We are a global online presence strategy & multimedia agency enabling artists, musicians, authors and photographers to present themselves and their artistic output in a revelatory way that represents their longevity and vision (rather than their latest product), grow a connected and engaged fanbase and succeed in a profitable, authentic and enjoyable way.

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   •  Collaborating & Communicating
   •  Entertaining & Enlightening
   •  Surprising & Revealing
   •  Authentic & Accountable
   •  Connecting & Motivating Fans
   •  Building Community
   •  Increasing Value

This Tumblr is a collection of posts from around the web that we use for reference, reflect our thinking, inspire us, inspire our clients, and crystallise our approach.

We are also inspired by:
Amanda Palmer
Bob Lefsetz
Boing Boing
Buddhist Thought
Christopher Locke
Clayton Christensen
Dark Roasted Blend
Doc Searls
Douglas Adams
Eric Ries
Futurismo Zugakousaku
Gaping Void
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Howard Moskowitz
Hunter S. Thompson
Improv Everywhere
Information is Beautiful
Inside The Actors Studio
James Randi
Jenna Marbles
Jeremy Rifkin
Little People
Louis CK
Malcolm Gladwell
Mike Masnick / Techdirt
Mike Masnick / MIDEM '09
Neil Gaiman
Pete Cashmore
Richard Dawkins
Robert Scoble
Rock's Back Pages
Rolling Stone Archive
Secret Cinema
Seth Godin
Steve Jobs
Trent Reznor
Walter Murch
Yoko Ono


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From Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, And The Big Business Of Entertainment by Anita Elberse

"According to Nielsen, from data provided by managers at Nielsen SoundScan, which collects recorded-music sales information, of the eight million unique digital tracks sold in 2011 (the large majority for $0.99 or $1.29 through the iTunes Store), 94 percent - 7.5 million tracks - sold fewer than one hundred units, and an astonishing 32 percent sold only one copy. Yes, that’s right: of all the tracks that sold at least one copy, about a third sold EXACTLY one copy. (One has to wonder how many of those songs were purchased by the artists themselves, just to test the technology, or perhaps by their moms out of a sense of loyalty.) And the trend is the opposite of what Anderson (Chris Anderson, author of ‘The Long Tail’) predicted: the recorded music tail is getting thinner and thinner over time. Two years earlier, in 2009, 6.4 million unique tracks were sold; of those, 93 percent sold fewer than one hundred copies and 27 percent sold only one copy. Two years earlier still, of the 3.9
million tracks that were sold, 91 percent sold fewer than one hundred units and 24 percent sold only one copy. The trend is clear: as the market for digital tracks grow, the share of titles that sell far too few copies to be lucrative investments is growing as well. More and more tracks sell next to nothing.

Equally remarkable is what is happening in the head of industry’s demand curve. In 2011, 102 tracks sold more than a million units each, accounting for 15 percent of total sales. That is not a typo: 0.00001 percent of the eight million tracks sold that year generated almost a sixth of all sales. It is hard to overstate the importance of those few blockbusters in the head of the curve. And the trend suggests that hits are gaining in relevance. In 2007, 36 tracks each sold more than a million copies, together these tracks accounted for 7 percent of total market volume. In 2009, 79 tracks reached that milestone; together they make up 12 percent of the sales volume.

The level of concentration in these markets is so astounding, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to depict the demand curve: it disappears entirely into the axes… It is staggering to see how few titles at the top contribute to a significant portion of sales, and how many titles at the bottom fail to do the same. Those are the realities of digital markets. Assortments may become more and more expansive, but the importance of the few titles at the very top keeps growing, while average sales for the lowest sellers are going down.

The same patterns are visible in album sales. …out of a total of 870,000 albums that sold at least one copy in 2011, 13 album titles sold more than a million copies each, together accounting for 19 million copies sold. That’s 0.001 percent of all titles accounting for 7 percent of sales. The top 1,000 albums generated about half of all the sales, and the top 10,000 albums around 80 percent of sales. Deep in the tail, 513,000 titles or nearly 60 percent of the assortment, sold fewer than 10 copies each, together making up half a percent of total sales.

The numbers certainly do not come close to the trusted ‘80/20 rule’ that many managers live by, which supposes that 80 percent of the sales tend to come from 20 percent of the products on offer. For music albums, it is close to an 80/1 rule - if we can speak about a rule at all. Even if we take a conservative estimate of what would be on offer in a bricks-and-mortar store at any given point in time, Anderson’s predictions that long-tail sales will rival those in the head are far off.

Of course the goods in the long tail include not just true niche content but former hits as well. Sales of a blockbuster - even one on the scale of Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame’ or Maroon 5’s ‘Songs About Jane’ - will eventually dwindle. Such products can now live forever online, even if they have long been cleared from the physical shelves. For old hits, then, digital channels may present a real opportunity. But the large majority of products in the tail were not very successful to begin with. Most of them, in fact, never met the bar for a release through traditional distribution channels. Or, in the case of individual music tracks, they are orphans of unbundling activity: now that online consumers can cherry-pick the most popular tracks on an album, the rest shoot quickly into the long tail.”

Chart 1:

"In the recorded-music industry in 2011, more than 8 million unique digital-track titles together sold 1.271 billion copies… For instance, nearly 6 million titles - 74 percent of all unique titles - each sold fewer than 10 copies, accounting for only 1 percent of sales.

102 titles selling 1,000,000 copies or more/189,758,000 copies sold/15%

1,412 titles selling 100,000-999,999 copies/318,473,000 sold/25%

13,492 titles selling 10,000-99,999 copies/374,827,000 copies sold/29%

74,246 titles selling 1,000-9,999 copies/212,571,000 copies sold/17%

382,720 titles selling 100-999 copies/111,117,000 copies sold/9%

1,620,959 titles selling 10-99 copies/48,687,000 copies sold/4%

5,927,729 titles selling fewer than 10 copies/15,722,000 sold/1%”

Chart 2:

"In the recorded music industry in 2011, more than 800,000 unique album titles together sold more than 330 million copies (including both physical and digital copies)… For instance, 513,000 titles - 58% of all unique titles - each sold fewer than 10 copies, accounting for only 0.5 percent of sales.

13 titles selling 1,000,000 copies or more/23,287,000 copies sold/7%

387 titles selling 100,000-999,999 copies/93,992,000 copies sold/28%

4,229 titles selling 10,000-99,999 copies/114,949,000 copies sold/35%

21,042 titles selling 1,000-9,999 copies/61,493,000 copies sold/19%

87,986 titles selling 100-999 copies/27,032,000 copies sold/8%

251,566 titles selling 10-99 copies/8,261,000 copies sold/2%

513,146 titles selling fewer than 10 copies/1,558,000 copies sold/0.5%”

From Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse’s book “Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, And The Big Business Of Entertainment”:

with thanks to Bob Lefsetz.

General Assembly launches Dash, a Codecademy-style site that teaches you to code

General Assembly launched today a new service designed to help get more people to take advantage of its Web Development courses. Called Dash, users will be able to take courses in HTML, cascading stylesheets, and Javascript right in their browser. It follows in line with what other services like Codecademy,Coursera, and others are doing in the computer programming education space.

Find out more here.

Banksy Sells Original Artwork for $60 in Central Park

Street artist Banksy set up a stall in New York’s Central Park Saturday, selling his original pieces — worth tens of thousands of dollars each — for $60.

The event was documented on video and posted on Banksy’s website. It took several hours for the first artwork to be sold, to a lady who managed to negotiate a 50% discount for two small canvases. There were only two more buyers, and by 6 p.m. the stall was closed with total earnings of $420.

For comparison, in 2007 Banksy’s work “Space Girl & Bird” was purchased for $578,000, and in 2008 his canvas “Keep it Spotless” was sold for $1,870,000.

The three buyers who managed to buy Banksy’s originals for a fraction of their worth will surely be happy with the purchases.

The one-off sale was another stunt by the secretive artist who just enjoys yanking the public’s chain like this. In 2009 he staged his biggest-ever British exhibition in the Bristol Museum in almost complete secrecy.

And this was not the only stunt Banksy pulled during his visit to New York. S couple of days earlier he also delivered a truck full of stuffed animals to aslaughterhouse in Brooklyn.

Mashable: The Complete Guide to Twitter Etiquette

Mashable have a great little guide to simple Twitter etiquette, including:

Oversharing, spoilers, self-promo, sales pitches, opinions, hashtags, twitterwars, wittering, frequency, followers, interaction, retweeting & automation.

Danny Boyle’s 15 Golden Rules of Moviemaking

1. A director must be a people person
2. Hire talented people
3. Learn to trust your instincts
4. Film happens in the moment
5. If your last film was a smash hit, don’t panic
6. Don’t be afraid to tell stories about other cultures
7. Use your power for good
8. Don’t have an ego
9. Make the test screening process work for you
10. Come to the set with a look book
11. Even perfect formulas don’t always work
12. Take inspiration where you find it
13. Push the pram
14. Always give 100 percent
15. Find your own “esque”

Read the full article with Danny’s notes at 

The Lonely Island - I Just Had Sex (feat. Akon)

202 million views on YouTube and counting…

Wisdom from Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien from MIDEM 2010

Make your music available in as many places as possible.
The key relationship is between the band and the fans.
File sharing is like making cassettes for your mates.
How do you get music if you’re too young to own a credit card?
The industry is too dominated by money and its killing the fun and creativity.

Pursuing a music career isn’t exactly easy as pie, and although his work as a member of Nirvana and Foo Fighters has given him iconic rock star status, Dave Grohl still remembers the days he worked at a furniture warehouse harboring still unfulfilled dreams. In an interview with Off Camera (excerpted by Alternative Nation), Grohl offered up some very logical advice to musicians who want to break into the industry.

“Just play live,” said Grohl. “Honestly, if you’re good at what you do people will recognize that. I really believe it. I really believe that going out playing good songs live as a great live band will make you successful. I really think it will, it doesn’t matter if you’re at a s–thole down the street or you’re on the side stage at Bonaroo or you’re headilning Lollapalooza. If you’re a great band with great songs people will notice it.”

For Grohl, being passionate and driven to make it are key components on finding an audience, and that people don’t have to enter a singing competition show to carve out a music career. “To stand in front of some judge that doesn’t even play a f–kin instrument on their own g–damn record tell you, ‘No you’re not good enough,’” added Grohl. “F–k that, go blow people away in their face. I honestly believe it’s that simple.”

More here.

20 Cinematography & Film Making Tips by Roger Deakins

1. Don’t Get Distracted with Technique

“Operating the wheels needs to become second nature as it can be a disaster if the technique of operating distracts from the relationship that an operator has with the subject.

When I was starting I practiced doing figures of eight with the wheels and progressed to signing my name with them. I don’t feel the need to practice anymore but I do reassure myself that I can still sign my name each time I start a new film, if I am using a gear head.

A gear head is not everyone’s choice and I don’t always carry one but it does have distinct advantages on certain set ups and on certain films.”

2. You Must Discover Your Own Style

“I am very wary of showing too much in the way of plans and diagrams. Not because I am secretive and I don’t want to give away something that is personal. Not at all!

I just remember that when I began as a film maker and a cinematographer I never watched another cinematographer at work. The closest I ever got to seeing ‘how it was done’ was by shooting some documentary footage of Doug Slocombe at work on ‘Pirates of Penzance’. I loved seeing him work but it had absolutely no influence on the way my work evolved.

Our styles could not be more different. That’s my point really. You can’t learn your craft by copying me or anyone else. I hope what I do can do is in some way inspire others but I would be appalled if I though my work was being studied as ‘the right way to do the job’.

My way is just one of an infinite number of ways to do the job.”

3. Compromise is Sometimes Needed for a Better Film

“Sometimes, as with the death row scenes on ‘Dead Man Walking’, it is better to compromise composition, lighting and perhaps even sound a little and shoot with two cameras in order to help an actor get their performance. Sometimes it is better to go wider to include a prop in frame than break an actor’s concentration.

When an actor appears on set ready to do a take it may be too late to change anything. At that time if I see a bad shadow or an eyeline that is slightly off I might talk to the actor or I might not. Perhaps I might think it better to change things for take two. If not then I judge it my mistake and I must try not to let it happen next time.

In the end a film can look lousy but work because of a great performance but not the other way round. That’s something always worth remembering.”

4. Work Inside Your Practical Limits

“I rarely took lights on the documentaries I shot in Africa. Much of the time I worked without an assistant so carrying more equipment than absolutely necessary was out. I did carry some white bed sheets and a silvered space blanket, which I used for sleeping in on cold nights (and it can get very cold in Botswana for instance) protecting the raw stock and equipment from the sun as well as for lighting.

I think the most important aspect of shooting documentary is to make use of what light is available simply through your positioning of the camera - and the subject if you are controlling what you are shooting. For me, using extra equipment, whether it was a tripod or a reflector, was usually a distraction and counterproductive.”

5. Pick a Camera Based on the Job

“There is an obsession with technology that I don’t care for. You pick the camera for the job based on cost and many other factors. I think ‘In This World’ or ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ are good case studies in this regard.”

6. “Cinematography is More Than a Camera”

“Cinematography is more than a camera, whether that camera is a Red an Alexa or a Bolex. There is a little more to it that resolution, colour depth, latitude, grain structure, lens aberration etc. etc. etc. The lenses use for ‘Citizen Kane’ were in no way as good as a Primo or a Master Prime and the grain structure in that film is, frankly, all over the place. But the cinematography? Well, you tell me.”

7. Camera Choice is a Personal Decision

“In the final analysis you can only judge picture quality by eye and make a personal decision as to what you like and what you don’t like. Perhaps some people really can not see a difference between a 2K scan and a 4K scan of the same negative and I am sure some people really do prefer the look of an image produced by the Red Camera to one shot on film.

The choice of a camera system is no different than the choice of a lens set, a camera position or where to put a lamp.”

8. Filmmaking Never Gets Any Easier

“On one of my first dramatic films I had got to the set early only to hear the 1st AD and a Carpenter questioning why someone whom they had never heard of was shooting their film. They turned to me and asked if I knew the cinematographer. I said I did.

I then told the Carpenter to rig a beam at the ceiling for lighting and asked the AD to send out for some asprin [sic] whilst I went outside to be sick.

I still have times when I feel totally stressed out and sick in my stomach. I explain it to myself in thinking that I have ever higher expectations for what I am working on and consequently it never gets any easier.”

9. There is No “Right Way” or Expected Career Path

“If you work your way up you might find it easier financially. Also, you will have time to learn your craft and become confident in what you do. On the other hand you may well find youself stuck for some time at one level and find it hard to make the jump from an assistant to an operator for instance. If you try to start shooting right away you may find yourself waiting a long time between pay days. Have you a showreel? Friends that might give you a break? A family that you need to support?

I never assisted. I went to film school and started shooting right away after that. Well, to be honest I couldn’t get work as an assistant so I called myself a cameraman. I found it no easier to get work as a cameraman but at least I felt better about myself. It was probably 6 months before I got my first paying work but it built quickly after that.”

10. Being Great is Often Rewarded with Loyalty

“There are a number of key crew members that I have worked with consistently. Obviously, not everyone is always available especially when work is slow. I have worked with the same 1st assistant cameraman since he was promoted from 2nd assistant for the last two weeks of ‘Shawshank Redemption’ when the previous 1st AC had another commitment. He has yet to make a ‘wrong move’ so I’m not sure what I would do if he did. I would be in shock probably!”

11. Internships Are Scare, Learn By Discovery

“Personally, when I am shooting a film I am totally focused on the job in hand and find even having a silent observer detrimental. There are many people who ask to be a part of my crew or to merely observe on a production that I might be shooting. Because of my hesitancy to accede to their requests perhaps my consequent feeling of guilt has led to the creation of this site.

For good or bad I never, as a student, had the luxury of observing another cinematographer at work on a set. It was only when I came to work in the US that I actually visited another set. I say this because I genuinely feel that cinematography, like photography in general, is not something that can be learned but, pretentious as it may sound, can only be discovered.”

12. Pulling Focus is a Tough Job for the AC and the Operator

“The 1st AC’s job is one of the most responsible on the whole crew. I know I could never do it and I have great admiration for someone who does the job well. I have worked with the same 1st AC for many years and we are very much in sync. I do think judging focus is very much intuitive but it is also the job of the operator to watch for image sharpness and for the timing of a pull etc.

Sometimes, as when I am making up the shot or on a particularly tight close up, I will work on a fluid head and have one hand on the focus knob just as if I were shooting a documentary. When you are working fast and without real rehersals, as is becoming the norm, there is little choice to do otherwise.”

13. If You’re Going Handheld, Go with an Experienced AC

“The first thing I should say is that I work with a very special assistant and he rarely needs to work from marks. If I am shooting hand held, as I was in the boxing for ‘Hurricane’ or for pretty much all of ‘Jarhead’, my assistant will attach a remote focus to the camera or I will control the focus myself. I find this is the only way sometimes, especially if I am ‘creating’ shots as things unfold. I spent many years shooting documentaries where I always controlled the focus myself as the kind of films I was shooting demanded a very instinctive way of following the subject.

You could use a fast stock to get a greater depth of field but, in truth, it would give you relatively little advantage. You might need to build the light levels to an F8.0 to gain any real advantage from lens depth of field. I would suggest using an experienced assistant at the end of a remote focus system.”

14. Use Focus Marks Only When You Need Them

“On the film ‘Jarhead’ we shot often without rehearsals but as I (often with Scott Sakamoto on a second camera) was operating with a hand held camera it was not only possible to react to an actor’s movements but it was just that style we were looking for. Something less formal, more spontanious and reactive which we hoped would give more of a feeling of being there to the viewer.

After a take we might talk with the actors about the scene and make suggestions to them at the same time as changing the way we were moving with the camera. It became a interesting collaborative process. Lighting had to be more general in this case and neither I or my assistant gave marks to the actors. In fact my assistant almost never gives marks to an actor. He may put a few marks down to give himself an idea of lens position and it’s distance to some points in the space but he will often say to an actor that they are not for them and nothing for them to bother about.”

15. Collaboration and Trust Between the DP and AC is Key

“My equipment list actually changes very little from film to film. Of course equipment has advanced and that has made for different choices but the basic idea of the package is the same.


I have worked with Andy for some time now and I rely on him to test the package before a shoot. We work together on concocting any special items such as the ‘helmet cam’ for shooting the game in ‘The Ladykillers’ and we usually spend a day shooting tests even if the film is quite straightforward.”

16. Know What You’re Talking About

“I think you need to be very familiar with grip equipment just as you need to be familiar with the range of lighting units available; otherwise you might ask for something that is really impractical or might not produce the right result. It is a Key Grip’s job to come up with a technical solution to a task and also the most efficient way of achieving it but it is the cinematographer’s responsibility to know if the concept will work in the first place. I think this requires a general understanding of the equipment to hand and it’s various usage.”

17. Communicate with Your Key Crew Members

More important than any notes is to spend time with your gaffer and key grip so that you are all in sync with the plans you have of the work ahead. I do remember telling my gaffer once or twice ‘It’s on my diagram’ only to be told that he was going by his memory of what I had said and not diagram I had given him.

18. Feeling Intimidated is Normal

“I generally feel intimidated! One of my first films was with Richard Burton and I felt intimidated by his talent (‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’!!!), at least I felt was until he gathered the crew, thanked us all for one of the most pleasant days he had ever experienced on a film, and then told us he had in fact felt totally intimidated by our youth!”

19. Plan Ahead with Your Crew

“After having done a tech scout with the crew I will always draw (sometimes I do them on a computer but not often) plans of each set regardless of how complex the scene or the lighting might be. Each diagram will contain information on lighting positions, lamp types, practical sources, diffusion to be used, camera platforms and crane requirements that was discussed on the scout as well as other things that I have considered since.

Often I will return to particularly difficult locations and scout them with my Gaffer and Key Grip only. Before production I will sit down with my Gaffer and Key Grip to go through all the details of the plans so that we all have a clear of what is involved and so they can communicate these needs to the rigging crew.

Something else that is extremely important is to go through the schedule in detail with your crew. Any pre-rig requirements have to be discussed with the AD and sometimes the schedule needs to be adapted to facilitate the work required.

I couldn’t say that I have any tricks other than that I try to work with the same crew as much as I can. It makes such a difference when you know the people around you and they know the way you like things done.


I find that once a shoot starts I am far too busy on other things. Naturally, we refresh ourselves on what is coming up in the next day or so as we go but I think it is important to take the time during prep to look at the overall schedule. It is good to know where you might need extra effort.”

20. It’s Your Job to Find a Way to Work with Others

“As I have said before every director is different and may require something different from a cinematographer. The onus is on the cinematographer to find out how best to work for and with a director and with other members of the crew, for that matter.”

Roger Deakins shot and lit, amongst others, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Beautiful Mind, Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers, Jarhead, No Country for Old Men, Revolutionary Road, A Serious Man, True Grit and Skyfall. More at

Pandora’s Internet radio royalty ripoff by PINK FLOYD

Pandora’s Internet radio royalty ripoff
written by Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason of PINK FLOYD

Great music can inspire deep emotions, and businesses have long sought to harness this power in order to make money. Nothing wrong with that – everyone deserves to make a living – but too often it leads to less than scrupulous behavior. The latest example is how Pandora is pushing for a special law in Congress to slash musicians’ royalties – and the tactics they are using to trick artists into supporting this unfair cut in pay.

It’s a matter of principle for us. We hope that many online and mobile music services can give fans and artists the music they want, when they want it, at price points that work. But those same services should fairly pay the artists and creators who make the music at the core of their businesses. For almost all working musicians, it’s also a question of economic survival. Nearly 90% of the artists who get a check for digital play receive less than $5,000 a year. They cannot afford the 85% pay cut Pandora asked Congress to impose on the music community.

Last year, we joined over 130 other bands and artists to oppose Pandora’s campaign to cut the royalties paid for digital radio spins. Widespread artist opposition stoppedthem last year, so this year Pandora is trying to enlist artists support for their next attempt at passing this unfair legislation.

Musicians around the country are getting emails from Pandora – even directly from the company’s charismatic founder Tim Westergren – asking them to “be part of a conversation” about the music business and sign a simple “letter of support” for Internet radio.

Sounds good. Who wouldn’t want to be “part of a conversation”? Who doesn’t support Internet radio? What scrooge would refuse to sign such a positive, pro-music statement?

Of course, this letter doesn’t say anything about an 85% artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on. All it says about royalties is “We are all fervent advocates for the fair treatment of artists.” And the only hint of Pandora’s real agenda is the innocent sounding line “We are also fervent supporters of internet radio and want more than anything for it to grow.” The petition doesn’t mention that Pandora is pushing the growth of its business directly at the expense of artists’ paychecks.

Fine print is one thing. But a musician could read this “letter of support” a dozen times and hold it up to a funhouse mirror for good measure without realizing she was signing a call to cut her own royalties to pad Pandora’s bottom line.

We’ve heard Pandora complain it pays too much in royalties to make a profit. (Of course, we also watched Pandora raise $235 million in its IPO and double its listeners in the last two years.) But a business that exists to deliver music can’t really complain that its biggest cost is music. You don’t hear grocery stores complain they have to pay for the food they sell. Netflix pays more for movies than Pandora pays for music, but they aren’t running to Congress for a bailout. Everyone deserves the right to be paid a fair market rate for their work, regardless of what their work entails.

We’re not saying that the music business is perfect or that there is no room to compromise. Artists would gladly work with Pandora to end AM/FM’s radio exemption from paying any musician royalties – a loophole that hurts artists and digital radio alike.

Other changes and compromises may be possible as well. The open letter to Pandora that we signed last year said, “Lets work this out as partners” and that’s what we should do. But tricking artists into signing a confusing petition without explaining what they are really being asked to support only poisons the well.

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