfully, have found some new faves along the way. I'm always up for recommendations, but here's what's been tickling my fancy lately.

  • Mad Men. OK, those of you that I see on a regular basis are probably sick of hearing me talk about this show. Whatever. I love it. The costumes, the advertising world, New York City. It's all great. The setting takes you right back to the 1960's, and if you overlook a few things (the treatment of women, the booze, and the incessant smoking), you almost want to live there with them. Watch season one before the second one starts next Sunday.

  • Californication. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to catch up on this show's first season. I attempted to watch the show when it aired on Showtime, but wasn't convinced. Since then, however, I have fallen for the boozing, meandering ways of Duchovny's Hank Moody. He's witty and gritty, but he does it so well.
  • Weeds. After a lackluster last season, which ended in Mary Louise Parker fleeing her suburban neighborhood, the show has made a comeback. A lot has changed- gone are Helia and Conrad- Nancy's pot providers. Also gone is the "Little Boxes" theme song. The content, however, is back and better than usual. It's no second season, but Nancy's border-crossing drug dealings are keeping me tuning in.

So. There you have it. My recent television obsessions. Any suggestions? I'm more than happy to entertain (no pun intended), a new venue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lone Star State of Mind

So. I made the big move. I said goodbye to Texas. I ate Mexican food for weeks, drank some Lone Star, and got my Alamo Drafthouse fix. Ready or not, here I am. As I settle into my small (yet FREE) living quarters- wherein I cannot open my closet and front door at the same time- one would think, why would someone leave the cheap-to-live, easy-to-work in state of Texas?

To get the job of my dreams, of course! I am participating in an amazing program at MTV networks and am beyond excited. We are placed in a department (mine's MTV), and every friday we work as a team on a special project. An amazing network has been set up for us, and I am so proud to be a part of it.

That being said, moving to New York with the indefinite mindset is a bit scary. Eventually, the meal ticket stops. No longer is the housing free, no more are the dorm meals (not such a loss). Once this "real" phase of adulthood kicks in, I fear I may have myself a full-blown panic attack. Scary!! Alas, I'm embracing it. In a generation where many of my colleagues have taken a just-to-get-a-job sort of vocation, I am fortunate enough to be in the position to (hopefully) get a job in the field where my passion lies.

So, cross your fingers for your departured comrade. As I said in my previous post (before I found out about my employment), I may soon be eating top ramen morning, noon, and night.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Job-Hunting Online

As graduation looms, I know many of us are attempting the ever-so-grown up task of looking for full-time employment. Don't get me wrong, I am really excited about working, I really can't wait to work a million hours a week (I'm a freak, what can I say), but looking for jobs, not so much my favorite task.

Alas, I persevere. A friend in the entertainment industry turned me on to Cynopsis, a self-described free-trade publication written by Cynthia Turner, sent out daily to subscribers and available online. Now, some of the actual memo content is a bit over my head sometimes, but there is a handy-dandy classifieds section that lists all the media jobs becoming available. Sure, it doesn't list all, and some companies insist on hiring internally, or through their own website, but its a pretty good resource for media jobs, if that's your thing.

So, good luck to those of us embarking on the big-kid world. I think we'll be OK. Of course, this is the optimism of someone still in school. Talk to me in a few weeks, when my health insurance drops me and I'm eating Top Ramen everyday. Fun Times.

Pitts' Perspective

As I was reading the opinion section of the Austin American Statesman online the other day, I came across an article very relevant to our class. Leonard Pitts, frequent editorial writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, shed light on the recent Youtube phenomenon and the proverbial quest for 15 minutes of fame that has ensued. This incident is a bit more serious than that of the British divorcee we discussed in class, but alas, here goes.

As Marcela also blogged about this week, a recent incident involving several 17 year-old girls beating one of their friends, has popped up on Youtube. The girls lured their friend to a house, beating her, while two boys kept watch. She takes blows to the head, barely covering herself, while the girls tell her to "make it good" because only 17 seconds of video remain. "Disgusting" as Pitts describes it, is that the girls show no remorse over the beating, only that they will miss cheerleading practice due to being incarcerated. Even more so is that the parents of the bullies defend their children, stating that the victim was "trash talking" online.

Pitts' article examines not just the act itself, but the startling motivation behind it- Youtube fame. Pitts worries that 15 minutes of internet fame may just have been the catalyst behind the brutality here. And sadly, I agree. What I most agree with, and appreciate, about his editorial, is that he worries about what "fame" actually represents in contemporary society. It used to be, he says, that you got famous because of a discernible amount of talent over others, an extraordinary quality. Those days are gone.

I know I've blogged about the "starmaking" quality of Youtube before. I stand by the fact that yes, some people use Youtube in a beneficial manner. We've all watched the same videos of little kids saying quirky things, and fashion commentators utilizing it to get media exposure. This is a different story. I should say that I'm amazed that people would stoop so low as to violently beat a friend of theirs (rendering her blind in one eye and deaf in one ear), but I'm not. Some people cannot filter things. They cannot differentiate between right and wrong, and when they see Youtube manufacturing notoriety, they take note.

Or, as Pitts more succinctly puts it, these are not smart girls:

"No, these are the video-besotted children of an era where only suckers can't find some way to become known. Fame is democratized now, no longer the exclusive province of the talented, the heroic or even the lucky, but rather a commodity accessible to anyone willing to seize it by any means necessary."

So, what do you think? Is this the downfall of society? Fame by any means necessary? Or is this a case, like that of the myspace girl who committed suicide, of tactless people in a tactless environment? Help me decide, because honestly, I just don't want to live with the fact that these girls did it because they thought we'd all have a laugh while bored at work.

As much as it pains me to use this as my example, here's the "O'Reilly Factor" coverage of the incident. It's all I could find, I promise.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Viral Video Project

This is my viral video for the World Food Programme.

It's a bit like Jenni's (inadvertently, I promise).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This is what happens when people stop being polite, and start being... digital

This is the true story, of seven strangers....

Oh, how I remember it so well. We've all watched it, admit it. The 20th (20th!!?!! Really?) season of MTV's once-popular reality show, Real World, is set to make its debut in Hollywood this year. This season, the network is taking a more interactive approach with the show. Real World Dailies allows viewers to get access to "daily, uncensored clips" of what takes place in the house. Apparently, that which is shown on TV is actually the vanilla content.

The site includes cast bios, confessionals not shown on the show, and most recently, producer blogs. Executive producer Jon Murray blogs about move-in day:

"We have some concerns about Brianna; only a few weeks ago she got into a fight with her boyfriend and the police were called -- and she was arrested. She will have to return to Philadelphia for a court hearing at some point but we hope it doesn’t happen during the taping of the show, and remove her from the house."

Oh lord. Here it goes again. Does anyone remember Real World Seattle? Or the older seasons, like San Francisco? The cast used to be semi-intelligent, and there were some decent conversations and interactions to be witnessed. Lately though, it's gone downhill. Take Las Vegas, for example. That was the first season where all I can remember is nudity and stupidity, all fueled by alcohol. Is this indicative of our culture? Are we drunken idiots, who in a rage, end up hitting one another- eventually involving the police? It seems to happen every season! I'd like to think not. I have higher hope for our generation, and I'd like to think that MTV does too. Alas, people will keep watching, and drunks/idiots/fratboys/beauty queens/anorexics will continue to be cast. They'll stop being polite, and start being real.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Cluetrain Manifesto

19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance

I completely agree with this. Take the Southwest Airlines example. Now, I’m not ragging on Southwest one bit. Sure, my mom works for American Airlines, but that doesn’t sway me. As we know, the airline industry is often at a bit of a crossroads with their publics. Granted, airline travel is a necessary evil, but as an industry, it’s generally not one that we shower in support.

There are several problems fueling the hatred. Forced grounding of over 500 flights by several airlines. Sky-high jet fuel prices, frequently lost bags. Planes stuck on the runway without food and water for hours upon hours.

What I’m saying is that there’s a lot to overcome here. This is what I think is so successful about the Southwest Airlines blog. There is obvious readership, and feedback that’s consistently positive. This is an extraordinary example of a company really responding to its publics, and utilizing new media in effective ways. The rest of the airline industry needs to jump on this bandwagon. Of course, an ineffective company blog could blow it, but if they are as willing and able as the crew (no pun intended) at Southwest, then they have a lot to gain.

I mean, c’mon. If they’re gonna take away the pillows and peanuts, then by golly, they could throw us a blog post or two.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Favorite Podcast goes live

I've probably mentioned in class that I'm absolutely in love with "This American Life", the weekly radio show on NPR. It's a really great human interest show, that profiles regular people, and sometimes showcases authors like David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, both hilarious people. The show has a podcast, updated weekly, that includes the episode for that week. Even better, the website lets you stream episodes for free. One of my favorite episodes is this one, in which various contributers talk about the role of music in their childhood. Seriously, give it a listen. This show makes me like television less and less, besides How I Met Your Mother, of course.

On May 1, This American Life is going live. There has been a television adaptation of the show on Showtime, but this will be the radio show on the big screen. At select theaters around the country, viewers can watch the live episode, hosted by Ira Glass, via satellite. Viewers can even submit questions to be answered during the show. I think it's pretty cool that this is happening. This is the number two most subscribed to podcast on iTunes (behind Oprah, and really, who can compete with the Big O). So, I encourage you to give this podcast a try. I listened to it on a whim, and now I'm hooked.

"How I Met Your Mother" finds online venue

The popular CBS show "How I Met Your Mother" has delved into the internet marketing realm. On Monday's episode, character Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris (or NPH as Harold and Kumar like to call him), is on a quest for a woman who's trying to sabotage his latest female conquests. So the gang gets together and creates a bracket to deliberate on which of his former flings might be the culprit. During his search, he locates a woman he once went out with, who, after being burned, created a website chronicling his flaws.

The only problem is that when Barney seduced this woman, he called himself Ted Mosby, the main character in the show (the one who narrates the show to his future children). So, she created, which CBS has created into an actual site. It's pretty funny, complete with drawings of Ted (Barney) being eaten by dinosaurs, and including the letter he left her while she was in the shower, calling her "resident" because he couldn't remember her name. The best part is the 20 minute song that plays in the background of the site's homepage.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bloggers hit a white-collar roadblock

Celebrity gossip bloggers have some new beef this week. Not with bitter stars, but with record executives. Bloggers are being sued by labels, namely Sony BMG, for supporting artists signed to their label. The main blogger attacked by the suit is media monger Perez Hilton, author of the IMMENSELY popular blog by the same name. Hilton regularly hosts songs on his site, that he, or his friends recommend. Recently, however, he posted a leaked Britney Spears song, in hopes to determine whether or not it was a fake. Sony discovered the post, and has since filed the suit.

Often, Hilton's support boosts a singer's career. His site has been responsible of strengthening the careers of Lily Allen, Eric Hutchinson, and most recently, Leona Lewis. (Partly) because of Hilton's praise and high site traffic, Lewis' song has recently reached number 1 on iTunes. Alas, sponsored bloggers can no longer promote musicians, for fear of Sony's wrath.

Really???? This upsets me. As a music fan, I feel that a band should be promoted in any which way they can, and by whomever wants to! If Perez Hilton, lame and cliche as he can be, could potentially make or break a musician's career, then why shouldn't he be able to? Honestly, am I alone on this one?

LBJ's famous speech turns 40

On March 31, 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson gave his infamous speech announcing steps to limit the war in Vietnam and reported his decision not to seek reelection. This speech is one of the most famous presidential speeches of our time, and to me, it seems moderately relevant to today's election.

"So, tonight, in the hope that this action will lead to early talks, I am taking the first step to deescalate the conflict. We are reducing--substantially reducing--the present level of hostilities."

Can't you hear that being said about the War in Iraq? I can hear it coming in the first months (or years) of the next President's term. Johnson discusses the bloody war, images we can't really imagine being reported today. Reading his words, however, I am reminded of the genocide around the world that seems to go overlooked- such as the situation in Darfur, and the FARC in Colombia.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of LBJ's speech is that in which he discusses the partisanship of the political climate during his term-

"With America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

Seems amazing, doesn't it? That a President would admit to this partisanship? Of course, I wasn't around during LBJ's time, and admit that I perhaps don't know as much about the administration as I should, but this seems pretty profound. I know this isn't pertinent to the 2008 election per se, but I still found it relevant, and thought you guys might too. I really encourage you to read the speech, and let me know what you think. Does it sound forced? Is he just backing out? Or is it a legitimate attempt to keep the political sphere civilized. Here's the video of his actual resignation.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Barack Obama- a friend of social media

The project for excellence in Journalism analyzed the websites for the 2008 presidential candidates for compatibility with social networking. Apparently, "Candidate Web sites have fully embraced politics as a two-way conversation with voters. Twelve sites also offer the opportunity for visitors to turn that dialogue into grassroots action (organizing their own events, fundraisers, etc)." The data shows that the democrats have the most interactive sites, led by Barack Obama, then Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson.

Obama's site was the most successful in engaging voters and allowing participation. Factors contributing to his standing at the top include open comments, citizen blogs, and interaction with social networking sites like Myspace.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

VH1 Social Media Podcast

Here's a link to our podcast assignment, we interviewed Kristin Davis, digital marketing coordinator at VH1.

Monday, March 17, 2008

SXSW: My Highlights

Oh SXSW, you tricky mistress you. Sure, it's a really great week, filled with countless bands and hopefully free booze- but that doesn't change the fact that by the end of the week you're ready to collapse. So, as I recover, I thought I'd share some of my personal highlights, band or otherwise.

She and Him: The collaboration of singer M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel proved to be really soulful and edgy. Who knew she could sing? It's a little Rilo Kiley, so if you're a fan, check out She and Him.

Salt and Samovar: A band I've been hearing about all over NPR and KCRW, I was really excited to see them, even after a super long night. The hype was justified- this ended up being one of my favorite shows.

Standing next to Rolling Stone editor David Fricke at the Bad Veins show: The band was awesome, and watching Fricke scribble notes onto a pad made me feel pathetically hip. The guy is really the best thing about Rolling Stone in the past couple of decades, and last year I got to watch him interview Iggy Pop. Look for Bad Veins in the next issue of Rolling Stone perhaps? Maybe Fricke's Picks can make them big.

Lou Reed's Keynote Speech: Oh, Lou. I love him, I always will. He's crochity, but who cares. When asked if he put thought into his songs, he said "I have a B.A. in dope". Gotta love it.

Oh, there's so much more that I could talk about, but I'm sure that its pretty self-serving, and I won't bore you. I will, however, encourage you to volunteer at SXSW next year, as you get a free badge or wristband! Take Tere Garza's class- it's a requirement!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Indie darlings to launch online music tv channel

Pitchfork, the immensely popular music blog, is launching an online music channel to "document independent music as it happens". According to the site, the channel is in response to the decline of music-centric programming on music networks. While television attention is given to rock giants (Bono, anyone?), independent music often fails to receive similar creative attention. The rise of the Independent film channel, and general success of Independent films over the past years has proven that the American public is open to deviating from the mainstream, and, thanks to Pitchfork, indie music gets its own venue.

A visual extension of the blog, will bring indie fans closer to their favorite music- through mini-documentaries, exclusive stage sessions, full concerts, interviews, and a carefully "curated" selection of music videos. In addition, will become the first online video channel to screen full-length feature films, vintage concerts, and music DVDs free of charge. How cool is that? Sure, netflix has obscure-ish music titles, but you pay a fee. Now you can watch a Pixies concert film free of charge, in the comfort of your own living room. Content is also available to consumers on-demand, a feature that allows people to weed out what they deem uninteresting and move on to their preferred content. The online channel is without revenue, leaving it to be a user-controlled, and pitchfork-moderated creative vehicle.

I love this. I can't wait for the launch (April 7, in case you're interested). I love Pitchfork, and read it often, frequently using it for purchasing advice, music news, and concert updates. Sure, MTV2 airs some independent videos, and MTVu (yes, it exists) communicates the interests of the college radio devout, but indie music needs it's very own visual home.

Also, speaking of the channel's boast of secret rooftop shows, I found another venue for indie artists. The "Black Cab Sessions" takes artists on a cab ride around London, wherein the musicians perform and record a song or two. It's pretty great, and the lineup so far has been impressive, and I have found myself constantly checking for new videos. Check it out. If you're a music fan, you won't be disappointed. Local tip, Austin bands Spoon and Okkervil River have both participated.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Live from New York, it's a political election!

Hillary Clinton appeared on last night's episode of Saturday Night Live, NBC's late night sketch comedy platform- now enjoying higher ratings than it's past several seasons. In a sketch that mimicked the Cleveland debate, Clinton appeared to add an "op-ed" response to the debate between herself and Senator Obama, something she's been criticized for doing as of late. She commented on how much she enjoyed her portrayal on the show, which prompted her doppleganger to enter the stage, played by the brilliant, yet sometimes brutal, Amy Poehler. Clinton was amicable, even funny, when she exclaimed to identically dressed Poehler, "I love your outfit, but I do want the earrings back." She even got a few laughs when fielding questions about her campaign's morale stating "we're doing very, very well... why, what have you heard?" It was obvious that her appearance on the show was following in the footsteps of a certain Illinois senator (as he was referred to on the show), as well as an attempt to prove likability and appear aloof, qualities she's not often criticized for lacking.

The reason I blog about her appearance is this: the past several seasons have seen the rise of the SNL viral video. Thank Andy Samberg for that (so pretty...). You may remember Samberg as Justin Timberlake's counterpart in the infamous "D*** in a Box" video, or the dude rapping about red vines in "lazy sunday". His shorts have given SNL a place on the internet, making their videos some of the most passed on of the year. Rarely do people watch actual SNL broadcasts, but or Youtube are common venues for video clips from the show. Hillary did a smart thing by appearing on the show. With a minute and thirty seconds on the show, she's giving the young people something to watch (and blog about). She's dispelling rumors of campaign weakness and her frigidity in a forum that can be passed on an immense number of times. Sure, commercials are important, and a campy appearance on a comedy show may seem a bit contrived, but you can't blame a girl for trying. She'll also appear on The Daily Show tomorrow night. I can't wait to witness her awkwardly attempting to banter with John Stewart.

In case you're interested....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

SXSW and social media. A match made in interactive-hipster heaven.

While browsing through the lineup for the 2008 SXSW Music Festival, something occurred to me. While I volunteer for the music portion, and am interested in the film portion as well, there is a very important facet of the conference I vastly overlook, the interactive festival. Sure, it doesn't offer the drawing tactics of famous musicians in a commonplace setting, or actors attending star-studded premieres. But just because the interactive fest isn't the most glamorous of venues, doesn't mean it lacks in interest and crowd pleasing offerings.

I work the music panels at the fest, and thought there might be some decent interactive panels as well. As it turns out, the interactive portion of the festival boasts significantly more for professionals. A list of panels by category shows 17 on Social Media alone. One of the keynote speakers is Mark Zuckerburg, founder of hugely popular networking site Facebook. One of the panels that I found particularly interesting, as well as incredible applicable to our class, is entitled "Harnessing the Power of Social Networking on Your Intranet". Led by Bill Cava, Chief Technology Officer for Ektron, the panel focuses on how social networking can make your company's intranet a collaborative tool, for creation and delivery of business documents. Social networking, in this capacity, can be used as a tool to provide feedback between employees and to assure consistency of message.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In the wake of the Digital Axle extravaganza...

I'm wondering... does this social media thing have the best of intentions? We're now singled out as those "kids" who fail to check their facts. Obviously, none of us in fact meet those descriptions, but the two-dimensional sphere of social media has us pegged that way. Sure, we're "kids" essentially, in that (probably) none of us own property, have children, or any sort of real responsibilities. We are, however, intelligent, coherent people, who (almost) have a college degree, and do research so to contribute relevant information to our class blogs.

A myspace profile has various blanks for personality traits, as do our blogger profiles. Age, sex, location, etc. Sometimes there's a section for favorite books, one for movies, and even a place to input a favorite song to play for visitors. Sure, you can write about your political party stance, hopes, dreams, whatever. But does this really say anything about you?

We put ourselves out there, labeled by these social media profiles, and not one of us is represented to the full extent of our potential. Is that good? Do we feel the need to veil our identities behind a mere 6 point image profile? I'm not saying that we should put all sorts of information on the internet. Of course I stand by the fact that we should keep things to the imagination. I just worry that our "digital selves" don't do us justice.

This whole Digital Axle thing has really bothered me. Mainly because I hate it when people label without justification, but really because I think it's entirely contradictory. Check our facts, huh? A classmate's bold post upsetting the CEO is just as bad as brazenly labeling an entire class as one incompetent body. I never blogged about the Digital Axle issue initially, because to be honest, I didn't find it that intriguing. The aftermath, however, has really struck a nerve. I hate to harp on this, and I'm not trying to take the activist stance, but I'm merely pointing out how social media has its downfalls. We're not bad people, we're not incompetent, but without further research, the internet can portray anyone in that light.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How does an album get better sales? By being blogworthy, of course!

A recent study done by NYU's Stern Business School shows that the amount of online "chatter" about an upcoming album release directly correlates to higher physical album sales. Researchers studied 108 albums released in 2007 to see how various outside elements affected the sales once the album had been released, and found that all had an effect in one way or another. Certain elements, however, proved to have more impact than others. Which elements, you ask? Say it with me now, BLOGGING and SOCIAL NETWORKING. I may sound like a broken record here, but article after article points to the strengths of web 2.0 as a marketing tool.

Researchers studied sales ranks (Nielsen Soundscan Ratings are too costly), as well as articles, blog posts, and Myspace presence for each album listed over a period of eight weeks. Findings showed that blogs tended to be the most strongly correlated to high album sales. According to the findings, if 40 or more legitimate blog posts- legitimate as in written by regular people, not marketers- were made prior to an album's release, sales ended up being three times the average.

This success is not limited to albums released under the umbrella of the "Big 4" labels, Independent releases reaped the same benefits. The study also discovered, as bad a rap as Myspace gets, that the number of Myspace friends a band has also correlates to album sales. Take this finding with a grain of salt, however, as the law of numbers proves that more friends generally equals more people ready to buy the album and support the band. That being said, while social networks are a new phenomenon and a good catalyst for high album sales, they simply cannot compare to a review from a notable source like Rolling Stone Magazine or one of it's counterparts.

As I've said before, I am a regular reader of music blogs like Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan, and I buy into the hype. I'm still loyal to the bands I've like all along. A negative Pitchfork review wouldn't deter me from buying, say the new Radiohead album. I'll admit though, that If a band I'm unfamiliar with gets intense praise, I will look into it, and perhaps buy the album. So yes, the hype machine (as we've collectively termed it) claims another victim. But really, is that such a bad thing?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

'Spin' goes digital

Spin Magazine, the notable rock mag, has decided to post it's February issue online. Spin has created a myspace profile wherein users can get complete free access to the magazine, as well as exclusive online content not featured in the print edition. The myspace edition allows you to browse the pages of the magazine, which features "enhanced links" to featured bands' myspace profiles, stories from past issues, and links to purchase music from iTunes. The digital version offers more than the print, and at a great price- free. The magazine is planning to post it's next 12 issues online as well, so its a good chance for music-fiends to catch up on what's happening in the scene.

I think that this is a great thing. With Radiohead offering their album for discounted (or free) digital download, and other publications like Paste offering free issues online, people are able to get access to content that perhaps financial limitations wouldn't allow previously. More than that, for people that just don't feel like paying for content, now they can browse and decide whether or not it coincides with their interests. It also provides marketers a way to reach a much broader audience, especially in the case of free digital magazines. I'll admit, I still buy cd's, and I still subscribe to music magazines. I know I'm the exception in this matter. Very few of my friends purchase cd's, and even fewer buy magazines, especially with the internet so ubiquitous. For me, its about having a copy of something in your hand. I like that I contribute to the salary of writers, and (sometimes) to the livelihood of bands. I also, however, would like more people to be able to be exposed to these mediums, and with free digital content, they are now able to "broaden their horizons", if you will.

Who needs when you're a Citizen Marketer?

During Jackie Huba's visit to class, we focused a lot on the idea the "Citizen" marketer. Obviously, as this is the name of Jackie's book, it constitutes a great deal of what her presentation includes, but the idea stuck with me. While we can often think of an average Joe blogging about Wal-Mart, or Southwest Airlines employees airing their corporate concerns, it is not as often that we recall an individual simply trying to market themselves.

Sure, a band will market itself in order to ascertain a record deal, an actress will make a youtube video posing as a young girl in order to gain exposure, and a distressed fan will create a youtube phenomenon begging us to "leave Britney aloooooooone!", parodied here. An article on New York's Gothamist Blog turned me onto a media and marketing phenomenon that I found to be fascinating. Channeling nearly every romantic comedy ever made, young Patrick Moberg took to the internet to find the girl of his dreams. No, not through the pains of internet dating. Moberg hoped to find one specific girl.

The article began like this:

"With Craigslist becoming ever-increasingly creepy, this smitten young man has gone and purchased his own URL to find the girl he ogled on the subway last night."

His purchased URL,, hosted only one image, a drawing of the subway encounter, complete with details of the mystery woman's floral hair accessories, clothing, and journal writing hobby.

Moberg's quest became a phenomenon in the New York area. A city of singles, as coined by Carrie Bradshaw, was suddenly infatuated by this seemingly dorky, American Apparel-clad kid who was too embarrassed to talk to a girl on the subway, yet not so embarrassed that he couldn't devote webspace to tracking her down. Articles began to pop up all over New York's blogosphere, detailing Moberg's quest, hoping to locate the girl, and even questioning his authenticity. Dubbed "the subway cyrano", Moberg, with the help of other blogs like Gawker and Blackbook Magazine, was able to eventually identify his Manhattan Transit love connection. Blackbook outed her as one of their very own interns, an Aussie named Camille.

Within days, the two were booked on Good Morning America, which apparently was requested, and to be reported, by Diane Sawyer herself. The segment, upping the romance factor (or ick factor?), introduced the story with a backdrop of romantic movie clips coupled with sappy music.

I highly suggest you give it a watch. It really highlights the sensationalizing power of the media. You really believe that Diane Sawyer wants this to be the next Meg Ryan classic. Since the story aired, Moberg has changed his website's front page to read "In our best interest, there will be no more updates to this site", leaving us to complete the story on our own. Finish it as you may, but a Brooklyn writer drafted his own version of how the media-fueled story played out, which, in it's doomed last line states "For now Patrick is alone in their dressing room. The whole place reeks of Camille’s flowers, her goddamn flowers." Diane Sawyer would be crushed.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Youtube"- The Starmaker

In class, we talked about the power of Youtube as both a marketing tool, and as an overall buzz-generator. Our book, "The New Influencers" , devotes a special section to the importance of Youtube, and it's counterpart, Myspace, in the emerging world of Web 2.0.

The book discusses the success of several different youtube-rs, such as the incredibly popular "lonelygirl15", and, as we watched in class, the Mentos example. These are of course really powerful examples of how a video can be distributed virally, and essentially become a sensation on the web. More than that, Youtube has the power to turn the average joe-schmo into an internet star.

For example, take William Sledd. Sledd, a 24 year old Kentucky native, worked at the Gap. He purchased a Mac, and with the help of his new computer, made a youtube profile, and started uploading videos. In time, he came to be a Youtube sensation. To this day, he has 3,534,187 channel views on his youtube profile, and that doesn't count the views of his individual videos. Due to his buzz, Sledd has been offered television deals, was asked to participate in New York fashion week, and, was offered a chance to interview Issac Mizrahi:

What I'm getting at here is that anyone can become a viral sensation these days. Like the book says, Youtube is an excellent way for marketers to reach coveted demographics. Just as importantly, it serves as a marketing tool for individuals to market themselves. In the movie Ratatouille, Chef Gusteau claims that anyone can be a chef. Thanks to youtube, if the content is worthy, anyone can be a star.

'LOST' finds Viral Marketing

'LOST', the cryptic ABC hit show, has come back for a new season. In the ever dwindling selection of television programming, it seems that there is a light at the end of the bad reality tv tunnel. In order to generate buzz for its new season, it seems that the minds behind LOST are employing some viral marketing techniques. In many cities connected to the show, interesting connections have been popping up in the last week or so.

There's the Oceanic Airlines billboard located in Sydney (the destination of doomed Oceanic flight 815) , complete with a seemingly grassroots message scrawled on it:

Travelers in the Los Angeles area noticed this van driving around LAX airport: Oceanic Airlines, mind you, does not exist.

ABC also sent out the following press release in anticipation of LOST's premiere:
"Oceanic Airlines is excited to announce your chance to get the Golden Pass. The Golden Pass truly is an adventure of a lifetime, allowing you to fly anywhere in the world, anytime you want, and as many times as you want. For more information on how to get your Golden Pass, tune-in to the premiere of Eli Stone on ABC."

The show is no stranger to unorthodox marketing techniques. In the past, commercials for the show's "Dharma Initiative" have played during breaks, adding more mystery to the already confusing programming. This new initiative (pardon the pun) adds much to the show. It seems that in the drought of new and interesting primetime television, ABC is looking to make "LOST" a more interactive experience, rather than a simple television program. By adding more facets to the "LOST" concept, viewers create a community in which they discuss the show and increase their intrigue.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Dark Knight" Update

Just to update my last post, the "Dark Knight" viral site, has now been updated to reflect Ledger's Passing. The site, shown in a screen cap to the left, now has a black ribbon in memoriam.

I guess Warner Brothers really is going to change it's tune on this one...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"The Dark Knight" in Danger?

The viral marketing campaign for "The Dark Knight", the latest installment of the 'Batman' franchise, is in need of a makeover. In light of the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger, the film's 'Joker', Warner Brothers is looking to rework the campaign to put less emphasis on the late star.

The campaign, started nearly a year before the film's July 2008 release, is perhaps the strongest viral marketing campaign for a film to date. It began in the summer of 2007, in which a cryptic website,, sent websurfers on a wild goose chase for small clues pertaining to the film. It also revealed, upon much tooling, early photos of Ledger as Joker, a much anticipated role. Other aspects of the campaign included sending out promotional copies of the fictional newspaper, "the Gotham Gazette", to members of the press, and which led them on a quest to discover a hidden cell phone, which led to a press pass, which then took them to a press conference, all pertaining to the film's plot and ultimate release. If not evident in my description, this is a viral marketing campaign unlike any other. The extent to which the movie studio is relying on the hype that viral campaigns build is astounding.

The blog circuit anticipates that the campaign will be re-worked to emphasize the heroic role of Batman, building off of clues from the studio. While the nature of Ledger's role in the film is nothing short of disturbing, to keep emphasis of the marketing campaign on him provides the role with an even more chilling basis. The poster pictured above is the latest for the film, with obvious emphasis on the big reveal of the Joker. It is being pulled as promotional material for the time being, according to Variety. The release date for the film is still on track, and much of the campaign has already gone underway, but it seems that "The Dark Knight" might be going in a new direction.

Thoughts? I personally was shocked to hear about Ledger's death, and think that the buzz on his role in the Batman film will become even more deafening as we get closer to the summer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Save 'The 4400', Save The World

Pardon the "Heroes" pun, but fans of the 4400 have a situation as rash as that of poor Peter Petrelli.

Our textbook, "Citizen Marketers", opens with a case study on the almost-doomed third album of Fiona Apple. Sony, Apple's label, was hesitant to release the album, entitled "Extraordinary Machine" after they were less than pleased with the results of the recording sessions. Dave Muscato, a musician from Missouri, was enraged by the label's discrimination against Apple, and on November 20, 2004, began the website, in which he solicited petitioners to help encourage the album's release. He went so far as to engrave petitioner's names onto plastic apples, mailing them to the studio along with the paper petition, signed by thousands of people. His efforts worked, and the album was released in September of 2005.

A similar situation is popping up today. The USA Network's television program, "The 4400", has been announced as canceled. The series had developed a devout cult following during it's four seasons on the air, and fans are fighting to keep the show around, or at least get a season finale which would serve to tie up loose ends. At, fans can electronically sign a petition to save the show. Along with the petition, those in charge of the site are asking viewers to buy packages of sunflower seeds to send to the network, a concept pertaining to the show. A Youtube video and a myspace page, have been created in conjunction with the campaign.