Saturday, August 11, 2012

WHY MUSICIANS NEED MORE THAN VIRAL VIDEOS TO SUCCEED

Billy Corgan is the frontman for the immensely successful band, Smashing Pumpkins.  His seasoned insights are valuable to any musician hoping to build a career today.

"Corgan, who’s no stranger to controversy, believes that the music industry is currently structured to prevent artists from achieving the type of success his band enjoyed. In fact, Corgan doesn’t believe the Pumpkins could achieve the success they have, or anything close to it, if they debuted now."



To paraphrase what he says in the video: he hints that music culture has become a service culture--which he argues is counter-intuitive to the temperament of truly talented artists.  Optimistically, he does also suggest, however, history inevitably honors the auteur--the artist who's vision is distinctive enough to shine through the industry's machinery and/or the popular taste of the day. (I should mention, from my perspective, history perhaps posthumously honors a "truly talented" artist with respect, but, alas, not necessarily cash, which would have probably been a li'l bit more useful while the artist was still alive!) 

Corgan furthermore suggests the industry's move toward a less profitable service culture is a vicious cycle, one driven  (in part) by younger artists more excited about fame as an aspirational lifestyle, more so than they are about the cultivation of a fan base devoted to innovation and the exchange of that innovative product for the consumer's hard-earned dollars. 


A sidebar: here's a familiar conversation I personally have had on more than one occasion with young artists...  The young musician will say, "I have a zillion Facebook fans!" To which I say: "Awesome! Are you making any money?" The young social sensation will respond: "No."  Then [quietly to myself] I think: ...hmmm, really? Then: who gives a %#@!  You see, too many younger musicians aspire to fame, but not professionalism...

What is a professional musician?  I recently asked my musical colleagues on Facebook.  My informal survey produced some interesting answers, a few of which are bulleted below. Note how some of these definitions are very practical, and/or defined by the IRS...not by fan base or by video hits. I cannot, of course, say these quotes define comprehensively what it means to be professional, but they're actually not a bad jumping off point to begin the discussion in your own mind:
      • "If you are using IRS Form 2106 you can probably call yourself professional. But "making a living" is something else. Perhaps if 'musician' is how you designate yourself on page 1 of the actual tax form?"
      • "You can lose money for up to 3 years before it is switched to a Hobby."
      •  "If you don't have to do any non music related jobs in order to make ends meet then you can claim pro.

In any case, Corgan goes on to suggest democratization of technology is not actually happening. 

Whaaaat??!!??  This was shocking to me insomuch as Garage Band and iTunes, and all proliferation of so many other handy tools for music creation and distribution have made it possible for just about anybody to produce something and get it out there into the marketplace.  Right?

But Corgan's assertion is: people aren't as wired into the internet as we're led to believe. The reach of mainstream media still rules disproportionately in comparison to any online channels. What is happening, however (according to Corgan), is the "democratization of attention spans"...resulting in a widening gulf between how artists must rely on the more sophisticated segment of their fan base versus a "splaying out" of their creative intentions to a "general morass of crap".   We're all focusing on putting our music online, because we can...because it's possible, and in our control.  But his point is this: while there's an ever growing audience of music lovers who are wired, and who do use these emergent technologies, the internet is still most definitely not the primary channel by which music is being consumed across the nation.  Or, more precisely to the point: it may not be the primary means by which the vast majority of musicians are making any serious money.

That rings true to me, because I know, in my own career, it's money from live shows, from touring, that generates the most income.  All industry stats point to this being the case.  The money is in live shows, not in the sale of recordings.

Importantly, Corgan confirms what I've known for a long time now: people on the street no longer really believe in the idea of purchasing music, not as a commodity in and of itself.

Allow me to break that down another way...

What you do as a musician--i.e., your skill set---increasingly, has little intrinsic value to most listeners (again, not as made demonstrable by nice comments but by actual dollars). In other words: if music is detached from a physical object (like an vinyl album or CD), it's an ephemeral thing, and has only marginal or quite possibly no value in the average consumer's mind.

I know, I know... That's at complete odds with the idea that the money is in live shows.  Allow me to explain:

Live shows are lucrative if you've got a huge fan base and can regularly fill a large hall or stadium.  If you've got only 50 fans, however, live shows likely won't pay your rent unless your tickets sell for mucho dinero.  But even a locally successful indy band can't really command crazy high ticket prices.  In the past, however, musicians in the middle tier of professionalism might not have been able to rake it in by performing live, but they were able to successfully augment ticket sales with money from fans buying tapes, CDs, and other physical objects.  Today, though,  the idea that your CD is going to a profitable endeavor--that's fading in a marketplace where there is no physical object for sale.  The implicit logic of Corgan's argument is: a hardcopy of music is more valuable than a digital copy.  Why?  Because you can hold an album in your hand, you can enjoy the cover art, read the liner notes, trade it with your buddies, etc...  People understand the exchange of money for something they can hold in their hand more readily than something they can't even touch.  Fans value what they can hold more than they value what they cannot.

Even if you can shred on your instrument, the act of witnessing is not something the fan watching and listening can take home, pull of the shelf, and plop onto the turntable.  Hence: it's not as valuable.  And that's why Corgan suggests music has now become more akin to a service...like catering, or bartending, or DJ'ing at a wedding. Think, for a moment, about how when you buy a car, you're not thinking about all the skilled craftsman and laborers who made it... You're thinking about the object itself.  The demonstrable and lasting proof that you spent your money wisely.  And so it is with music... We are no longer a music manufacturing nation.  We are a music service nation.  That's good, and bad.  I think: it's mostly bad.  An album was a physical thing with tangible and fungible (i.e., trade-able) value. A download has near-zero value. And, according to Chris Anderson--author of The Long Tail--the trend is also toward digital goods being Free.  But these money-making mechanisms are the tools of aggregators, not auteurs.

Read my earlier blog post below, and you'll see you need over 4 million streams in a month on Spotify to earn minimum wage for that same month! Hence, by focusing on the digital (which artists must do because they don't control the more profitable marketing channels provided by mass-media)...by digitizing their wares, artists themselves are devaluing their own worth in the marketplace.  The marketplace is being splintered into an ever more gradiated long-tail of ethereal service options for the consumer. C'est la guerre.  This is the world we live in now, and it's what Corgan is lamenting.


Quotes from the interview...

In reference to being self-promoting, self-representing...i.e., without a label like Universal, or a promoter like Live Nation behind you:  "People can't punish you for wanting to be more than just a musician. If you have to do all those things to get people to listen to your music, and do it in a way that's inclusive, then people have to celebrate that inclusion. Because that's the point."

In reference to working hard at promoting yourself: "The old model: Kurt Cobain, you just roll out of bed and write the song. Or the Keith Richards model: you get high and you write the song. That's not going to work anymore."

In reference to what's important: "It will go back to celebrating talent, and not people who gimmick up one song in a protools and suddenly their a f*&#ing genius. I'm sorry. History has never supported that. I don't care if we're talking about 1600s, or the 1800s, or the 1950s. The talented do, in essence, define the aesthetic movement. (...) It will happen in music, but we have to come out of the dark ages here. This has been a long time like, "Oh yeah, this all going to click in. This is all going to happen." It's not going to happen." 

What Corgan is saying, essentially, is: artists have to make "it" happen--for example, by leveraging the synergy between the growing proliferation of platforms--such as social networks (e.g., Facebook), online video (YouTube, Bravoflix), and sales platforms (TopSpin, etc.).  There is no coming age of easy self-promotion online. We just  can't be lazy about it.  



Want fans to buy your new album?  Work that Facebook page every day.  Tweet to your followers every day.  Cultivate a loyal community.  And then, in no uncertain terms, ask them to help.

Want more unique page views and more traffic for your website? Learn about SEO, and write a blog post every day.  (I've been woefully negligent, I know!)  Search engines gravitate toward new content...so keep it fresh.  

Want residuals?  You're going to need a lot more videos, downloads, and streams across the board even just to make minimum wage.  You have to aggregate those over the long haul.  To take advantage of the Long Tail and the an online economy in which the "Freemium" model reigns, you must become your own aggregator.  And it's going to be a very long haul.  Takes years to aggregate enough content of your own to make a difference...

Welcome to the new Age of Aquarius for musicians.  It's no Utopian paradise.  You have to work harder than ever.  There's hardly time to party like a rockstar.  :(  So: you can't emulate Kurt Cobain or Keith Richards.  Sorry.

Stay sharp.  Stay sober.  Focus on quality.  Write the song.  Use the tools available to cultivate fans, one fan at a time. And don't forget the traditional and time-tested ways of reaching out to your fans.  Nothing trumps touring, TV, and the like.  If you're looking for licensing opportunities--to make money with your internet videos, then a tool like Bravoflix can help.  But the internet alone is not the answer.  And: no one is going to pull you to the top.

But you knew it wasn't going to be easy, right?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

IF YOU'RE AN ARTIST, YOU'D BE CRAZY NOT TO...

Why are we doing this?  Right now, you're probably thinking: these guys are crazy.   Well, actually, Bravoflix was founded by a pair of musicians who understand your pain.  Below is a simultaneously startling and sobering graphic from one of my fav journalists and info designers, David McCandless, over at informationisbeautiful.net....which lays out with crystal clarity how artists earn money online.  Basically, what the graphic shows is that, in order to earn a monthly wage equivalent to minimum wage in the U.S., you'd have to sell 143 self-pressed CDs at $9.99 each...every month.  OR your fans would have to download your hot single 12,399 times on Amazon or iTunes at $.99 each (since the artist only gets 9 cents per download).  OR, your track would need more than 4,000,000 streams in one month on Spotify.


Are you kidding me?!?








At Bravoflix, only direct sales of physical CDs, pressed and sold by you directly to your fans, earns more.  Bravoflix is, however, by far, the most lucrative way to make money online with your digital media assets.

If you're an artist, there are a few other new and effective ways to make money via the internet—whether it's raising the necessary do-re-mi to record your next album via Kickstarter like some of my buddies in the classical crossover band Quattro did (nearly $14,500 from just 130 fans...!  Of course, they're insanely talented and tireless and effective self-promoters so that's no surprise!)...or you can use other crowdfunding sites, like the tried and true ArtistShare, where Maria Schneider garnered enough dinero to fund her Grammy-winning album without ever having been available in retail stores. (Amazing!)  She told me and a room full of Eastman students about the site waaaaay back in 2000.

The point is: the internet is a very real way to earn money as an artist. But YouTube, Vimeo, and the rest—while awesome promotional tools—are not a viable channel to revenue for most.  If you think posting a work by Xenakis that you videotaped at your graduate recital is going to get enough hits that it'll help your quartet mates pay their rent through click-through advertising income, think again.  Bravoflix is changing that, however, and at the very least, it might just help you keep the lights on a little longer.  Together with other web-based tools, we'll make sure you're going to be all right...


Now, when you upload a video to Bravoflix, we'll actively promote that video to our prospective patron list, and give you $5 a month for every person we convert to a subscriber.  Example: If—out of a 1000 people who receive our e-mail—your video turns on just 100 enough so that they join Bravoflix in order to watch it—then we'll send you a check for $500 a month.

Sign up at...



Thursday, December 1, 2011

CALL IT CLASSICAL IF YOU MUST, BUT DON'T CALL IT CONTENT

I have to thank one of my viola playing friends for bringing to my attention a blog post by Courtney Love written in 2000.   That violist actually happens to play a mean electric bass, and jams with the dudes from King Crimson—a fav band from my Sturm und Drang filled teenage years.  So, to digress for a moment, this information tells you two things: 1) viola players are not solely fodder for orchestra jokes, and 2) today's classical musicians maintain wildly eclectic personal playliststhe sort which would blow Tim Westergren's mind.  (If you don't know King Crimson's music, check out the album Discipline.  It's like a pop presaging of Phillip Glass' The Photographer and Koyaanisqatsi.)  


You can read Courtney Love's astute albeit rambling post here, but I've included the few paragraphs salient to the present topic at the very bottom of my own post (which you are now reading).


I'm not particularly into Courtney Love's tunes, but I have to give her a standing ovation for hitting the nail on the head when chastising web-centric entrepreneurs who refer to music as content.   I'm guilty of this myself.  It's not how I feel about music... It's not how I relate to or know musical experiences.  The word content has become a convention of language in this line of work.  Yet: I've also spent a lifetime both on stage and behind stage and continue to do so, but as I drift deeper into the world of "digital media", I find myself employing the language of my geeky peers who like to dig the next cool thing from the box seats of Google's Grand Ol' Opry House.  That's bad.  Theythe geeky-minded entrepreneurial jet setas people, of course, are certainly not bad folks.  But: when using the word content to describe music?  Bad, bad, bad.  We shouldn't do it.  Ever.  


The reality is: music expresses the ineffable.  When done right, it channels something vastly more profound than even the notes themselves...and even more profound than the charisma of the artist serving as the shaman officiating that experience...and vastly more tangible than the monitor on a Mac or Motorola.  When it comes to the web: the thing that frames the magic of music, the chrome and context of how music is delivered through the plumbing of the internet...it's just thata frameand nothing more.  It's dangerous to confuse the two—i.e., to mix up in your words the magic and the stage on which the magician is standing.  It's important web designers and programmers--all artisans themselves--remain humble in this regard, and keep that in perspective.  Like smithing Hattori Hanzō samurai sword for a warrior about to go in to battle, building a website for Artists might be akin to that, but the designer or programmer are not the ones who ultimately deliver the coup de grâce to the listener's heart and soul.  Um...that person would be the Artist.  Our job, as the architects of a new distribution system for awesomeness, is just to chop wood and carry water to the frontline.


I want to find a way back to that understanding...and I want to find a way to experience and share real magic.  I want Bravoflix to be so good at what it does, you don't even know you're online.  I want to make our site so invisible, that it causes you to let your guard down, so that real Artists can pierce your heart with something arrestingly and terribly beautiful,  I love Pandora, and even Spotify is cool.  (Turntable.fm annoys me for reasons I can't explain.  Makes me feel like I'm listening to music while standing next to the drafting board of South Park's animator.)  But, with all of them, save sometimes with Pandora, I still feel like I'm being asked to enjoy...content.  As an artist, when visiting those sites, I'm not feelin' the love...or, actually, I feel Love...as in Courtney (not Donna Summer).


I can hear grumbling...coming from places like Austin and Mountain View.  Architects of physical buildings think of themselves as Artists.  And they are.  And, dear programmer friends, so are you.  A physical and built space can surely evoke awe, and even influence our behavior.  And so can a website.  We like to think, as builders of websites, as builders of businesses, and even as grand poobahs of commercial empires, that we have the "Secret Sauce"...the code.  No, my friends, we do not.  In the words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj: "Religion is the camel which takes you to the house of God, but not the means by which you enter the house."  Just substitute the word "Website" for "Religion" and you'll get my drift.  If I plopped you down before a real Artist, you would instantly know: your secret sauce is stale in the face of salvation. 


Here's the excerpt from Courtney's editorial:


Content Providers


But there’s something you guys have to figure out.


Here’s my open letter to Steve Case:


Avatars don’t talk back!! But what are you going to do with real live artists?


Artists aren’t like you. We go through a creative process that’s demented and crazy. There’s a lot of soul-searching and turning ourselves inside-out and all kinds of gross stuff that ends up on “Behind The Music.”


A lot of people who haven’t been around artists very much get really weird when they sit down to lunch with us. So I want to give you some advice: Learn to speak our language. Talk about songs and melody and hooks and art and beauty and soul. Not sleazy record-guy crap, where you’re in a cashmere sweater murmuring that the perfect deal really is perfect, Courtney. 


Yuck. Honestly hire honestly committed people. We’re in a “new economy,” right? You can afford to do that.


But don’t talk to me about “content.”


I get really freaked out when I meet someone and they start telling me that I should record 34 songs in the next six months so that we have enough content for my site. Defining artistic expression as content is anathema to me.


What the hell is content? Nobody buys content. Real people pay money for music because it means something to them. A great song is not just something to take up space on a Web site next to stock market quotes and baseball scores.


DEN tried to build a site with artist-free content and I’m not sorry to see it fail. The DEN shows look like art if you’re not paying attention, but they forgot to hire anyone to be creative. So they ended up with a lot of content nobody wants to see because they thought they could avoid dealing with defiant and moody personalities. Because they were arrogant. And because they were conformists. Artists have to deal with business people and business people have to deal with artists. We hate each other. Let’s create companies of mediators.


Every single artist who makes records believes and hopes that they give you something that will transform your life. If you’re really just interested in data mining or selling banner ads, stick with those “artists” willing to call themselves content providers.


I don’t know if an artist can last by meeting the current public taste, the taste from the last quarterly report. I don’t think you can last by following demographics and carefully meeting expectations. I don’t know many lasting works of art that are condescending or deliberately stupid or were created as content.


Don’t tell me I’m a brand. I’m famous and people recognize me, but I can’t look in the mirror and see my brand identity.


Keep talking about brands and you know what you’ll get? Bad clothes. Bad hair. Bad books. Bad movies. And bad records. And bankrupt businesses. Rides that were fun for a year with no employee loyalty but everyone got rich fucking you. Who wants that? The answer is purity. We can afford it. Let’s go find it again while we can.


I also feel filthy trying to call my music a product. It’s not a thing that I test market like toothpaste or a new car. Music is personal and mysterious.


Being a “content provider” is prostitution work that devalues our art and doesn’t satisfy our spirits. Artistic expression has to be provocative. The problem with artists and the Internet: Once their art is reduced to content, they may never have the opportunity to retrieve their souls.


When you form your business for creative people, with creative people, come at us with some thought. Everybody’s process is different. And remember that it’s art. We’re not craftspeople.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

STRAIGHT NO CHASER: T.S. MONK AND STEVE JOBS

"What should we wear tonight?  Sharp as possible."  

"Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along and do it.  A genius is the one most like himself."

—Thelonius Monk


One of my favorite jazz artists of all time—as it happens—is the favorite of a lot of people: Thelonious Monk.  His birthday was this past Monday—October 10.  I think due to the tragedy of Steve Jobs passing, and Occupy Wall Street, and any number of newsworthy events, we missed the opportunity to celebrate it the way we ought to...

In an earlier post, I wrote about how some artists—for example, a painter—might attempt to bypass the long, hard road required of his or her discipline and go "straight to Picasso".  By that I mean: they feign informed abstraction.  In other words, the chaotic or challenging nature of the "art" they present has no real substance behind it.  Their creativity doesn't represent a solution (if that's the right word), per se...or at least not one to which they arrived via grappling with a given problem with all due earnestness (or by even having a defined problem to begin with).  Nor does it even truly represent a mystical epiphany or ecstatic expression of any kind.  It's just, quite simply, jive.  Cathartic...maybe...at best...at least for the artist!  But, in my mind, art—great art—is meant to be something more.  Catharsis is all too often selfish: rewarding for the artist, but offering little for the rest of us.  Great art should channel something bigger and more profound than the art itself.  Now: I'm not referencing the value of creativity itself...or of anyone's individual practice for the benefit of themselves.  I'm not referencing the value of, for example,  handicrafts or a well-designed object meant solely for utilitarian purposes.  I'm referencing art...work generated by any human-being who makes a claim at doing something profound—something transformative for us collectively as a species.  A discerning connoisseur of culture can distinguish the difference between real "genius" with this capacity and jive.  When it comes to music, or dance, or theater...or any real art: in my mind, the art is really just a vehicle...to something which wakes us up to something truly magical and actually ineffable.  

And that's why the arts are relevant today.  We like to say they're important because kids score higher on standardized testing, because Mozart makes babies smarter, etc., etc.  That's all true, but, in some ways, that argument is a distraction, a smokescreen...  Proponents of the arts—when it comes to city and school budgets, etc.—they need a politically correct justification.  The real reason the arts are important is—the one we're ashamed to admit: not only are the arts, in essence, our cultural identity, not only do they serve as a sort of transgenerational DNA for ancient and sublime and inexpressible emotions—but they're important because they set before us a deep and wonderful experience that often eludes words (or, in the case of theater and poetry, transcends them)...and this is an experience that can be known by no other means.  Ravi Shankar said: "Through music, one can see God."  I take those words at face value.  And so: I see artists as more or less shamanistic...and their responsibility to humankind and culture is no less profound.

What does this have to do with Thelonious Monk?  Well, I invite you to start by listening to his music.  When Monk stopped playing to give us the capacity to hear the music in our own heads...when—like a Sufi dervish dancer—he spontaneously stepped away from the keyboard to communicate his message (our message) through a completely different modality (like movement!)... When you see or hear an artist trying to channel something too big for the tools in his or her hands, when you witness him or her earnestly struggle with something...to bring us—collectively—there...to that ineffable place...well, that's one heavy cat.  That's the real deal.  It's dangerous for an artist to do that...to explore that space.  It takes great daring, and sometimes an artist engaged in that sort of work fails spectacularly...but it's always moving to be in the presence of this effort.  Artists who skip that process...who, as I say, attempt to go "straight to Picasso"...that's jive.  It doesn't work.  It's dishonest, really.

Monk was arguably crazy.  That's what we said about Van Gogh, too...  I'm sure even Steve Jobs got his share of accusations not too dissimilar.  (Curiously, both Monk and Jobs were earnest enough about what they were doing that they even saw the simple task of getting dressed as a part of the ritual they were attempting to officiate.)  Crazy...that's what we call people who are trying to take us to the next level, and we just don't get it.  

The one thing a connoisseur must be is open-minded.  (Whereas: critics, by definition, fail too often at this task.  A critic comes not ready to witness something as it is, but predisposed to a perspective.)  It's a very tough thing to do: to discern between the jive, and the real...while remaining open-minded—and that's why there are so few real connoisseurs.  I dig Monk because that's the challenge he lays before us...  It's easy for us to know now just how good he was, and how good his music is: history has done the tough work of contextualizing his talent.  There's no risk in making asserting now that Monk was a genius.  But imagine listening to him for the first time—maybe in the 40's, in Minton's Playhouse—when no one else played like him... Would you have known his playing would change music forever?  That's my challenge to you, dear BravoBlog reader: be a true connoisseur.  Know the real deal when it's before you.

This letter by Monk is making the rounds on Facebook.   It's his advice to saxophonist Steve Lacy:


Sunday, October 2, 2011

GIT UP AND GO

While you can't tell it from our relatively docile and unchanging homepage, Bravoflix has been working very hard lately.  In addition to slowly infiltrating every corner of the globe (we recently returned from Mexico City...see pic below), we've been tinkering with technology non-stop in the Skunkworks of High Art.   We've spent the last several weeks learning how to get up and go with Git.

What is Git, you ask?  Git is how multiple website developers work with the intricacies of a large code base without tripping over one another's keyboards.  It's a coding tool that allows a team of programmers to make simultaneous and remote changes to our secret sauce all at once and in parallel without mucking it up.

To put it in a brand-related perspective, pretend we were selling soda pop instead of culture, and that we had to innovate or die.  It's actually quite possible that one of our competitors--say, Coca Cola--might enable evil masterminds and mad scientists distributed all over the world to help them make their formula even more addictive.  Perhaps they'd manipulate robotic arms through the internet to tinker with the highly toxic and explosive chemicals in their central lab.  To remain competitive in a world where such unspeakable evil is possible, we had to do something radical to preserve and improve our brand of soda.  So: we beamed it up to Mars.

(Huh...???)

Let me explain...

With the secret formula for our special reserve (the Bravoflix code base) at stake, and so many people working on it remotely, we would want to know who made what changes to the formula and when, and would want to merge all the best changes together before cooking up a new batch of brew and delivering our syrup-filled bottles to your local grocer.  How, you might ask, would we let more than one chef throw new junk into our proverbial pot of computer code without spoiling the broth?  If one chef made a caffeine-induced mistake and, for instance, put so much phosphorous into the mix that it'd melt your face, how could we find and fix such an error before you ended up drinking it?  With no way to monitor and correct these blunders, we were afraid it could seriously compromise the commercial success of our attempt to Refresh Everything with super sweet streaming and on-demand cultural video goodness.  Moreover, one of our competitors might come up with some cool feature that'd make us lose the cultural space race...if we didn't have a safe way to bang on our code and see what we can make it do.

So, the process that Bravoflix now adheres to, which is tantamount in its complexity to launching the Space Shuttle, is called version control.  The tool we use to talk to one another during this process is called Git.  Over the last few weeks, while you were sleeping, Bravoflix graduated from being a hack'ish one man band to being connected...I mean really connected--like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas--to the entire global Illuminati of Git loving programmers everywhere.

This was not easy.  We had to kill somebody.  Namely, we offed ourselves...because, as it turns out, Git does not like permitting 'puter machine mafiosos to access a working version of a website's code.   In other words, we couldn't use Git to make changes to our active, live site...not directly anyway.  We needed plausible deniability.  We needed to proceed in a once removed, Cosa Nostra sort of way.  So, how did we set that up?  We let our active site do all the dirty work, like George Dubya sending in Colin Powell to plead with the U.N...  We let the active working site automatically ask Git for changes when we weren't suspiciously hanging around.

Git readily lets programmers store their changes to a website's code in a repository--which is essentially a virtual vault, a digital Fort Knox, or, more nefariously if you will, something akin to a (supposedly) highly guarded chemical weapons depot in the middle of the Iraq desert.  Like Colin Powel pleading to the U.N., our website's server claimed to Git, in spite of what its satellites did or didn't see--that in a remote repository--are hidden WMDs (Weapons of Mass Delight).

Meanwhile, before our server actually has to address Git on our behalf, like CIA operatives trying to save the face of our nation, we haul barrels of changes into that remote and dusty ol' depot...errr...repository.  Once were gone, the Bravoflix server makes its plea to Git, and Git lets it automagically go in and Git stuff out.  Now we have a reason to go and depose the despots of crappy and meaningless internet TV programming, to liberate imaginations, and occupy far off lands with creative beauty.  THAT, my arts-fanatic friend, is some crazy advanced technology.  Not a single site for cultural connoisseurs is doing anything remotely so "Beam me up, Scotty" futuristic.  I could tell you how we did it, but then I'd have to kill you...a'ight?

Okay, okay, okay...!!! Please don't twist my arm again!  I crumble under torture, and I ain't got the guts to bite into my fake tooth loaded with cyanide.  If you must know, there's a diagram of how we did it here. (WARNING: not for the technically squeamish!)  Just think of our active site as Saturn or "Prime", and the depot as Mars or the "Hub".   The communication between Saturn and Mars is automated.  The "Clones" are all the Illuminati programmers orbiting the globe.  They're using their flying saucers to transport stuff to  Mars...which in turn will be automatically beamed up to Saturn (our live Bravoflix server) when we're not around.   Git is like the radiowaves bouncing and beaming stuff back and forth between all of these orbiting bodies.  If it sounds like a bad Sci Fi channel mini-series, it is.  But seriously: trading this information with competing websites in England or France or Germany or the Netherlands is high treason and grounds for execution.  Like the Smoking Man from the X-Files, we're watching you.  (Gawd, I miss Scully.)

If you want to know more about Git for use in your own site or development workflow, I can enthusiastically recommend the following instructional video taught by Alex Hillman of Beanstalk...exclusively available at AppSumo:

http://appsumo.com/alex-hillman-version-control-action-video/

It's worth every penny.  You can pay $195 for one of GitHub's online training sessions, or vastly less for AppSumo's solid introduction to version control.  I downloaded the AppSumo video to my harddrive so I could review it on the road, even while en route to Mexico City where, at times--for instance, while being jammed up by Federales for overt gringoism--I had a crummy connection.  I also dug the video because it allowed let me pause and take notes when I wanted, thus enabling me to draft my own Git cheat sheet.  Moreover, the video format is nicely indexed, and I can rewind or replay any section of it when necessary to soak in all of Alex Hillman's gooey Git wisdom a second time around...if so desired.  Alex's instruction is super clear, perfectly appropriate for a newb like myself, and easy to absorb and apply.  Without it, my developers would hate me.  Thanks to AppSumo, only after watching this video was I ready for the sort of interplanetary travel enjoyed by the programming Illuminati elite.  Bravoflix plans to make full use of this perk to conquer the world.



In the lower left: El Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico City--where the memorial concert for the celebrated opera composer, the late maestro Daniel Catán (my mentor) was held under the baton of his long-time friend and musical champion, Eduardo Diazmunoz. Mexico City is a valley--and was once, essentially, an island in a lake. This is the view Southward from the fifth tallest building in Mexico City. Volcanos which overlook the valley are off frame, to the West. The view 360-degrees around is not too dissimilar to this in terms of geography, density, color, and variety of architecture.  Mexico City has a vibrant cultural life, rich with the finest performing arts.  El Palacio de Belles Artes ranks among the finest opera houses in the world.  Moreover, the Met's live simulcasts to cineplex theaters are better attended here--in the city's Nacional Auditorium--more so than at any other venue on the planet.  Not hundreds, but thousands of people show up to watch the Met's performances streamed live to the big screen.  Mexico City is ready to adopt some of the heavy duty Star Wars technology that Bravoflix is using.  Don't think so...?  I know some guys who might want to tighten yous up...jus' a li'l bit.  There's a place for Bravoflix--and the finer legacies of all cultures--on this great big crazy blue rock we call the Earth...I swear!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

FOLLOW UP: BRAVOFLIX GOES WORLDWIDE














Okay, to be fair, the above map of the locations from which our site's visitors hail does not represent much except this: the internet (and online video) is far and away the best means by which to engage a global audience. We haven't even officially begun any outbound marketing yet! Now, given that traffic, producing and presenting content relevant to such a diverse audience is a different matter altogether...  It's a serious challenge for any live presenter, and even more so perhaps for an online business. There's virality (user acquisition) and then there's "stickiness" (user traction)...and we have a long way to go before we make headway in either case.  Still the above map is exciting.  It's a glimpse of all the people who just happen to be strolling down the digital boardwalk, who walk by our virtual storefront and try to peak inside.  We haven't dressed our mannequins yet nor peeled the butcher paper off the display windows...and yet we're very eager to see what y'all think.

So: hey, world! Feel free to knock on the door.  Before we really get rollin', tell us what you love...! What music moves you? Who's your favorite ballerina? Is there a classic film that elevates cinema to the realm of high art? Is there a poet or playwright or an actor who's words connect you with something ineffable, something even more powerful than even the words themselves can express?  What Bravoflix offers is a wonderful paradox: art and creativity can transcend our Earthly existence...and yet at the same time connect us ever more deeply with this entire crazy planet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GOT GLOBAL? BRAVOFLIX GOES WORLDWIDE

A screenshot from our stats today...

Welcome! ...to all of our friends in Shanghai!

谢谢您的访问!告诉我们你希望看到什么!