Censorship? Or doing the right thing?

May 16, 2018

Spotify made world news last week with the announcement of their new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy:

We love that our platform is home to so much diversity because we believe in openness, tolerance, respect, and freedom of expression, and we want to promote those values through music on our platform.

However, we do not tolerate hate content on Spotify – content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.

The Swedish streaming platform has copped some serious heat over this. Surprising to me at first, but I can also see how.

Firstly, it’s truly wonderful to see a big multinational taking a stand and not celebrating shit stains. It absolutely sickens me that Chris Brown still has a career, and that popular convicted women haters are still held on a pedestal in the entertainment business. So many companies and businesses are too scared about the bottom line to be the first to make a stand on controversial issues. (But, of course, okay to do so after others have and are pat on the back. See: American big businesses revoking their NRA discounts, but only after the first few were applauded on social media.)

It feels like a huge victory to see Spotify removing content that incites violence, and not using their promotional tools like daily mixes and RapCaviar to further the careers of these ‘hateful’ individuals. This feels like a middle finger to a system that has failed so many of us, women like my friends and me who have tried to get help for sexual assault and misconduct IRL but seen absolutely zero action. But it also brings up so many questions:

  • Is it the place of the content provider to be the censor? Is that a job for curators and media outlets (e.g. the triple js and NMEs of the world)? Or does Spotify’s features (custom daily mixes, playlists with giant followings, similar artists suggestions) almost turn the DSP into a curator as well? And how is Spotify facing heat over this, when book publisher Simon & Schuster got good press for cancelling their deal with the very racist, lesbian-hating Milo Yiannopoulos?
  • And regardless of who is doing the censorship… where do we draw the line? Do we say holding women against their will in a cult-like sex dungeon is bad (R. Kelly) but flashing your genitals to a fellow performer is okay (Louis C.K.)? Or does it depend on how outraged Twitter is?
  • It just so happens that this policy matches my political views… what happens if a different content provider swings the other way? Say if a pro-NRA eBook service decides to remove all literature around gun control? Is that okay?
  • Should we, and can we even, separate art from the artist? (I’d say no. Author-centred view, anyone?)
  • No man is an island, and most pieces of musical work are not recorded and put up by a single person. Is it fair to remove Lostprophets’ music from Spotify because of Ian Watkins’ truly atrocious crimes? Even though the rest of the band have publicly denounced him and Watkins has been sentenced to 30 odd years behind bars?
  • What about official channels of punishment? If a person (famous or otherwise) commits a hate crime, should we leave this with the authorities to convict and sentence as appropriate? Why is it up to content providers to take action?
  • When does this become trial (or Spotify censorship) by media? The #MuteRKelly campaign definitely gave this a helping hand, in the same way that Weinstein being fired from his own company was very much because of the traction that the #MeToo movement had.
  • What about reform? If an artist commits a heinous crime, serves out the sentence, grows up, learns the errors of their ways… can they never ever release music again? Is this an old school and barbaric way of thinking?

They’ve rolled out the reporting button already (check it out below) and have removed R. Kelly’s music from all their curated playlists. A slew of suggestions for other ‘hateful’ individuals have been rolling in and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

As Spotify themselves noted:

These are complicated issues… We’ll make some mistakes, we’ll learn from them.

 

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Past Paige Advice & CHANGES

May 15, 2018

Googled myself today (yes, truly) to find out what year I was on a panel for Face The Music, and came across this blast-from-the-past article that the wonderful Mel Lewis wrote for FasterLouder.

It’s a little breakdown of the advice that Jaymz Clements (my former Beat Mag editor), Rebekah Campbell, Alicia Moreau, Dylan Liddy and dished out, including:

When Cho receives a press release, she wants to see a “call to action” and an effort on the bands part to make the publicist’s job easier. Clear indication of contact details, links to concise collections of information and media (photographs, music etc), the offer to forward better pics, more albums, posters, what have you, all go a long way. Communication about your event should be tailored into two streams: direct communication (to your existing fanbase getting them on board to support the event) and indirect communication (aimed at media outlets who you are hoping to secure publicity support from). She added that bands constantly leave marketing to the last minute, or don’t factor it in at all.

Eight years later and this advice still completely makes sense! And so many artists, promoters and festivals still get this wrong.

On the topic of Face The Music… very excited to be working on The Push‘s new music industry event, CHANGES. The Bolster team have been working hard on the shit hot website and gorgeous video assets, and I’m working on the digital advertising side of things. See you in July!

F8 Announcements

May 10, 2018

Facebook introduced some pretty swanky new features at its ninth F8 conference last week. Watch Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote below, or torture yourself with hours of other official event footage here.

Or just Google ‘Facebook F8 announcements’ to see what media outlets are saying, because we all know brevity is not one of Facebook’s strengths.

Here are some random thoughts about just a handful of this year’s announcements.

FACEBOOK MESSENGER TRANSLATIONS

This is actually pretty incredible. Facebook is rolling out chat translations in its messenger app. We can literally chat to anyone in the world (who has Facebook Messenger, a charged phone, an internet connection, thumbs to write something inane etc. etc.).

I’m actually surprised this is the first time a big tech company has done this. I also wonder if Zuckerberg has heard about the Tower of Babel.

SMARTER BOTS

Facebook has also promised to improve its messenger bots by integrating its NLP (natural language processing) into the app to help bots understand what us mere humans are trying to ask.

Should have seen me try to unsuccessfully schedule in reminders on Blink the Bee a few weeks ago. For the love of god, JUST REMIND ME TO CALL MY GRANDMOTHER ON WEEKENDS.

INSTAGRAM VIDEO CHATS

Right now you can actually send a short video message via Instagram Stories directly to someone. But it’s kind of weird. Do this to me and you will only ever get a text reply back.

Anyway, Instagram is encroaching on Snapchat’s territory even further by rolling out vid chats on their platform too.  Sliding into someone’s DMs just got a hell of a lot riskier. 😏

3D PHOTOS

Not sure how this will actually play out, but this feature will mash up 2D photos with Facebook’s VR and 3D photo technology to integrate your old photos into real life. I think.

Facebook’s take on people superimposing or photographing iconic album covers with their original locations?

SHARING NEW CONTENT ONTO INSTA STORIES

This one has me pretty excited. You can share content from Spotify (read: all the hot songs I’m enjoying rn), GoPro and Soundcloud straight into Instagram stories.

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CLEAR HISTORY

Facebook also announced a ‘clear history‘ feature, its equivalent of deleting your history on a web browser. This was definitely a proactive step in light of its data woes, and it’ll be interesting to see the average consumer’s take on this. Better content and advertising on your news feed vs. privacy. You pick.

FACEBOOK DATING

And finally, can we talk about Facebook’s dating feature? It’ll let you be ‘open’ to connecting friends of friends. My friends have attractive friends who are not yet my friends. Keen.

Industry Connect Masterclass For QMusic

May 3, 2018

Next stop… Toowoomba!

Headed to the Queensland in July to host a QMusic masterclass on social media and digital marketing for musicians. Here’s what I’ll be making some pretty PowerPoint slides to:

A transforming music industry landscape, hand in hand with a social revolution, has made the role of content and brand crucial. In an overcrowded and distracted social space how do you build an authentic brand across multiple social media platforms during and outside of release cycles? Click Here will provide you with the know-how to build your online presence and be visible in a saturated market.

Nirkio McLure (GM of Wonder Music Co.) will also be running a masterclass on the day, unlocking the secrets of the often misunderstood album release cycle.

Read more, RSVP and laugh at my weird press shot here.

Facebook’s Data Woes

May 1, 2018

Facebook’s been in the news a shit ton lately, and I’ve gotten a few emails from Bolster clients (of varying degrees of panic) about what it means for the music industry. Does it change the advertising game for us? Or is it still business as usual for festivals, labels and promoters on the platform?

I wrote a HUGE breakdown of what’s happened, what Facebook’s been proactively doing and what it means for Bolster’s clients on Medium.

It’s long. Sorry. I tried. There was too much stuff to mention. Make a cup of tea and enjoy. (And then immediately go to your Facebook settings and lock that shit down.)

Clicks Vs Tix

April 27, 2018

What comes first? The YouTuber, or the sold out comedy fest show? The funny person on Twitter with a million followers, or the award-winning comedian? The chicken or the egg? (Sorry, not sorry.)

I ducked out to The Wheeler Centre on the weekend for their Clicks vs Tix session, held in partnership with Melbourne International Comedy Fest. The hour-long talk was hosted by Jodi Crocker, with comedians Geraldine Hickey, Phil Wang, Sorabh Pant and Zach Ruane fielding questions about the digital space fits in with being successful in the comedy world.

The conversation went in a million (interesting) directions, but here were my key takeaways around content and advertising.

Should wannabe comedians try to strike gold online first, then bring their shows to the real world? Or start on the comedy circuit and the online likes will follow?

All four speakers kinda said yes and no to this one. PW’s experience was that great online audiences can lead to ticket sales, but rarely the other way around. Comedy goers don’t enjoy stand up at a local club then immediately go home and become a rabid digital fan. (I feel like this is actually the opposite to music. There are so many bands that are completely meh recorded, but have an online following because their live show is on fire.)

ZR also pointed out that Aunty Donna’s YouTube audience needed some, erm, training to get use to the idea of live shows. YouTube audiences love meeting their creators, but it took a few years for the Aunty Donna fan base to fully understand that their live shows are refreshed and rewritten each year, and that there is new content for hardcore fans to enjoy each time.

When asked if they’d rather win a Barry (MICF’s best show award) or have a million new subscribers:

PW had an interesting view on this. Awards have a shelf life based on how regularly they occur. If a Barry gets awarded annually, it’ll only boost the profile of the winner for a year. His advice? Cash in on it, ride the wave, get momentum… and then move on.

GH and ZR both also noted that a million views are not necessarily good views. Read: trolls.

How do audiences feel about comedians getting paid by brands?

On the topic of brand sponsorships, SP commented that audiences are now far more forgiving. It’s no longer about selling out. Fans recognise that brand endorsements = being able to consume content for free. (SP also commented that music is on the decline in India, but comedy is on the rise so brands are choosing to spend their influencer dollars with comedians instead.)

Going one step further, PW also mentioned that this attitude extends further to full-blown ads as well. Creators are getting paid to appear in ads for brands to cash in on the person’s likeability. The comedian (or musician, model, Instagrammer, athlete) stars in an ad to just be themselves, and the actual brand/product almost becomes a secondary element to the ad, purely to align themselves with the talent. (I’d say this has been the case for years though… a la Billy Connelly selling ING.)

And what about Facebook?

ZR had interesting things to say about Facebook in light of the recent data exposé. While it’s refreshing to shift the power away from that one person who has sway at a comedy festival, performers need to remember that social media doesn’t necessarily give you all the power. There’s still a gatekeeper; he’s just an internet billionaire in Silicon Valley now. You still need to remember that your online community is in the hands of someone else. (He also noted that their Facebook reach organically is declining like crazy.)

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Super interesting talk, so here’s a super bad picture of the panel. Enjoy.

Mushrooms and Yapping On About Strategy

March 22, 2018

Never going to turn down a work-related excuse to get out of the office, and I got the perfect leave of absence yesterday with the Melbourne Bookers Lunch.

It was at Rupert On Rupert, hosted by Eventbrite and Cult Leader with Triple R’s Sarah Smith on emcee duties. In between (very delicious) courses, we were treated to a Music Victoria update from Patrick Donovan, followed by a panel about touring best practices with Chris O’Brien (Destroy All Lines), Mike Christidis (Untitled Group) and Emily York (Penny Drop).

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I also had a turn at the microphone, with Sarah having a chat with Unified‘s GM Nick Yates and myself about tour marketing strategies. Here are some random takeaways from my brain:

  • Don’t rush if you don’t have to. Unless you absolutely need to announce a tour/show because of external factors (e.g. artist is also appearing on a festival that is being announced ASAP), it pays to give yourself a few business days to get ready. Allow your team enough time to get Facebook & Instagram access, YouTube remarketing access, conversion tracking set up, ad copy approved and tour artwork over the line. Pretty much every single rushed tour announce I’ve worked on hasn’t had the impact it should have (and would have, if we had our ducks in a row). Yes, people can rush to get things out the door when we need to, but GIVE US TIME and you will get better results.
  • Use genuine content to really connect with your audience. Showcase an artist’s personality. Make content that works with your audience (don’t be something to everyone). Have personality. Everyone is so used to seeing a press shot with some “CITY, excited to see you” bullshit, so be authentic to fans. Engage first, sell tickets second.
  • Sell yourself. What’s your point of difference? Is your show special because it’s in an interesting venue (a velodrome or a zoo perhaps?) or is there a special theme across a series of events? If the artist has been in the market recently, is there something special about this new tour? Why should fans dish out another $80 to see a band they saw half a year ago? Have they released a new album, and are they playing brand new music live for the first time? Or is this a special anniversary show with a reunited lineup?

P.S. Love a good name plate.

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#IWD2018

March 11, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day for Thursday!

IWD was especially meaningful to me this year, because this was the first time I’ve ever done something IRL to celebrate.

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I spent the morning at the One of One Breakfast at the gorgeous Abbotsford Convent, in a room of over 150 talented and amazing women in music (many of whom I consider friends, and have had the pleasure of working with over the past decade).

I teared up during Stella Donnelly’s performance of Boys Will Be Boys (content warning: this song is about sexual assault and victim blaming), and then just full-on cried during Linda Bosidis’ heartfelt keynote speech about her late husband Dean Turner, her children, and being a Virgoan quiet-achiever in a male-dominated industry. Read her speech and weep here. Kudos to One of One’s incredible founders Sarah Hamilton, Vader Fame and Joanne Cameron.

On the Bolster front, Lauren and I (ahem, but mostly Lauren TBH) put together little pearls of wisdom from the women of Bolster. Check it out here, and we also put together a Spotify playlist celebrating just a handful of our fave women.

I’ve been kicking around the music industry for 9 years now, and it’s absolutely heartwarming to see all the other women who started at the same time as me still around, smashing goals. All of us who were interning and undertaking every single shit paying, shit kicker job in the late noughties now all work full time in the industry, working for labels, radio stations or promoters, or running their own businesses.

Here’s to another decade of women in music!

P.S. Fun fact: companies that have higher female representation on their boards make more money.

Peak Productivity

January 20, 2018

Was talking to my Bolster co-workers about music and productivity recently, and we figured this out:

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(Completely scientific. Trust me. Sample size of 4. 100% confidence interval.)

Let me explain.

  • Don’t really need to focus = eh, nah no music needed
  • Kinda need to start focusing pretty hard = yes please, some music
  • REALLY STRESSED AND NEED TO FOCUS = fuck off headphones, complete silence please

(That last point is usually when I go hide in one of the cute new isolation standing desk pods in the office.)

Anyway, here’s a playlist I made for that sweet spot when you need some productivity-increasing music. I used this to power through a 70-page festival report last year. It works. You’re welcome.

  

2017 Wrapped Up

December 10, 2017

Some call it creepy*, but I think it’s neat… Spotify has yet again gotten creative with its user data. Say hello to its new Your 2017 Wrapped app. Here are my top plays on the streaming service this year.

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That’s 27,138 minutes of music, across 2,874 songs by 1,121 different artists. And apparently across 73 genres. I don’t think I could name 20 genres, let alone 73.

It’s really interesting that while my top artists and tracks (save Andy Stott and Matthew Dear) were both alternative, my fave genre this was indietronica. (Side note – the term indietronica is disgusting to me, but I think this is what Spotify means.)

Pretend to be me for a hot minute and listen to my 2017 soundtrack here. See how this compares to my 2016 listening habits.

* Not as creepy as Netflix.

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