ELECTRONIC INDUSTRY CONVENTIONS, TV CLICHÉ 457-B, AND DUMBING DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE
ELECTRONIC INDUSTRY CONVENTIONS, TV CLICHÉ 457-B, AND DUMBING DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE
Music and Radio Industry conventions used to be “must attend” events. In fact everybody DID attend them. This was in the pre e-mail halcyon days when the music industry was flush with cash and promise. It was a chance to argue or just watch the arguing. The argument focus was the same very year---Record Companies bitched about not getting enough airplay and radio stations defended themselves….but it was interesting. Of course not one single radio person would leave a convention and think “say—the promo guy from Poly Sutra was right! I’m going to throw out the format and play everything…”, but it was still a good spirited balance of interesting, annoying and amusing. Then at night every label tried to out do each other with their suites. From inviting stars and hookers to all night orgies. Atlantic Records was usually the best as I recall. There were different types of conventions. The NAB was pretty much radio only where big names got to get drunk for a few days…then it became more of the winter meetings for station traders, and now it’s a love fest for vendors. Then there was the old Billboard and Gavin Conventions. They were mostly labels and programmers with a few Star GM and Owners holding panels that were packed to the rafters. The early R&R Conventions were like this. Though I usually thought these conventions were a waste of time…they pretty much were, but looking back they were fun…and part of the freer and more interesting music and radio community of an earlier time. It was a place to meet the big names, listen to the “dialogue” and hang out late on someone else’s tab. From 1976 though about 1988 we had our own Burkhart/Abrams conventions. They became more important than the “real” conventions…but that’s a whole other story. There were also some elite conventions. MIDEM was and is ground zero for International Music. Very few radio guys, mainly because it isn’t marketed to them and it’s in Cannes, which would bust the budget of any American station. MIDEM is the Rolls Royce of music conferences. Expertly organized in an amazing environment. The crowd ranges from mega stars to struggling songwriters. Then there used to be the Inside Radio conference in Phoenix. Another blue chip affair that attracted Group owners and vendors with large expense accounts. It was more of a meet and greet with the big names and a chance to show off your wares to a decision maker audience. I was always surprised that Record Companies didn’t attend to learn or at least ratchet up their schmooze to a higher level. Then there was thins thing called the Poe Convention. I went to ONE. It was WAY too sleazy. Elliott Spitzer would have had a field day at this one. Today, the dialogue happens electronically. The Lefsetz Letter is the modern equivalent of the industry convention. Maybe Bob should have a convention.
Did you know that there’s now Youporn.com and even Godtube.com? Yep, free amateur Porn and Preaching. And they are getting HUGE traffic.
OK---I get why dumb shows are successful. Dumb sells. Then there’s Kellie Pickler on “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader” who thinks Europe is a Country. This is not good. Really….this is dangerous shit. She has a great voice and seems like a nice, engaging person, but “celebrating” this level of ignorance is scary. We’ve somehow evolved into this place that idolizes idiocy. Good clean entertainment with a bad aftertaste.
I Tunes have an interesting new feature (or I think it’s new). You take a genre and it gives you different levels: Basics; Next Steps: Deep Cuts and Complete. The titles they include in each category are highly questionable. I think they rushed into the selection, but the idea of graduated sophistication levels is pretty smart.
More electronic junk food.
TV CLICHÉ 457-B: Holiday travel coverage:
*Standard issue reporter interviews a tired traveler in front of the United Airlines counter at (put major airport here). Usually has a crying baby in a stroller for effect. Complaining how their flight was cancelled.
Then…. segue to:
Arrivals monitor, preferably showing CANCELLED alot
*Standard issue reporter reports on delays from outside the terminal.
Damn! You would think there’d be better ways of covering this since you KNOW that it’s going to be a key story 4 or five times a year.
*Get out of the terminal and into the technology. Being a pilot, there are SO many ways to present air travel in a far more compelling way. Such as:
--Capture the stunning displays at any ATC facility.
--Talk to controllers…an Approach Control facility is A LOT cooler than a terminal.
…the list goes on. Holiday Air Traffic coverage is in my opinion based on laziness, not thinking or unawareness of the myriad of opportunities to cover this in a “cooler” way—that cuts through and has more “wow” to it! I guess this falls under the critical importance of RE-THINKING as not only a long term strategic thing, but with literally everything a channel/paper/website does.
So Oprah is going on tour with Obama. Well, no doubting Oprah’s incredible power, magnetism and mass appeal credibility, but I wonder if that’s such a good idea. We’ll see. The pop culturing of a Presidency is something I think will inevitable back-fire. Then Hilary announces a Barbra Streisand thing...then Obama comes back with a "is that the best they can do? Why not Capt. and Tennile". What a joke. It'll cost him voters...blurs the issues...cheapens it all. No surprise that Clinton is going with Barbra. A few years ago, Quincy Jones invited me and Hugh Panero to the White House to meet Bill Clinton. Barbra was there. She gave Bill a passionate kiss that lasted about 4 minutes. Interesting. A few weeks later I was invited to the Capitol to meet with Senators about the potential for Liberal Talk radio. They never quite got that it was about ratings and not a vehicle to elect politicians. I told it like it is, complete with the “stop whining” thing, and street perceptions of hard core liberals…never got invited back.
Too bad—they should have listened…
From a new Harvard study:
• 64% of those polled do not trust press coverage of the presidential campaign.• 88% believe that campaign coverage focuses on trivial issues.• 84% believe that media coverage has too much influence on American voting choices.• 92% say it is important that the news media provide information on candidates’ specific policy plans, but 61% say the media does not provide enough coverage of policy plans.• 89% say it is important to hear about candidates’ personal values and ethics, but 43% say there is not enough coverage of personal values and ethics.Instead, those surveyed claimed they were getting "exactly the type of campaign coverage that they want the least," the report found
…Why don’t more media people “get” this??!! Sounds like opportunity to me…
Abu Dhabi is bailing out Citibank…what’s wrong with THAT picture?
Back home at XM, IT was a massive success. IT is a six week long rundown of pretty much EVERY pop song that hit the charts from the 30’s to today. Our “aggregate” channel XMX Channel 2 did a mini version of it during Thanksgiving—it really was pretty amazing. We do a similar thing with Country music called “The Long Haul”. These things break every rule and may radio people don’t get it…but the vast majority of listeners think it’s the coolest. Further underscores the vast wasteland of thinking between Industry thinking and public thinking.
Now, we’re getting in gear on the Led Zeppelin channel. We don’t want this to be a jukebox, so we’re working diligently at acquiring and creating material that passes the bands muster and meets the quality standard expected by the fans.
In a few days, it’s off to USC. The professor is Jerry Del Colliano who used to run the extremely influential INSIDE RADIO daily newsletter. Jerry is probably a good teacher because he comes from the real world and talk about real situations rather than dwelling on the history of the FCC. His newsletter was famous in radio circles. Before your coffee you’d have to read it. A real love/hate thing. Kinda like that morning show that you hate. When someone asks you WHY you hate it, the answer is “Because, this morning at 8:20 they said…..”. Anyways, his top students are doing a project for us. I’m excited about it because the students have NO baggage, they aren’t going to skew the data to support a new format they’re going to pitch. And the students are preparing this with a passion that a traditional research company simply doesn’t have. Plus—it’s a bargain. I LOVE talking to the students. Very inspiring and fresh…and a powerful reality check.
My airplane is getting its annual inspection. Legally required. The "phone call" when it's ready is scary. Usually starts with "Well, there's good news and bad news"...The good news is that she's ready...the bad news is that it needs a new framistat..." Airplanes are a good incentive to work hard.