:17: Streetlight Manifesto’s Manifesto

There is no question that the music industry is at least a tad corrupt, but a band that publicly denounces itself to get back at its own record company is a pretty extreme course of action.

But that is what popular Portland-based ska band Streetlight Manifesto did this week to boycott their record company, Victory Records.

Here is the link to their website explaining the issue: http://streetlightmanifesto.com/streetlight-manifesto-proudly-boycotts-itself/

The “manifesto” begins by claiming that, “Victory Records is an artist-hostile, morally corrupt and generally dishonest company, with whom we have had the displeasure of being associated due to a contract that was signed years ago.”

As bands become popular, it is the record company that holds all the cards. They make an offer to a band that seems like a good deal but is actually nothing compared to what the record company will make in profit from their music. The result is something that looks like this:

So the call to action for their fans is actually no action at all. Specifically, they are asking their fans, “to please boycott all Streetlight related items by not purchasing any of our records or merchandise from Victory’s website, any traditional CD stores, online third party retailers or any digital distribution service (iTunes, Amazon, etc.).”

They continue to explain that they, “want more than seeing the bad guy get his comeuppance, to see the villain get bitch-slapped by karma…we just want our hard work to go towards something better than the record labels that destroy the spirit of independent music.”

This is a bold move by Streetlight Manifesto and I absolutely applaud them for it. Hopefully, there will be a great shift in how music is sold and distributed and how musicians are compensated.

Oh, and if you don’t know what ska music is, feel free to enlighten yourself:

 

 

:16: No Seuss For You, Mazda!

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Above is the trailer for the new Dr. Seuss movie, The Lorax, coming to theaters on March 2, 2012. Stemming from the original book written in 1971, the movie takes us to a time where civilization looks almost the same except for the lack of plants. In fact, in this world, nobody has ever seen a real tree before.

Of Course, Dr. Seuss is commenting on the environmental danger that our planet is in by showing us a glimpse of how tragic life would be if we weren’t surrounded by nature. This could not be a more perfect time to transform the book into a movie to raise awareness about what cars are doing to the planet.

Unfortunately, we live in a capitalist society, which means there is money to be made and often people to exploit. So without further adieu, I present the Mazda CX-5 ad promoting The Lorax.

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Just to clarify, here are the exact words used by the narrator concerning Mazda:

“Who delivers outstanding fuel efficiency without compromising the joy of driving?

Mazda, with Skyactiv technology

And who received the only certified truffala tree seal of approval?

Mazda, with Skyactiv technology.”

“Only Mazda could re-imagine driving with revolutionary Skyactiv technology. We build Mazdas. What do you drive?”

Uhh..what? I’m sorry, but what about the car? I did not hear one fact regarding Mazda in that entire commercial, but rather just some loose claims as the odd-looking car strolled through a Dr. Seuss world.

What in the world is Skyactiv technology and why does Mazda feel consumers need it so badly?

This ad is a disgrace to Dr. Seuss. I would love to see the movie, but I won’t be buying a Mazda anytime soon. The Lorax was a book that taught children the importance of preserving the environment. So right away, we are confusing those children by using a car of all things to market the movie? Come on people…we can do better than that.

Please take the time to read this Seuss-style poem on the issue by Jason Bittel, a branding professional:

this poem can be found here -> http://www.fittingroup.com/blog/advertising/the-lorax-endorses-what

“It all started way back…
Such a long, long time back…
Way back in the days when the grass was still green
And the pond was still wet
And the clouds were still clean…”

Those epic words set the mood and the scene
for Dr. Seuss’s “Lorax”
A parable for children about being green
And tongue-twisty syntax.

But like all good ideas
(and quite a few bad)
Hollywood took an interest
In the money to be had.
They commissioned a screenplay, cast actors,
And sold advertising spots,
Complete with product placements and brand pairings –
You know the lot.

But we have to wonder, did they think even a bit?
About the message they were sending – or worse –
The one they’d omit?

A Lorax-branded combustion engine? I mean, seriously?
Not a hydrogen? Not an electric?
Not even a Thneed-sponsored cross-breed?

No offense to Mazda.
I’m sure their Skyactiv technology is swell indeed.
But you won’t save the Bar-ba-loots or Swomee Swans
with 10 measly MPGs.
And I must be missing how its exhaust is “friendly”
to you, me or the Truffala Trees.

Whoever is in charge of branding
For the Lorax’s mula-making machine –
Have you read the book you’re hijacking?
Did you misinterpret what it means?

Because the takeaway this ad emits
Reeks the wrong shade of “green.”

by Jason Bittel

 

:15: Totally (L)inappropriate

Linsanity has taken over New York City and is rapidly sweeping the globe. At the start of the season, Jeremy Lin was just another guard sitting on the bench.

Finally getting his chance to prove himself against the Nets, Lin posted 25 points and 7 assists in 36 minutes. While some thought it was a fluke, Lin repeatedly scored in double digits while the franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, was out with an injury.

As thousands of people began brainstorming various puns on the young phenom’s last name, an unfortunate headline was released under the name of Anthony Federico, a former editor for ESPN:

Naturally, this created quite a stir in the online community and ultimately resulted in Federico’s termination. While some people gave ESPN the benefit of the doubt, there were many more that did not.

Personally, I can’t imagine someone intentionally risking their reputation by publishing this headline with a hurtful purpose, especially after reading this apologetic statement from Federico himself.

He wrote an apology to Lin and to many others who were offended and expressed that, “Actions speak louder than words. My words may have hurt people in that moment but my actions have always helped people. If those who vilify me would take a deeper look at my life they would see that I am the exact opposite of how some are portraying me.”

It is apparent to me that Federico never meant to run such a headline and is truly embarrassed for having done so. The bad news is that he lost a lot of respect from a lot of people, not to mention his position at ESPN. On the bright side, he did what had to be done to fix the situation and he’s moved on to a new job.

All I can think of to learn from this incident is that even the pros make mistakes. This guy was an editor for ESPN, a.k.a. the heaven for all sports writers and editors, and he missed a mistake that most people probably think is pretty obvious. Realistically, after reading thousands upon thousands of words every day for a few years, I’m sure it’s impossible to be perfect. I constantly find grammatical errors on everything but when a mistake as controversial as this leaks out, it truly is just as unfortunate for the public as it is for the writer/editor and company.

:14: Rock Music Through the Ages

The evolution of music is quite interesting, whether it be the archetypes, subject matters, volume, thievery, profitability, competition or social impact. This graphic does a great job of telling the story of such an influential genre of music. So much that we count on and believe in today stems from ideas in popular music of our past so I believe it’s part of our job to keep those ideas alive.

:13: Smithsonian Reminds Us How Cool History Is

:12: Ads for Small Tech Schools

If you’ve ever been home watching TV on a weekday, I’m sure you have seen an ad for a small tech school in your area. In the LA area, I frequently saw ads for ITT Technical Institute, a small tech school with a pretty basic advertising strategy. Here is a typical ad from ITT Tech:

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The story this ad is telling is certainly uplifting and gives the viewer a real call to action. While it never appealed to me, this ad sells its product well and definitely delivered promising results.

However, I recently came across an ad for the Central Institute of Technology, a tech school in Australia that is apparently willing to do anything to stand out against the competition.

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I have to say that was a hilarious video. The fact that they are using this ad to represent themselves is an incredibly bold move that will prove to be successful. This ad tells me that the Central Institute of Technology is not like the other boring small tech schools. They understand young people and are willing to do anything if it means they’ll be creating good work.

:11: Hulu, Netflix and ESPN3 = My Life

Being without cable television for the first time in my life has reduced my exposure to whatever is available on Netflix Watch Instantly, Hulu Plus and ESPN3, all via Xbox Live on the Xbox 360. While I thought this would be absolute torture, it has actually turned out to be rather convenient.

Netflix is hands down the best of the three but all are very useful and could forever change the way people watch movies and TV.

First, Netflix provides its content with no commercials and while both Hulu Plus and ESPN3 have commercials, but they are much shorter than standard TV commercial breaks.

Second, there is a wide variety of movies and TV shows available on Netflix including most of my favorites plus a few that I have grown to love such as Lost, Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother. Hulu Plus has some popular TV shows, but still doesn’t come close to the inventory of movies available on Netflix.

 

 

Third, these applications can be used all around the house and even across the country with just one account. While my parents in California are happy renting 2 DVDs at a time from Netlfix, my 4 roommates and I in Oregon can each have our own game systems set up in our rooms with the convenience of Netflix Watch Instantly. Then by paying for Hulu Plus, we are able to watch more shows with that same convenience.

Finally, the best part about these applications is that they will always improve. As the months go by, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and even Xbox all provide updates for a faster, smoother and overall better experience.

If you love watching TV and movies, I would highly recommend buying an Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii or a PlayStation 3 and subscribing to Netflix and Hulu Plus because it will free you from the slavery that is programmed television.

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