Zune’s Weird Images

As of when does social networking mean “weird Japanese sex?” Or is this a ploy to ensure that any woman with an ounce of feminist sensibility steers far clear of the Zune? The error screen image is bad enough, but the ad posted in the first comment is downright insulting.

And don’t tell me I’m reading too much into it.

Call to Musicians

In September I had the pleasure of being a faculty mentor for the Association of Internet Researchers’ doctoral colloquium, where Ph.D. students presented their dissertations in progress and got feedback from faculty and fellow students. One of the fellows in my session, Hugh Brown of the Queensland University of Technology (in Australia), is studying the different ways that musicians are using the internet and with what effects. As he puts it: “The project’s purpose is to investigate the factors affecting independent musicians’ access to music markets and, focusing particularly on New Media aspects, to figure out how to make it easier for independent musicians to build a music business.” It’s an action research project, meaning that all of the data he collects and analyzes he’ll give back in the form of recommendations for what works in which ways.

Hugh now has a survey online and is looking for musicians willing to complete it. He estimates it will take about 15 minutes. It’s a worthwhile project — he’s really trying to figure out ways to guide independent musicians — so if you’ve got the time, please fill it out. And if you’re working with or know other musicians, please pass the word along to them.

You can find the survey here.

The dangers of proprietary promotion

At spinme.com, Joe Taylor tells a cautionary tale with a happy ending about a band called Bones who almost lost their MySpace profile, complete with history and friends aplenty, to Fox TV, who wanted it to promote a new TV show also called Bones. As he points out, while this story ended ok (the band got to keep the screen name):

it’s another reminder that promoting someone else’s domain name on your printed material and press kit is an invitation to disaster. [...] MySpace’s terms of service indicate that they can — and will — take back your screen name if they want to. It’s really nice to hear that they stuck up for a member this time, but you can’t guarantee that they’ll do it again.

And, for all the folks that think MySpace is never going anywhere, ask the senior members of your favorite music business bulletin boards what it was like when MP3.com vanished after it was purchased by an international media conglomerate. (Some folks are still stinging from that one.)

It’s such a good point. The more we build our online personaes and social networks through sites that other people own, the more vulnerable we are to changes in their ownership, design, vision, or even existence. We can be thrown off without reason or recourse. We can be erased through some bug and we don’t have the backup to reload. All kinds of nasty things can happen. We extend an incredible amount of trust in their goodwill and faith in the Computer Gods who make them work.

Controlling your online image?

Sheena Metal offers tips for musicians about how to prevent your inappropriate after-party behavior from spoiling your image. Among them is this:

Monitor Your Websites And Web Communities—Again, better safe than sorry. It’s always a good idea to visit your forums, message boards, photo galleries, fan clubs, blogs and online communities to see what the latest scoop on your band is. It’s also wise to retain approval privilege on anything posted on each of your band sites. Let people post all of the drunken, naked pictures they want, and then pick and choose which images you want to represent your band. The same applies to comments and posts. Remember fans are important and priceless but it’s ultimately your image to preserve to the industry and the world and your web presence is how you represent yourself to everyone interested in you from fans to labels and everything in between.

Of course, monitoring is important but excuse me while I burst into gales of laughter at the idea that any artist is going to get to control the images of them that appear on the web. Sure, they can manage what gets posted on their official sites, but with all the cameras fans have and all the fan sites and flickrs out there, people are living in dream worlds if they think they get to choose which pictures of them appear online.

Simple fact: if you don’t want drunken womanizing idiot pictures of yourself on the web, don’t get drunk, womanize, and act like an idiot. After-the-fact erasure isn’t an option.

Lala’s Social CD Swapping

Lala.com is a semi-socialnetworking website that hooks up people looking to discard the cds they don’t want in exchange for the cds other people don’t want. The charge? $1, plus 75 cents shipping. And they provide the envelopes. From the PSU Daily Collegian:

The site’s logistics are simple — to find music, users browse other member’s profiles or search by album title, genre or artist among a broad range of albums from newly released titles to old school classics.

It’s even got a non-profit musician support component:

The music-sharing organization helps to support working musicians through their charity, The Z Foundation, Kuch said. The Web site has a definition of a working musician as “any individual who has performed live or on a recorded release in the last year and whose music-related income accounts for more than half of their total income.”

Bill Nguyen, co-founder of lala.com, said he is glad to see musicians finally getting compensated for their work.

“For the first time, musicians will receive economic support directly from their fans,” he said.

Twenty percent of each traded CD goes to The Z Foundation, Kuch said.

“Giving back even 20 percent can help them buy more studio time or new equipment, so they can make more music,” Sung said. The money collected by the Z Foundation provides musicians with medical and dental care, he said.

As always “for the first time” is pretty far from accurate, but it’s a great idea nonetheless: a nice legal alternative to illegal downloading, and gets the object into the hand for those who still like to read liner notes and see the pictures.