Monthly Archives: June 2008

Forget Art vs. Science…It’s Data vs. The World

The July Wired declares The End of Science. We now apparently have enough data and the necessary computing power to predict anything with statistical confidence. Period.

For some reason, I’m not alarmed. Perhaps it’s because I realize that knowing something is one thing, while analyzing and taking correct steps from the knowledge is something else all together.

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Filed under analytics, future of media

American Dreams, Multicultural Realities & America in the World at Large

While scanning RSS feeds early this morning, I came across some information for a new documentary releasing in November called American Dreams. The film will focus on understanding the consumer culture in early 21st century America, especially on the “prosumer“, i.e. consumers who are especially socially and environmentally aware. Obviously interesting fare for those of us in the retail industry – and fans of St. Elsewhere wondering what Dr. Ehrlich has been up to.

Then when I picked up my USA Today a bit later this morning, I noticed a cover story on births fueling Hispanic population growth in the US. Interesting in light of immigration’s status as a hot – and apparently somewhat moot – campaign topic the past few elections, but with the marketing hat on, understanding the dynamics of “acculturated” Hispanics and a move to more rural areas becomes enlightening. What does that mean for the previously mentioned American Dream (the general construct, not the documentary)? Many times in marketing when we think Hispanic, we assume “urban”. Sounds like demographic shifts may make that an obsolete assumption in the not-so-distant future.

Very much related on the multicultural front was Friday’s release (also front page billing on USAT yet not cross-referenced in today’s story about Hispanics – a media miss if I’ve ever seen one) by Yankelovich and Radio One of research on the diversity and optimism that exists with in the African-American/Black (the research actually asks for preference on these two labels, thus I use them both) community – not to mention the close of the Digital Divide. It seems the “fragmentation” of the Black community is leading that community to more fully achieve the American Dream, or at least feel more positively disposed about the opportunity to achieve it. A step further, this helps obliterate another pre-conceived marketing notion – that “African-Americans” or “The Black Community” think and act in simple buckets of behaviors.

And to put a nice bow on this line of thinking on The American Dream, a trip to Barnes & Noble yesterday so my son could redeem a gift card led me to purchase The Post-American World. This best seller delves into how the concept of a flat world and globalization is allowing other nations to rise closer to the US’s financial prowess. While many pundits and media outlets have spun this to negative affect, Fareed Zakaria takes a positive view on America’s role in a world where we may no longer be #1 in everything.

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Filed under books, media coverage, multicultural

My name is Prince and I am Suing You

Perhaps he’s miffed about turning 50 years old. Instead of figuring out how to leverage the fact that a group of Norwegian fans developed a compilation of covers honoring his birthday, Prince is suing.

(Any of you Minnesotans know where Paul Westerberg stands on digital rights and whatnot? I can’t hardly wait to hear…)

Anyway, this is the same man/enigma/symbol who the NYT recently gushed “has remade himself as a 21st Century rock star” , using a plethora of marketing and distribution strategies and tactics to get his CD into fans’ hands for free via a London newspaper or as a bonus for purchasing concert tickets to remain relevant to a new breed of music fans. It seemed he had realized that the ownership of the brand of “Prince” was in the hands of his fans and they could push it further for him than he could do so himself.

A few Norwegians pay homage and he takes legal action? Since when is it OK to sue people who like you enough to literally sing your praises? Will he make more money by stopping greater distribution of his music even if every international copyright law isn’t followed (no, I’m not advocating for unlawful distribution, just some common sense)? Or could you leverage the somewhat randomness of this to your greater, longer term good and continue to make yourself even more relevant?

In better Prince news, EW did see fit to crown Purple Rain as the best album of the past 25 years. Though I did hear that for the current cover of Rolling Stone’s Guitar Heroes issue, he was supposed to be there but didn’t want to be on the same cover as John Mayer. I think he’s jealous of Jennifer Anniston’s hair.

BTW, I’ve got many issues w/ these EW lists as I came of age the past 25 years, but the main one I’ll point out is no REM albums until #32 and when there is one it’s Life’s Rich Pageant? “Fall on Me” takes precedence over “Losing My Religion” and Out of Time? Come on…

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Filed under digital distribution, monetizing media, pop culture

Radio Unfree USA

The RIAA and their various associates (musicFIRST? whatever…) would have us believe AM-FM radio is piracy. This quote from the post on Wired’s blog sums it up nicely:

“The argument boils down to this: Radio is making billions off the backs of recording artists and their labels; and the recording artists gain invaluable exposure because they’re on the radio, so royalties should not have to be paid.”

Been awhile since I was in a biology class, but I’m pretty sure that’s close to the definition of symbiosis.

A note on radio station ownership in the US for those not aware. I don’t know the exact stats but something like 4 companies control most of the stations in the country (ever noticed on long drives that there’s always a “MIX”, “X” and some station with a one syllable dude’s name? The fruits of too few owners of media outlets, my friends). And in case you haven’t noticed, that’s done a lot in terms of limited genres and artists now heard over the airwaves (Thank God for The Current here in MSP, though I do still pine for REV105 on occassion and still drop in online to good ol’ KGSR down in Austin, TX).

So we’re talking about whether or not the relatively limited number of artists – and the labels that represent them – that receive the majority of airplay on commercial radio are compensated enough for their music. What do you think?

Separate but related – just finished a book called “The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism.” It’s an interesting look at how “punk capitalism” and “the hip hop generation” are making major corporations (and industry groups for that matter) determine if piracy empowered by digital technology is just a new form of competition. Good and fast read.

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Filed under books, digital distribution, entertainment industry, monetizing media, RIAA