Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tumblr and Target Audiences

Tumblr is tough.  Scratch that.  Tumblr is easy, like Pinterest is easy -- as long as you like forwarding things.  Forwarding/re-posting/liking things is easy.  Being a part of the tens hundreds of thousands of "notes" for a particularly popular post is easy.  Making new things to post on Tumblr is easy, if Photoshop is your friend.

Acquiring "notes" for the new things on Tumblr is tough.  Similarly, acquiring views on YouTube is tough.  Acquiring re-tweets on Twitter is tough.  If you create art, media, or even ephemera for their own sake, and are ambivalent about having other people consume your work, that's perfectly fine.  It's just a shame that nothing is communicated when no one experiences or interacts with your work.  To be a part of the communication between producer and consumer, or among producer-consumers in social media, you have to identify your target audience or audiences, and pander to them.  (It helps if you also like what they like, but that is not necessary.)

If you're already famous, then your fans are your target audience, of course.  Until they turn against you or forget about you, you can make whatever you want, and the communication continues.  If you have a large amount of resources (i.e., money or sponsors with money), you can hire advertising and public relations firms to market whatever you make, to varying degrees of success.  If you are somehow charismatic like a cult leader, then whoever flocks to you is your target audience -- but try to be responsible about whatever you create.

For the rest of us, we have to identify a target audience or several target audiences, and find a way to appeal to their preferences.  Since we're specifically talking about Tumblr for this blog entry, the target audience of any given Tumblr post is probably a fan of a TV show, film, recording artist, etc.  These groups are known as fandoms.

Here is an example of a Doctor Who Tumblr post, commemorating the exit of the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith:

As of this writing, it's barely received 10 "notes," so maybe this particular picture doesn't appeal to the "Whovian" fandom as much as I would like.  Perhaps I have to interact with fellow fans more than I do currently.  My "headcannon" image, which tries to explain how the Doctor obtained his various British accents, is slightly more popular, but not by that much:

On Tumblr, and elsewhere, there are fans who like stuff they like, and there are fans who are obsessed with the stuff they like.  They write fan fiction, in varying degrees of seriousness and/or ridiculousness and/or explicitness.  I'm too silly to be more than halfway serious, and I'm probably too old to be explicit on Tumblr, so my attempts at fan fiction will usually be as ridiculous as possible, to the point of parody.  Here is my first attempt at mashing up Doctor Who with Supernatural, also known as SuperWho, as a wordless sequence of screenshots:


This one mashes compares a character from Game of Thrones with the video game character Link (The Legend of Zelda), commenting on their similarity:

This one is the popular "Hey, Assbutt!" scene in Supernatural, rendered in LEGO (yes, there is even a LEGO fandom in Tumblr):

This one mashes up the band Queen, Doctor Who, and LEGO, which might take it a bit too far, as far as targeting a specific target audience goes:

I consider myself extremely fortunate to get 20 Tumblr notes on some of these images.  I consider myself lucky to get at least one note!  It means that whatever I made has been communicated to at least one other person, and for that, I am grateful.  Maybe in the new year, I'll be able to pander more successfully to the people of Tumblr, without, you know, losing my soul.  As long as I like making these things, even though they are targeted to a specific segment of the population, and as long as no one gets hurt in the process, then it's all fun and games, right?

In 2014, may you all appeal to your target audiences as well.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Music News

One week ago, I went to a Pearl Jam concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.  Throughout the years -- decades, really -- they've developed a reputation for being a workhorse of a band.  Virtually every show hovers around the three-hour mark, and every night has a varied set list.  Dedicated fans with loads of disposable income follow Pearl Jam from city to city because every night has a different song selection.  In contrast, the final Stone Temple Pilots tours with now-former frontman Scott Weiland essentially had the same set list every night.

I've been to three Pearl Jam shows:  At The Forum in 2006, at the Gibson Amphitheater in 2009, and the recent one at the Sports Arena in 2013.  The Forum had awful acoustics.  The Gibson show sounded wonderful; too bad the venue recently closed.  The Sports Arena would have sounded as bad as The Forum, but I think wearing a pair of Hearos (noise-filtering ear plugs) made the venue sound surprisingly great.

Kate's avatar K8 was at the concert, too.
Despite the quality of venue, the band themselves performed well every time.  For every show I've attended, I can only think of a few "subpar" parts of the concert.  Mind you, subpar for Pearl Jam is probably better than many other performers on a good night.  In 2006, the band invited actor Tim Robbins to sing X's "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," which was the low point of the show for me.  Pearl Jam hadn't made that particular cover song their own, and the choice of guest musician -- an actor who's friends with the lead singer -- wasn't ideal.  In 2009, Pearl Jam covered The Police's "Driven to Tears," which was a decent performance, but it wasn't a cover that I associated with Pearl Jam.

I can't think of a low point from last week's show.  The band gave the audiences all sorts of highlights.  We got glimpses of a young, pissed-off Eddie Vedder in the body of older Ed, ejecting an unruly audience member from the front of the crowd, and swinging on some swinging lights -- coming in like a wrecking ball.  (You'd have had to been there to completely understand these references.)  The setlist was a mix of hits, deep cuts, and covers that Pearl Jam have usurped over the years -- the Ramones' "I Believe in Miracles" and the Who's "Baba O'Riley."  Guitarist Mike McCready briefly left his usual pentatonic box (music pun intended), and shredded a flawless cover of Van Halen's "Eruption."  Ed gave props to longtime drummer Matt Cameron, who literally chose Pearl Jam over Soundgarden (he's not going to tour with Soundgarden next year).  For "Jeremy," bassist Jeff Ament busted out his 12-string bass, which is essentially a portable piano.  Guitarist/Ten-and-Vs.-era bandleader Stone Gossard rocked the right side of the stage.  Touring keyboardist "Boom" Gaspar received the obligatory BOOOOOOOOM chant from the audience, which sounded like a jeer to the uninitiated.  It was a fantastic show, and I can't wait for the band to release the official "bootleg" recording of the concert, so I can relive the sounds of the night.

How much difference does it make?
In other music news, I recently recorded my annual Christmas carol for LibriVox.  I usually have fun covering a classic carol in an unconventional manner -- butchering might be a word that some might use.  This year I chose to produce a bass guitar-driven "Joy to the World."  I might edit this post when I upload the stereo version (the LibriVox version is in mono) of the song; otherwise, it'll likely be on DeRamos Music's website.

After months of three posts per weekday at Chord du Jour, I'm slowing the pace over there.  We took the past week off from posting, and I think we'll just post one entry per weekday during the holiday season.

Speaking of which, Happy Holidays!  We're in the middle of Hanukkah right now, so Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate it, and for those who like holidays in general.  I feel that mid-December should be the ideal starting point for wishing a Merry Christmas.  In any case,
I'll write here again around New Year's Eve.  Cheers!