A Fan Wrote A Tribute To Bowie And It’s The Most Beautiful Thing You’ll Read All Year.

David Bowie

I hope I haven’t over sold this post. It’s taken me 365 days to write it because every time I’ve sat down to write some thoughts on what Bowie meant to me, I’ve eventually reached for the delete key. Just where do you start?

Well, maybe with some of my favourite Bowie moments that have stayed with me over the years. Here goes…

That Trent Reznor Duet

Exceptional song, exceptional voice, exceptional duet. Just one of my favourite Bowie collaborations, but you could also pick Satellite of Love or Tonight. He always seemed to find that perfect harmony.

The Lyrics

I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform 
Of imagery 
I’m living in a silent film 
Portraying Himmler’s sacred realm
Of dream reality

Now, I have no idea what these lyrics from Quicksand actually mean, the fun has been inventing that meaning over the years. When I was 20 I thought: ‘Oh, this is a nice song about love’. Now, at 40, I think: ‘This is a man trying to grabble with reason to work out the meaning of life’. Either that’s down to the multiplicity of the song here, or I’m currently having a mid-life crisis. You decide!

Peppers and Milk
Just Google it. Along with his initial clash with Kraftwerk. Or the time he hooked up with Iggy in Berlin when they weren’t doing drugs. Or the inspiration for ‘Heroes’.

Even if you erased all memory of Bowie’s music, we’d still be captivated by the stories. You just couldn’t make them up. Or could you?

Hang On To Yourself
When times are dark, that’s good advice. Trust me.

That Interview

You can find quite a few awkward interviews with Bowie online. These always make me cringe because I’ve been there as a music journalist, interviewing your heroes and then, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t go to plan. Still, that doesn’t make these clips less hilarious.

That Glastonbury Moment

I’ll always remember seeing Bowie for the first time at Glastonbury. He was due to perform at around 7.30pm, the sun was beginning to set, we were all hovering around our tents chatting. Down in the valley you could hear the band sound-checking at the Pyramid stage. Then about five minutes later the band kicked off well before their scheduled time with ‘Wild Is The Wind’. When Bowie began to sing the crowd went nuts and rushed over. It could have been carnage I suppose but it all worked out. A true wow-ie moment.

Abbey Road
One day an email popped into my inbox promoting a remastered version of Aladdin Sane. I was about to delete it until I spotted that the label was offering a special playback of the album at Abbey Road studios. Naturally, I signed up immediately. When I got to the studios there were only a couple of rock magazine journalists and about three staff from the label. We sat on some comfy chairs in one of the studios where, no doubt, some of the best albums in the world had been recorded and listened to the remastered album through the mixing desk.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been invited to a listening ‘party’ but they’re always slightly awkward. You don’t really talk, you sort of sit in silence and then have a chat afterwards. The guy I happened to site next to turned out to be one of Bowie’s previous managers Alan Edwards. He made a great comment: ‘For someone famous for being so against the romantic notion of the artist, a lot of his songs are very romantic and, to me at least, so very personal.’

I could go on, but that pretty much says it all for me. In the weeks following Bowie’s death I revisited his albums again, especially those that I’d rejected previously. On ‘The Next Day’ there’s a beautiful track ‘Where Are We Now?’ and I’d like to think this is the real Bowie, David Jones, reflecting on his past. There is something about the recording that sounds so vulnerable and honest compared to tracks from Blackstar.

Of course, I have no idea if I’m right or wrong and I guess that’s the reason why I find the man and his music so fascinating. Who the hell was he?  I guess I’ll still be trying to figure that out in years to come.

Bye Bye for now.

Friday #Content Reads 16.12.16

A list of my most interesting content strategy-related reads this week…

Hmm. A different kind of post this week as there were three particular articles that really caught my attention. The first was a remarkable piece by Matt Lees which I missed when it was first published. In What Gamergate should have taught us about the ‘alt-right’ he writes that everything we’re seeing now in the discussion around fake news had its precedent two years ago with Gamergate…

“The strangest aspect of Gamergate is that it consistently didn’t make any sense: people chose to align with it, and yet refused responsibility. It was constantly demanded that we debate the issues, but explanations and facts were treated with scorn. Attempts to find common ground saw the specifics of the demands being shifted: we want you to listen to us; we want you to change your ways; we want you to close your publication down. This movement that ostensibly wanted to protect free speech from cry bully SJWs simultaneously did what it could to endanger sites it disagreed with, encouraging advertisers to abandon support for media outlets that published stories critical of the hashtag. The petulance of that movement is disturbingly echoed in Trump’s own Twitter feed.

Looking back, Gamergate really only made sense in one way: as an exemplar of what Umberto Eco called “eternal fascism”, a form of extremism he believed could flourish at any point in, in any place – a fascism that would extol traditional values, rally against diversity and cultural critics, believe in the value of action above thought and encourage a distrust of intellectuals or experts – a fascism built on frustration and machismo. The requirement of this formless fascism would – above all else – be to remain in an endless state of conflict, a fight against a foe who must always be portrayed as impossibly strong and laughably weak. This was the methodology of Gamergate, and it now forms the basis of the contemporary far-right movement.”

That is truly a recommended read. Elsewhere, I was also moved by Marc Thompson’s recent speech on fake news

“Fake news is not new. The spreading false rumors for political advantage, for pure malice, or just for entertainment, is as old as the hills. Supermarket checkout magazines have been assuring us for decades that Elvis never died at all and is alive and well and eating unhealthy snacks inside a replica of the Sphinx on the surface of Mars.

And yet what’s happening now feels different. Whatever its other cultural and social merits, our digital eco-system seems to have evolved into a near-perfect environment for fake news to thrive. In addition to enthusiastic domestic myth-makers, it’s easy for hostile foreign governments and their proxies not just to initiate a fake news cycle – it is now widely accepted that it was Russian hackers who broke into John Podesta’s emails and gave them to Wikileaks, beginning the chain of events that led to Pizzagate – but to intensify it, and on occasion even to manage it with armies of human “trolls” and cyber botnets. This is a form of what the military calls “black psy-ops”, in other words covert psychological operations.”

And lastly, before we all point the finger at Facebook to sort this all out, Frederic Filloux had some great thoughts on why fake news isn’t going to be resolved by Facebook because news itself is not FB’s core business model.

“We must face the fact that Facebook doesn’t care about news in the journalism sense. News represents about 10% of the average user newsfeed and news can be cut overnight if circumstances dictate with no significant impact for the platform. (Actually, someone with good inside knowledge of the social network told me that news will be removed from users’ feed should the European Union move against Facebook in the same way it attacks Google on editorial issues).

In that broad context, the fake news situation is just a part of Facebook’s system, a bad apple in a large basket. It is impossible to believe that one of the best engineering companies in the world has not seen it coming; fake news was simply considered an unpleasant parasite, the wine lees at the bottom of the barrel… until Trump’s campaign made such a large use of fake news that it blew up.”

And lastly, for podcast enthusiasts, ProPublica published a fantastic interview with journalist Masha Gessen which discussed how we might approach a ‘taxonomy of truth’ to help guide us in the months ahead.

Publishing The We The Unicorns Awards on Twitter Periscope

We The Unicorns Awards

Last Thursday we were proud to broadcast our very first end of year YouTuber awards for We The Unicorns live from Twitter HQ in London. The event was initially launched back in November with a number of categories we felt offered something original by supporting the rising stars and rebels from across the year. All in all, I was blown away by the sheer volume of votes we eventually received (over 48k in total)  – and the support from everyone involved (fans and creators alike) was simply amazing.

As I mentioned above, we streamed it from Twitter HQ via Periscope and I’ve embedded it below in all its glory. Well done to the whole team behind this and to everyone who voted!

We The Unicorns Awards We The Unicorns Awards We The Unicorns Awards We The Unicorns Awards

What We Did To Hit One Million Facebook Likes On Classic FM

classic fm david cameron

As the new year is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d fire off a series of short posts covering some of my personal highlights taken from the various brands across the year. I’m starting with Classic FM not only because it’s an amazing brand, but because I’ve just had a ping from its Social Media Editor saying that they’ve just reached one million likes on Facebook.

Here is said editor looking extremely chuffed, as he should do because this really is a fantastic achievement.

But what drove that engagement? Well, I thought it might be insightful to take a look at a short selection of popular posts from 2016 to give you a flavour of what we do. So here goes..

A selection of highlights has to start with our ‘David Cameron’ moment from September. This was all down to an editor who was watching Cameron’s speech and noticed he was humming a melody as he walked back into No.10. The rest was, indeed, history.

classic fm david cameron

This piece was successful for a number of reasons – a quick turnaround from the editorial team, the shareability of the idea and the brilliant response from the Classic FM social community as a result. This all resulted in some fantastic press coverage throughout the week that followed as pundits tried to work out the significance of the melody.

In addition to news reaction, we also post topics that we know we inspire debate across all our platforms. You can see how the topic below, for instance, could create a fantastic discussion on air as well as online.

The joy of learning to play an instrument is also a popular topic – and one I can fully sympathise with now that I’m trying to get my own children to DO THEIR BLOODY PIANO PRACTICE!

OK OK, deep breath…

Here’s another example, this time an adorable moment captured between mother and child shared with us from the classical music community.

And lastly, and as Kyle mentioned above, we’ve also had some very popular posts featuring cats…

So there you have it, just a little insight into how we hit that one million figure. Why not like us on Facebook to see what we’re publishing every day?

Here’s why You Should Download our Capital Mobile Apps

my capital fm app

This week the Capital Xtra team received a rather nice tweet about the new functionality across our Capital and My Capital apps. This was the aforementioned tweet from Rob over at Spotify:


You can read more about the functionality here and there’s also this useful explainer demo so you can see how it all works:

When there’s further updates I’ll let you know.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-12-46-58

The Fake News Piñata

Since the US Elections we’ve read a lot about the topic of fake news and how journalism must adapt to ‘regain’ credibility and trust. I’m sure the debate will go on for some time, but in the meantime I thought it might be useful to gather all the different opinions I’ve read over recent weeks in one place. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Fake News Piñata!

From what I can see, this very special piñata is basically spit into three segments – publishers, platforms and people. I apologies in advance for the crude nature of what follows, this list is by no means exhaustive and I’m pretty certain to have over-simplified in places. But for now…

Publishers

  • We need to fight fake news with facts.
  • We need to fight fake news with facts that are shareable.
  • We need to fight fake news with facts, opinion and razor-sharp attention to the language we use.
  • Facts don’t matter because audiences don’t ‘care’ – because they’ve been told journalists are experts and experts are not to be trusted. Journalists need to work harder to communicate the benefits of what they do.
  • Facts don’t matter because audiences have been told journalists are biased (whereas politicians are not). Journalists need to work harder to communicate the benefits of what they do.
  • “Facts get shared, opinions get shrugs.” Alt-right institutions get more attention online now because their stories appear to be more fact-based than rant-based. They have the semblance of truth. Journalism needs to address this development through fact-checking services/teams to understand why fake news stories have become so shareable beyond outrageous headlines.
  • In the fight for ‘truthfulness’ publishers and journalists need to accept that they too make mistakes. Which is more damaging? A fake news story with a low audience or a slightly incorrect mainstream media story with a huge audience?
  • 99% of all journalism is commercially funded. Go figure, we are all doomed.
  • Are non-profit journalist organisations more truthful?
  • Has the ‘pandering’ to Facebook (shareability over ‘substance’) backed us into a corner? Do we need to focus on new metrics of engagement which recognises quality journalism and can be monetised easily. Is this just a pipe dream or the start of a long journey of collaboration across the entire media sector?
  • As an industry we should stop theorising, navel-gazing and soul-searching and get down to proper journalism i.e holding those in power to account and getting out there into the local communities.
  • Hmm. We might need to invest more in local journalism…
  • Er, what exactly is Fake News? “Does a falsehood only become “fake news” when it shows up on a platform like Facebook as legitimate news?”

Platforms

People

  • Most people have a low level of media literacy. Blame lack of education and poverty.
  • Most people have a low level of media literacy. Blame the government.
  • Most people have a low level of media literacy. Blame the media.
  • Most people have a low level of media literacy. Blame technology.
  • Most people have a low level of media literacy. Blame procrastination.
  • People lack the critical capacity to recognise what might be fake because they actively seek reflections of themselves. Confirmation bias.
  • Facts don’t matter because we’re all basically selfish and can’t escape our prejudices.

I’ll leave it there for now, please feel free to add further points via the comments below. For those interested in what the journalist/tech community is doing right now to navigate this new landscape, may I suggest this excellent, collaborate resource initially recommended by Jeff Jarvis.

Further Reading
Washington Post fake news story blurs the definition of fake news
Google, democracy and the truth about internet search
The tech/editorial culture clash
The Man Who Made Radio Viral
Facebook Shouldn’t Fact-Check
Trump has already defeated the news media. And it’s unclear what we can do about it.
Publishing in the post-truth era
Parallel narratives
FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE MAKE LIES AS PRETTY AS TRUTH
The Cynical Gambit to Make ‘Fake News’ Meaningless
Why Snapchat And Apple Don’t Have A Fake News Problem

The Capital Jingle Bell Ball 2016 Content Strategy. Includes Kittens.

Capital Jingle Bell Ball 2016 Kittens

Every year we host Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball at London’s O2 – a fantastic weekend of music where fans can celebrate the best artists and tracks of the year in an amazing venue. Covering an event like this is a true privilege as it’s a great chance to meet fans, find out what they’re listening to and learn about what’s important to them.

What’s also important is that we took the decision years ago to make the Jingle Bell Ball a true digital experience. That means, that wherever you are in the UK, if not the world, you’ll be able to experience the event as if you were at the O2 itself.

That doesn’t mean ‘just’ filming the artists on stage and conducting behind the scenes interviews* – it means thinking very carefully about what platforms our digital audience are currently on and delivering formats that excite, engage and get them coming back for more.

And that means cats. Lots of them.

Here’s a short overview of what you can expect from our digital coverage in the next 48 hours:

  • Radio coverage (naturally) across FM and digital
  • Capital TV dedicated coverage
  • Highlights of the best on stage performances and back stage interviews (video on demand)
  • Exclusive Facebook Live interviews with all the artists (and kittens)
  • Live blog coverage – a great single location to see all the action as it happens
  • Snapchat coverage incl. exclusive Snapchat filters
  • Live Instagram Video stories
  • Dedicated content for social media – we believe with a passion that we should be entertaining you in your space, so our social media team will be creating the funniest and informative memes and updates they can.

So what’s the best thing about all this coverage? The fact that it’s all happening live – with all sections of the business (radio, tv, digital, marketing, pr, events, commercial) working together to make sure this is the best experience possible for YOU.

So here goes. Another fantastic Jingle Bell Ball is about to happen. I’ll post some highlights when I can!

*I say ‘just’ but shooting, editing and distributing video is a massive part of our operation. Adding this now before the Head of Video decapitates me.

WANTED: Meme Overlord required

That’s right. I’m looking for a social media editor to join our fabulous PopBuzz and We The Unicorns team. Working from our London office, you’ll be mixing with some top talent driving new audience to our brand new brands.

I’m not going to mention to much about the role, only, if you visit our Facebook pages, you will immediately understand why we’ve been successful and be able to send me a short analysis as part of your application.

To apply, please email info@pop-buzz.com. Oh, and we’re looking for someone to start immediately (although we will wait for the right person of course…)

Thanks
steve