Friday, 29 August 2008

Digital TV: 2012 The Big Switch Off?

When digital television launched in the UK in 1998, it was announced that the analogue signal would be switched off in 2012. Does anyone really care about the impending switch over other than those keen to make us of the available bandwith?

Time for a quick rant on the current state of television.

Right now the television industry is facing a number of woes. This is partly due to the impending recession effecting advertising revenue, and also down to Google increasingly cutting into the advertising budgets of media planners.

A few initiatives have been proposed to overcome this. One is that the BBC should extend their commercial assets. Armando Ianucci suggests that one way the Beeb can do this is through having an optional subscription channel to compete with the likes of HBO. On the other hand, it's being suggested that Channel 4 should get a slice of revenues raised from the licence fee to fund programming.

Then again you have to look at some of the backwards Hollywood Studios, and see how badly they are attempting to break online. If people can’t access content legally online, of course this is going to make them obtain it from illegal sources. Only time will tell if the likes of Hulu and Project Kangaroo will rectify this.

Comedy is one of the hardest genres of programming to launch due to new programmes not traditionally picking up ratings until near the end of the series. One way in which this is being combated is by comedies initially being launched online.

A very good example of this happens to be my cousin Hayden Black. He's received significant media coverage both online and offline for his Abigail's X Rated Teenage Diary and Goodnight Burbank.

To monetise content online you need to get creative. Whether that be sponsorship, product placement or innovative forms of advertising.

There have been a number of success stories of comedies originally being launched online and then being picked up upon by mainstream television. Off the top of my head I believe John Battelle cites an example of this in his excellent Search book.

Anyway, what I'm proposing with this post is that most television is utter tripe and that I'm really excited to see the continued relationship of television and internet develop, and watch the power being wrangled away from the traditional gatekeepers and into the hands of the masses.

The introduction of digital television in the late nineties was the start of traditional audiences becoming increasingly segmented across the media. I wouldn't be surprised if the advent of digital television was the start of what we now call long tail.

So the upshot is we don't have to be victim to watching utter tosh on only four channels. This tripe has rotted the brains of the masses for nigh on eighty years and we don't have to put up with it anymore. And yes, whilst the majority is user generated content out there isn’t great at least it’s democratic. If you dig deep enough sure there’s quality content th ere just waiting to be discovered.

With new tools like Seesmic and Qik, it seems we are only touching the tip of the iceberg.

Ironically enough, the BBC is actually very well placed to capitalise in a post digital age. They are perhaps the most trusted impartial content provider, and have huge resources to develop new products online. This didn't escape the attention of James Murdoch earlier in the year, when he criticised the BBC Iplayer for using up an astonishing amount of bandwith. Surely that's more of a concern for the ISP's?

On the other hand, the question of whether television in it's traditional format has become outdated is another concern. It's just so passive. Clay Shirky puts this point across very well in this blog posting. Ultimately television is passive and is that what people in a post internet age really want?

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Saturday, 23 August 2008

Google and China

This is a fascinating lecture from Kai-Fu Lee, president of Google Greater China.

The footage presents a fascinating insight why even in the digital age, China will continue to stand out as the token example of a country which is a particularly hard nut to crack for western media conglomerates.

Thanks to Gerd Leonhard, for digging the link.

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Friday, 22 August 2008

Hitting The Mainstream Media

The Purpose Of All Media managed to get two insertions today into Elisa Bray's Caught In The Net column, in The Independent. The column is a weekly roundup of internet and music tidbits.

The TPOAM alumini featured are Better Than The Van and Songkick

See article below.

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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

How Not To Write A Corporate Blog Part 2

It's been a while since I checked in to see how Columbia Records' blogging initiative is going.

When I last checked in March, Mike Columbia's blog had been updated for the first time in six months.

The most recent post displayed is from April so is starting to nudge towards that magical six month mark too.

However, somewhat bizarrely around fifty posts were simultaneously uploaded on March 23. Blimey. Are these people unaware that some of us have RSS readers and that we know exactly what's going on?

And whilst we're on the subject of failed IT projects if you'd care to wander on over to Scoutr, Angel Records' (subsiduary of EMI)demo/blog submission type page you'll be able to see that the artist garnering the most votes currently holds a mighty 18 votes. Not so much wisdom of the crowds, more wisdom of the few and far between.

Who makes the decisions on actioning these projects? I'm not pointing the finger of blame at the bloggers. Ultimately, you can't force someone to blog but companies should make sure staff are fully committed before agreeing to do so.

Thank G-d for the likes of Hype Machine and SoundCloud.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Interview With Tweet Tweet

I chased up Kevin O'Neill, one of the founders of Twitter powered club night Tweet Tweet, with some questions. Here's what he had to say

How long have you been on Twitter?

Since October last year, but the other Tweet in Tweet Tweet, Alex, has been on there since it's inception pretty much.

Explain the concept of Tweet Tweet in no more than 20 words.

Live requesting, live archiving, the potential for a fully documented club experience.

What gave you the idea to start Tweet Tweet?

Me and Alex had wanted to put on a night for a while, and while we knew what music we'd play (heavily focused on making people dance), we didn't have an identity for the club. We were playing around with some ideas for names, and were having conversations across Twitter about our plans one day. Because we were communicating with tweets, the name Tweet Tweet suddenly emerged, and it started opening up possibilities like making requests via Twitter, and archiving the playlists. Twitter basically gave us the framework, and it's been fun to play around with it, and see how people might engage with it. One of our geekiest ideas was to give every night (we want to run monthly) a subtitle that was 140 characters exactly, i.e. a twoosh. We moderated that impulse!

What technology will you be using to tweet the playlist on the night?

If I get my Twitter SMS service fixed in time, simply my mobile phone! If not, we'll be using Alex's iPhone.

How will users be able to Tweet requests on the night? Are you confident that the venue you use will enable a network signal to clubbers?

Twitter killing the UK SMS updates has been a bit frustrating, as I won't be able to receive requests on my phone now. If club-goers Twitter @tweettweetclub on the night, we'll get the request from Alex's iPhone, but having the dedicated SMSs coming straight to my phone was a nice idea. People can make requests before the night too, but obviously it'd be more fun if we got it going on the night. In terms of reception, the venue is called The Bunker, a bit worryingly, but I've had phone reception in there before, so we should be fine. We've not planned it amazingly well, to be honest, but it should all work out!

Would you be prepared to surrender the entire playlist to your audience?

This is our intention, yes! Partly because we're addicted to documentation, but also it makes an excellent way for people to gauge what our music is like. So many club night flyers (ours included!) have endless lists of bands and you can never be sure until you get to the night what the music will be like, how the DJs create the texture of the night by the combinations they put together, if you're always going to have a half-hour dubstep or Northern Soul sequence, that kind of thing. With the Tweet Tweet Twitter feed, people can check out what we *actually* play, and that kind of complete upfront honesty seems really neat.

Where do you see Tweet Tweet one year from now?

Ha, if we're still running a year from now hopefully I'll have got a free iPhone out of it somehow!

At present Twitter is yet to break out from the tech community and reach a wider audience. How do you plan on engaging with music fans who are not on Twitter or unaware of what it is?

Maybe Tweet Tweet will break down these walls! The feedback we've got so far has mostly been about our music policy, and the bands we want to play. A handful of people have got interested because of the Twitter theme, and that's been awesome, satisfies our inner geeks. Everyone else either hasn't heard of Twitter, or doesn't understand why Facebook status updates aren't enough for us. We've no idea how the club will go, but Twitter is a great service and we want to play with it, test what it can do, what it's possible to use it for. It's exciting, isn't it?!

What do you think about Twitter stopping UK SMS updates?

It's a bit sad, as I mentioned earlier! It means anyone wanting to check how the club is going on the night has to be using web-based services on their phone. There was a beautiful simplicity about the SMS service, but maybe it'll come back in a different form for a future Tweet Tweet. I completely understand why Twitter have had to pull the service, and hope they find a way to get their revenue sorted. Maybe satellite Tweet Tweet clubs worldwide could contribute to a Twitter Emergency Fund!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Tim Ferris and Terry Sivers interview

Excellent interview between Tim Ferris (author of Four Hour Workweek) and Terry Sivers (founder of outsourcing, micro-testing, and PR from the point of view of creatives.

This was first published on Tim's lifestyle blog

EconMusic Conference (London)

I'm pleased to have been invited to blog at the forthcoming EconMusic Conference in London on 23 September.

The event is a half day conference focusing on the key strategic issues around the economics of digital music.

Speakers at the event are as follows:

Billy Bragg

David Courtier-Dutton
CEO, Slicethepie

Ben Drury
CEO, 7Digital

Tom Erskine
Head of Go To Market, Nokia Music

Ian Henderson
VP Digital Business EMEA, Sony BMG

David Hyman
CEO, Mog

Mark Mulligan
VP & Research Director, JupiterResearch

Erik Nielsen
Managing Director, Intact Records / Racket Records

Will Page
Executive Research Director, MCPS-PRS

Martin Stiksel

Johan Vosmeijer
Managing Director, SellaBand

Full details on the event can be found here

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tweet Tweet - The World's First Twitter-Driven Club

How's this for the long tail?

Tweet Tweet is a new club night based in Deptford, London, which is priding itself on being the first Twitter driven club night.

The playlist is tweet-ed in real time. Their first ever night takes place August 29. Full details here

I suppose a similar Last.FM scrobbling type club night could also exist. The BBC incorporated scrobbling on all of their radio shows earlier in the year. In fact I believe some clubs may already scrobble all of their content? Can someone enlighten me on this?

Anyway to sum up, props to Tweet Tweet for coming up with the concept behind the night. This is a great example of serving a niche, and what Seth Godin would refer to as a Purple Cow.

Whether or not the night will prove to be anything more than a novelty proves to be seen but I expect them to receive a fair amount of media/blog coverage off the back of the unique concept.

Back in 2004 I briefly put on a night called OurSpace to tap into the MySpace phenomenon, at the Luminaire in London. However, I cancelled the night in fear of Murdoch's lawyers moving in.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The end of control and lifehacking.

Apologies for the lack of updates.

Very busy at this end doing some training in digital marketing with E-Consultancy and applying for jobs.

Here are a couple of highly recommended lectures, both filmed at Google HQ.

The first is from Gerd Leonhard, author of Media Futurist one of my favourite blogs on the fragmentation of the media. This lecture is informed by his forthcoming book, The End Of Control.

This lecture is by David Allen, on his Getting Things Done principle. This is one of the most influential productivity frameworks around at the moment. If you care to cast your eye on any of the numerous lifehacking sites and blogs you'll see Allen's name constantly cropping up. Since taking on a few of the GTD principles and related web apps I feel a lot more productive, even with an increasing amount of tasks to action and complete.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Media Literacy

Fantastic lecture by Michael Wetsch on how education should incorporate learning through Web 2.0 tools