Prize-Winning Storytelling…in 25 Seconds

In and among the usual suspects to land Peabody Awards today (including AMC for Breaking Bad, NPR for The Race Card Project, FRONTLINE for the excellent NFL concussion expose “League of Denial,” and a host of other terrific PBS productions) was the first YouTube video ever to win. In the words of the judges:

“Short, simple and spot-on in its critique of rape culture, the ingenious PSA by two University of Oregon students takes just 25 seconds to make its point that real men treat women with respect.”

Amen.  Congrats to students Samantha Stendal and Aaron Blanton for such a succinct and brilliant little production.   The complete of Peabody winners for 2013 can be found here.

Reasons to Value Vinyl, Part III: Sleeveface

AUSTIN, TX – About to board a plane back to DC after another stimulating uTunes residency at UT, and what do I behold in the paper but a little wire service item buried in the back of the paper about “Sleevefacing.” The Alpower blog tells you all you need to know. Can’t wait to try this out at home with my own vinyl collection!

Sleeve + Face: Alpower

Alpower is right — the Flickr slideshow is sure to bring a smile to your face. Check out more on the “official” sleeveface website!

And even….the official(?) “how-to” video…

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Holiday Leftovers: The Royal Tube and Missing the Parade


Sitting around the table on an overcast (what else?) North Norfolk afternoon, I got to witness a UK holiday tradition for the very first time: The Queen’s Annual Christmas Day Message. In a nice touch, the broadcast began and ended with excerpts from her very first Royal Christmas Message was delivered 25 years earlier – in 1932, by Elizabeth’s grandfather George V).

But – no slouch she – this was not a mere exercise in nostalgia for the Queen: She began her speech by saying, “One of the features of growing old is a heightened awareness of change,” and indeed the message marked the launch of The Royal Channel (or, “One’sTube” as the Telegraph headlined it), which you can find on your favorite video portal.

The hit count so far? 866,000 for t. Next time I heard a performing-arts organization whine and bleat about how they can’t keep up with new technology and new media opportunities, I’ll remind them of the fashion-forward oh-so-trendy Royals….

That’s a lesson that was seemingly lost on the editors of Parade magazine, who on Sunday ran a present-tense interview with Benazhir Bhutto, maintaining it was “too late” to change the over and the interview was “too important” to drop.

Fair point on the latter point; regarding the former, Are You Kidding? Parade’s cover went to bed on Dec. 21. Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27.

The cover appeared on Jan. 6th, with no explainer, no “box,” no nothing. All in the present tense. Shocking, surprising, and dismaying legions of the Sunday mag’s millions of readers.

Oh, they issued an online explainer:

After her assassination, PARADE immediately posted the entire interview online, and [author Gai] lSheehy appeared on network and cable TV news shows to discuss her face-to-face conversations with Bhutto.


Fine, but what about in your own magazine? Ten days between event and cover, and do you really, truly, believe that the magazine was absolutely powerless to change things? If that’s so, then print-reliant publications like Parade truly are wooly mammoths making their last footprints on Earth.

For the record, the mag’s readers aren’t buying that excuse. Check out the 400+ comments at the end of the Bhutto interview, ironically titled “A Wrong Must Be Righted.”

And there’s Dan Fratello’s column in the Huffington Post: Snarky, but amusing nonetheless:

Sources indicate this isn’t the last time Parade will get a black eye in 2008. Consider these cover stories already in the queue at Parade, and coming to your Sunday brunch soon:


Lighting a Fire: Fred Thompson Is Transforming the GOP Race for President

Rocket Fuel: Roger Clemens on His Workout Routine and His Plans to Play a 25th Season

Britney: All Cleaned Up, Calmed Down and Ready to Be a Mom

Required Reading – The Well-Tempered Web


In the Oct. 22 issue of the New Yorker you’ll find
a Critic At Large piece called “The Well-Tempered Web” – in essence, a Postcard from the Brave New Media World, written by Alex Ross. There’s a reason Ross is at the top of the list on my blogroll….this is one of the best, most stylishly written and comprehensive snapshots of what’s happening with classical music online, and its implications for the future. Ross writes about a lot of the things I’ve been trying to see and describe in this space, though, in my experience, the scenario is not quite as rosy as he paints. Sample grab:

Classical-music culture on the Internet is expanding at a sometimes alarming pace. When I started my blog, I had links to seven or eight like-minded sites. Now I find myself part of a jabbering community of several hundred blogs, operated by critics, composers, conductors, pianists, double-bassists, oboists (I count five), artistic administrators, and noted mezzo-sopranos (Joyce DiDonato writes under the moniker Yankee Diva). After a first night at the Met, opera bloggers chime inwith opinions both expert and eccentric, recalling the days when critics from a dozen dailies, whether Communist or Republican or Greek, lined up to extoll Caruso. Beyond the blogs are the Internet radio stations; streaming broadcasts from opera houses, orchestras, new-music ensembles; and Web sites of individual artists. There is a new awareness of what is happening musically in every part of the world. A listener in Tucson or Tokyo can virtually attend opening night at the Bayreuth Festival and listen the following day to a première by a young British composer at the BBC Proms.

Those who see the dawning of a new golden age should bear in mind the “Snakes on a Plane” rule: things invariably appear more important on the Internet than they are in the real world. Classical music has experienced waves of technological euphoria in the past: the Edison cylinder, radio, the LP, and the CD were all hailed as redeeming godsends for a kind of music that has always struggled to find its place in American culture. At the end of such bouts of giddiness, classical music somehow always winds up back where it started, in a state of perpetual fret.

Thanks, Alex. I’ll go back to fretting now. I think there’s still a critical missing link having to do with music education (or lack thereof) and the general broader cultural awareness of events outside of the roar of the pop-culture surf, which is what’s driving the UTunes: Music 1.01 project.

Ross also makes a marvelous point about the utterly transparent online accessibility of arguably the most inaccessible of all composers….Arnold Schoenberg. Throwing copyright concerns to the winds, the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna has created a transparent, robust, and comprehensive site dedicated to the inventor of “twelve-tone” music, a man some (like John Adams, f’irnstance) to have led classical music down a 75-yeard spiritual dead-end.

On the site, you can read immaculate digital reproductions of Schoenberg’s correspondence, listen to his complete works on streaming audio, examine his designs for various inventions and gadgets (including a typewriter for musical notation), and follow links to YouTube videos of him playing tennis.

And there’s this trenchant “deep catalog” observation:

Classical music, with its thousand-year back catalogue, has the longest tail of all. In Naxos’s case, thirty to forty per cent of its digital sales in the U.S. come from albums downloaded four times a month or less. Thus, a not insignificant portion of the company’s revenue comes from titles that, by Justin Timberlake standards, don’t exist

Required reading, if you care about classical music.

Link

Sunday Funnies

Okay, let’s resume our normal breathing. What I intended to write about today (okay, two days ago, actually…the RoeDeo travel schedule has put me behind on the blogs again) was a lot more mundane, but not unrelated to the previous post. I’m an inveterate reader of comic strips. Even the most boring, tired ones. Thanks to newspaper consolidation over the years, my local rag, the Washington Post, has three pages full of ’em. So why am I telling you this? Well, with a few notable exceptions (Doonesbury, Zits, anything Berkeley Breathed does, the comics page rarely has its pulse on the zeitgeist. In fact, part of its charm is how surpisingly tin the ears of comics creators can be. Thus i was astonished to see in last Sunday’s funnies the first appearances in comic ink of the words “YouTube” and “BiTtorrent.” The first was courtesy of Doonesbury author Garry Trudeau – depicting feckless Uncle Duke “uploading his old campaign videos on YouTube,” to the horror of his K-street lobbyist son. Even better – the Videos are actually on the site! Trudeau explains how they got there on his site. Even more surprising was where “BiTtorrent” appeared – in Bill Amend’s invariably-mild Foxtrot strip – a surprisingly political strip where young technonerd Jason is teaching his iguana how to download to escape the wrath of the “RIA.” Hmmmm. Forget this temporary victory represented by the copyright ruling; if the Sunday funnies are discussing Bittorrent, has the larger war been lost?? (And now that Foxtrot is a Sunday-only strip, are Amend’s creative juices flowing a little more?) PS – discovered a few years ago an entire subculture that delights in the howlers that come from the Mark Trail strip — triumphs, or tragedies, depending on your viewpoint, of art, style, culture, and fact…

The Power of the Users

A friend turned me on to a new blogger today – Buzzmachine, from the mind/pen of Jeff Jarvis. He’s got a great commentary today about the silliness of Viacom (and the Oscars) demanding their video clips be pulled from YouTube. (uh, oh, is the RoeDeo in trouble? Just where did that photo of The Three Amigos come from?) Sample Grab:
If I had the Oscars or Viacom …here’s what I’d do to deal with — no, to exploit and profit from — the inevitable trend toward your audience promoting and distributing your content:
The first goal is to get the audience to pick and recommend your best stuff. That’s free promotion.
The second goal is to make money from advertising, either on the clips themselves or on the pages and videos people come to because they saw the clips.
So I’d work with YouTube et al …to enable viewers to pick out segments in the middle of video. And then I’d let them to post those segments on any of the sharing services that enable me to attach ads and make money. So say the Oscars are up at Oscars.com and you can watch them there — and earn the Academy and the network more ad revenue with every click.
My Jarvis grab wouldn’t be complete without noting his typically-pithy Dave Winer grab:
It seems the entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users. They’re accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven’t learned how to negotiate with the users, and that’s who they have to deal with, if they want a future.
Yes, already my blog is reduced to quoting a blogger quoting another blogger. How lame is that?