music – Antenna Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Crowdfunding: Looking Beyond Kickstarter Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:00:37 +0000 megatotal1Post by Patryk Galuszka and Blanka Brzozowska, University of Lodz

This post is part of a partnership with the International Journal of Cultural Studies, where authors of newly published articles extend their arguments here on Antenna.

Until recently crowdfunding mostly drew the attention of economists, who attempted to measure the efficiency of this new form of financing, and lawyers, who discussed its regulation. Viewing crowdfunding from the perspectives of cultural and media studies not only enhances our understanding of the phenomenon, but also has the potential to make a contribution to research into the relationships between artists and fans. However, crowdfunding poses quite a challenge for researchers. For one thing, there are several models of crowdfunding, each assigning different roles to project initiators and contributors. It is reasonable to assume that not all of an estimated number of over 1,000 platforms worldwide are clones of Kickstarter. In addition, artists’ statuses are different–we should take into account that the process of crowdfunding conducted by a star with a global following will take a very different form than a collection effort initiated by a debutant who in the beginning can count only on him or herself and family and friends.

MegaTotal (see Figure 1), the crowdfunding platform that is the subject of our analysis, operates according to a different model from that of Kickstarter.

Figure 1. MegaTotal.

Figure 1. MegaTotal.

The most important difference between MegaTotal and Kickstarter is the application in the former of investment mechanisms resulting in people who support popular projects receiving a return on their investment. In practice, this means that each and every payment (except for the first) is subdivided into two equal parts, where one part goes to the project initiator and the other is distributed among earlier contributors in proportion to their participation in the project (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Flow of capital between contributors and project initiators on MegaTotal. Each contributor’s payments and equity stake is represented by different color. Contributor 1 captures part of the funds paid by all the other contributors. Other contributors correspondingly enjoy proportionally lower capital flows. Source: The rise of fanvestors: A study of a crowdfunding community, by Patryk Galuszka and Victor Bystrov. First Monday, Volume 19, Number 5 - 5 May 2014

Figure 2. Flow of capital between contributors and project initiators on MegaTotal. Each contributor’s payments and equity stake is represented by different color. Contributor 1 captures part of the funds paid by all the other contributors. Other contributors correspondingly enjoy proportionally lower capital flows. Source: The rise of fanvestors: A study of a crowdfunding community, by Patryk Galuszka and Victor Bystrov. First Monday, Volume 19, Number 5 – 5 May 2014

In effect, every contribution increases the account of the project, but also determines the position of the backer on the list of project “shareholders” (see Figure 3).

The flow of resources takes place in real time, which means that “profits” are transferred to the accounts of contributors in the service the moment the given project attracts successive contributors. As a result of this mechanism, contributors have additional motivation that is not present in donation-based and reward-based crowdfunding.

It may be said that crowdfunding incorporates qualities originating on a base of fan activity, such as claims to the rights to artist’s work and the striving to influence its development as derived from that right. Such qualities, however, presently go beyond the framework of fandom and mold a new dimension of consumer culture as such. Regardless of whether contributors can be termed as fans or not, analysis of crowdfunding should take into account the possibility of their active participation in the process of creating a culture product. What is being discussed is a phenomenon that is perhaps not totally transforming the production system (at least not at this time), but is presently decidedly behind a change in relations with consumers and an understanding of the role of the artist as such. The assumption that the currency of crowdfunding is the emotional involvement of consumers–not just their attention attracted thanks to efficient promotion–means that the new model cannot be easily compared to any standard whose foundation is the traditional marketing model.

Artists must find themselves within this new situation and simultaneously see the promotional and distribution potential of crowdfunding. To quote Ted Hope, advocate of America’s independent cinema movement and Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society:

To survive and flourish, today’s artist/entrepreneurs–and those who support them–must all embrace practices that extend beyond the core skills of development, production, and post-production of their art and work–and even reach beyond the attention and practice of marketing and distribution.

Our interviews with musicians who use MegaTotal support that argument. Crowdfunding requires that the project initiators themselves have specific aptitude and change their approach to the process of creating, promoting and distributing culture products. This corresponds very well with the argument that today artists (and those who do not engage in crowdfunding) are required to embrace entrepreneurial skills. Those artists who find this approach problematic should probably stay away from crowdfunding.

It should be noted that the character of the change taking place is more one of awareness than technology. This creates a new division among creators, negating the traditional one onto mainstream (a model in which the artist is passive and the label/publisher/studio divests him or her of freedom, but in exchange concerns itself with distribution and promotion) and “indie” (a model in which the artist is more active and fights for his or her independence, but often at the cost of a lack of publicity and counting on the loyalty of fans). The new division, though dictated by digital technology, primarily necessitates assimilation by artists and acceptance of a new attitude. The statement may be risked that the greatest potential in the development of independent creativity is actually hidden in this new model for promotion and distribution based on close contact with the consumer. It is thanks to the consumer that texts from the realm of “indie” can reach a significantly larger audience without losing anything of their “independent” character.

[For the full article, see Patryk Galuszka and Blanka Brzozowska, “Crowdfunding: Towards a redefinition of the artist’s role – the case of MegaTotal,” forthcoming in International Journal of Cultural Studies. Currently available as an OnlineFirst publication:]


On Radio: Live Music Festivals as Satellite Radio’s Premium Content? Tue, 10 Jun 2014 13:59:04 +0000 govball-9Subscription satellite radio is certainly not the most local form of radio. The majority of programming is produced in digital radio broadcasting facilities in New York City and Washington, D.C. and satellites are not entities that we encounter in our communities (let alone in our atmosphere). But as a subscriber and listener of Sirius XM, I am hearing the ways in which satellite radio has increasingly been offering musical programming and listening experiences that amplify aspects of radio’s past.

For one, I’m intrigued by the persistence of place, of musical “hotspots,” within the satellite radio universe. This carries on a long tradition of radio connecting listeners to musical and cultural centers. One notable and recent example of this was Sirius XM’s multichannel coverage of the fourth annual Governors Ball, which took place over three days in on Randall’s Island in New York City this past weekend.

“We’re excited that people across the U.S. will be able to experience the diversity and depth of the lineup on multiple channels across Sirius XM,” explained Yoni Reisman from Founders Entertainment, the company that produces the festival. A number of “marquee performances” were played over the weekend on channels including The Heat (Janelle Monae, Outkast), Outlaw Country (Neko Case), The Joint (Damian Marley), Hip-Hop Nation (Childish Gambino), BPM (Skrillex, Disclosure) and Sirius XM U (Damon Albarn). Performances were broadcast live and replays were scheduled throughout the weekend.


Listening from a kitchen in Toronto, Ontario, I could hear the noise of the crowd building as Janelle Monae’s set began with Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, known commonly as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When festival-goers heard Monae introduce “Cold War” with a speech about discrimination, so too did Sirius XM subscribers.

Satellite radio is delivered to a private, personal space. Often within an automobile but also to laptops or smartphones for those who pay the added monthly fee of $4 for online access. Many listeners are connected to the internet and, thus, satellite radio fits nicely with Michele Hilmes’s characteristic of radio today as “soundwork,” in which, radio must now be understood as “the entire complex of sound-based digital media that enters our experience through a variety of technologies and forms.” As satellite radio becomes more mobile through the ability to listen via smart phones and laptops, programming extends into online spaces and listeners are presented with new visual platforms for interacting with DJs and content. Satellite radio moves with the listener and local boundaries are practically nonexistent. But even as Sirius XM operates on a transnational scale, beyond radio’s former borders, an essence of radio’s pre-digital identity is increasingly prominent in the satellite radio universe, that of providing a shared cultural experience.


Between satellite channels and mobile, individual listening practices, is the persistence of place and the transmission of musical performance sites. The Governors Ball broadcast constructs a radio experience that enables listeners to engage from a distance through new media, continuing the tradition of radio bringing music from centers to private spaces – from the home, the car, and now a mobile space within which one is bound to a smartphone or laptop.

However, we also hear how privatized spaces and experiences are transmitted, especially as music festivals are critiqued as focusing too heavily on branded experiences. Another important critique to raise in this instance is one of exclusivity. Festivals sell out, they cost a lot of money, and often require travel time and expenses. In a preview of the weekend’s musical offerings, Sirius XM explained that “the exclusive broadcast, showcasing a diverse line-up, will include Jack White’s performance, which comes days before the release of his anticipated second solo album, Lazaretto.” While satellite radio overcomes these obstacles to some extent, it also requires a subscription fee. Accessibility is limited, but as subscription television becomes increasingly watched and revered, premium content delivered by subscription radio is not a surprising development.

Given that music festivals are becoming a larger component of the music industries and a greater source of income and promotion, I am certainly interested to hear how satellite radio continues to transmit the sounds of live musical performances.


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There Are Worse Things Fox Could Do: Grease Live and TV’s Sad Affair with the Live Musical Thu, 29 May 2014 12:58:12 +0000 Grease seems to ignore a string of warning signs.]]> greasefoxIt seems that the problematic life of the Broadway musical has run full steam into the struggles of 21st century network television. For the last couple decades, the Broadway musical has been solidly taken over by (assumedly surefire) pre-sold properties like Mamma Mia!, The Wedding Singer, The Producers, and High Fidelity. Crossover actors and content allow Broadway producers to hedge their bets on recouping their quite sizable investments. Life’s hard all over. They need something to get tourists’ butts into very expensive seats on the Great White Way, and the people like seeing things they recognize.

Now television, struggling in the era of multiple platform viewing and increased time-shifting, is turning to the clay feet of the musical for a wallop of financial and “special event” adrenaline. After 18 million Americans (hate) watched NBC’s live airing of The Sound of Music, it took less than five months for both NBC and Fox to announce their upcoming live musical projects, Peter Pan and Grease respectively. Of course this practice of airing live musicals has precedent. The New York-based 1950s live television era was bejeweled with live musical events. NBC’s 1955 airing of Peter Pan with Mary Martin garnered 64 million viewers. (Take that Carrie Underwood!) For the first time, television was bringing Middle America (and everyone else) the elusive sights and sounds of Broadway.

You're the one that I want cast

Today, the networks are struggling to find some way—other than awards shows—to draw a 21st century, distracted, i-device obsessed audience to their living rooms. The ratings success of The Sound of Music seems to have been just the encouragement needed to reproduce the tele-theatrical disaster that was Underwood’s performance. The selection of Grease by Fox seems to ignore a string of warning signs.

(1) As was the case with The Sound of Music, Grease is an iconic text. Just as most Americans can only imagine Julie Andrews descending the Alps, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are Grease to most. As many of the press announcements note, Grease is the highest grossing movie musical of all time. Casting is going to be a bear. (2) The Broadway version—even the latest incarnation that hybridized the Broadway and film versions—is not the 1978 Paramount film. The energy is different. The songs are different. This means something when one is trying to capitalize on an audience’s existing emotional attachment to a property. It is nearly impossible to deliver on such a promise when millions are saddled with memories of specific choreography, inflections, phrasing, etc. Overcoming this is no easy feat. (3) Television viewers have already chimed in on Grease and they did not emit a rousing “we go together.” NBC’s 2006 reality show Grease: You’re the One That I Want served as a televised audition for the 2007 Broadway revival’s Danny and Sandy and ranked 75th in annual Nielsens, garnering about a quarter the number of American Idol’s “hopelessly devoted” viewers. Fox’s Glee also took a shot at the musical with its own “Glease,” one of the lowest rated episodes of its drooping fourth season. (And let’s not even get started on Smash.)

grease on glee

As a devoted fan and scholar of the musical, I always try to root for the genre’s triumph over the jaded sensibilities of contemporary audiences, producers, and ticket buyers. (Although the lasting wounds from viewing 7th Heaven’s musical episode may never heal.) That said, I often find myself disappointed by the nasty effects a network’s or producer’s hope for commercial appeal has on the musical product itself. Although Paramount TV President Amy Powell sounds like a latter day Sylvester “Pat” Weaver (NBC 1950’s head of programming/chairman of the board and cheerleader for the “spectacular”) as she states, “Fox’s passion for engaging audiences with bold storytelling and live musical formats make it a perfect home for this special broadcast,” perhaps NBC’s current chairman Bob Greenblatt was a bit more honest and on point in his response to the Sound of Music, “We own it so we can repeat it every year for the next 10 years…Even if it does just a small fraction of what it did, it’s free to repeat it.” Who knows, maybe this new trend will catch fire and save the networks and produce a whole new generation of musical fans, or just maybe we’ll all get a real treat and Stockard Channing—high on Good Wife street cred—will reprise her role of Rizzo, only slightly more age inappropriate now than in 1978.



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What Are You Missing? Feb 17-March 2 Sun, 03 Mar 2013 15:25:22 +0000 Dual-Shock-4_contentfullwidthTen (or more) media news items you might have missed recently:

1) Over 6 years after their last console release, Sony announced their latest gaming console, the PlayStation 4. While they did not reveal what it would look like, they did detail its functioning, new controller, hardware specs, and user interface. The system will include iOS and android apps to enhance the gaming experience.

2) The Academy Awards, or rather the Oscars, took place on February 24th. Six of the films nominated for Best Picture had earned over $100 million at the box office, making it the most commercially successful group of nominees to date. In the documentary short category, Inocente became the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Oscar. The big news of the night became Seth MacFarlane’s hosting, which elicited a lot of criticism and sparked discussions about Hollywood’s potential sexism and racism. The Academy stood behind MacFarlane’s performance, and in fact this year’s Oscar ceremony showed increased viewership, especially in key younger audiences (which had been a concern for the producers). MacFarlane was not the only one in trouble on Oscar night, as The Onion faced an intense reaction towards a tweet, for which they offered a rare apology (And for anyone who is wondering how Ted came to life at the Oscars, here’s how!). The Independent Spirit Awards, which honor independent films, also took place last weekend.  Silver Linings Playbook came away the big winner, irking some people because the film’s $21-million budget technically put it outside of the classification for “indie film.”

3) Although they won an Oscar for visual effects for their work on Life of Pi, Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy last week. They were cut off from discussing the plight of the industry in their acceptance speech, which upset many visual effects workers. Visual effects artists are protesting the layoffs and bankruptcies their industry is facing using any outlet they can, including social media and open letters (including a second one to Ang Lee).

4) New copyright alert system is launched by the film, TV, and music industries. The warning system gives people six strikes before they begin enforcing consequencesSony has also developed a patent that would be able to distinguish between piracy activities and legal downloads. Internationally, France is also looking at increasing their (already very strict) anti-piracy laws. Thinking of piracy, how much does “free” music actually cost to artists involved?

5) For the first time in 12 years, music sales grow a small but symbolically important amount. In other music news, Billboard is beginning to include YouTube plays of a song in their formulation of their “Hot 100 List.” This change will allow YouTube hits like “Harlem Shake” to boost their stats. Most of YouTube’s top channels are music-based, suggesting the importance of this connection. Google is considering getting into the streaming music business. Pandora has put a limit on free listening, citing increased royalty fees as the reason, and Spotify is meeting with the record industry to ask for price breaks on royalties.

6) The 2013 box office totals are off to a slow start, 13% behind last year, and Jack the Giant Slayer opened to a disappointing $20-30 million. After taking a big loss on Rise of the Guardians, DreamWorks is forced to lay off 350 employees. The news is not all bad though, as Oz the Great and Powerful debuted with $75 million and The Hobbit closes in on $1 billion worldwide. In other movie news, Hollywood plans to cut back on sex and violence? And Regal Entertainment gets even bigger by buying Hollywood theaters.

7) In the publishing world, New York Times plans to sell Boston Globe. Variety announced they are making big changes–dropping their daily print editions, eliminating their paywall, and adding three new editors in chiefTim O’Brien, The Huffington Post‘s executive editor, has decided to leave.  Reader’s Digest files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And are digital book signings the way of the future?

8) Numerous companies are reporting hackers entering their systems, including Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest,, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook (no user data was taken; but if it is compromised in the future, how would Facebook recover?).

9) In TV news, it’s pilot season! ABC is developing a miniseries How to Survive a Plague, based on the Academy Award-nominated documentary about the continuing AIDS crisis. A&E hit a record number of viewers for their reality series Duck Dynasty. Nielsen ratings are changing to reflect the new ways that people access television. Kaley Cuoco of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory tweets positively about Dish Network’s Hopper, though CBS is in the process of suing them. AMC fought with Dish about licensing fees, and AMC’s fourth quarter profits took a hit as a result. The FCC is being pushed to modify the current standards of TV product disclosure to create more transparency with regard to show sponsorship. Cablevision, with the support of Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Viacom, claiming that they practice illegal block booking of stations (an accusation that Viacom leveled at John Malone 20 years ago).  The lawsuit could lead to people being able to more selectively sign up for channels, only paying for the ones they want.

10) In other miscellaneous news: Clive Davis comes out as bisexual. Girls Gone Wild files for bankruptcy. And future technologies–the iWatch? Transparent Smartphones? A computer that never crashes? Or what about touchscreen T-shirts?


What Are You Missing? January 6-19 Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:27:41 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

1. China had a big box office year in 2012, though a good chunk of the revenue came from American studio imports, like Life of Pi. The Hangover-esque Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand has become the country’s biggest domestic hit ever, though, and some expect the rise of China to global number one movie market status to come courtesy of shallow blockbusters.

2. Hollywood studios are turning to outside funding to support its films that aren’t shallow blockbusters, while Disney is looking at budget cuts for everything. DreamWorks is still a great place to work, though. Video game makers want greater control over the films Hollywood makes from their properties, while Disney is meshing together gaming and its movies with the upcoming Disney Infinity game.

3. We’re getting more info about Redbox Instant, which is expected to launch in March, because a group of users have gotten to beta test it. We know that it will be focused on movies, not TV shows, and Redbox’s CEO also says the company won’t abandon DVDs. But Austin Carr isn’t impressed with the service.

4. Home video revenue finally rose a bit last year, halting a seven-year skid, with streaming getting most of the credit for the uptick. UltraViolet also continues to grow, and Walmart’s “disc to digital” cloud service has been improved. Don’t expect Amazon to extend its “Amazon-purchased CD to digital” plan to movies, though.

5. Amazon has also launched a new mp3 store targeted toward iPhone/iPod users, offering a shot across iTunes’ bow. iTunes now has a partnership with Rolling Stone, whose iPad magazine will have links to Apple’s music store. The blog Asymco has graphed the iTunes economy.

6. 2012 music sales indicate the CD’s impending demise and the digital single’s growth. Other trends revealed from the figures are that big hits take up an increasing share of download sales; rock and pop music dominated, though country music sales rose compared to 2011; and indie labels grabbed one-third of album sales.

7. The number of children reading books on digital devices is rising, though over half of kids still have never read an e-book. Libraries are also said to be losing their influence among children, but maybe video games at libraries can help. There’s also a plan in the works in Texas for a bookless, all-digital library.

8. The Wii U is bringing in more revenue than the original Wii did in early sales, but that’s only because it costs more. Nintendo’s president says sales of the Wii U are “not bad,” given the competitive landscape, and Nintendo is merging its console and handheld divisions to better deal with that landscape. Xbox 360 has finished its second year as the best-selling console, and Microsoft says that the next Xbox system will fill your living room with images to immerse you in games. And we can now say goodbye to the dominant console of the past, the Playstation 2, which will no longer be made.

9. Pingdom offers a slew of stats on how we used the internet around the world in 2012, from search to mobile to email, while Mashable has an infographic specifically on social media use in 2012. The FCC is looking to expand Wi-Fi spectrum space so we can do even more online in 2013, like look at video ads.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Anger Management Returns, CNN-SI Change, OWN Hopes, Double Your FX, TCA & Twitter, The Killing Will Return, Dish & CBS Battle Ropes in CNET, Corrie Coming to Hulu, Five-0 Ending, Time-Shifted Viewing, Soap Revivals, Video Sharing Passed, Netflix & Ratings, Al Jazeera America, PBS at TCA, The CW at TCA, CBS & Showtime at TCA, Arrested Development at TCA, ABC at TCA, FX at TCA, Fox at TCA, NBC at TCA.


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What Are You Missing? Dec 9-23 Sun, 23 Dec 2012 17:17:32 +0000 A significant percentage of the media news this fortnight was in summary form, as media industry sites looked back on 2012.

1. Moviefone’s Drew Taylor highlights ten good films you likely didn’t see in 2012, while Indiewire critics pick the ten best films you definitely didn’t see, because they went undistributed. Indiewire also warns you about the films you shouldn’t see, plus the site offers an A-Z summary of women in film in 2012 and an assessment of LGBT representation in American films of the year.

2. 2012 is looking like a best-ever year for Hollywood box office grosses, both domestically and internationally. Among the studios, Universal did have its best year ever. And among individual films, The Avengers easily takes the 2012 box office crown, while Zero Dark Thirty is heading toward the critics’ poll crown, followed by The Master.

3. The Economist Group has a slew of revealing digital publishing charts that look back on 2012, and while 2012 was a tough year for newspapers, some, like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, are at least still profitable, while the Washington Post’s multiplatform model may be one to keep an eye on in 2013. Newsweek’s shift to online-only status (ending not with a whimper but a hashtag) marked 2012 as a digital year for magazines, and most recently, Spin and the 126-year-old Sporting News announced they’ll only be available online in 2013.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey cleaned up in 2012 print book sales, and Amazon’s rankings show that Gone Girl put up a good fight too. The e-reader market shrunk noticeably this year, with tablet sales rising correspondingly. Apparently indie bookstores are still doing ok through all of this.

5. Billboard looks back on the year in music, one it calls tumultuous. According to iTunes downloads, it was a good year for Adele and Carly Rae Jepsen, while Britney Spears out-earned all other women in music.

6. VentureBeat has a series of bleak charts detailing 2012 video game sales. In brighter news, Mass Effect 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II sold well, while the game that people spent the most individual time playing was Borderlands 2. Back to bad news, Call of Duty is under scrutiny for the amount of time Newtown shooter Adam Lanza spent playing it.

7. YouTube had a big year, from news to ads to lip-sync vids to Gangnam Style. Looking ahead, we should keep an eye on Maker Studios, channel renewals, and Iran’s YouTube. Plus, as always in internet video, porn.

8. Google’s annual report on searching reveals the trends borne across 1.2 trillion searches in 2012. We also visited Google a lot in 2012 simply for the awesome doodles. Using all search engines, we apparently sought out Facebook the most (haven’t most of us found it already?). We also sought out a lot of GIFs.

9. Once we figured out where Facebook was, we talked about the presidential election and Duck Dynasty a lot there. Even dead people found things to like on Facebook. Over at Twitter, its year in review offers a personal perspective, and over 200 million users are now laying the groundwork for 2013’s results.

10. News for TV Majors has its own Best of 2012 critics’ lists post, and here are some other informative posts from the past two weeks: Value of Older Demos, Mazzara Leaving Walking DeadHulu’s DirectionNielsen Twitter TV Rating, ABC Making C7 Deals, TWC Dropping Ovation, Nielsen Buys Arbitron,  Newtown ImpactMedia Violence, Newtown Analysis, Amazon Gets TNT Shows, Golden Globe Noms, Top Rated & Buzzed Shows, Regional Sports Surcharge, Ownership Vote Delayed.


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What Are You Missing? October 7-20 Sun, 21 Oct 2012 14:51:50 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. YouTube is ramping up its investment in branded channels to make itself more like TV. There’s a danger, though, in alienating the amateurs that YouTube initially capitalized on to distinguish it from TV. More favorably, YouTube is trying to help out nonprofit campaigns, and it has tweaked its search algorithm to better favor videos that viewers truly engage with.

2. Some big numbers in the news this past fortnight: There are now six billion cell phones worldwide (though that still leaves one billion without one), and there are one billion smartphones out there. Internet advertising reached $17 billion for the first half of 2012. American mobile devices ate up 1.1 trillion megabytes of data across 12 months, and US high speed broadband connections are up 76% over last year. The biggest number in the news? A French woman received a mobile phone bill for $15 quadrillion.

3. Amazon is going to take advantage of all the consumer data it gathers by working more closely with advertisers and ad agencies to place ads on Amazon sites. The Do Not Track movement is trying to limit what consumer data advertisers can obtain from our web browsers, much to advertisers’ chagrin. Adding more chagrin is a study highlighting how frequently mobile ad clicks are merely accidental.

4. The newspaper audience is shrinking — or maybe it’s not — but either way, Britain’s Guardian is the latest to look at ending its print edition. In the US, the Chicago Tribune is shifting to a paywall strategy online, which sounds like a bad move if you buy the idea that print outlets should be following what The Atlantic is doing. Newspapers in Brazil don’t like what Google is doing, and they’re now going to have to deal with the New York Times encroaching on their turf in an effort to expand its global audience.

5. A new study finds that young people commonly copy and share music among family and friends, but it was also determined that file-sharers buy more music than non-file-sharers, lending some food for thought to the music industry, which will see peer-to-peer users warned about illegal sharing activities soon. Unfortunately, the musicians’ cut of digital music income remains paltry, but Pandora insists the money is there.

6. As the compact disc turns 30, Neil Young is pushing for a new digital format, one superior in sound quality to mp3s. Meanwhile, music streaming marches onward, with Xbox now joining the fray and the BBC starting its own service, while Spotify looks to expand in new areas, such as in Japan and on smart TVs.

7. 20th Century Fox professes to be very excited about new technologies, while one of the most pervasive of Hollywood’s recent technological efforts, 3D, is supposedly on the decline (again). Given recent studio turmoil, it’s unclear who exactly will lead Hollywood through this next stage of technological production, but it’s seeming likely there won’t be as many unpaid interns working for them as before.

8. The new documentary nomination rules that Michael Moore helped the Academy usher in for this year’s Oscars have apparently only caused new problems, so now Moore is proposing new solutions, including getting rid of the old solutions. Much of this revolves around issues of distribution, and the story behind Detropia illustrates how challenging distribution of docs has gotten today.

9. The gaming company Zynga is experiencing all sorts of turmoil, from declining stock to rumors of employee revolts to lawsuits against an ex-employee being portrayed as a threat to current employees. But at least there’s FarmVille 2, now with 50 million players. Of course, it’s no Angry Birds, now with 200 million players.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Community Art, Ratings Takes, Scrambling Ban Eliminated, Cord Cutting Boxes, Connie Britton’s Hair, New Moonves Contract, New Local Ratings System, Real PBS Issues, DVR Boosts, Variety Sold, House of Cards Scheduled.


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What Are You Missing? Sept 16-29 Sun, 30 Sep 2012 14:31:47 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. In-flight airline entertainment is at a crossroads, as airlines decide between spending on wifi upgrades to let people use their own devices and on airplane entertainment technology like seat-back systems. JetBlue is going for the wifi option, and Boeing is upgrading wifi systems on their planes, while a few international airlines are passing out pre-loaded iPads to keep passengers entertained. In addition to the ever-rising costs to access in-flight wifi, there’s also the matter of it inevitably being slow.

2. Netflix has new competition to keep an eye on: Sky made a deal in the UK with Warner Bros., the new Redbox-Verizon service plans a Christmas debut, there’s word Disney could jump into the fray soon, UltraViolet might finally make some noise, and cable VOD stands to encroach further on Netflix’s territory.

3. Predictions are starting for the Foreign Language Oscar race, but you can take Iran off the table for the back-to-back win because it will boycott the Oscars due to outrage over Innocence of Muslims. Or at least that’s the reasononing Iran’s culture minister claims. Alyssa Rosenberg thinks there might be more to it. Either way, Iran won’t be thrilled to hear that more film projects about Muhammad are in the works.

4. Theaters continue to struggle, with the iconic Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco and the Roxy Theater in Philadelphia darkening for good. A pair of designers believe new design thinking can help turn theaters around. Theater owners might also follow the branding advice of AMC Theaters’ Shane Adams, who impressed many on Twitter last week. At least AMC and other theaters can continue to charge whatever high prices they want for snacks, thanks to a lawsuit dismissal.

5. There was a huge deal in the music business, as Universal Music Group finalized the acquisition of EMI Music’s recorded music unit following European Union and US approval, which was contingent upon the new combo selling off some assets, including the contracts of some prominent artists. Even after that, Universal will end up with control of about 40% of the US and European music market and immense power over the future direction of the industry.

6. Alyssa Oursler insists that Pandora and other music services have nothing to worry about from the Universal deal, and Pandora’s attention is elsewhere right now anyway, specifically on supporting a proposed bill called The Internet Radio Fairness Act that would lower streaming service royalty fees to put them par with what satellite radio and cable companies pay. Independent stations also support the bill.

7. There’s a redesigned PlayStation 3 coming out, but don’t expect to get a cheaper deal on a previous model. You can expect more mobile options from Sony, and Electronic Arts is also trying to take advantage of multi-platform gaming. You’ll be able to play multiple Hobbit games on multiple platforms, and Sesame Street is also pointing the way toward the future of gaming.

8. Wal-mart won’t be selling Kindles anymore. The stated reason why is somewhat vague, and it could just have to do with frustration with Amazon. Some readers are getting frustrated with higher e-book prices from Amazon, while Amazon will try to hook more with Kindle Serials. Amazon will have a new competitor thanks to a new e-book venture formed by Barry Diller and Scott Rudin.

9. Conditions at China’s Foxconn factory, which makes the iPhone 5, got even worse, with a riot temporarily shutting down production. This has come at a tenuous time for China’s corporate environment and raises larger questions about Chinese manufacturing, while Foxconn’s owner is looking to expand his business efforts beyond the country. Apple insists it is improving foreign factory conditions.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Cheers Oral History, Live TV Controversy, Auction Plans, The CW Signs With Nielsen Online, Dish Talking Internet TV, Changing Households, Variety Buyer, Cable Battles Consoles, Emmys Coverage, Female Employment, Netflix & A&E, Measuring Social Buzz, Tweeting Isn’t Watching, Microsoft Hire, New BBC


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What Are You Missing? Sept 2-15 Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:44:59 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Twitter has Facebook beat on mobile ad dollars, but Mark Zuckerberg plans to change that. Facebook is also developing new strategies for web ads, including sponsored search results. And in an effort to maintain the integrity of perceived value, Facebook is cracking down on fake “likes.”

2. USA Today has completed a web-inspired redesign, but newspapers are still mired in a world where they’re getting only $1 in digital ad revenue for every $25 they lose in print ad revenue. The Village Voice seems in dire shape, and entertainment industry trades are fighting to stay relevant. Maybe they all need to look at Reddit.

3. The most interesting conversations in the wake of Amazon unveiling its new Kindles involve debates about Amazon’s stated strategy to go for slim profit margins on hardware and reap bigger rewards on the digital goods people purchase to use on that hardware, which is counter to the Apple model. Though early reviews of the new Kindles don’t indicate that it’s an iPad killer, some think Google should at least be worried.

4. The new Wii U console will be available in the US on November 18 (though don’t bother checking Amazon for a pre-order), in Europe a few weeks later, and in Japan in early December. Its price has proved to be controversial, though a price cut will likely come later, and we may even be treated to a console price war over the holidays.

5. Even with the profitability of music streaming still in question, Nokia has launched a free streaming music service for smartphones, and Apple has a streaming radio service in the works that would use your iTunes history to select songs. This would pose a challenge Pandora, which saw its stock plunge on the news. Meanwhile, Spotify is making some changes, with a browser-based version coming soon.

6. After 20 months of investigating and over a million warning letters sent, a French anti-piracy agency now has a conviction to point to under its “three strikes and you’re fined” law: $200 is the price to be paid for two pirated Rihanna songs. In the US, a music-sharer has seen her fine reimposed: $220,000 for 24 songs. And Pirate Bay’s co-founder has been arrested; the penalty he faces is a little bigger.

7. Film (as a format) is dying, with Fuji as the latest abandoner, and studios are trying to adapt, with Warner Bros. especially devoting considerable attention to developing digital media options. Warners hopes that its Flixster and UltraViolet combo will encourage people to buy movies rather than rent, and Fox has similar motivation behind its plans to release digital versions of films before disc versions. A new digital storefront could help UltraViolet, while Amazon Prime Instant Video has gotten a boost from a film deal with Epix.

8. The Telluride Film Festival  marked the start of Oscar bait season, and Ben Affleck’s Argo and the documentary The Gatekeepers left with the most buzz. Meanwhile, the frenzied Toronto International Film Festival saw very active sales, with Lionsgate being an especially aggressive buyer, while Sony Pictures Classics, The Gatekeepers’ distributor, was busy showing off its wares, and documentaries grabbed a lot of attention.

9. The acquisition of AMC theaters by Chinese mogul Dalian Wanda is officially complete, and Wanda is now eyeing other US entertainment purchases. Back in China, the film industry is booming, but tensions with Hollywood are increasing due to import restrictions. China at least wants some Hollywood imports, though, especially those films they’ve got product placements in.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: CBS Threatens Dish, Hurry-Up Problems, NBC is NBCU’s Priority, CBS Adjusts Schedule, Over-the-Top Increases, Netflix Good & Bad, Breaking Bad Story Sync, Colbert & Religion, No New Apple TV Products, Gilligan Interviews, Fall Schedule.


What Are You Missing? Aug 19-Sept 1 Sun, 02 Sep 2012 14:00:16 +0000 Back from summer vacation with ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Sundance is spreading its influence further, opening a new indie film theater in Los Angeles and enabling online distribution of a set of Sundance Institute films. Over in China, a film festival has been suppressed, as the Beijing Independent Film Festival was canceled due to political pressure. And Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, Nollywood by nickname, is fighting to overcome challenges to compete with Hollywood films.

2. The summer movie box office was down from last year, with 100 million fewer tickets sold (though Fandango sold more tickets than ever in its history), and the US is dragging down Canada with it. The Avengers and Magic Mike were among the handful of winners.

3. Amazon has a big announcement coming on Thursday, and while most speculate it will be about a new Kindle Fire, Ryan Lawler wonders if it will involve support for Hollywood’s UltraViolet service. David Pogue thinks better legal online services will help limit piracy of Hollywood movies, and the Weinstein Co. is trying a creative approach with the Kirsten Dunst film Bachelorette. Incidentally, we’ve reached the 100th anniversary of film’s copyright designation.

4. While Amazon is touting all of its Kindle achievements, sales of Barnes and Noble’s Nook are falling, and the device is suffering from multiple problems. B&N will still launch the Nook in the UK soon, though it will first be available not in a bookstore but at the home goods retail store John Lewis. Overall, B&N revenue is up.

5. Streaming music revenue is expected to far outpace downloads in the coming months. Spotify has seen a slight dip in usage recently, while Pandora is having revenue problems, leading it to try and lower musicians’ royalty payments, and Spotify may be thinking the same. But rest assured, at least RIAA executives are raking in money.

6. After 24 years of publication, the magazine Nintendo Power is shutting down, and after 18 years of game development, Europe’s Studio Liverpool is closing up shop. 5-year-old social games company Zynga isn’t going to dry up anytime soon, but it is struggling right now. And even the venerable Angry Birds franchise is getting a challenge from free-to-play games.

7. Facebook’s stock plunge continues, with 50% of its initial value gone and even more likely going, but some are still recommending it as a buy, and the service itself certainly isn’t struggling, as it trails only YouTube as a popular video destination and processes 2.5 billion pieces of content each day. Plus, the company’s getting a sweet new campus designed by Frank Gehry.

8. Twitter isn’t winning many fans with its new API rules, which limit how services like Tumblr can interact with its users. Twitter will also no longer display the client source of tweets. Many analysts see these changes as indicative of Twitter at a crossroads, and new relationships with entities like NBC seem to hint that it is leaning toward becoming more of a media company, rather than just a social media utility. And apparently, it could get hired in a movie studio casting department if it wants.

9. Meet the people who scrub the internet of its worst content. Find out why people write comments on internet porn. Learn everything you need to know about the internet’s obsession with cat videos. Get annoyed by the prevalence of fake internet book reviews.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Copyright Insanity, Watching Women, HBO Go Nordic, ESPN Profits, 90 More Anger Managements, Social Premieres, Tonight Show Struggles, TV Rules College Sports, Blackouts Troubling Advertisers, TV Reruns Down.