Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Soooo, there's a book out there called "the Long Tail", by a guy named Chris Anderson (Editor of WIRED Magazine). Coles Notes: The book is about a marketing phenomenon he calls the long tail. Sounds boring, but it's actually pretty interesting - he uses the music industry as an example in the book - basically, imagine a simple XY graph. The X axis (vertical) is the frequency/number of albums sold in a week, the Y axis (horizontal) is the rank, by name of the album. The left side is dominated by the the Top 40, new releases that are currently recieving radio air-time.

Nothing new there, but here's the interesting bit - that huge amount on the left hand side of the graph decreases dramatically as you move to the right (apparently it's the 1/n rule, not that I know what that means), eventually dwindling to zero. Even really random, small interest albums generate a few sales, and the thing that's amazing is that this area under the "long tail" is much greater than the dramatic spike at the beginning. According to Anderson, in traditional retail models, new albums account for 63% of total sales - but online, because of ease of access, unlimited supply and huge selection, those numbers are reversed, and new albums account for only 36% of total sales!

MY POINT - I found a very interesting website today called "Sell A Band".

From the site:
Fans, dubbed 'Believers', find an artist they like on For USD 10, they can buy a share, or 'Part'. Once the band has sold 5,000 parts, SellaBand arranges a professional recording, including top studios, A&R managers and producers. Believers receive a limited edition CD of the recording. The interesting twist is that the songs are then made available as free downloads. Income comes from advertising revenue, which is split three ways: artist, believer and SellaBand. Since both believers and artists benefit from getting 5,000 parts sold, both are likely to actively promote the band (and SellaBand) everywhere musicians and music fans are active: on their blogs, on their MySpace pages, in online communities, to their friends, etc. Once the recording has taken place, the same goes for SellaBand's download portal: artists and believers profit from ad revenues created by driving traffic to their download page.

The site has been up since August 2006, and so far they have 4 bands that have reached the 50,000 fan mark. Their terms are pretty reasonable - sounds like it might be an amazing way for indie groups to pick up a bigger piece of that "long tail". Not to mention record an album for free.

I wonder how successful they will be - I can see some people being pretty disappointed if they've invested $10 in a few different bands, and none of them hit 50,000 (the magic number where they get something back, physically). That's what I think is most interesting, people supporting a group with almost philanthropic (or maybe entrepreneurial is a better word!) intent - there's no instant return on your $10, no guarantee of any personal return at all. Are they supporting the industry, or the website itself? They're really only giving the band a "chance", as the band doesn't get any money until the album is in the free download stage and ad revenue starts coming in.

Is it worth it for the bands? I don't imagine much money will come in during that first year where they don't own their master and they are only getting ad revenue. Then again, I don't have any practical idea how big those ad revenue numbers might be. And a year isn't a very long time, so this might be the best opportunity some bands ever get. Either way - neat!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


I'm not much of a jewellery gal. Real jewellery, that is. I tend to take off my jewellery when it bugs me no matter where I am and usually forget where I put it, so I guess you could say that my collection is much more Claire's than Tiffany's, if you know what I mean. And I think that you do. Accessories are usually something I put on before I leave the house in the morning and then don't think about until it's time to get ready for bed and I have to take them off. Since I was about 4 years old, and I met a friend of my parents who always had long, perfect red-painted fingernails and big dramatic hair and sparkly earrings (give me a break - I was 4 and it was 1981) I've been in awe of people who always look perfectly accessorized. I dream of one day joining their ranks, but am pretty sure that thanks to my tomboy roots I'll never quite make it.

This lifelong obsession with accessories is one of the reasons I was so completely amazed with the ROM's newest exhibit, Ancient Peru Unearthed: Golden Treasures of a Lost Civilization.

This exhibit is about the Sicán civilization of Peru (800-1375). The Sicán pre-date the infamous Inca, and were actually around much longer (500 or so years, compared with the 100 or so of the Inca). And let me tell you, these people knew their accessories!

I've never seen so much GOLD in one place before. The exhibit is beautiful, and winds through the 3rd floor of the museum, directly on top of the Samuel Hall/Currelly Gallery. The Sicán were incredible metalsmiths, and there are many examples of their advanced craftsmanship in the show. Their society put great stock in personal ornamentation (mostly relating to status, experts think), and their theory seemed to be - if you can figure out a way to put GOLD on it, do it. They put modern ear-spool wearing kids to shame with their gigantic, ornate ear discs, that's for sure. (These suckers are 12cm in diameter and over a foot long!!)

The Sicán civilization was mostly unknown until about 30 years ago. Because of centuries of grave-robbing and looting, and the Spaniards' incredible lust for all things GOLD, there are very few traces of the Sicán to be found - and the few artifacts that did surface before the 1990s were a mystery to archaeologists. No one knew exactly what their context was, or who to attribute them to. In an amazing stroke of luck, archaeologists unearthed a completely untouched tomb in the early 1990s. The tombs above this one had all been looted, but they think that the looters hit ground water and were prevented from digging deeper to the final tomb, so it was preserved. Inside this tomb was what they call the Sicán Lord, and the incredible contents are what the ROM's exhibit is based around.

Exhibit highlights (if for some reason you need another reason besides the GOLD) include an archaeological "dig zone" for the kiddies, lots of accessible features for people who are vision- or hearing-impaired, and a great video presentation featuring traditional music. The ROM has also created a large amount of digital resources for this show, including a dedicated mini-site with an image gallery, podcasts, lots of info and activities. For the first time, the ROM is also reaching out to the blogging community, which is something I am VERY excited about. Seems to me that "Renaissance ROM" is about much more than the fancy building out front - they really are working to build an actual Renaissance in every aspect of the museum. Torontonians should be very proud to have the ROM in their backyard.

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