Name: Harry Grapenthin
Bio: As Vice President of Media/Entertainment for BurrellesLuce, I’ve worked closely with the heads of corporate communications and publicity departments from cable/network television, major record labels and movie studios – over the years, assisting them with developing an effective media strategy. Living in Manhattan and working in LA affords me the opportunity to develop and maintain long term relationships with my clients on both coasts. I enjoy following the evolution of the entertainment and media industry and writing about the most recent major developments. Most of my vacation time is spent traveling the world, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. When I’m not globetrotting, I enjoy movies (anything directed by Stanley Kubrick), music (I’m rarely seen without my iPod) and Florida State Football (my alma mater). Twitter: HarryGrape; LinkedIn: Harry Grapenthin; Facebook: BurrellesLuce
Posts by Harry Grapenthin:
How much exposure does one person need? I have my own Facebook page to post personal updates and photos and my own Twitter handle to speak my mind in “real time” — so why not a 24-hour “TV” channel, aka “The Harry Grapenthin Channel,” dedicated to my content (or lack thereof)?
As frightening and ridiculous as this sounds, Google continues to work hard at making this a reality (no pun intended). Rewriting the rules of television, Google has made it vividly clear how it intends to pursue its piece of the TV advertising pie. As a follow up to Google TV, the search engine giant recently announced it will be offering a software package that allows you to search the Internet for interesting things to watch and plans to launch 100 new advertising supported “channels” for its YouTube online video service, confirms The Economist. (Madonna, Shaquille O’Neill, and Jay-Z are some of many celebs already signed up to provide professional content). Just when we thought there were too many channels on cable TV, a channel per person or topic could mean millions more popping up on the Internet.
But what about live sports you ask? Google has that covered too. In fact, last month Google dipped its toes in the “live sports” waters for the first time when it announced the future launch of seven sports channels, including one that will feature programming from Major League Soccer. “What you’re seeing is a bit of a tip of the iceberg, explains Brian Bedol, a cable industry veteran who founded Classic Sports Television in 1995, in this Sports Business Daily article. “This is where the young male demographic gets more and more of its entertainment. If you’re in sports, you need to be looking at how you’re delivering sports over the Internet.”
Whether we get our television from networks, cable providers, satellite providers, online providers or “fill in the blank” – one thing remains the same, television content, as we know it today, continues to be in high demand and still commands huge advertising dollars … whether this continues remains to be seen. However, Google is betting that it does.
Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, a blog focusing on technology startups, continues to cause quite a stir in the journalism world. Arrington announced last week that he is starting his own fund (CrunchFund), with the help of AOL, that will invest in small startup companies and has been under a barrage of criticism, mostly from journalists, for this unique arrangement.
Their main complaint is that Arrington, and other TechCrunch writers, can use the site, a highly trafficked blog ranking number 2 on Technorati’s list of Top 100 blogs (as of today), to potentially post comments and promote the same companies his fund holds positions in.
As reported by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times, the journalism world is claiming this type of arrangement violates the covenant of all journalism; reporters should avoid conflicts of interest by maintaining distance from the people, organizations and issues they cover. And, once again, fuels the debate over whether bloggers should be held to the same standards as journalists.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Sunset Strip Music Festival in LA. Seeing Motley Crue and Public Enemy, playing live outside on the Strip, and The Doors, live at the Whiskey A Go- Go, where they started as a house band in the 60’s, (with David Brock on vocals doing a mind blowing rendition of Jim Morrison), was truly an unreal experience … and just what I needed. Working with the major music labels for the last eight years and following this beleaguered industry from the business side, I always rely on some good-old live, loud music to quickly put things back in perspective for me.
Last week the New York Times wrote an article reporting on yet another potential crushing blow to the music industry, a little known revision to a copyright law from the mid-seventies, dealing with musical artists regaining rights to their songs. Basically the law grants artists “termination rights,” allowing the artists to regain control of their work from the labels, 35 years after the songs release, provided they file the proper forms two years in advance.
“The recording industry has made a gazillion dollars on those masters, more than the artists have,” said Don Henley, a founder both of the Eagles and the Recording Artists Coalition. “So there’s an issue of parity here, of fairness. This is a bone of contention, and it’s going to get more contentious in the next couple of years.” Some big names released in 1978 and eligible to be granted termination rights in 2013 include, Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” and the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute.
This will be a bone of contention for years and will certainly wind up in court and in the hands of lawyers, some of whom I’m sure were rockin’ right alongside me. Thirty-five years is a long time, but after seeing these bands perform over the weekend with passion and energy, sounding better than ever, something tells me they’re not going away anytime soon, and thank goodness!
Listening to bands tell their stories between songs during the festival reminded me of how this whole thing started and why it’s all here in the first place…and never a mention of words like copyright or piracy. I say avoid the legal fees, pay the artists instead and let Don Henley go back to singing with his Eagles band mates.
Most of us escape to some form of entertainment as a way to relax from life’s stresses, whether it’s rocking to our favorite songs or losing ourselves in a movie. However, as we are listening or watching we are constantly being exposed to marketing and advertising in subtle and sometimes not so subtle doses, through clever product placement. It’s everywhere, in every form of media and entertainment. Brands are trying desperately to keep up with the newly empowered consumers of 2011. We are cutting our cable chords (canceling cable in favor of Internet access to content), DVR’ing shows to skip commercials, and having manhandled the music industry for the past decade – using peer-to-peer networks to illegally download songs.
The music industry has a few things up their sleeves to make some extra dough. In the last decade, they’ve began experimenting with the idea of product placement in lyrics to the tune of $30 million. We all remember the Busta Rhymes and P Diddys jingle, err song, called “Pass The Courvoisier,” released after Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records cut a deal with the cognac’s marketer to reposition the brand in the hip hop community.
The movie industry has been using product placement since silent films. Last month Warrior Poets, Morgan Spurlock’s production company, and incidentally a BurrellesLuce client (an obvious plug) released a movie on this very subject, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” Spurlock’s latest work is a documentary that takes a comical view while exploring the world of product placement, marketing and advertising. Incidentally the film was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film.
In my view, the product integration model seems to be marketers only recourse. After all what choice did we, the consumer, leave them – especially with the younger generation turning increasingly to the web for their content and worldwide device? Gartner Group announced earlier this week that worldwide communication device sales totaled 427.8 million units in the first quarter, an increase of 19 percent from first quarter 2010, with smart phones accounting for 23 percent, an 85 percent increase year-on- year.
I don’t mind a product placement or two in my content, after all products and brands are a big part of our everyday lives. But I have one request for the marketers and advertisers, and let’s call it “for the sake of preserving escapism through entertainment,” can you please keep your placements subtle to the viewer? At least in the movie Castaway, although the FedEx brand was overly exploited, it was brilliantly woven into the plot, which I found to be less invasive and manipulative. Now I’m not saying that I’ve used FedEx more as a result of watching the Castaway, forget it….. come to think of it I actually have.
Have you been sold on product placement in films and music? How are you using these placements in your own marketing, advertising, and communications activities? Please share your thoughts we me and readers Fresh Ideas.
Record labels are once again under attack from the Internet, this time by companies eager to jump into the red hot “online music storage” arena. After what the labels have been through the last several years, you can bet they’ll be better prepared this time. Apple and Google have been working diligently on a new music sharing model which promises to give music fans more flexibility in accessing their media, wherever they are rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device (a service known as a music locker). Google, however, hasn’t been able to deliver anything to this point, despite promising to launch their service as far back as last Christmas. And neither has Apple’s which hasn’t launched yet. But surprisingly it was Amazon who became the first media company to launch a cloud-based consumer service – deciding to take a bold “Napster- like” approach last month with the launch of their version called “Cloud Drive,” as reported in this New York Times article.
Amazon initially thought they were sidestepping the sensitive music licensing problem by allowing its customers to upload their songs in MP3 or A.A.C. format and then storing it in the cloud, enabling consumers to play the music on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, regardless of where they were. “We don’t need a license to store music,” said Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon in this Reuters article. “The functionality is the same as an external hard drive.”
What Amazon neglected to do was license the rights, for this type of activity, from the major Hollywood film studios and record companies. The labels immediately fired back, but rather than engage in a nasty drawn out lawsuit the two sides quickly realized they needed each other (for now anyway) to compete in this new music sharing market, fueled by the changing desires of the consumer. Amazon is currently engaged in talks with all members of the big four (Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) to discuss how this latest business model can make sense for both sides. If the two sides come to an agreement, the way we access music will change dramatically once again; however, the question remains, how will the music industry be affected by this sudden access to online stored music files. And other than the consumer, who stands to benefit the most from this new platform?
David Bowie predicted in 2002 that music would become “like running water or electricity,” notes this article penned by John Naughton, The Observer. At the time of the original interview, Apple’s iPod had only just been released. Bowie understood that “iPod users were, in fact, the audio equivalent of travelers to primitive countries who carry bottled water because public supplies are unreliable or unsafe. In a comprehensively networked world, Bowie surmised, people would eventually become more relaxed about carrying their supplies of bottled music: when they needed it, they would just get it streamed from the network.”
I wonder what artists think of their content, once again, being downloaded and potentially shared by millions of people without a licensing arrangement on the table. Will Mick Jagger shout, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud” (ok, that one was too easy) or will Rihanna say, “Come on, come on, I like it, like it.”?
The music industry continues to struggle to keep up with the consumer’s demands, but finally appears to have recognized its better in the long run to accommodate music fans rather than waste time in court.
What are your thoughts? How do you think cloud-sharing with affect the music and media industries? Share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.