If You Weren’t So Stupid…Brendan Maclean Interview.

Brendan Maclean is a musician, actor and all round funny guy. Seriously check out his twitter. His work has seen him with a semi regular spot covering songs on 2dayFM and with a role in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great GatsbyHe was kind enough to give up some time to answer some questions for my uni project on crowd funding. See the full prezi, Get the tropics to skins!

 

1. Why did you decide to take on a crowd funding project?

It was really Amanda Palmer who put me up to it. I was pretty cynical about the idea, but having failed, at the time, to find any studio backing and having lost a sizable amount of cash on a recording session that went belly up I was out of options.

2. Was there any reason you used the Pozible platform in comparison to other crowd funding sites?

I sent out an e-mail to a few of the crowdfunding sites, Pozible got back to me first. It’s as simple as that – I needed a company that was going to respond and really be there if something went wrong.

3. Was there any model or other campaign you took inspiration from?

Amanda’s campaign worked for a handful of reasons – she proved what she had in store for potential backers, she provided consistent updates and she even started delivering before the project ended. Her video was entertaining and had a “viral” feel to it. The financials were well detailed and the prizes were unique. All things that make you feel like you’re getting an “experience”, and that’s really the difference between crowdfunding and sales. The campaign itself is an experience.


4. What did you learn about your audience as a result of the project?

I learned that they are dedicated to music. It’s not just me they wanted to support but all artists – so when I invited other musicians, videographers or designers on board I found that artist’s fans wanted to be involved too. Also, and I think this is a given, people like being included. The more interactive I was the more people seem to give.

5. Did you see a certain type of demographic contributing to the campaign?

It was a real split between fans who had been with me for a while and an older audience from Twitter or Facebook that saw the campaign growing. It makes sense that young people who had really only just heard of me didn’t donate as much because, let’s be real, we don’t have any money to give to people’s campaigns so they can make art. We need it to buy two-minute noodles because our University fees cost too much. So you have to be a little more inventive than just shouting on your Facebook Fan page. It meant radio interviews, newspaper article, video updates on YouTube, the whole gambit – especially in the preparatory stages. You have to warm people up so they can get their wallets ready.

6. What obligation do you have to your funders after the campaign finishes?

Look, it’s weird. Sometimes people take a while, jesus, I’m not even done sending shirts out because I’ve been gallivanting overseas. Some prizes just ended up being impossible, did I really think I was ever going to be able to 30 people in a room to shoot a video clip? The answer for me ended up being an ultimatum, if people thought I had taken too long I offered refunds. There is no legal obligation but I believe if you give a fair amount of cash to a campaign you can make a claim against the artist. But really it’s just more about being an asshole.

7. Is there anything you would do differently on a different campaign?

I certainly wouldn’t have made as many physical objects to post. That was a huge mistake and a blow to the budget. Personally, having signed to a publication contract I don’t think it would be right for me to do another Pozible campaign, there are other crowdfunding platforms that promote an ongoing small donation – and I think that might serve me better.

8. What advice would you give anyone contemplating taking on a crowd funding project?

You are a musician, not a merchandise tent. Get help, crowdfunding campaigns really do require a village to raise. You need to launch it, keep momentum and continually update. Most people I know get sick halfway through from the stress so don’t try to do it alone.

 

Tell him he’s dreaming. What’s the fix on the Australian film industry

When the idea about why Australian films tank at the box office is suggested, the immediate thought that comes to mind is, they’re too Australian. Too Australian? How can anything be too Australian? Well, generally they are overdone, overacted and poorly made films. Or at least that was the consensus when the proposition was put forward in class.

Yet, the more I started to think about it the less I started to believe it. Yes, there are films that are made that are horrible, or at least from their trailer suggest that they would be terrible (I feel bad for Nathan Phillips, he was good in The Bridge). But in the same instance there are some really great and creative films being produced in this country, think Animal Kingdom.

What I think the problem is, is the portrayal of ourselves that we are getting out of our popular films. More specifically the national identity that we are creating through our films does not fit with how we actually see ourselves. Some experts believe this is due to poor script writing and others believe that the “Ocker” narrative has run it’s due course.

In the documentary trailer above Haydn Keenan describes it best as “cultural cringe“. Cultural what?! Basically the perception that ones own culture is lacking in comparison to other cultures. This point is exacerbated when we look at box office figures and the like for Australian films v.s other countries films, particularly American. The issue here is two fold.

1. American films if they are “blockbusters” often cater to a wide target market, specifically to attract a large viewership, even if the content isn’t that great.

2. American films often have the ability to transcend cultural boundaries, e.g. 12 years a slave, predominately due to their vast demography, something which Australia also has.

There in lies the problem, however with a new direction in the media and film landscape, this can be combated. In particular the crowd funding revolution can be extraordinarily influential in helping creative types execute their vision. Amanda Palmer talks about it in terms of asking. Asking for help ultimately gives your viewership some span of influence on what is created. This helps the film industry by defining the types of film people of a certain demographic want to see made and by allowing the rest of the budget to go towards glorified tourism ads starring Hugh and Nicole.

Ultimately this would be where I think a really great ethnographic study could lie. Possibly it would be traditional in it’s means e.g. focus groups or in depth surveying, but I think its creative in the way that you are finding your audience. Asking crowd funding participants as to why they decided to back a certain project, could provide some direction for the film industry as to where they could allocate funding or where there target market lies. Interestingly you could also see the viewership that didn’t support one film, but did another and find out what the difference is etc.

While not groundbreaking in its design I think it could be a really useful tool for the film industry. Ultimately, though the focus lies in doing really great work. People will no longer support something purely because its Australian, they want real authentic stories, good enough for them to take to the pool room.

Regulators! Mount Up!

Far from Warren G’s and Nate Dogg’s idea of it, media regulation is a common practice in the interconnected society we live in. Often socially driven, we deem there is specific times and places where we can use and view the media we consume. This tension manifests at meal times, waiting rooms and especially on public transport.

This regulation stems from 2 general ideas. Firstly, inappropriate media use is highly annoying, inadvertently invasive and pretty rude. I.e I’m sick of serving customers who are on their phone, talking at it and then ask “didn’t you get that”. Secondly and probably more interestingly (and possibly more on topic) is the idea that we want to regulate for people who can’t protect themselves, generally the young and the elderly.

In my own life I can remember not being able to watch certain shows (The Simpsons, South Park etc.) or use certain devices and see and read certain magazines (no not those) due to being of a young age. Similar things still hold true as I will regulate the shows my nephews will watch or the games they play to suit a deemed age appropriateness  for them. Other people who I know will take their child’s Ipad, phone and laptop away to punish or regulate how much time their children can use the media for

It would also seem that I and other people are not alone in the plight to regulate how and when the children they know use their content. In a study by Lenhart et al (2010) parents regulation of their child’s cell phone shows that this is a fairly common practice, especially considering the rather standard numbers across both the demographics and income regulators.

Similarly regulating older people’s media particularly social media has become common practice. I’ll often have lengthy conversations with my Mum about what she writes and shares on Facebook and how it could harm and effect other people.  Often my siblings and I might even say “It might be a little too technologically advanced for you Mum”. This type of media regulation is only to protect her from something we’ve deemed as too hard or beyond her ability, almost as if she were a child. Although we probably aren’t justified in doing this, we deem it necessary, like a lot of other regulatory boards e.g. ACMA.

Where this regulation takes on new meaning is when we think about it in relation to space and place. Due to the blending of the public and private spaces we inhabited our areas are inherently connected. While we think that something we post in our own private space is innocent or warranted it could do harm to others that intend to look at it. This is often regarded the other way when we consider children and their use of media outside of the private space. I would say that some media is often used as a tool of entertainment and fun in the public space, for parents to keep their children distracted. Yet, in private, over consumption of media is seen as lazy or introversion and should be regulated.

Hence the real tension in media regulation is context. Contextually, when is it ok to use media and what media can you use in that time. When does using your devices become OK and what deems that action to be allowed. Surely if we are alone, with no one around use of our device affects nobody even if social provisions state otherwise. In other words, let me sit at the sushi train by myself and play on my phone, without looking down on me.

Media Mutlitas….

 

Media multitasking has presented us with some really interesting ways to engage with numerous platforms at the same time. Need only check out my Introduction V.2 post to show how I genuinely enjoy my time watching the Television. With another screen in the way.

Devices being used while watching tv: Source

Devices being used while watching tv: Source

However, this type of media viewing is not unnatural to us anymore. In fact a lot of shows, in particular reality shows, use this ability to incorporate a wider viewership and sense of community in their show. The graphic to the right acknowledges this change as more and more tech savvy teenagers enter into a space where their ability to consume media bi fold is unprecedented. Yet, is it particularly helpful to be consuming media in this way?

A team from the University College London Interaction Centre study into “Working With The Television On: An Investigation into Media Multitasking” looked to show the connection between media multitasking and whether this could be engaged with in terms of undertaking a stressful job situation. While the study, undertaken by researchers with a high interest on the development of our human condition with multimedia screens, shows mostly negative results, I’d argue that they are mostly false negatives.

Overall though the results of this preliminary study suggest that if people want to relax and become engrossed in a television show they should avoid working on a secondary device at the same time. I’d argue however, that they don’t (at the very least I don’t). Or if they do, their phone becomes less of a distraction and more of a contributor to the narrative of whatever they are watching. This is actually something that the study acknowledges in the limitations of their study and suggested that further studies in this area would create interesting dialogue.

I’d also say that the demography of the participants could also factor into an inability to be strong at multitasking. Due to media multitasking being quite a recent phenomena I would’ve liked to have seen younger people, from outside of the University pool take the test.

The nature of the task I would also say raised issues amongst the participants. Mathematical problems although quite stressful (I couldn’t work out the example they gave) don’t really give the nature of what people will be doing whilst watching television. The researchers also point to this and suggest that lighter duties would more realistically be undertaken whilst watching. I’d agree with this part and say that this is the kinds of things I’m undertaking whilst engaging with the content. Bills, online shopping and writing university blog posts, all of which require minimal effort.

This type of multimedia use is especially significant when we think about it spatially. Predominately this kind of multitasking is done in private, mostly because the media use is off a duel nature, i.e. you’re less inclined to go into a public space and watch a television show on your laptop and be on your phone. Where as in a public space your multitasking media experience may be less self directed and more implied by the environment, e.g. at the doctors on your phone, while there is a screen in the waiting room.

 

Influential Youth: The Rise of Mall Media.

The definition and role of the public and private space has been blurred significantly since the recession of traditional types of public spaces. Traditional public spaces  have been defined by Neal and other urban planners as:

 all areas that are open and accessible to all members of the public in a society

These places for example include parks, public squares and beaches. Central to these ideas urban planners are concerned with how these spaces and other public spaces function from a social, economic and political perspective. In particular they are concerned with how citizens interact and use these spaces. Traditionally this has been separate from our private spaces. Private places are where we go to seek refuge from the public spaces. Madanipour defines these spaces as ‘territories’, which include our homes and properties.

However with the availability and spread of web 2.0 technologies the difference between the two is often hard to define. Badger laments this change as it has affected the social norms that we are supposed to abide by. Yet, it seems that this view on societal norms lacks a connection to what is actually happening in our public space now.

The reality is that increased technologies have made the opportunity for “Pseudo – Public” spaces. These spaces while public in nature are owned by private corporations who use the traditional values of a public space for economic gain. Most notable of pseudo – public spaces are malls or shopping centres. This is due to their social function to house people in a public way, yet have the ability to leave out certain groups unlike traditional public spaces. Pseudo – public places are also characteristically a hot bed for aggressive marketing tactics, including television and digital advertising screenings.

Television screens in a shopping mall

Television screens in a shopping mall

These two screens, which I shot on a recent trip to the shopping complex that is closest to my house, show exactly the type of blurring of the public and private. Each are used to either promote a brand or product or are used to show a particular television station (the same station runs at all times).

In fact this is an increasingly used advertising tactic called ‘Mall Media’. Mall media is the combination of advertising through both smaller scale electronic billboards and through dedicated network channels that show companies products (this is prominent in America, less so in Australia) to their target markets.

Electronic Billboard

Electronic Billboard

Mall media companies look to exploit the segment of the pseudo – public space market that are most readily available to them, affluent parents and young teenagers. RMG networks has even given them their own specific sub categories, the alpha mum and the influential teen. The distinct consumer behaviour that they describe for both cohorts is certainly plausible – notably the social media awareness that they attribute to the teenage population.

This is where the blurring of the public and the private realm becomes problematic for people. Of greatest concern is should we be allowing these big business companies the ability to directly market to the most susceptible segment of the population and what effect does it have on them. Personally, I think these screen provide relief from the monotony that is often associated with going shopping and especially in the food court. I couldn’t count the amount of times I’d watched Ellen, through subtitles, on that very television.

What I’m not sure of however is how these types of billboards and televisions enhance the social experience of traditional public places, like a park for instance. Surely the linkage to the types of activities that we are undertaking in the pseudo public versus the real public is what should define the amount of content and what is being advertised to us. Without these boundaries I think this blurred culture could become of concern.

Hagerstrand’d

In 1969 Torsten Hagerstrand’s work on time geography led to a  new way of thinking about the relationship between spatial and temporal aspects of human activity. In particular thinking about the concepts in terms of our relationship to a cinematic experience is of interest. For the three concepts that Hagerstrand outlines can have a great impact on whether an audience can physically get to the cinema to watch the movie. This sense of disconnect is heightened when we consider the ease of which audiences can view these movies without leaving their home.

Hagerstand’s three concepts are as follows:

  1. Capability – The ability to get to a place
  2. Coupling – Can I get to the place at the right time?
  3. Authority – Am I allowed to be there?

When applying these three concepts to my own movie experience I was struck by how relevant these concepts actually were:

1. Capability – To start off it took me the entire week to the point that this post is late to be able to get to the movie. This was due to various work, university and sport commitments that I had to undertake. Finding a person, any person, to go with me at a similar time to when I was free was also difficult. Being free during the day and busy at night often conflicts with everyone in the worlds schedule.

2. Coupling – Eventually I got my sister to squeeze a movie trip in to her tightly packed life. However due to her kids and other things and then my job we only had two options for the movie. A quick jaunt to see Magic in the Moonlight or to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I picked Magic in the Moonlight, because I thought it would appeal to her more and Emma Stone is a boss, so it couldn’t possibly be bad right? (Oh dear, what an unmitigated disaster).

3. Authority – It struck me that this would be the least relevant due to the change in social standards particularly with regards to the cinema. However I couldn’t help but feel like in a two tier cinema, where the comfy recliner seats are down the bottom the movie experience somewhat resembled that of the segregation era (nowhere near to that extent or complexity of issue, but maybe just a nod to it).

The authority issue reared itself again as my sister and I walked into the cinema. She had her youngest child, almost 1, with her. To my amazement the stares and looks that we got as we sat ourselves a couple of rows up was astonishing. One lady who was in the row in front of us even turned around looked us up and down and turned around as my nephew snuffled a little before going to sleep.

While this is unsurprising as babies can be of distraction during the movie, what I found more pressing was the double standard of the other viewers. The movie audience was predominately older people as the cinema runs a special on Tuesday for senior citizens. While they glared and scoffed at a child, they found no problem with other similar aged people talking and eating loudly during the film. This is where I think the idea of ‘authority” was most prevalent. With the idea that in a particular social space the predominate audiences movie habits reigned supreme, while the rest were made to feel inadequate.

With this idea of the shared social space I also see this as the reason that cinema watching won’t die off suddenly. While the market may fluctuate and change I think that within most social groups there is a desire for a place where they can go to feel togetherness. The cinema perpetuates this by allowing multiple social groups to feel comfortable in the space depend on what movie is shown and when it is shown. This ability will continue to allow movie theatres to have relevance.

NBN, National Broadcasting Network?

We are still talking about TV right?

This is the response I got from my mum, Janet, when I posed to her the question of “what is the NBN?”.

Needless to say, this technological advancement is at the forefront of what my parents need or crave in their lives. Instead the unveiling of the National Broadband Network would just be a delightful improvement on the services that they already have.

“If it improves our internet speeds a little bit then that is great, but it won’t really effect how or what we do in our home”, Janet said.

This sentiment would no doubt worry the government and the private investors of the NBN, who have guaranteed the connect-ability and functionality of the network.

Yet maybe it wouldn’t, instead imploring the idea that an older generation is not the target market of such an investment and rollout. However the fact that we have an ageing population, one that is increasingly becoming more technologically savvy seems unlikely. I think the issues in dealing with this population instead stem from a disconnect in values. Technology isn’t valued in this demographic as much as it is in the younger market.

“I’m old and don’t really care, as long as I have some access to the internet I’m all good”. Janet said, adding “If it is only going to speed things up I don’t think it will fundamentally change our lives”.

Somewhat naive perhaps, but I think it does reflect some of the traditional values that both my parents and the generation that they come from still try to up hold. This push to tradition, inhibits the way that they use and view technology in their own lives. A report by Cisco and Independent Age advised some of the reasons for this as;

  1. Lack of access to the internet
  2. Low awareness of what technology can offer
  3. Inadequate marketing
  4. Inappropriate design
  5. Anxieties

For my parents the problem connected to the rollout of the NBN in particular arise from points 2 and 3, low awareness of what it can do and inadequate marketing.

The lack of understanding of how it could change their lives definitely inhibits how my parents and (in general) their generation make use of the internet. It astounds me that my Dad, Al, has never had a Skype conversation with his brother and sister in New Zealand. I’m equally surprised that they are willing to wait until one of their favourite shows Castle comes back on television or DVD (yes, DVD) to watch it.

This is a far cry to how some other students parents, like Brendon, make use of their NBN connected households. Of particular interest was the idea that they would go without television in a traditional sense and simply stream all of their television viewing.

We no longer have a television signal in our house. Instead, we have a dedicated PC connected to the TV in the living room that is used for streaming or downloading content

I highly doubt my parents would ever take such measures to watch television. I think this fundamentally shows the different attitudinal outlooks towards not only the NBN, but technology in general. For my parents its to assist their lives but for others it is central to how they live.

Marketing the NBN as a key component to your life, has been the underlying message of the building and operating company NBN CO. Yet the continuing issue is the drag on effect that has occurred due to the change in government and change in philosophy of how the NBN should be delivered. This has meant that the idea and message of the NBN has been clouded. The disparity has also caused some disillusionment with the project for my parents.

“It was everywhere and then it was no where. It was one thing and then it was going to do another and I couldn’t keep up”, Janet said “They can come back to me with the NBN when I have town water, sewerage, proper guttering and reception on my mobile phone, until then I don’t really care”.

This disillusionment and subsequent attitudes are typified in the type of people who the Broad-banding Brunswick saw as non-adopters of the NBN in the area. In fact my parents could basically be the representation of their entire conclusion paragraphs. While this is not necessarily a bad thing I think it does speak volumes about the generational gap. In particular about the value and meaning of media and how we want to use it.

 

Touchdown! The Superbowl and Audience Measurement

The annual NFL Super Bowl is a particularly hallowed experience in an American context. Not only for the fact that sport has remained the pinnacle in the saturated American sport market but also due to the riveting advertising battle that takes place every year. That is right. The advertising is just as important, if not more important than the game itself. As Kay expresses it is a “pop culture phenomenon that is here to stay”.

But why would an advertising company pay $4 million dollars for an advertising spot? Well, simply it is due to the ridiculous market share that the Super Bowl has. The fact that your brand can broadcast to an audience of 112 million people, far greater than any other conceivable market share (highest rating show ever!!) is the great allure.

Yet is this an effective means of reaching your target market? Is an advertisers intended demographic being reached or is it simply lost in the wash of how vast the viewership is during the Super Bowl. CMO Network argues that the Super Bowl is about the safest bet in advertising that you can find. The appeal of the wide view share  and constant talk of the brand on social media gives you unprecedented “replay value”.

IB times however, questions the ability for the advertising to truly engage the market. They showed that the ads failed to actually sell product and produce brand recognition that would justify the price tag of the advertising. Cross Media found a similar issue with the advertising as only 70% of viewers actually attributed the advertising to brand recognition and within that only 30% intended to buy a product.

Here in lies why audience measurement is so important in a general sense. The biggest audience share garners the most expensive advertising spot. This is why our major television networks want a change in the amount of time they can spend showing advertisement. Without this attraction would audience measurement really be that important? It would be somewhat important to know who you are showing to, but maybe less so if you didn’t need to advertise to a particular demographic.

Regardless audience measurementt is here to stay, with a particular interest in who, what and why we are watching. Either way, I’m all for it, especially if I can continue to see puppies falling in love with horses.

 

77 Sunset Strip.

“WOAH! You got to watch 77 Sunset Strip!? That show was too racy for us”

That was the reaction that my Dad had over our discussion with my Mum about their television habits during their formative years. However, it seemed to be the only point of conjecture when they talked about how they would take in television. Which I found fascinating.

This fascination stemmed from the fact that my parents grew up approximately 2200 kilometres away from each, parted by the Tasman Sea. My Dad a New Zealand Ex-Pat(ish) and my Mum from Sydney’s suburban outskirts. The distance however didn’t seem to change how they watch or where they watched the television from.

Sitting on the lounge, silent and just watching from the news broadcast until it was time for bed was both how they consumed television. For both, their father was awarded the “best spot”. Which reflects in our family as Dad always has the spot right in front of the television, prime real estate!

Social etiquette also meant that the television was never on with company in the house nor was it on during the day. Unless it was for Saturday morning cartoons. Far cry from when I would wake up every morning and watch Pokémon/Dragon Ball z before school. Ah, bless Cheez TV.

When I pressed my parents further about this different type of consumption and what they thought when I watched TV with them, with laptop and phone at the ready, my Dad said this:

“It’s just a sign of the way we are now. Your whole social experience is on those two things. You’re mesmerised by them, just as we were so consumed with TV when it just came out”.

I think that may be the key point when we think about television consumptions changing nature. What other infrastructure will affect how and where we view television. Will a change to metadata law scare people into not downloading the new Game of Thrones and staying ahead of their friends? If this change goes through will we see a return to consumption from a more traditional means? Time and place are undoubtedly important to answering these questions.

Introduction V.2

My name is Peter and I’m a first year Media and Communication/Journalism Student. This is my second go around at UOW and am really enjoying how this course is panning out.

I’d never really considered media space as a thing before this subject, but the idea of using media according to space is interesting. I find that I am guilty of burying my face in my phone in public and constantly trying to engage in the social media sphere. I think it is exemplified by this photo…

My Media Space

My Media Space

I always watch my television like this, with laptop and phone in tow. But why? What makes you act in this way. I can’t possibly consume all of these things at once. I’m hoping that this subject will clarify this and bring up other interesting questions.