The shape of the funnel – fame, integrity and new media

GetInlineCartoon by Gabriel Robinson (@ebagpictures)


A small storm has developed in the music blogger world: Anthony Volodkin at The Hype Machine has kicked a bunch of bloggers off his aggregating platform alleging they were rorting the system. Here is an extract from what he wrote:

“A handful of labels and PR outlets have focused their efforts on illicitly gaining coverage on Hype Machine-indexed blogs. The most common approach is to become a contributor at an established blog and post their clients (or clients their friends are promoting). For maximum impact, the same person would then get a spot at multiple blogs to create the appearance of broader support for the release. In some cases, the people running these blogs were aware of this, in others these discoveries have come as a surprise.
We have stopped indexing blogs that support such behavior or do not select their writers carefully”.

Full article here:

The responses to The Hype Machine’s action can be grouped under three broad categories: “you are pure and are our heroes”, “you are self-righteous bores” and “I am not a scammer and you cut me off by mistake”.

Out of all the posts, Jesse’s feedback caught my eye. He wrote:

“You all are so self-righteous and full of shit. It’s unbelievable what sniffling hipster drivel buy into your bullshit. You falsely accuse blogs of these things without pointing to any evidence to back yourselves up, you immediately nix blogs that are submitted for zero reason whatsoever, and you feature the same horse shit that more or less all sounds the same.
You all are what’s wrong with music in the 21st centuries, not these blogs that you’ve kicked off for no reason, churning out the same homogenized garbage and featuring track after track that I know for a fact has been sent out by a PR group. But you all are absolutely clean, huh? Yeah… fuck you guys”.

I felt for Jesse: he eloquently expressed some of my same feelings when Facebook choked the pages’ reach (from 16% to 2%, I am told). The Hype Machine is purging its bloggers in pursuit of integrity, not advertising money but being made to shut up hurts, whatever the reason.

Furthermore, Jesse argued that the media game is flawed and no participant can claim purity, and I think he has a point. I don’t believe that fully independent media ever existed and while the issue of independence is not new, the way it presents itself is.

With traditional media, the dance was between PR reps and journalists/editors. How a press release surfaced onto an article took the form of background briefings, favour exchanges, cajoling, worse. The game was played by only a handful of professionals who controlled the scarce resource of media real estate.

The internet has given us all affordable media platforms: I pay $80 a year to maintain my website name and from there, I can say whatever I want. Multiply that by the millions and you get the weird, wonderful and fragmented world of social media: a selfie stick of global proportions.

By sacking journalists and crowd-sourcing their gate-keeping function we have foregone their good judgement and democratized the media funnel. But a funnel we still need as we can’t possibly absorb the ballooning amount of content being produced; we never did and we haven’t got a chance now: the offer volume is overwhelming and by fathering content, we spend more time talking and less is left for listening.


Joe_Moore_031Joe Moore (@joemooremusic) photographed in Pitt St Mall by ThePocketRoad

The filtering and aggregation of that mushrooming content is now done either by machines or by bloggers (by the hundreds). PR reps no longer tango with journalists, they bush-dance with algorithms, Google optimizers and scores of semi-pros. This requires some of the old skills and a few new moves. The process was not refined then and it certainly is not refined now that social media platforms fight for territory, for their own fame, for that mile-long email list that could land you world domination (or a fat take-over check, if you only got to medal placement).

We have sacked the journos but we still need PR professionals and with traditional advertising following traditional media down the drain, we need more and more of them because the media (orthodox and social alike) remains the key stepping stone to achieving fame and getting through that funnel is still key and still bloody hard whether the gate-keeper is democratic and techy or old-fashioned and beholden to a media mogul.

Despite its faults and back-room scams I still prefer curated media to what the algorithm-worshippers flogging Tivos and Spotify have to offer. I still value good judgement and look for the excitement of a fellow human pointing to something I did not know and could not have imagined that might fill me with surprise, delight and wonderment. Rupert Murdoch rigging an election or a music blogger promoting his friend’s lame song are still preferable – to me – to a system where the “if you like X, you’ll love Y” rule shrinks my world to a depressing bubble devoid of creativity.

Perhaps the way to navigate out of this storm is not ostracising the offenders but changing The Hype Machine’s ranking system to a humanly curated one. Reweighting the process away from number-crunching and towards good judgement.

Jack_MF_112_B&W_sqMr Shepherd (@mrshphrd) photographed by ThePocketRoad

…and if someone can teach me how to blog an artist to stardom, I have got a few young busker friends, who look like movie stars, play music like demons and have been working hard at it for years. They could do with a leg up and I’d be eternally grateful for the social media lesson.

Maurizio Viani

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When was the last time you gave your Beloved an unexpected gift AND you had nothing to feel guilty about?


And when was the last time that you discussed poetry at your book club?


Australian Love Poems 2013 is a diverse and lovingly compiled anthology with established names like Les Murray, Judith Beveridge, Cate Kennedy, Robert Gray… and Paul Kelly (for once without musical accompaniment), and less known ones, like my wife, who is currently working on her fist collection. My copy is growing dog-ears as I go through the 200 poems and mark – out of the 173 voices gathered here – the ones that speak to my heart.


This anthology is a work of love by editor Mark Tredinnick and publisher Donna Ward at brave new Inkerman & Blunt.

If you wish to hear more about it, you can listen to poet Lisa Brockwell talking about the book to Justine Frazier on ABC Radio.



Australian Love Poems 2013 was officially launched by George Megalogenis at Byron Bay Writers’ Festival on 4 August. It is available for purchase on Inkerman & Blunt’s website and at bookstores throughout Australia. The book was selling like hot cakes at Byron Writers Festival; get yourself a copy before they are all gone.


Maurizio Viani





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Melina Marchetta’s “Froi of The Exiles” Book Review

Melina Marchetta’s “Froi of the Exiles” is a great book: it is packed to the brim with adventure, complex characters, nasty curses, aloof gods & horrid magic. The story is so compelling that I bought the next book in the series the minute I got an inkling that this one was ending on a cliffhanger.


What I most like of “Froi of the Exiles” is how cleverly it is written: under the adventures’ layer that keeps you glued to the page sits a kaleidoscope of stories that talk – with compassion – about refugees, war crimes, rape and brutality and the lasting effect that violence has on people. The genre is fantasy but the themes come straight from current affairs. Despite the horror of war and what war brings into people’s lives, the book is laced with the most magical of all potions: hope.


Like Margaret Atwood in the “Handsmaid’s Tale” and P.D. James in “Children of Men”, Marchetta explores the theme of reproductive power: like Atwood and James, Marchetta invents a world where reproduction is challenged, which amplifies the violence (organized and not) that is unleashed on women to gain control of what is left of fertility. Like in Pat Barker’s “Regeneration”, despite the horrors of war and despite all odds, the characters’ bodies and hearts slowly heal.


It is no surprise that “Froi of the Exiles” is the brainchild of an Australian author. A country that imprisons boatpeople in refugee camps and drives them to despair to the point of self-harm, where no political party has articulated the case for compassion and the media focuses on people’s smugglers because we are collectively too ashamed and scared to debate the real issue of refugees sorely needs a reminder of what we are doing to the most vulnerable people in the world. This book does that brilliantly.


“Froi of the Exiles” is a feminist pacifist book that your teenage boy will LOVE reading. Make it his 14th birthday’s present.


Maurizio Viani


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Dave’s Wave Music Compilation



I met Winny at school (his daughter is in my son’s class) and I quickly grew jealous of him: he seemed to be constantly travelling to one tropical paradise after another! When I enquired after his line of business I found out that he is a professional surfer – “Winny” is how bodysurfing in-the-knows call the champion Dave Winchester.


I watched a few bodysurfing videos on the net and was amazed at what Dave can do in the water: he harnesses the waves’ energy and uses it to propel his acrobatics: he remains airborne – frog legs out wide – for way longer than the laws of physics should allow and his mid-air somersaults look graceful, almost effortless. As someone with better lingo than me said on YouTube: “Winny shreds!”.


This music compilation carries Dave’s name because I pinched his surfing videos soundtracks and mixed them. Gotye contributes the first three tracks. He deservedly cleaned out this year’s ARIA awards and he just makes for a great start to my list. I owe the Cee Lo Green song to my friend Annamaria, who showed me his beautifully choreographed video; the rest is what I could find scouring the programs of a couple of US music festivals. Jovanotti features twice (both songs are from his latest album “Ora”); he is a great Italian singer songwriter and he sits – in this mix – very pretty.



Maurizio Viani


Title Artist Album
Eyes Wide Open Gotye Eyes Wide Open – Single
Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) Gotye Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) – Single
Learnalilgivinanlovin Gotye Whip It (Music from the Motion Picture)
Dangerous Boys The Protectors Tarantula – EP
Shakeytown I Heart Hiroshima The Rip
Playing God Paramore Brand New Eyes (Deluxe Version)
A Shot In the Arm Wilco Summerteeth
Can’t Stand It Wilco Summerteeth
Cry Baby Cee Lo Green The Lady Killer (Deluxe)
La notte dei desideri Jovanotti Ora (Deluxe Version)
Megamix Jovanotti Ora (Deluxe Version)
Cinco The Ruby Suns Fight Softly
Chariots of Fire Mission Control Innerspace – EP
Smile O. Children O. Children (Bonus Track Version)
Tin Roof (feat. Nathan Edwards) Barnstormers Graveyard Town
Little Bit of Feel Good Jamie Lidell Jim (Bonus Video Version)



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Of 100-Good-Wishes Quilts, Blankets and Broomstick Horses



My mum is a keen knitter and I grew up surrounded and dressed in handmade stuff: jumpers, blankets, socks, you name it. In teenagehood it was a mixed blessing, but for the rest of my life it has truly been a wonderful thing. Ever since we adopted our son, he has become the main recipient of mum’s creative output and wrapping our son in the blanket that mum made for him never fails to warm my heart.



Mum’s Blanket


So when I read of Ordinary Miracles & the Crazy 9’s call for 100 squares of fabric and 100 good wishes for the daughter that Nancy and her husband are in the process of adopting from China, I was immediately keen to participate. Nancy’s mum will stitch the fabric into a quilt and the wishes will be recorded and kept; isn’t that a wonderful idea for welcoming a child into one’s family?



 Image courtesy of Ordinary Miracles & the Crazy 9


Furthermore, having once bought way too much fabric for Luisa’s ears (Luisa being my son’s broomstick horse), I knew exactly what to send…



Zen with Luisa


Please click on the link above and visit Nancy’s blog; she is a gifted photographer and her posts are a feast for the eye. Her 100-good-wishes quilt project is too good an opportunity to miss!


Kind regards


Maurizio Viani


Luisa with Souky



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Christmas Cards

All cards are professionally printed, blank inside, come with a cream C6 envelope and a clear plastic sleeve to protect them.

All images are my original work.

Individual cards cost A$5 (approximately US$5); the Christmas pack is great value: 7 cards for A$20. Postage and handling are free.

Pick a few and enjoy sending them to your loved ones.

Christmas Cards List
Image Description Order
Christmas 1 Christmas 1
code: C001
Christmas 2 Christmas 2
code: C002
Christmas 3 Christmas 3
code: C003
Christmas 4 Christmas 4
code: C004
Christmas 5 Christmas 5
code: C005
Christmas 6 Christmas 6
code: C006
Christmas 7 Christmas 7
code: C007
Christmas pack of 7 (A$20) Christmas pack of 7 (A$20)
code: C008


For a complete list of all greeting cards available, please visit the “Cards” page.









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