WGA – Writer's Strike and the Cost of New Media

I’ve been watching the Writer’s Guild of America strike with some interest through the reporting from Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily since before it went into effect but haven’t had reason to bring it up here until today.

In case you aren’t familiar with what’s going on, essentially all of the people who write scripts for television and movies are currently on strike over a contract re-negotiation that isn’t getting them what they want. The biggest points of contention are:

  1. Writer’s want their take from DVD sales to increase.Currently writers see .3% of DVD residuals for the first million dollars in reportable gross, and .35% of takings after that mark. Writers feel that producers negotiated these numbers when production costs were much higher, and now the writer’s share should be revalued.
  2. Writer’s want to see money from digital downloads and streaming, specifically a 2.5% share.This is apparently more important to the WGA than the DVD thing, because they are quite accurately predicting that downloads of some kind will be the most profitable and most important area to gamble their livelihood over. If you read this intriguing analysis by Jonathan Handel at the Huffington Post, you’ll read about him peering into the future of 3D entertainment.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are the ones going up against the WGA on this and from what I’ve seen on the web and in print, they aren’t handling it very well. Continue reading WGA – Writer's Strike and the Cost of New Media

Fair-Weather Leaks Serve as a Strategic Method of Media Control

radiohead in rainbows label leak political leaksRyan Grim at The Politico wrote an article about the political leaks in Washington D.C. that also offers insight into how and why leaks happen just about everywhere, from bands to business to family secrets.

The article separates the types of leaks into three categories: the malevolent, the benevolent and the accidental.

Grim’s article includes eleven leak sub-categories each with a different intention. If you are plan to communicate with or be a part of the fourth estate, you should probably take a moment to read them each in detail. Instead of touching on each sub-category here, I would like to highlight how fair-weather leaks are used as a method of strategic media control.

Fair-Weather and Bad-Weather Patterns

“When an organization is being run well, people tend not to look at things as leaks, but they tend to look at things as information specifically being put out for some strategic purpose. When things are not well, the information getting out there is perceived as leaks.

-Chris Lehane, of the ’92 Clinton campaign and later the White House.

This seems like a subjective impression to me, and I wonder how it could be quantified without defining exactly what it means for an organization to be “run well.” And Lehane’s idea seems to create a chicken-or-the-egg scenario: a well run organization incorporates strategy into leaks, while strategic leaks also seem to be the hallmark of a well run organization. Continue reading Fair-Weather Leaks Serve as a Strategic Method of Media Control

Doonesbury Comic on In-Class Laptop Use Hits Home

Doonesbury laptop protection style licensed charactersTrudeau really hit home with this comic strip. Every single person in my section at Babson owns a laptop. Nearly everyone brings them to class. Most professors expect a level of multi-tasking, although some only want them open for note-taking.

The situation depicted in the comic actually happened to me earlier in module two. I’ve heard of classes where the majority of students are in a single Skype chat room.

Laptop use among college students has skyrocketed in recent years. I think there is opportunity in offering products that protect and stylize these expensive, common equipment. Here is an idea I recently threw into the bullpen on StudentBusinesses.com.

Winamp 5.5 Update Breaks Last.fm / AudioScrobbler Updating

Audioscrobbler, aka Last.fm is a website that keeps track of your music listening habits. It does this by installing a little pidgeon in your mp3 playing software that flys to the Last.fm server each time you play a song.

The results from this is aggregate data on your music listening habits. It is really a fun way to keep track of what you listened to and share that information with your friends. At one point I had my most recent tracks showing on this blog, but pulled it out because it wasn’t updating correctly.

You can see what I’ve been listening to here.

Winamp 5.5 Breaks Track Reporting

My mp3 playing software of choice is Justin Frankel’s Winamp. It is preferable to iTunes for many reasons. Anyhow, Winamp pushed out its upgrade to version 5.5 a few weeks ago and changed the way that track play detection is performed. This caused in the audioscrobbler / Last.fm winamp plugin to malfunction, only reporting one out of a string of songs to the server. The result is that it looked like I was only listening to one track every several hours or so.

I finally got around to looking into it and found a patch in the Last.fm forums created by very astute user named DoctorO. I installed it and blam it is fixed now. I looked further in the thread and found a Last.fm staff member had updated their winamp installer to now detect the Winamp version number and then detect tracks correctly. I had some troubs with the new official one, however so I’m recommending the user submitted update. Continue reading Winamp 5.5 Update Breaks Last.fm / AudioScrobbler Updating

Live Nation Positioned for Big Year in 2009

I’ve been watching Live Nation pretty closely since the company was spun off from Clear Channel Communications Entertainment Division. I believe that it is positioned to do quite well about two years out.

Live Nation currently operates three areas of business, Events, Venues and Digital Distribution. Venues and distribution needs happen to be where musicians and artists will be needing help as they leave or avoid major record labels.

A major rift is scheduled for 2009, where Live Nation will be selling tickets for all of its venues without help from Ticket Master. According to the Wall Street Journal the major breaking point was that Live Nation wanted to be able to sell Ticket Master tickets directly through the Live Nation website. Clearly Ticket Master wasn’t willing to give up the brand identity.

live nation music today artist nation
Live Nation Hit a 52 Low Yesterday Thanks to a Bad Market and Slow Quarter As It Works To Expand Operations
Continue reading Live Nation Positioned for Big Year in 2009

Weekly Davespeak Traffic Reach

One of my colleagues at Babson asked me how my Dave Matthews Band website ranks against others on the internet. I had a bit of a cloudy answer so I decided to have a look this evening. I was surprised to find that it appears Weekly Davespeak overtook Nancies.org in reach and page views sometime earlier this year. Reach measures the number of users who frequent a website, measured as a percentage of all website visitation.

Weekly Davespeak dave matthews band website statistics

Weekly Davespeak still lags Antsmarching.org by a wide margin, but I’m preparing some changes and a new service for WDS that has the potential to act as a game changer. It will take time, community effort, but I think that WDS could become achieve the lion’s share of Dave Matthews Band traffic within two years.

Copy This Path – Windows Shell Extension

copy this path useful windows shell extension creates a context menu itemI use this utility called Copy This Path all the time. It allows you to right-click a file in windows and choose “Copy This Path” from the context menu. This places the complete path in your clipboard, allowing you to paste it into the either email attachment text boxes, or on a webpage file upload option.

There are a number of utilities out there that offer to do this, but I like Camtech’s the most. Their new one requires you to install a suite of other little context options.

I’ve uploaded a copy of the original here for your convenience. It is a must have for any Windows power user. Many thanks to Jerry Campbell who wrote and released it originally as Freeware.

Download Copy This Path

Impressions of the Babson MBA International Component at Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain.

Babson requires its two-year MBAs to complete an international component which may take the form of a “significant international experience.” When I heard that one of the options is a semester (three months) abroad in Madrid, Spain I knew I had to take a hard look at it.

The Babson Office of International Programs hooked me up with a Babson MBA student currently undergoing the program and he found me Andreas Berghoefer. It took some coordination, but after a few weeks, we finally hooked up on Skype this afternoon to go over his experience so far. Hopefully, Andreas doesn’t mind me sharing some of the things he told me here.

In brief: Andreas is from Germany, and a part of the two-year MBA program at Babson College. He was involved in a number of clubs at Babson, especially the Babson Family Enterprise Club. One of his main interests going to the Instituto de Empresa was to reach out to a wider European alumni network.

One of my first questions was on how easy or difficult it is to stay connected to the Babson campus while taking a semester abroad. Andreas said that he still receives all of the emails that he would other wise so that is good. However, he misses out on all of the hands-on activities including Buffoonery which is a bummer.

On the academic side, he said that the quality of each class depends largely on the professor teaching it. Sometimes slides are not translated into English very well and it reflects sort of poorly on what is otherwise a well-regarded program.

Another concern was the administration of the program–which he seemed to feel had more red tape and difficulty in changing than what you’ll find at Babson. He has felt this especially with regards to the IT department which sounds like it is in some state of shambles at Instituto de Empresa. Andreas mentioned that many of the group organization has been outsourced to Facebook at this point. Continue reading Impressions of the Babson MBA International Component at Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain.

Cathedral Thinking

I was cruising digg and found an article by Linux.com author Nathan Willis that describes problems with people who desire personal ownership over open source projects. The article made reference to the concept of Cathedral Thinking, which is something I hadn’t heard of before.

Some quick searching revealed that this appears to be the result of thoughts from Eric Raymond in his book titled: The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary. (Amazon) I’ve been on a website kick again recently so quickly looked at the bordering keywords and found that other common terms were bazaar thinking and also magic pony thinking. Magic pony thinking actually relates directly to my interest in ethical carbon offsetting.

So I picked up cathedralthinking.com. I was happy that I was able to go from registration to a fully themed and setup wordpress blog within 45 minutes. This included the server side account creation, dns updating, mysql database and user creation along with downloading, installing, and configuring the blog, also putting in appropriate SEO and google analytics plugins. It is amazing how quickly one can build an internet destination these days.

I’m not sure what will be there yet, but I have a feeling that the use of the term may grow a fair amount. I’m going to set up a google alert on the three keywords and then just post quick summary/quotes along with an outbound link. Once some traffic has built up, I’ll monetize with Adsense.

This should dominate the keywords, but also hopefully help people get a better understanding of what it means to think in this way.

New Saul Williams Album Shows Digital Savvy

Radiohead may know music–but they and their management do not know digital downloads. In trying to be artsy, buying In Rainbows was confusing and clunky. When it came time to download, they couldn’t handle the traffic. I found that particularly startling because a band with that kind of IT budget should have been able to get a decently distributed web server set up in 10 days.

Anyhow, three cheers for Saul Williams and his management for connecting with Musicane on the pre-order of his new album Niggy Tardust. (Yes, that is a racially charged album title. This guy has some pretty serious stuff to say to you.)

Musicane’s system for doing the pre-order was the slickest I’ve seen yet, offering a pre-order download of the 192kbps version for free or you could pay $5 and have access to 192kbps, 300kbps, or FLAC. I paid the $5 and it was worth it! Continue reading New Saul Williams Album Shows Digital Savvy