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Thoughts on the Eve of the Launch of Apple’s Beats1

I am pretty excited to experience Beats1 radio, but I’m also interested to see how this launch impacts the media landscape.  As somebody that loves radio, I’m excited about the on-air product and as a media observer, I think Beats1 could provide a platform for reshaping the existing radio paradigm. At first glance, this may seem like just another internet radio station, the likes of which we have seen Pandora, Live365, and Spotify among a litany of others…however based on the marketing thus far it looks like Beats1 will be an entirely different beast.  Being positioned as a global live broadcaster, Beats1 is in the unique position to provide radio with a rebirth and offer listeners a unique experience akin to the early days of FM radio. In the decades since the rise of the FM dial, radio has become overly programmed, music selected weeks in advance or by computer, and the human element has either been entirely lost, or minimized to simple time and temperature updates.  Yet, Apple’s radio offering is the antithesis of this and instead harkens back to the early days of terrestrial radio – allowing the DJ’s to play what they want and what fits the moment – albeit in this case a much larger global moment.  Hosted by talented and experienced jocks, Beats1 is promising to be more then just a computer driven playlist, and can prove to be a valuable channel for artists while providing listeners with a compelling experience. Secondly, it’s that unique experience that will draw listeners in, and in the long-run may spell trouble for both traditional radio outlets, as...

Hollywood is Broken, Does Netflix Have the Answer?

It’s seemed to me for a long time that the model of going to the movie theatre is broken. With the advent of our DVR-infused, binge watching, watch anywhere culture — the idea of going to a theatre to watch a movie for several hours seems antiquated, it just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The question at hand then is, how does Hollywood tackle adjusting its business model to fit within the current culture. Regardless of the cultural shifts and the ability to access content from pretty much any corner of the globe, Hollywood has had a pretty tight grip on the distribution of new movies and the structure of the screening window (the system of when a movie is in theaters, available for purchase, rental, and then via cable and streaming) because there is a lot of revenue at stake. Despite that, from a consumption point of view, the current Hollywood system is broken; and I would argue that with these new technologies the reality is there is an entirely new world of revenue potential for these studios if they can find the right methodology to reach consumers. In order for Hollywood to catch-up with these shifts the answer lies in finding a path to the revenue to supplement the traditional Box Office. To that end, earlier this week, Netflix and the Weinstein Company announced a partnership. This relationship will debut the sequel to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon simultaneously on both IMAX screens across the country, as well directly to the consumer via Netflix. Now, while the number of IMAX theaters is smaller than general...

Defining Success In the New Era of Late Night

When Johnny Carson retired viewers were for the first time presented with an option in late night Television.  They had the new Tonight Show host in Jay Leno, or the former host of Late Night, David Letterman with his Late Show on CBS.  That idea that there was competition in the late night landscape was a foreign concept, as prior to that point, late night viewers were predominantly focused on The Tonight Show for a laugh before bed.   This Leno vs. Letterman debate garnered a lot of ink in ensuring years.  Of course, times have changed and with the debut of Jimmy Fallon's version of the Tonight Show, the late night options are plentiful; from Letterman, to his prodigy in Kimmel, and the emergence of options on cable including Conan, Stewart, and Colbert.  Perhaps, in today's media over-loaded environment it's only fitting that we also have a plethora of options for our late night entertainment.   Not only are each of these shows vying for viewers in their time slot, but for the eyes of social media users as well.  It's a whole new layer of complexity that goes into programming each night's show, and it should make for some interesting competition in the years to come.  To that end, Fallon got off to a pretty good start himself with his latest video to go viral "The Evolution of Hip Hop Dance." However, the question that we're faced with now, as viewership changes and morphs, how will we define success of these late night programs?  Will the focus still be on traditional viewership numbers, or will the definition...

Can You Hear Me Now?

Audio is vital to a successful video production.  Typically, it's so well done that we take it for granted, because well produced audio is perfectly in sync and our mind easily marries the video with the sound in perfect harmony. Clean audio means ensuring that your talent and the footage you're trying to capture are properly recorded; this ensures that you have the right sound to reinforce the visual picture and allows your audience to easily follow along and focus on your message.  While this seems obvious, there are a number of issues that can arise with poorly recorded audio, including: Difficulty hearing the presentation Muffled or distant audio No natural sound, feedback or other noise can be distracting Audio that is out of sync with the video To avoid these issues for your video production, you will want to evaluate what you're shooting, how your telling the story, and what the best approach is to capture the audio.  This will ensure that you take the right steps to record clean, crisp, quality audio during your video shoot, and successfully tell your story while enhancing the quality of your...

Lessons from the Oscars

While the Oscars celebration has wrapped up, the annual awards show serves as a poignant reminder as to all of the qualities of a good production.  From lighting, to set design, audio, and effects the show showcases Hollywood's biggest productions, and at the same time offers perspective on the aspects that you need to keep in mind to produce and develop effective video content.  Now, while your video production may be for marketing purposes, or to educate an internal audience, demonstrate a product, or share insights from new research or the C-suite, there are still similarities and lessons you can take away from The Oscars.   Here are three lessons from the Oscars to keep in mind: Sometimes Less Is More: The Artist, winner of the Best Picture award, did something most of us would have thought impossible in 2012; they told their story with no spoken words.  Quite a remarkable feet in this technology charged and Twitter powered media environment. That is not to say you should go without sound for your production, but it's an important reminder of an old production 101 maxim Keep It Simple Stupid. The Devil is In The Details: Many of Oscars awards actually fall behind the scenes for directing, lighting, costume design and editing.  While these aren't the types of tasks that will energize your team about producing video for your organization (that's why we're here to help!) they're important parts of any production and all play a part in successfully telling your story. Everyone Has A Story: Gigi Causey and Andrew Bowler, a married couple, were nominated for their live-action short...

TV Production in NYC on the Upswing

From CrainsNewYork.com: "The mayor announced Thursday that 2011 was New York's busiest year ever for television production, growth the city credits to the state's 30% tax incentive, as well as the city's own initiatives to make the five boroughs production friendly. According to the mayor's announcement, 23 series are currently filming in the city, compared with nine in 2002." Read...

Reading Between the Lines; Movie Rentals Come to Facebook ** Updated **

After thinking about the news that movies are going to be available for sale and rent on Facebook, I think there's a new battle brewing in the content distribution business.  Sure this is just one announcement by one studio, but rest assured Facebook is seeking to identify and develop similar relationships with other movie studios and music labels.  For Facebook, this is a natural fit, because so many of today's social interactions about pop culture are held on the social networking site.  So, why not establish relationships with the content owners, and monetize those discussions.  The relationship between Warner Brothers and Facebook does just that, it places movies in close proximity to the dialogue by Facebook's users about them.  For example, a user can comment that they saw a movie and loved it; while another can disagree, but in-line with that discussion and available for all users can be a simple one-click option to purchase the content.  Gone are the barriers of now heading to a brick & mortar location, or searching for the content on another site.  This relationship provides for a simple integrated experience.  Further, Facebook can foster those conversations and extend it's relationship with it's users while keeping them on the site longer. In a sense, with this news Facebook is reverse engineering the immensely popular iTunes store…where Apple is trying to build-out a social network with it's Ping offering, instead Facebook is bringing the content purchasing experience right into their site.  In an age old chicken or the egg type of debate, we're left to wonder which will prove to be the winning strategy: first...

Is @CharlieSheen A Modern @HowardStern

In the 1980's Howard Stern enjoyed tremendous success on the radio, and as portrayed in his 1997 film Private Parts, a lot of that had to do with people tuning in because they wanted to hear what was next. Fast-Forward to today where the paths of communication have expanded and outlets like Twitter give everyone a platform through which to speak. In terms of large-scale movement and attention, sure there was the Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) vs CNN (@CNNbrk) experiment to see who could reach a million followers first.  And it has become commonplace in this current landscape to hear tweets from celebrities quoted in media coverage.  But until now we have yet to witness a breakout personality that has moved both the online conversation, as well as traditional press coverage.  That's changed with @CharlieSheen in the past week.  Sheen's Twitter fueled campaign has been rather divisive, yet it has attracted so much attention across online and off-line platforms, it begs the question: is Sheen a modern Howard Stern? Perhaps previously an unlikely candidate for this role, Charlie Sheen has captivated audiences, who are simply wondering what he'll do next…and now that he's shown the ability to build an audience and keep us on the edge of our seats.  So with that in mind, could Sheen become the next hot media personality?  How does Sheen capitalize on this success, perhaps with a multi-platform approach unlike anything we've seen before?  Maybe a certain satellite radio provider would be enticed to offer Sheen a show, he could continue to use the web to encourage new subscribers to sign-up, while continuing to build...

What @CharlieSheen Can Teach Communicators About #Winning

In looking beyond the circus that has surrounded Charlie Sheen's every waking move this past week, there are actually some lessons that communicators can take away.  Despite Sheen's unique and controversial tirades, his campaign was carried out via an on-slaught of traditional broadcast interviews, married with his adoption of Twitter, and then the use of online video technology.  The combination was uniquely powerful and successful in both engaging the audience and feeding today's never-ending news cycle.  Now, while these lessons don't include adding #tigerblood to your campaigns, they highlight the opportunities that can be leveraged for your campaigns & provide some strategies to consider as you plan your next outreach efforts… Go Social – It seems hard to turn in any direction these days without seeing a mention of Twitter or Facebook, Sheen's outbursts are a vivid reminder of both the importance and extent to which social tools can help disseminate a message and propel a story.  At one point over the weekend Sheen related hashtags took over 4 of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter.  While the initiatives that many work on day-to- day may not be as polarizing or generate this extraordinary level of traction, the lesson is still valuable and reminds of the importance of integrating and promoting social components to PR & marketing campaigns, as there is power in these avenues to disseminate our messaging and reach new eyes & ears along the way. Tell Your Story With Video – In broadcasting live on Saturday night, in what was dubbed Sheen's Korner, the actor was able to take the steering wheel and control the...

Thinking, Saving, & Communicating Green

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a day set-aside for citizens of the world to take a moment and think about important topics such as global warming, ozone depletion, & our own interaction with the planet.  These are some weighty issues to say the least, especially as we seek to preserve the Earth for future generations.  So, for those of us in the field of PR & Marketing, as we go about our daily activities today, there are any number of ways that we can contribute to help on these fronts. Specifically, as communicators we can each play a vital role in Earth Day in a number of ways: 1)   We can use our skills to showcase what our clients are doing for the environment: Use this as a story angle to help your clients get more press, showcase the efforts that they make locally to improving the environment & being a good corporate citizen; while earning points with their target audiences. 2)   Make our own businesses Green: There are a range of things that we can do in our own offices to help with the environment.  From maintaining a paperless office, to using recycled materials, adopting new energy efficient equipment, turning off our computers at night, & sorting our trash into recycle bins.  While each of these are small modifications, together they can add up to help make a difference in the overall well-being of the environment. 3)   Introduce Green communications tactics: By using new tools that allow you to communicate online, you can tell your story directly to target audiences with rich audio & video...

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