Friday, July 13, 2007

Arts-Music-Culture: Finding the Gold in Pirating

A few weeks ago I sold band merch for a local Boston band called The Information. They just created a new album, but did not release a CD. Weird? Not really. These days, artists are finding new ways to attract consumers who might normally download music illegally.

The Information produced flash drives for fans to purchase. Then, they could simply upload all the songs into their computers legally. The band extended their gimmick merchandise by putting new labels on old 8-Track discs with a download code. Fans who chose to buy the 8-Track (which could have anything on it from the Dooby Brothers to Anita Ward) could type in the code and upload the songs that way.

A similar case is with the Canadian band Stars (Arts&Crafts). The band just wrapped up recording their new album and it’s official release date is September 25th. From now until the fall, promotional CDs will be sent out to radio stations, PR people, Music magazines, etc. The CD will inevitably be leaked. So, the band has opted to have a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude. They have released their album on iTunes for fans to purchase before the official release date months later.

It’s a natural occurrence for things to change. The music industry is no exception. While artists are finding it tougher to keep their fans from buying their music, reliance on marketing is becoming even more essential. It’s forcing the industry to be more creative with their approach to make new albums stand out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Graffiti Under Attack!: Big brother is spending

I just read a disturbing article about the expensive GPS technology being used to track graffiti and locate graffiti vandals. With so many problems facing humanity - global warming, terrorism, and genocide to name a few - is this seriously our priority?

While graffiti can be intrusive, it should be nowhere near the top of our governments' monetary priorities. Here in Boston, our under-staffed police can't seem to stem the rising unsolved murder rate, yet we still have a division in charge of seeking out, arresting and prosecuting local graffiti artists.

Graffiti is, in essence, a form of rebellion. At its worst, it's just vandalism with no rhyme or reason other than to ruin something, but at its best it is public art and a creative outlet. It's also, in essence, advertising. It's all about visibility and brand building.

But thanks to the media, graffiti is always associated with destruction of property instead of the art form it can be. The actual term for a graffiti artist, a "writer," has for the most part been replaced by criminal.

The stark reality is that police have much higher priorities to attend to than graffiti. The powers that be should think about where they want to spend our tax dollars, and they should be focused on issues much larger than supposedly misled "vandals". As a taxpayer, I welcome public art, commissioned or not. I would much rather my money be going to national health-care, social security, national security and contingents for a greener and cleaner globe.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

iHype and the Art of Connection

Never has technology received so much media coverage since the current launch of the iPhone, and yes, I'm going to go ahead and add to it. You might have thought curing world hunger was one of its features with all the publicity. Sure the iPhone can stream videos and has Wi-Fi capabilities, but does it live up to all the hype? Here are some of the pro’s and con’s of the iPhone to help you make an educated opinion.


  • Trees everywhere can rejoice because the iPhone can hold addresses, maps, notes, calendars, events, and readily assess email, which means Post Its are a thing of the past.
  • You are always connected. The Wi-Fi capabilities and Bluetooth help you keep a constant watch on your Facebook profile. Not to mention you can watch Youtube videos.
  • It can multitask. You might want to download a song while you write an email and with the iPhone that is possible.
  • Its sexy…come on admit it. Sleek, sophisticated, lean lines - it's enough to cause tingles. It’s like the Bentley of the mobile industry. The screen also adapts to how you hold it, which makes it very functionable.


  • You have to really like AT&T because that is the network provider, and it does not come cheap. Unlike the iPod, once you buy the iPhone there are still more bills to pay.
  • Without WiFi service, the internet connection is rather slow.
  • The virtual keypad can be a bit daunting...move your finger incorrectly and you are dialing your Grandmother instead of your friend.
  • It’s the 1st gen version. Sure it is really amazing, but it still is the first generation iPhone, which means shortly hereafter a newer, better, more reliable version will be out….which brings me to the price.
  • You have to remember when it all comes down to it you are paying $600 for a phone... a ridiculously nice phone….but still, you could get a cheap trip to Vegas or pay a month's rent with that money.

My real question is what is next after the iPhone? For that I have a wonderful suggestion:

The iSee: Reality is so 2050, with the iSee you can party in Second Life and balance your bills online through the comfort of your contact lens. Who needs the real world anyway?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Social Media: All that and a Bag of Nuts

This viral video spread through offices like chicken pox in a kindergarten. But I must say, this epidemic was much more fun. A few nights later I saw it on prime time news... just another example of how mainstream media is picking up what's going on in the Web 2.0 world.

And, to any Web 2.0 critic out there, this 5 second video received more than 1.1 million hits on Youtube. If you do some quick math, that's 38 work weeks spent watching this clip - the majority of a year (and that doesn't include any other site that it was on)! I'm not saying that social media is the only answer for marketers, but this goes to show that it deserves time and attention to figure out if it is one of the answers for a client or your brand.