All posts by Anthony Romero

The Anatomy of a Successful Music Broadcast Event

Guiding countless artists and musicians through the live broadcast experience, you learn a tip or two regarding the science of a successful broadcast. There are a few elements involved that really contribute to a successful music broadcast: content, interactivity, promotion, and most importantly, distribution (aka embed syndication). Half of my job entails that our featured broadcasters hit on as many of those criteria as possible.

Enter Amalgam Digital. The indie online record label with a penchant for innovative online initiatives put together a pitch perfect broadcast event for their newly acquired star talent, rapper Joe Budden. Once upon a time, Joe Budden was a Grammy-nominated, major-label artist with a monster single in heavy rotation.

Half a decade later, Joe Budden and the Amalgam Digital team organized a broadcast event that far outperformed most of the bigger name, currently “hot” artists that have passed through the broadband walls of Ustream.TV.

Here’s how they did it…

Content:
The concept was simple but effective: Joe Budden would start the broadcast with a Q-and-A webchat, then segway into the final studio session as he worked on the finishing touches of his upcoming “Padded Room” album. This works on several levels:

1.) Interactivity: Live video allows for real-time interactions — take advantage of it. Viewers can watch recorded content anytime they want and leave one-off comments, but there’s only one chance to BE a part of the content. Give your fans that in-the-moment excuse to show up on time.

2.) Exclusive peak at the creative process: Watching two hours of someone’s workday can be boring if it’s pre-recorded. But there’s a certain magic to hearing snippets of an anticipated album for the first time, especially AS it’s being created. Give your fans a chance to say “I was there when…”

3.) Stamina: Broadcast events are like real-world music events; sometimes folks show up late. Joe Budden planned on going 3+ hours, giving his fans plenty of time to gather around and build viewership momentum. Too often, artists shut off a broadcast after chatting for 30 minutes, leaving their fans hanging at the peak of their interest. Give your broadcast a breathing chance to go viral… go for the distance!

While the Budden event was clearly a one-off, I should also mention that regularly scheduled programming also plays well over live video.

And that’s content for ‘ya… let that marinate as you cook up some creative inspiration.

Promotion:

If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound?

Amalgam Digital did a great job making sure that forest was full of people. Two days before the broadcast, Amalgam sent out a press release announcement to their network of bloggers and online pubs. Pitching it as an innovative live broadcast event that it was, several online publications bit:

Myspace, Myspace, Myspace…

… and Purevolume and Facebook and Virb and blogs and websites and label sites. Make blasts, embed onto your profile.

Get creative. Ask your fans to take embeds and throw it up wherever they can. Give out an autographed CD to the fan that embeds and blasts on the most amount of websites, blogs and landing pages.

Embed Syndication:

But more than just getting the word out, Amalgam took the next critical leap and hooked uber hip-hop blog Nahright.com to syndicate/embed the entire experience from it’s own eyeball-heavy domain:

Once it hit Nahright.com, a trail of copycat blogs picked up the syndication embeds, effectively creating an instantaneous viral trail on a LIVE event! Check out some of the stops on the trail:

Tapedown.com
DigitialUnderground.com
YoRapper.com
Realtalkny.Uproxx.com

Sometimes broadcasters get protective over their content and their own destination sites. Indeed, 90% of the Budden studiocast was viewed via embeds outside of the Amalgam/Ustream domain.

Ask team Budden yourself, and they’ll tell you that embedded distribution via Nahright was directly responsible for their record-smashing traffic on AmalgamDigital.com. Taking advantage of Ustream’s hyperlinkable text overlays (see below), Amalgam brought Joe Budden front and center to where the eyeballs were already glued. The in-video hyperlink overlay effectively converted those viewers who were already hooked:

Lesson being, be very open about your content. Don’t have access to uber-bloggers? Start with the sites you have control of. Post and embed on your Myspace and Purevolume accounts, your blogs, your sites, etc. Give your fanclub or street team the embed codes, and let them go wild tagging up the clean white walls of the internets. Send out text message blasts to your friends.

Point being, go directly to where the eyeballs are at. Attenion spans are short these days, so fid ways to reduce the amoun of clicks it takes to get to your show, and you’re golden.

The Aftermath:

Digital Amalgam smashed their previous single-day traffic numbers, translating into a spike in pre-order sales for their digital music storefront. With an ounce of creative vision and a dash of inspired execution, Jay and Felix over at Amalgam Digital took advantage of Ustream’s gratis platform to the fullest, garnering the type of Buzz and PR normally reserved for big budget marketing campaign.

Do you have the next killer idea for your artist or music event? I’d love to hear it out and help you execute. Shoot your idea and contact on over to music ustream dot TV. Let’s make it happen!

Stream videos at Ustream


Google Co-Founder Larry Page To Be Live On Ustream.TV

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Have you heard of this company called Google? In case you haven’t, we have something special for you.

Ustream.TV proud to present a live broadcast of the New America Foundation’s interview-style discussion and Q&A session with Google Co-Founder and President Larry Page. And guess what, you can participate!

During the discussion, Mr. Page will describe Google’s strategy for expanding access to the Internet and allocating spectrum more efficiently — and explain why opening the vacant TV channels for unlicensed access after next February’s DTV transition is the most important thing the FCC can do this year to promote broadband deployment and tech sector innovation.

Larry Page will take questions live from the chat room and preselected questions from the comment section of this blog post. So be sure to post your questions in the comments here or be there live to ask.

You can watch the live stream from the New America Foundation’s Ustream channel page:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/naf-live-events

For more information on the event please visit:

http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/google_unwired


A Live Lesson on George Washington – Pulitzer Prize Winning Author David McCullough

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The Constitutional Sources Project, the only free, fully-indexed online library of Constitutional sources, is partnering with the History Channel, the New York Historical Society, Ustream and Verizon Thinkfinity in hosting an online President’s Day event with David McCullough February 13, 2008 webcast at http://ustream.tv/channel/david-mccullough—george-washington-presentation from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT. This event will mark the addition of approximately 20,000 letters, speeches, and other documents written to and from George Washington in raw format to ConSource and the launch of a new public proofreading tool.

During the live stream, David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will teach a nationwide audience of students about George Washington using documents newly accessible on ConSource.org. Any student who participates in the live webcast will be able to ask questions of Mr. McCullough. The recorded stream will be permanently available at www.ConSource.org, and will also be available on Verizon’s Thinkfinity website.

The New York Historical Society will play physical host for the event, to which high school students from the Academy of American Studies and the High School of American Studies in the New York area will attend. Ustream.tv will provide streaming technology for the live stream, while the History Channel will video and sponsor the event and provide free George Washington footage for participating teachers. Verizon’s Thinkfinity will sponsor the event and provide teachers lesson plan materials through its partners.

“We are pleased to partner with these organizations and to host David McCullough in creating another opportunity for students to interact with the Constitution,” said Lorianne Updike, President and Executive Director of ConSource.org. “This event represents a significant step in providing the public free access to all of our Founders’ documents which created the Constitution.”

To watch the webcast with David McCullough on February 13, or to review the documents that David McCullough will teach with, the lesson plan materials provided by Verizon and its partners, or the George Washington video clips provided by the History Channel, go to www.ConSource.org.

About The Constitutional Sources Project

Founded in May of 2005, The Constitutional Sources Project launched the only free fully-indexed online library of Constitution sources for “We the People” at www.ConSource.org on September 17, 2007. This new medium will give the Founders, Reconstructionists, and original Feminists voices in the classroom and courtroom, providing everyone from the sixth grader to the Supreme Court justice with the best history of the Constitution. Current collections include James Madison’s handwritten notes of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, the Anti and Pro-Federalist Papers, state ratification debates for seven states, and the Bill of Rights’ legislative history.


Democracy in Action: Ustream.TV OFFICIAL Live Video Provider for 2008 GOP National Convention

Confirming the power of live video interaction in the political arena, Republican Convention President and CEO Maria Cino today announced Ustream.TV as the event’s Official Live Video Streaming Provider. The announcement was made during a news conference broadcast live over the Convention’s official Ustream.TV channel, featuring Cino and our very own, Brad Hunstable.

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“Partnering with Ustream.TV sends a clear message that the Republican Party wants the Internet generation and all people – from Party loyalists to casual observers – to be part of the 2008 Republican National Convention,” said Cino. “Anyone with computer and Internet access will be guaranteed a front-row seat to history through www.GOPConvention2008.com, as we formally nominate the next President and Vice President of the United States.”

In addition to live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the convention, the Ustream.TV broadcasting platform will be used to proactively engage bloggers and traditional media outlets unable to travel to Minneapolis-Saint Paul for the event. As part of the pioneering effort, convention and other Republican officials will be scheduled to participate in live video web chats and other online interviews, using Ustream.TV’s platform, leading up to and during the Republican National Convention.

“The Republican Party continues to embrace innovative means to communicate our strong message to the American people and the rest of the world,” said Republican National Committee Co-Chair and Convention Chairman Jo Ann Davidson. “New and existing mediums alike are being utilized to promote the ideas of lower taxes and less government; keeping America secure; and letting patients and doctors, not government, make important health care decisions.”

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The 2008 Republican National Convention will be held at Saint Paul’s Xcel Energy Center from September 1-4, 2008. Approximately 45,000 delegates, alternate delegates, volunteers, members of the media and other guests are expected to attend the convention. Minneapolis-Saint Paul is expected to receive an estimated $150-$160 million positive economic boost from the four-day event. For more information about the 2008 Republican National Convention, please visit our website at www.GOPconvention2008.com.

Check out the bubbling blogsphere buzz that has beaten us to the punch here and here.


Dead Air – The Live Stream Killer

akaufman1.jpgBack in the 1950’s and 60’s, much (if not most) early broadcast radio and television programming was produced and broadcasted live.

The skills of producing a live broadcast were refined and improved through the years. Early radio broadcasters like Alan Freed and Dick Clark, TV soap operas like As The World Turns and The Edge Of Night, most US News coverage, sporting events like the Superbowl and of course shows such as Saturday Night Live all have also used live television as a device to gain viewers by making their programs more (or atleast appear) exciting.

But the skills these producers used, whether for the 1969 Landing on the Moon, the ’96 Dallas Cowboys Superbowl victory or the live episode of ER in ’97, are no different than for a live Ustream show or event. Since we launched the company in March, the most successful broadcasts on Ustream utilize these somewhat forgotten techniques of broadcasting.

So what in the world am I getting at? There are basic production skills Ustreamers can follow to make their live shows and events more appealing and ultimately more successful.

1. Dead Air is a live stream killer. A live broadcast needs to keep flowing, stay interesting, and keep moving. Failure to do so will cause people to stop watching. We are all busier than ever in our lives and don’t have time for dead air.

2. Start The Broadcast Before The Show Starts. Some call it pre-show, others loop music, but letting people know a show will start soon increases the number of people who wait around for it to start. If you are streaming a conference, turn the camera on and stream the audience, even if it hasn’t started yet. If you do a talk show, use Camtwist to loop some music and put text on the feed that says “Starting at 9pm”. If you are streaming your local high school football game, stream the athletes warming up. In my experience, allowing people to start “gathering” to watch the live event dramatically increases your viewership.

3. Take advantage of the chat. We have found that people tend to stick around for a live show about 5 times longer if you have the chat. The reason is simple: engagement. Engagement is both attention AND interaction. Giving people the ability to interact with others during your broadcast will keep them there longer.

4. When Possible, Stream At Sametime Every Week. Obviously this is not possible if you are streaming a one time event, but for episodic content, begin at the same time each week. The predictability of a show helps people plan and makes it easier for them to remember you are on.

This isn’t the full list of techniques, however, they are a few basic things broadcasters can do to increase their viewership. Feel free to post any other ideas to help improve shows.

For a broader and more detailed list, see my blog post on 10 Tips For Microbroadcasting.


Blogger Turned Politican- A Interview With Josh Wolf

Josh Wolf As early as the 5th century Athenian efforts to banish Socrates, political campaigning has been a prevalent, at times, ugly part of government. In America campaigning has evolved from the days of riding horseback door-to-door to the multi-million-dollar TV ads we see today. Needless to say, campaigning continues to evolve and Ustream is part of that evolution.

One interesting example of Ustream’s involvement in today’s political process is Josh Wolf. We had time to catch up with Josh, a blogger turned politician running for the Mayor of San Fransisco, to learn more about his fascinating story and how it is unfolding on Ustream.TV:

What made you decide to run for Mayor?

As July approached, I realized that there weren’t any visible candidates to challenge the incumbent. The mayor represents the interests of machine politics and big business and the city needs a mayor to represent everyone else. I’m running to hold the incumbent accountable for his failed policies and to demonstrate a new model for community democracy and the future of San Francisco.

So tell us a little about your background?

I’ve been an activist most of my life and a journalist in recent years. I was subpoenaed by the FBI in 2006 to assist the government identify political dissidents I filmed as a journalist at a rally against the G8 summit and ended up spending over 7 months in a federal prison for invoking the journalist privilege and refusing to help identify protesters in what amounted to a McCarthyist witch-hunt.

Given these type of challenges you went through and your past experience, how are you using New Media, and Ustream in particular, to connect with your supporters?

As part of my campaign I have launched a show on Ustream called Tuesday Talks where I interview other mayoral candidates to examine where I align and where I differ with the various challengers for mayor as well as provide a forum to interact with visitors to the show. I’ve also organized a weekly debate series that we had planned to stream live through Ustream, but have not yet been able to achieve due to a broken municipal wifi access point that the city refuses to repair or even acknowledge it’s existence.

My campaign site is a community site built-on Drupal and I will be launching SFDemocracy.net as a much larger initiative which will continue past the election no matter who wins or loses. SFDemocracy is designed to be not only a resource for all things San Francisco but also a “sunshine government” providing a means for the people to weigh in on every issue that comes before City Hall.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing San Fran voters?

The most important issue facing the people of San Francisco is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. The pervasive poverty in California’s richest city is deplorable and this tale of two cities manifests itself in the rising homicide rate, the omnipresent homeless population and a government that increasingly serves the wealthy elite by neglecting our working class residents and the poor.

You have committed to a open and transparent government upon election? Why do you feel this is important?

An open transparent government is crucial to a democracy. If the government is to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, then the people need to have full access to what their government is doing. Instead our government revolves around back room deals and quid-pro-quo compromises that are negotiated outside the view of the public eye. This approach to government must end now. As mayor, I will build an administration that is committed to open government; not only will I wear a mounted web camera to demonstrate my commitment to transparency, but I will also stream all public meetings online and make them instantly available to the public to share and discuss. I will make all city documents currently available under the Sunshine Act searchable and accessible through the city’s website as opposed to disclosing such information only when these requests are filed.

What are you thoughts on how the US is moving more towards more surveillance, much like London? How do we find balance with this and personal privacy?

I am opposed to the erosion of our civil liberties and personal privacy perpetuated under the auspices of strengthening national security. San Francisco too is seeing an influx of cameras throughout our streets to combat crime. There is scarce evidence that these cameras will reduce crime, but the potential for abuse is rampant. Finding a balance is difficult because the justice department will always oppose any limitations to surveillance; civil liberties groups oppose all encroachments on personal privacy.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but first and foremost all new approaches to surveillance should be public; the subjects of the operations obviously cannot be disclosed but the general methods should be public so that people can voice their concerns about anything they find objectionable. Additionally, I feel that any new surveillance policies adopted must have adequate research to demonstrate that it’s assets outweigh both privacy concerns and the potential for abuse.

Raiders or 49ers?

I’m more of an X-Games kind of guy myself, and as mayor I will work to see the X-Games return to San Francisco after 2009 when their Los Angeles contract expires. Although it will have been ten years since the last X-Games were held in San Francisco, I’m sure the city would like to see them return again.

Any last thoughts? Where can we find out more about you?

You can find me at www.joshwolf.net; my campaign is all about DIY and grass-roots democracy but we can still use all the contributions we can raise. If you believe in building a new democracy and you support my efforts to run for mayor of San Francisco then please consider contributing today. Thank you.


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