Joseph F. Turcotte, PhD

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Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Great One

This came as a surprise to me but the Stanley Cup finals are set. Looks like it will be a rematch from last year with the Penguins taking on the Red Wings. Should be an interesting series but the comparisons to the past are annoying. Here are 10 reasons why Sydney Crosby and company (no matter how good they are) don’t compare to the Great One.

Enjoy…

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So so Def

As long as I can remember Def Jam has been the premier hip-hop record label. Started in 1984 by Russel Simmons and Rick Rubin this imprint is arguably the most important record label in the history of rap music. So it was rather shocking, albeit not completely unexpected, to wake up to find the news that Jay-Z had left the label and is now a completely independent recording artist.

What that means, I’m not entirely sure. But what I am sure about is that the future for large record labels is growing bleaker and bleaker. The Broadcast Era that allowed these giants to reap record profits throughout the 90s and (very) early 2000s is dead and has been replaced by a new generation of music fans and, perhaps more importantly, technologies.

Large, “catchall” record labels aren’t going to cut it anymore when fans can download thousands of songs and create their own musical inventory without having to go through the gate-keepers (music editors, label execs, etc).

But tears shouldn’t be shed for these dying beasts, and perhaps I’m wrong and they’ll innovate and once again become the home(s) for music fans everywhere– that seems quite unlikely given their past aversion to change though. Just like all of the big companies that made millions (or billions) off of consumers in the glory days, these giants have had their run.

What’s exciting for music fans is the possibility for the future. New ways of doing things can emerge. Record labels now need to cultivate contact and ties with their fans and can’t wholly depend on glossy gimmicks and  marketing campaigns. Smaller labels and promoters can fill the void left by these giant footprints.

That’s the key to digital media and the future of the media industry. Going smaller, worrying less about massive profits and building something that people care about.

It’s time to cater to the fans and consumers. After long being just a cash cow that had few options for music and culture, we now have an abundance of possible choices. Damn, that’s empowering. To keep fans you’ll have to invest in them (and what they like, the artists). Build ways for people to interact with like minded individuals. Create avenues of distribution that are focused on the individual but are related (and connected) to the label/group at large.

The revenue model for big media, and record labels, is dying. It’s time to change it. Look to Google and the other new businesses that are making it work. Only then will there be a chance to continue to make money (albeit not to the extent previously seen) in the media/culture industry.

So, so so (long) Def Jam et al

How about that

First off, yes, I realize that this page is becoming increasingly dominated by Liberal politics. I swear, my intention for my next post wasn’t to talk about Iggy and his team; no, I was going to talk about hockey. But oh well, that can wait until the judges, the NHL and Jim get their acts together.

For now though I need to ruminate on one of those weird, blogosphere deja vu moments. Reading the latest story about Ignatieff’s response to the negative attack ads, I came across a few quotes that seem very familiar. In fact, they’re exactly what I was thinking.

Iggy: “But to Stephen Harper, to the Conservative party, Canadians who’ve lived outside the country are less Canadian because of it. Tell that to new Canadians born outside this country. Are they less Canadian because of it?”

Me: “Does this mean that if you’re a new Canadian that you’re somehow less of a Canadian? Not up-to-par with those Canadians that were born here, worked here and spent their lives in the country? I’d like to see them present that argument to the millions of ‘immigrant’ Canadians.”

Iggy: “Look, we need a new kind of politics, a better kind of politics, a politics that relies not on spite and spin but on civility and common purpose. That’s what’s demanded of us.”

Me: “It’s time for a new politics, but more on that in a future post…”

Now I’m not going to belabour the point, I’m fairly certain of the seven readers that this page gets Liberal operatives are not among them– and the similarity is probably a sign that I need to diversify the voices that I’m reading. But this is encouraging. The Liberals are giving smart, quick and honest answers and signalling that there is something new on the horizon. Thankfully.

Obama-Ignatieff

Well said…

Mr Trudeau has been rather quiet in Iggy’s Liberal team, but here he offers a compelling argument against the attacks ads. I think we might be seeing more of this ‘kid’ as time goes on…

Identity Politics and the CPC

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It took awhile but it looks like the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) warroom has dusted themselves off from the Winter’s coalition crisis and are now taking aim at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. No surprise there, really, but this brand of ads is quite irritating– I’m not going to post the ads because I refuse to put them on this page but feel free to Google them or look them up on YouTube. Oh and there’s the new anti-Iggy website too, ignatieff.me.

But the line of attack that the CPC is taking has me iritated. While the main thrust of the ads is that Iggy’s out-of-touch and arrogant. That’s not too big of a deal, what politician ISN’T arrogant or at least a little cocky/sure of themselves? It takes quite a bit of perceived self-importance to stand for public office and to think that you are worthy of representing the fine people of Canada.

What really has me ticked though is the underlying sentiment that because of Iggy’s time away from Canada– working in Britain and the US– that he’s somehow less Canadian. In a country that embraces multiculturalism and is increasingly comprised of individuals from other countries that have multiple identities in terms of their roots and experiences, this seems ludicrous. Is the CPC now saying that how much of a Canadian someone is dependent solely on their past? Does this mean that if you’re a new Canadian that you’re somehow less of a Canadian? Not up-to-par with those Canadians that were born here, worked here and spent their lives in the country? I’d like to see them present that argument to the millions of ‘immigrant’ Canadians.

Personally, trying to define the identity of an individual– and not just focusing on perceived character flaws, as they did with Stéphane Dion— is appalling. Identity is not some sort of static thing that doesn’t change and adapt due to experiences. Neither is it something that can be easily defined by what jobs (or the places where those jobs were) a person has had.

Identity is constructed based on the individual. I feel a sense of connection with my Québécois roots despite the fact that I speak little to no French and have only visited the province sparingly. That doesn’t matter to me though. I feel it in my bones. Just as Iggy feels Canada in his.

The facts are: yes, he was away for quite sometime but it’s equally true that he’s come back to try and help his country. Whether he was gone for an extended period of time or not has little relevance, he’s here now. Deal with it. Speak to the present, please. Talk about the mounting job losses and how he’s not well positioned to deal with that– I’m sure those ads will be coming soon.

But please, please, please, do not try to dip into the nebulous world of identity politics. The affiliations and connections that a person has with Canada run much deeper than which decades were spent where. And it’s quite insulting, not to mention arrogant, for someone to think that they can define the essence of someone else.

But then again, arrogance is something that I expect from Steve H. and his band of cronies.

It’s time for a new politics, but more on that in a future post…


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