BitDepth 739 - July 13

A symposium session on context sticks to silos and never breaks out to address the larger need for artist involvement.
Comprehending content and context

Part of the “Content is King” panel, left to right, Lorraine O’Connor, O’Brian Haynes, Colin Lucas, Ottie Mieres, Edson Reyes, Josanne Leonard and Peter C Lewis. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

It was running late, this final seminar of the second day of discussions about Carnival two weeks ago at NAPA. It was hard not to fidget on the awful folding chair in this increasingly dark and empty room waiting on a group of media practitioners, producers, performers and the representatives of three popular local websites to wrap their heads around the idea of content.
Why understanding what content means, why it’s important in a wired world and why it’s critical to have a plan to leverage it to the advantage of the creative community that produces it should elude this eminent group so decisively was absolutely confusing.

Much of the discussion was adamantly off topic, rehashing issues to do with local music and Carnival already aired during the two days of discussions on the topic “This Business of Carnival.”
At one point O’Brian Haynes tried gamely to pull the topic back on track, but he ended up in a muddle about micro and macro opportunities that proved woefully short on specifics or clarity about what, exactly, he was talking about.
Somewhere early on, Peter C Lewis of Synergy made the completely alarming and largely unsubstantiated statement that the majority of artistes were being signed today because of YouTube.

Other comments emerged from the gathered silos of activity on the panel.
Lorraine O’Connor lamented that the majority of music that comes to her online music venture was substandard.
Josanne Leonard noted that the big broadcast businesses have been slow to adapt to a changing game.
By this time, the room, never host to more than around 70 people, had dwindled to half that and they were dribbling out the door as the discussion meandered. 

Having already lamented the absence of any kind of structure to this Carnival business seminar that might have championed the idea of proposals over lamentations and still irritated by the lost opportunities in a seminar titled “Content is King - Traditional Media & New Media,” I am moved to say here what I could not there, overcome as I was by annoyance.

To begin, then, content is the point, not just metaphoric royalty. Nobody tunes in to radio or television or picks up a paper to enjoy the advertising. Nobody attends a party of concert to look at the advertising bunting or to get a branded rag to wave.
They attend for the content, which is not limited to the music or the words or the design of the environment. Audiences are attracted to content which is amplified by its context. A soca hit, for instance, becomes different content at midnight in a party, at midday on the radio and in a video on YouTube. Morphed by its context, the same song becomes a different experience, relished and remembered in different ways.

The key that might have unlocked the collective knowledge at that panel discussion might have been an acknowledgement that each of the participants represented a facet of content use, not its final destination, and the answers were to be found in leveraged collaboration among them in the service of artistes.

If these talks ever move forward to the oft referenced “authorities” to take determinedly unspecified “action,” then the action on content must be centred on artist empowerment and coaching on the many spokes of opportunity that can radiate from the creations of local artistes.
Content providers are in a unique position to parlay their intellectual property into income in an Internet enabled world, but nobody seems to be paying attention to the need for creators to begin lacing up their togs to take their own profitable run in new media.
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