Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Lucero Survived the Culling of SXSW Showcase Music

I’ve got a smart iTunes playlist set up entitled ‘Getting Things Done’ – it holds my tried and true favorites, songs that are just the right combination of ‘covering background noise’ (lawn mowers and road construction) and ‘keep me motivated’.

Specifically, the list contains tracks I’ve rated greater than 2 stars that aren’t in my ‘Most Played’ list (play count > 18) and aren’t podcasts or audio books.

So it’s a nice mix of 118 songs. Right off the bat That Much Further West played from Lucero. A great tune by a band reminding of the best parts of Uncle Tupelo, the Replacements, and any number of long broken up indy country bands.

Lucero came to me via the SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artists download. That’s right 2.6+ gigs of indy music – and I’ve got 70 unplayed songs left. Lucero and 615 others stay, all the death metal – gone.

Other surviving SXSW Showcasing Artists:
Go Betty Go
Daphne Loves Derby
Richmond Fontaine
Melissa Ferrick
Hayes Carll
Linus Pauling Quartet
Rob McColley

Podcasting is Ron Popeil for the Radio

Mark Ramsey at Radio Marketing Nexus nails the value of podcasting to business:

Podcasting is to Radio spots as infomercials are to TV spots.

I’ve used the informercial comparison before, I’m glad others see it also. The traditional model of commerical spots interrupting a regularly scheduled program falls apart in podcasting. Podcasts can shrink and expand to whatever length makes sense and economics of it mean businesses can publish them in-house faster and easier than waiting to get on a networks schedule.

A good podcast is about one idea, like a good sentence. Traditional interruption-based advertising duct-tapes on a second idea. Earlier, this would be the only way to distribute the commercial message – outside of an infomercial. With podcasting businesses go direct to customers – plus now the commerical message won’t be interupted by the regularly scheduled program.

Beside, when you get far enough down the long tail, everything is both information and advertisement.

Elsewhere 22 April 2007

“Commercial information will be opt-in, long-form, information-rich and entertaining, or people won’t watch it.” – Dave Winer

Monday, 30 May 2005

A Reel Mower vs A Real Mower

Last year, when we moved into our place, I picked up a Scott Classic reel mower. It seemed like a quiet, environmentally conscious, energy efficient solution. It was the wrong tool for a number of reasons: the Siberian Elm that sheds its branches like a cat, the odd divets perfect for twisting ankles, and dandelions just laugh at it. By the end of the hour it took to mow, I was cursing both the lawn and the mower.

Then, the handle snapped off. Leaving me with a mower unusable by anyone over 4 feet tall.

This morning we picked up a new mower from Home Depot. Gas, oil, pump-to-prime, pull-string start, whole deal. In comparison to the Scott, this one’s a tank – leveling everything, shredding the Elm’s branches and those pesky dandelions.

On the plus side, the lawn is mowed. In record time and I’m not frustrated. On the down side, it’s way too loud to catch up on my podcast listening.

Saturday, 28 May 2005

The Guthrie’s ‘She Loves Me’ From the Cheap Seats

On a whim this morning, Jen and I caught the Guthrie’s She Loves Me matinee performance. This isn’t the first time we’ve hit the Guthrie rush line, definitely won’t be the last. Getting decent seats (or seats at all) is always a gamble. Last time, excellent seats – front and center. This time, front and – way off to stage left. A10 & A11 to be specific. If you’re not familiar with the Guthrie’s layout, these 2 seats provide an excellent side-view of the performance.

With a clear view of the orchestra conductor on the monitor and next to the stage exit, I felt I was half backstage – watching the performance be built rather than just the final product. Watching the conductor’s cues to the orchestra music effecting the movements on stage – from these seats you could see everything. Yes, the magic of illusion was gone. Replaced by something far more interesting – the reality of how things work.

The coordination of all the performers was most impressive during the restaurant scene, though we didn’t have the most attractive vantage point, I felt apart of the action. Not something I’ve experienced from front and center seats, no matter how close.

Friday, 27 May 2005

Star Wars III: Unsafe at Humanscale

Jen and I caught an early showing of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith tonight. Kraig Larson warned I should bring earplugs to avoid the dialog and try to look past the robotic direction.

He was right and I appreciated the tip. Unfortunately, that was just the half of it.

Lucas’ best work is the wide, landscape, city, and spaceship shots. They have the detail and clarity of a panoramic photograph, flying past suspension of disbelief and making the on-screen world real and tactile. Then, right when I get enveloped, the scene cuts. Blah.

More trouble when Lucas zooms in. The interior spaces are flat, as if shadows and textures can’t exist indoors. In many of the scenes between Anakin and Padmé and at the Jedi Coucil, I found the view through the windows far more defined and engaging. Zoom in further, where fewer than 3 people are on screen, and everything falls apart; cheap-looking special effects, flat dialog, and yes, robotic direction – even for the non-robots.

Though I don’t see picking it up on DVD, I’ll gladly attend a comprehensive photography exhibit of Star Wars’ exterior scenes that I could walk through at my own speed.

“Because of” Not “With” in Traditional Media Also?

Last night, I was chatting with a copywriter about some story ideas. She mentioned how tough it is to get a story in free ad-subsidized weekly newspapers. Even when you get the by-line, the monetary compensation isn’t all that. Over in the music industry, Steve Albini reminds us how record companies put artists in the hole while Thomas Hauser tears apart the “standard” book contract.

Makes me wonder if Doc Searls’ statement about money and weblogs is true for traditional media also:

“I believe it’s far more important (and interesting) to make money because of our blogs, rather than with them.”

For example, musicians don’t make money with a record, they make money on ticket sales and merchandise (because of a record).

If there’s only two nickels to be made, directly, whether self-publishing (weblogs) or via a publishing company (newspaper, recording, book) and all the money is in the “because of”. It seems to me the quest is finding the shortest way to “because of”.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

The Economics of Podcasting

First off, this post defines podcasting is an effective way to deliver highly niche audio to a very enthusiastic audience (the World English Bible translated into Klingon or Tips for Triathletes in the Southwestern US for example).

Secondly, the numbers used here are rough and make for easy math.

Let’s say you’re making one show a week for a year. Here’s a quick pass at some costs:

Monthly Server & Bandwidth costs ($40 * 12 months): $480
Production and editing effort per show ($200 * 52 shows): $10,400
Equipment Costs (mics, software, etc): $500

  • Beer, coffee, and other production/editing necessities per show ($20 * 52 shows): $1,040
  • Monthly Server & Bandwidth costs ($150 * 12 months): $1,800
  • Equipment Costs -mics, software, etc ($500 amoritized over 5 years): $100

Let’s say we’d like to gross $40,000 for the year (a fair amount for doing only one show a week).

Adding all this up puts your annual costs at $42,940.

For the sake of easy math, let’s say you have 1,000 listeners – the circulation of a small town Nebraskan newspaper like the Bayard Transcript. Frankly, the worldwide audience for a Klingon version of the Bible is probably a thousand.

Dividing the annual cost ($42,940) by the number of listeners (1,000) and the number of shows (52) makes the cost per listener: $0.8258

That’s less than a $1 per show per listener (iTunes – 99 cents, WalMart – 88 cents, coincidence?). One Dollar. $4 a month. $42.94 a year. Kris over at the Croncast settled on nearly the same numbers.

With numbers as small as these, I don’t see advertisers beating down the doors of podcasters. In the broadcast world, millions of dollars are sunk into spectrum, hardware, and talent. This gives advertisers the upper hand.

Early on, Heineken realized it was easier to start their own podcast than enter into an advertising agreement with the Rock ‘n Roll Geek Show. I agree. The economics of podcasting make it far more attractive to start your own thing than shoehorn in an awkward ad subsidized model.

If we go back to the original podcasting is best with niche audio assumption, there’s a point where the “ad message” is as valuable to the listener as the “show message”. One degreee further and the podcast is produced by the “advertiser” as part of their marketing campaign.

That’s far more interesting.

If your favorite podcaster has a tip jar (Croncast, IT Conversations, Evil Genius Chronicles) I encourage you to give them a dollar for every show you’ve enjoyed.

Micropayment pioneer Scott McCloud digs into this same issue in his I Can’t Stop Thinking comic.

On being Seth-dotted

I want to thank Seth Godin for linking to the Work Better Weblog yesterday. As expected, I saw it in the server logs.

Work Better saw quadruple the traffic of just 24 hrs earlier. It didn’t take down my server (slashdotted) but it did make my afternoon (seth-dotted ?). Plus, I got a great email from Joe Ely over at Learning about Lean – one of the blogs that inspired the Work Better Weblog.

It reminded me just how fast and direct internet communication is. Two other recent, personal, and measurable examples of this:

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

If You’re a Guru, You Need a Podcast

There are a handful of vocations ideally positioned for connecting with customers on a regular basis via audio (podcasting):

  • Politicians
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Professional Consultants
  • Musicians
  • Poet, Author, or other Professional Writers

If your vocation is in that list, find a speech or presentation and hit record. Then send it to your most passionate customers. It’s an easy way to effect them on a different level than just text – more along the lines of a telephone conversation or a voicemail. At a most basic level, audio is better than text for addressing many people at once (that’s why we talk – Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language).

Despite your reservations, marketing guru Seth Godin, you should podcast. Whether or not you charge for it that’s an entirely different conversation.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

I missed another 1-on-1 Bike Swap

The 1-on-1 Bike Swaps are a great way to celebrate spring and autumn, clean out your garage, and race un-ride-able bikes around a track bordered with empty PBR cans.

The May 22 bash was the second one I missed. Gene, Hurl, if you’re listening – add an RSS feed to the 117 blog.