Posts Tagged ‘music in media’

Photo slideshows drive page-views

November 19, 2010

Here is a fascinating article in Columbia Journalism Review about how photo slideshows drive traffic to news websites.

Not mentioned in the article is the key role that appropriate music can play in a successful slideshow. When a slideshow can be “auto-played,” making the changes congruent with the rhythm of the music is an important technique that can enhance story-telling.

And according to the article, the quality of the slideshow will only grow in importance:

But when even bad slideshows succeed economically, where’s the incentive to make them good? That incentive, eventually, will have to come from advertisers, as they tire of the tricks that their editorial friends are playing on them. Earlier, I noted that advertisers don’t care if dozens of page views are coming from the same user, because their ads are still getting shown. But eventually this will reach a point of diminishing returns. Telling the same person about a new movie a dozen times is not as effective of telling a half-dozen people twice.

Advertisers have an easy way to hold sites accountable: rely on unique visitor, rather than page-view, counts. The page-view metric has become diluted by editorial and business tricks like recirculation tools, landing pages, and slideshows. As Gawker Media owner Nick Denton puts it, “Some page views are worth more than others.” That’s why he now judges his staff and sites’ success on a less-manipulated number: how many people come to visit, not how many pages they visit once they’re there. Denton’s reason for the switch is editorial—he wants more exclusives, and he thinks uniques are a good way to incentivize them. Advertisers should follow suit. Their ads will have greater reach if sites know that it’s unique visitors, not page views, that matter most.

And with that change of mentality will come a switch of strategy. No longer will the worst slideshows be as economically viable. Slideshow quality will rise as sites try to create iconic slideshows that bring in new visitors interested in hearing a story told as only the Internet can. Slideshows will no longer have to be a savior in scourge’s clothing.


Music in multimedia: Guidlines from Poynter’s Regina McCombs

April 1, 2009

Confused about how to use music in journalistic and other non-fiction multimedia projects?

I have previously suggested guidelines for ethical use of music in journalism and other non-fiction multimedia work, and I’ve tried to highlight similar discussions elsewhere.

Today Poynter’s Regina McCombs has issued her own proposed guidelines. I’m greatly encouraged at the growing attention that the use of music in multimedia is receiving. I agree with much of what Ms. McCombs says. A key point: Don’t use music as a crutch. She writes:

Music has power, and within a multimedia story, it has the power to hide a lot of flaws: to make a story move faster, to set an emotional tone for a piece. “The problem is not that music doesn’t work, it’s that it works too well,” said Al Tompkins, Poynter’s broadcast and online group leader.

However, I detect in Ms. McCombs piece a sort of latent reluctance to explore the use of music in nonfiction storytelling, one that I argue is part of the reflexively suspicious nature of journalists — especially former print journalists — and their hesitance to embrace a new tool.

Here’s my response, which I posted at Poynter:

I agree that journalists should approach the use of music with caution. But I think we are so programmed to be suspicious of music — or anything beyond words themselves — that we fail to even try, thus robbing our viewers of a powerful tool….

Having said that, I would say that most objections to music are really objections to POORLY CHOSEN music. Of course it’s manipulative to heap on slow-tempo strings in a minor key just to create the feel of sadness. It’s equally manipulative to lard narration with mournful adjectives, telling rather than showing. In both cases, I would argue, the key is using our tools properly.

Tech tip: Fighting noise in your recordings

March 19, 2009

You’ve got it – that perfect track of audio. Perhaps the interview went exceedingly well; the source waxed poetic. Or maybe you captured the tightest take of a rock band. Or you recorded just the ambient sound you needed for your multimedia project.

But when you listen to the track, your heart sinks. Noise clouds the sonic picture.

What now?

A commercial website that sells musical instruments called Musician’s Friend has posted a really good tutorial by Craig Anderton on minimizing unwanted noise on your audio tracks. Check it out — but I’ll leave you with a warning. Once distortion or other noise is embedded on a track, it’s impossible to remove completely. So take care during recording, using my previously offered tips among others – don’t count on “fixing it in the mix”!

Albums as they were meant to be heard

February 26, 2009

Ever wanted to know how to make your iTunes behave a bit more like your old stereo? The New York Times’ Gadgetwise column has tips on how to keep your iTunes songs in the order that God – or at least, the band that produced the album – intended. Personal note: This is particularly important on albums like Abbey Road (otherwise known as The Greatest Album Ever Recorded), where Paul’s Side Two medley is really meant to be heard in order.

Three fun time-lapse projects, with music

February 24, 2009

I’ve recently come across three pretty cool time-lapse photography projects. They remind me that even in the video age, there are places where time-lapse works much better. And such projects offer a perfect place to highlight music, as each of these three projects did.

First, a hilarious undercover look at an infant during playtime, courtesy Francis Vashon:

Second, a band called Blame Ringo decided to set up a camera at the site of the famous crosswalk next to EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, where the iconic photo of the Beatles crossing the street was shot (for the greatest rock album ever, Abbey Road). They used the resultant photos as a video to accompany their new song, “Garble Arch.” (Nice song by the way)

The final piece is a look a Detroit Tigers’ picture day by visual journalist Eric Seals:

It appears time-lapse photography still has some life left in it!

U2’s album FREE on MySpace now!

February 20, 2009

This may not have to do with multimedia music per se, but I just have to share: Hear U2’s excellent new album before it’s released – in fact, RIGHT NOW – at U2’s MySpace page. You can’t download it or even purchase it yet, but it’s streaming for all to hear.

My still-developing quickie preview of No Line On The Horizon, upon hearing it the first time: Catchy if frothy confections (Get On Your Boots)hypnotic soundscapes (Moment of Surrender) trademark chime-y guitars (Unknown Caller) kickin pop-rock (I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy, Breathe) and a bit of sad lament (Cedars of Lebanon). Powerful stuff that needs further digestion.