Monday, February 14, 2011

Why the music industry hates itself (Grammy tape delays tell you all you need to know)

On Sunday evening, Dave Winer (who is currently residing in New York) tweeted the following):

So much fun to watch west coast people tweeting the grammies three hours late. #not

You see, there are a number of Twitter users on the west coast of the United States, and all of these people (not including me) had to wait three hours to watch the Grammys, even though they took place on the west coast.

This reminded me of something that I wrote several years ago in another context. This mrontemp post, written under my Ontario Emperor pseudonym, has been cited as one of the semi-important documents in the development of hashtagging. No, it's not like I'm Stowe Boyd or Chris Messina or anything like that, but I did contribute an interesting observation to the discussion - what happens if two people are using hashtags to describe an event that occurs at different times? My example was the Rose Parade, and people observing the parade from two different vantage points on the parade route. In my example, I was tweeting about stuff happening at the beginning of the parade route, while Philip Hodgen was tweeting from the end of the parade route. Because hashtagged text is presented in a linear fashion, my tweets and Hodgen's tweets were juxtaposed against each other, giving a false impression of the parade.

In a similar fashion, Sunday night's Grammy tweets, when taken in toto, gave a false impression of the Grammy awards, since things appeared out of order.

And why did that happen? Because The Powers That Be determined that the Grammy awards should not be shown live on the west coast. Theoretically this ensures that they will get the maximum viewing audience on the west coast by having a prime time slot, but the whole thing rests on the assumption that people on the west coast are either (a) unable to figure out how to get on the Internet and find out who won three hours in advance, or (b) disciplined enough to stay away from all Internet feeds, just to make sure that they're surprised when the television shows the announcements of winners that were already announced three hours ago.

This model may have worked in 1971, but it's not going to work in 2011.

This is especially ironic because these are music awards, and much of the music industry is based in the Los Angeles, California area. Granted that the top names in the music industry were actually at the awards, but many of the worker bees who actually do the work in Los Angeles' music industry were unable to see the awards live.

But the music industry believes that it's perfectly fine to keep the awards presentation locked up and make people wait to see it.

Then again, the music industry likes to lock up a lot of stuff and make people wait to hear it, so why should the industry's awards show be any different?

Oh, and by the way, my early 2008 post discussed the tape-delaying of televised events:

This [discussion of two Rose Parade vantage points] is probably a strange example, since most disasters/events occur at the same time for all people (exceptions being parades, and certain televised events which are tape delayed on the West Coast). However, in the odd case in which people are using the same hashtag for events occurring at different times in different locations, how is one to make sense of the mess?

How, indeed?
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