Cheese v. Cochrane et al – New Media Showdown

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Todd Cochrane posted an interesting piece entitled: Richard Cheese the Ultimate Classless Act. I was at the event in question and remember exactly what I was thinking as it was happening. Interesting issues are raised. (Disclosure – I have been a long time Richard Cheese fan. The last concert of his I attended was a blast but much like comedy acts, it is clear the audience has a large influence on the “experience.” Some nights you kill, some nights you bomb.)

Let’s clear the decks: spitting (actually, it was more of a spit take) was plainly rude and unacceptable. Not funny. However, I have a slightly different take away from the event than Todd. Richard Cheese (RC) repeatedly asked people to stop filming him. I get it. He is a performer, and makes his living from this; he doesn’t want his whole act posted on the Internet. It is meant for those who have paid to attend and see it. Unlike Todd, I was surprised that after RC repeatedly asked and then basically demanded people to stop filming him they continued to do so, right in his face. Just watch Todd’s video. I have no idea what the law is, but unless it is newsworthy, stop if I ask. Think of any notable celebrity. Can you shoot pictures and video of them coming out of the Ivy? Sure. The paparazzi work under the “newsworthy” and “public figure” idea. Can you take those same cameras into a playhouse and capture their stage performance? Nope.

Here is the part that amazed me. Todd submitted a “post produced” video with commentary title cards to all the major video sites. A quick synopsis: it contains a performer repeatedly asking/demanding not to be recorded and includes portions of his “unique” performance of the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer.” You can just imagine all the rights holders who could claim to have been infringed. Todd argues that cameras were explicitly allowed. I was there and I don’t remember that. This was a separate event from the Expo at a different venue. To me it was no different than going to a Vegas show at one of the hotels. Even if cameras were allowed, when asked to stop – the polite thing to do is oblige. Just because the new media folks have come to Las Vegas doesn’t mean all the rules have changed. Need proof? Just try using your video camera at the black jack tables or your cell phone in the sports book. You’ll find out quickly.

Todd points out,

It appears that Richard Cheese had some ridiculous clause in his performance contract that no video would be allowed during the event.

This might shock us new media types as being “ridiculous” but in the rest of the world – this is standard. Just think, if I were to re-record your next podcast and post it to my site, would that bother you?

Brian Ibbott did an amazing job with the Coverville 500. But we all know that no good deed goes unpunished. I’d hate for this new media “brush up” to cause him trouble. Todd’s update indicates the possibility exists. If Todd really wants to push the issue he should make a pledge to indemnify Brian from any issues his actions may cause. I know that sounds extreme, but as an entrepreneur I have dealt with my fair share of both threatened and filed lawsuits. I’ve never lost, but it is always the small nonsense issues that are most painful. Last one I had dismissed cost $10,000 in attorney fees. If I’m Richard Cheese – this one seems to be served up on a plate.

(Oh, and interesting legal issues asides, I too am less of a RC fan now. Uncomfortable performances are just that – uncomfortable.)

UPDATE: Todd has since removed the video mentioned above.

New Media Expo: Top Ten Take Aways

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I have just returned from my 4th Podcast/Portable & now New Media Expo. Once again, a first class event. As most of you know, I have been involved with podcasting since before it even had a name. Having participated in it all along the way, this year’s Expo solidified many of the thoughts I’ve held over the last year. The items in this list are not fully developed; I could easily do a 30-minute podcast on each. These are more a summary of my stream of consciousness top ten take aways:

1. The Expo continues to enable us to re-connect with old friends. There is a real sense of camaraderie among the original podcasters. That was no different this year. Good times with lots of great podcasters.

2. The New Media Expo was once again a great opportunity to meet new people who are excited about podcasting. A lot of fresh faces this year.

3. Tim Bourquin (the show’s organizer) got some flack this year about the exhibit floor being smaller – not true. The show had the exact same exhibit space as in years past: 12,000 square feet. It was a much bigger venue, which affects the perceived size. Kudos to Tim for stepping up and making the financial commitment to lock in the Las Vegas Convention Center. That said, the exhibit space did not grow. In a “growth” industry that spells trouble. My take, one I shared with Tim at dinner this past week, was to lose the exhibitors and focus on the conference. (The conference sessions are where the real value lies in my opinion.) Tim is one of the most diligent and hard working people I know. If he can’t corral the exhibitors it is not for a lack of effort, it is a signal that they are not sold on the market potential. (Curious to see what he announces regarding next year.)

4. A schism is developing between “indie” podcasters and those they thought were focused on supporting them. I had conversations with CEO’s who are now clearly focused on large corporate clients; those with the resources they believe are capable of massive reach. They want to fulfill those companies’ production and ad sales needs. Think podcasts produced by TV networks, media companies and news organizations etc. This makes complete sense from a business plan and sales perspective, but is very different from what you heard from these same companies just a year ago. Some of the well-known employees of these companies have not yet come to terms with this shift. You hear one thing from them and something completely different from their “C” level management.

5. Many content producers have finally realized that if they want to monetize, they are on their own. You are your own best salesperson. Need proof? Look at who did not attend this year. If ad sales/aggregation groups were working as a market segment, they would have been the largest contingent of exhibitors. Most have vanished or “refocused” their business plans.

6. If you insist on trying to monetize your “indie” podcast (less than 50K downloads per episode) I stand by my previous advice: Sell your own ad/sponsor deals. If it is not in your blood – i.e. you don’t like selling/asking for money, my advice is to contact Todd Cochrane. Wow! Big surprise there. Many know that I have, at times, been critical of Todd’s collection of companies. But I also give credit where credit is due. With the shift of everyone else heading to the higher ground of corporate size distribution and budgets, Todd & Co. are the only folks left who passionately believe in the “indie” podcaster. I still think you can and should get more, but if you don’t like the work involved, Todd will give you a fair shake.

7. Passion is critical. Find something you love and podcast about that. Things seem to work out for those who are truly passionate about their content.

8. Corporate podcasting is alive and well. Just as with my presentations at this year’s CES and NAB conferences, companies and the folks they have charged with their podcast initiatives continue to come to sessions to learn how to produce compelling and interesting content. As I’ve said before, the real money is in consulting to these organizations, they have budgets: money to spend. If you carefully look to see who continues to come to NME events you’ll notice many of the monetization experts are in the podcast consulting business.

9. A common thread I heard during conversations with some well-known podcast figures was “I’m figuring out what I am going to do next” and “it was good while it lasted.” See #10 below.

10. I can’t help but end with this: My presentation last year was dead on – I gave everyone a full year’s notice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

UPDATE: 11. (How could I have forgotten 11? Everyone knows all good things go to 11.) Brian Ibbott did an amazing job with the Coverville 500. That took real planning, work and investment. I can’t tell you how impressed everyone was with the event. Brian put on a great show and was ably assisted by Dan Klass as the evening’s MC. Great job guys!