Entitlement Issues: Coming to terms…ahem

Hijacking Myspace for a coat of red paint!

So as some of you may or may not be aware of I have been the editor of two websites. The first was called themusicedge.com and the second was called hypezine.com. The demise of the former occurred because of corporate shortsightedness and a general misconception and understanding of web communications. The site, though it was a teen friendly music magazine, was a marketing initiative by a trade organization to help stimulate instrument sales in the youth demographic. Not a bad mission right? Not exactly transparent either but it wasn’t like I was shilling for some Astroturf front group or some PR Firm working a campaign for D.C. lobbyists. Or was I? Dun, dun, dun! [I did almost get to go to dinner with Gov. Mike Huckabee once at a trade show while he was a spokesperson for the company because he played bass.]  

I took what I knew of the DIY ethos and my experience in music journalism in print and applied it to the web format. I have to admit it was nice having a modest budget of about 30K annually. We could afford swag, some of which won a design award in the Marketing Communications world. I tried to get a copy of the award certificate, but this was after the decision was made to cut the program so those budget strings got choked off. We were a ‘Webby Award Honoree’ for content! Themusicedge was made up of about 25-30 young writers, spread throughout the country, covering national acts and keeping us up to date on their local up and comers. It was a good example of crowd sourcing for the web savvy generation.

We commanded consistent 40K unique visitors a month and had a site time averaging 5 minutes per visit. Pretty good for engagement metrics! However, after 4 years of successful organic and grassroots marketing and countless partnerships with folks like Teen People, Warped Tour, and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus the suits made it known that it was time to move on. No amount of explaining that this whole ‘Internets’ thing wasn’t just some fancy fad or that someday, every company, including those they represented, would be selling directly to consumers online OR proof of web statistics generated from an expensive local and world renown web metrics firm could assuage their determination to remove the only viable URL from the quiver of a half dozen others. Going so far as putting up an ‘Under Construction’ landing page on all the corresponding URL’s, essentially killing thousands of feature articles, record reviews, and show reviews and the sites linking in. This was the reactionary, illogical knee jerk attitude of an ill informed corporate entity.

Taking all the equity from themusicedge we built hypezine.com, a website that had a similar purpose but zero budget, so after a professional title and job change—I became a part time editor with hardly enough time to keep up with his own editing, much less overseeing the two dozen writers who jumped ship with me as well as my new responsibilities at a new job (yes the new job is awesome). Hypezine started out strong and we had some amazing feature stories but time is a Nazi in jack boots with a rubber hose and I realized I had less of it than when I was doing it 9-5 with themusicedge.

The purpose of HZ was to engage readers and to massage them into another venture called hypescene.com, a property that has yet to bear fruit, (though not due to lack of passion on the part of myself and my business partner, who is a successful web developer by day and avid WWC player at night) but essentially would have become an aggregate for bands online marketing properties. We’d promote from within, using the zine to highlight up and coming talent, pairing them next to well known national acts like we had done with our ‘feature’ and ‘spotlight’ sections on themusicedge. However, hiring 10 programmers and getting seed money from an Angel is a full time gig in itself and in the web world, Moore’s law works on ideas too.

Back to the blog.

Blogging got easier, made even simpler. Companies like Microsoft were using it for corporate ‘transparency,’ MS employees were dishing on personal blogs about the ins and outs of one of the worlds most famous companies and (gasp!) it wasn’t always favorable. Then it entered the pop lexicon with ample references in Juno allowing for more amateur writers and journalist to document their lives, as boring or interesting as they can be. The great thing is, someone out there will likely be interested in the same thing you are and instead of never meeting them now you can just type in a key word of interest and hundreds of links pop up.

The art of the blog, if there is such a thing, is that anyone can do it and it can veer off topic at any time, like I’ve been known to do on some posts, this one included. I am able to rant at length about whatever pops in my head but coming from print, I usually try and keep things as relevant as possible. The convergence of web technology fascinates me, and like robotics, it is constantly evolving and getting better, easier for the average person to utilize and market their product or in my case, words.

I’m reviewing records of bands I think everyone should know about, or doing interviews with artists I think you may be interested in. The concept is the same. Push the envelope, but not just across the table, across the globe on the web to engage blokes and birds in Manchester to pick up the latest Made Out of Babies or Oakes record or using semantic search to find more bands from Japan like Envy, Boris and Flower Travelin’ Band. I even go so far as commenting on things that piss me off, like Unilever’s ad campaigns for Axe and Dove—two amazingly genius and manipulative efforts to appeal to males 18-34 and females 18-44.

With all this in mind I have had to contemplate what it is I am selling using this blog. I’ve yet to monetize my posts or get a check from AdSense, I can’t even remember if I enabled AdSense on this wordpress account. I had it when I was using Blogger. I write about things I think are cool in the world and in San Diego. Sometimes other people think those things are cool too and have the kindness to leave a post. Sometimes folks don’t agree with what I have to say, and they leave comments and I really value that aspect of blogging. Anonymity has begun to erode the ‘wild west’ era of the web in its infancy. As Mike Watt would say, ‘If you’re not playin’, yer payin,’ though he means money and music, deriving value from interaction isn’t an entirely new kind of currency nor are those concepts mutually exclusive.

Okay, nice circuitous way of explaining that I’ve recently hijacked the hypezine.com myspace page for acoatofredpaintinhell, as I had hijacked the musicedge myspace account before for hypezine. This time it is different in that I’m the sole proprietor of acoatofredpaintinhell—so with respect to full disclosure, if you sent a message to hypezine letting me know how much we’ve been sold as pets for or you’ve left comments informing hypezine that ‘what she really wants is a big one’ then on behalf of all involved, we’re still deleting you. And you’re welcome to comment any time here.

And you can add me to your ‘friends’ list too. myspace.com/acoatofredpaintinhell