This week in 1938 (August 22), Hollywood’s most famous dancing duo, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, were featured on the cover of Life magazine. With the US still in the grips of the Great Depression and with war heating up in Europe, Astaire and Rogers were grace and elegance personified. Pictured below, Astaire and Rogers are dancing the Yam, a dance (and song) written by Irving Berlin and which was featured in a 1938 film called “Carefree.”
Thanks to Blog Critics Redux for some background information on Carefree and the Yam. It was in this film that Fred Astaire famously planted an unprecedented kiss on Ginger Rogers’ lips.
Here is a clip from YouTube of Astaire and Rogers doing the famed Yam.
Astaire was also featured on the cover of LIFE in August 1941 with his son.
And, finally, Ginger Rogers for her part, was also featured on several other covers (1940, 1942 and 1951), including this one below in 1942, where she was photographed fly fishing on her ranch in the Rogue River Valley, Oregon. A rather beguiling photo.
A graphic display of the state of the music industry created by Bain…. What it speaks to is the head-in-the-sand approach that the industry had as a whole as the internet wave took over, reaching its peak in 1998. Technical chart readers will notice the perfect head & shoulders shape of the decline. Classic stuff. Clearly, digital sales are not to suffice. The industry will need to find a new way to entertain and render the value added of its artists.
ADDENDUM: The revised (new & improved) chart (thanks to Mike in the comments below) from Business Insider:
“Practice with a capo on the 1st fret, that lowers the action and makes it easier on your fingers.” That said, playing with a capo anywhere on the guitar will lessen the load.
To ‘toughen up’ your finger tips: “Just soak your fingertips in the vinegar for about 30 seconds before and after playing…” The article also suggests lightly icing. And, don’t play right after washing your hands — even though having clean hands is a good thing, wash them well before starting to play. Same goes for playing after swimming!
Here is a wonderful example of creativity, where a Slovenian chorus has created a superlative, supranatural segue into a wonderfully uplifting song, entitled Africa. The choir is called Perpetuum Jazzile, “Slovenia’s only jazz choir, conducted by Tomaž Kozlevčar who is also its art director. It thrills its audience with a colourful programme, extraordinary singing and unique joy.”
In another spam scam, Deezer, Europe’s leading “music on demand” site (equivalent of LastFM), has been attacked. They quickly reacted by sending out this mail (in French as it is a French based company), alerting its users that the offer of a free mp3 player was a hoax. If nothing else, this post is a good way to broadcast Deezer’s existence (for the US base). They have over 2.5 million songs in their music repertoire and some 5.5 million unique visitors per month. Anyway, Deezer’s experience with the spam is yet another point in case of the malevolence out there.
So, even if I think I have a wide range of musical tastes, I am clearly not fully up to date. I have come finally “got” the phenomenon of Human Beatboxing. And there I was, thinking that this was some violent sport. If you have not seen human beatboxing before, you will presumably be as amazed — and transfixed — as I was.
And, this 18 year old Japanese boy has made it in to the mainstream media in Japan: JAPANESE TV HUMAN BEATBOX. As with so many ‘previously unknown’ topics and activities, once you ‘discover’ the area, you can get awfully surprised at how many people are involved… As it happens, human beatboxing grew out of Hip Hop back in the 1980s…. And there is a worldwide network of human beatboxers.
When you see such talent, that obviously took hard work, fast-moving brand marketers should be snapping him up. I can think of many reasonable applications for him for whom to “mouth off”: mouthwash, acne, hairstyling…
In these times of recession, a change is certainly gonna come… For the companies feeling the hit (not referring to Sam Cooke), there is plenty of talk of cutting budgets and payroll (though much less of the latter in France). In such environments, one speaks of light at the end of the tunnel with caution, especially if the gouging is severe. Speaking of light, sustainable development typically takes a less sustainable position in the hierarchy of expenses.
On the other end of the scale, there are those more fortunate companies that are planning major breakthroughs, profiting from a reservoir of cash and investing strategically and/or opportunistically to reap serious market share gains.
Then there are those companies flush in cash, investing strategically and that should also be taking the opportunity to eliminate dead wood.
As many managers cut dollars, it seems at times that as many are eliminating cents and plenty of good sense, too. Whether in a cash-strapped or cash-rich company, the need or opportunity to slash unproductive expenses, in my opinion, must be accompanied by two key actions in order to sustain an optimal customer satisfaction level throughout the downturn:
1) A clear, consistent and frequent (not necessarily regular) internal communication plan to keep everybody on board down the chain of management with the strategic thrusts and associated cuts. This assumes a clear vision. The visibility of [an aligned] top management is critical to communicate the vision, receive feedback (according to the company culture) and create unity of purpose. When given the right resources, a well constructed internal intranet network (with web 2.0 functionality) is surely an interesting solution across a larger organisation — according to company culture.
2) And, in order to ensure optimal execution, there must be a culling of the unnecessary tasks and actions, often times associated with the prior, fatter budgets. This is important to do in order that the remaining work and allocated resources are that much more effective. The decision NOT to do is as strategic as what you decide to do.
The first point above is about genuine leadership and getting the team behind you. The second point revolves around the strategic execution of the plan. These two actions are vital because, especially for the larger (older) businesses, at the heart of the issue is change management. As we all know, fear and psychology have generously contributed to the current predicament. And, going through the changes, employees at all levels experience fear (at one or other stage of the SARAH principle: Shock-Anger-Rejection-Acceptance-Hope/Healing/Help). Consequently, they will start to act out of selfishness and defensiveness which inevitably creates breakdowns, inefficiencies and the dreaded internal politics. Among the many typical faults made by top management are laying out a strategic plan, but not aligning expectations and creating too many exceptions. Are the individual Goals & Objectives of the people in the different business units and functions updated and aligned? Another common mistake is dogmatically and institutionally cutting budgets (by percentages) rather than involving the teams to find where and how to cut. Getting the team to own the solution (strategy) means having them own the problem.
This line from Cooke’s song magically resumes the process of change management at the individual level:
“Oh, there been times when I thought I could not last for long, But now I think I’m able to carry on…”
For this post, I would like to take you on a kind of virtual journey. Specifically, I will share a series of videos that show the world connecting through music, proof that music has a special universality. Take the trip, I think you will enjoy the ride.
In the best of times, much less the worst, Stand By Me is just a fabulous song. There are some songs from which you just don’t tire. This YouTube video is now past 8 million views and going strong — not bad for 5 months old (posted November 2008).
If you like this one, you might like the others from this series, featuring many of the same performers: One World or One Love. NB The Playing for Change website behind this product is changing on Uncle Sam’s tax date 2009.
If you cast your memory back to the days of the mid 1980s and Band Aid, Live Aid and We are the World… how the movement might have been magnified… So, now, if you are still needing a pick me up, remember We Are the World? This particular posting also has 8 million views funnily enough, posted in 2005, although I note that there are plenty of other versions, meaning that there needs to a kind of video consolidator system … between all the different online video!. This video below was created in 1985 by USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa). As a reminder, there was a magnificent cast of 45 artists involved. It is a joy to revisit.
And, to pursue the tour of ‘world music’, I give a flashback to Band Aid founded in 1984 with this “Do They Know it’s Christmas” clip (below is a better version) produced by Bob Geldof and his team. This particular YouTube clip has nearly 6 million views today — it is a substantially better production than the rambling shambles performed on stage in live in 1985. But, it’s fun to remember that this “old fashioned” media managed to reach 2 billion people back then.
That said, my favourite clip of the 1985 Live Aid show comes from U2 with Bad (just 1.2 million views so far!). The one I choose to embed, however, is also from U2, the more uplifting “It’s a Beautiful Day” (below), some twenty years later (July 2005) at Live 8, viewed by some 3 billion people, a 50% improvement over 1985. This YouTube clip now has over 5 million views.
But, a musical world tour would be missing if I didn’t also tip my [blog] hat to Matt… 20 million views and counting. So, from 2008, “Where in the World is Matt”…?
Some of you may be aware of my statement that there are actually two questions to which I have always found the answer yes 100% of the time, universal truths as it were. Yes, the bad news: death comes to us all. The good news, we all love music. If you are ever stuck in a dinner party conversation, there is always the question: “so, do you like music?” Or, a little more open, “what sort of music do you like?” My father’s line is probably a little more crafty: “what are your hobbies?” Anyway, music has a way of touching people around the world. No wonder it is a sensitive topic on the internet. Music is of course a great purveyor of messages, political, social or personal. I add as a final resource, an article produced by the Guardian a couple of weeks ago: Politics and Protest: 1000 songs, part of a series of 1000 songs everyone must hear… about or for love, heartbreak, sex and parties.
I hope you enjoyed the journey. Please let me know which was your favourite video and if you have any other suggestions.
THE MOST IMPORTANT DIGITAL LESSON I’VE LEARNED… I have picked this pearl of wisdom to share with you today: You can’t control what people say about you on the web, but you can be a good listener. This is from Walmart:
Walmart has been getting into the act it would seem in a big way, starting (if not chronologically) with its Save Money, Live Better portal. Except for starting off with fairly obnoxious Walmart tv ad, this site is refreshingly simple to navigate. The heavily blurred images incite you to click on them to find out what’s there and because there are only four (at least for now) to visit, it’s a quickly done. There’s also Walmart SoundCheck, (Listen Up, Look Good) here featuring Indie.Arie, a personal favourite (powered by Dove!). You can of course pick up her “Love & Politics” album at Walmart. Other initiatives by Walmart include ElevenMoms (curiously featuring 12 Moms for the price of 11; aka InStoreNow) which features a Save & Live Green portion (see below), CheckOut Blog (10 authors) and their own YouTube Walmart Channel.
“The organic nature of the web means that when you are the world’s largest retailer, people will talk,” said Wanda Young, senior director-digital marketing at Walmart. “And we’re OK with that. We believe the hallmark of a really great brand is that you are relevant. And part of the way you do that is listening to what your customers have to say.” Ms Young is surely committed, but I have no idea to what extent their sites are moderated and/or monitored by the Walmart senior executive team.
My last little pick up from these Walmart sites: a little rollover counter on the bottom left of the site that figuratively shows the compounded savings (since Jan 1 2009) generated by Walmart based on Walmart’s impact on the economy, no matter where consumers shop…
Not that I am a Walmart shopper or even a fan, but it is interesting to contemplate how the single largest worldwide retailer may be moving the tectonic plates of corporate social media…