NO SECRET

Merry Christmas to all. A few more days of relative calm before we return to battle.

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Our band of merry rebels won’t take anything away from the mega success of the self-help phenom: “The Secret.” But an obvious lesson learned in old media fuels our web war machine for ’08: Corporate secrets are poisonous.

When I started in rock radio, the first wave of FM freedom fighters were under attack by a small handful of wolves dressed in corporate clothing.  A few ex-disc jockeys and program directors cut their long hair, dressed up in fancy new suits, and jumped up on a new pedestal as self-appointed “consultants.” These bad boys devised plans to rake in megabucks by convincing radio owners and general managers they possessed secret formulas for ratings success.  Veteran radio warriors earned scars and stripes as we watched these wise guys disappear behind the closed doors of power and suck the spirit out of an industry built on innovation and creativity. Originality was replaced by cookie-cutter formats with identical playlists making stations separated by thousands of miles sound exactly the same.

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A number of these same consultants invaded other bastions of cool and followed some of radio’s best & brightest to new fronts fighting for mindshare of the pop culture planet.  It was surprising and sad to see these wise guys show up in the hallways of MTV.  More secret meetings, more secret memos, more secret sauce to romance executives into dishing out fat retainer fees to the con-sultans. 

We have a few important rules in our rebel army. “Dirty Hands” means anyone who works with us has to produce actual work. We can’t afford the luxury of paying people to navel gaze and dispense wisdom. The new world moves too fast and our gang is too skeptical to be sucked in by snake oil.

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We’ve got another pretty old-fashioned rule for My Damn Channel.
“No secrets.” Everyone in our community has direct unfiltered access to our people and our site. Everyone who works with us – our artists – staff – interns – co-conspirators – and backers – get the buck naked truth. It’s easier. We’re unafraid of what lies ahead and too psyched to be bogged down by bullshit. 

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2 Responses to “NO SECRET”

  1. Dr. Pimento Says:

    Ya know, Rob…

    The whole war/army/revolutionary metaphor upon which you’ve been consistently hanging your prose is… well… it’s not *getting* tired; it’s been tired.

    In fact, the seriousness of real war and it’s impact on people and societies was long ago diminished in the public’s cognitive space by politicos who established numerous “war on (x)” phrases to battle such foes as poverty (Johnson), pornography (Reagan, Alan Keyes), drugs (Reagan, et al), cancer (Nixon), foes of Christmas (Fox News), and terror (Bush and the neo-cons) among others. Earlier this year, the British government officially stopped using the phrase “war on terror,” recognizing it as an inept phrase.

    All linguistic history aside, it consistently feels like you’re trying too hard with this military metaphor mindset, allowing it to become a writer’s crutch. It’s admirable that you drink your own Kool-Aid with such gulping enthusiasm –even stir it with gusto– but dude, change the flavor once in a while!

    The corporate straw man as part of the war metaphor is an easy target, though possibly a tad disingenuous. Any time substantial amounts of money are involved, things get, well, corporatey. If the press reports are to be believed, MDC is substantially backed by VC dollars. There’s really only one successful way out of that kind of arrangement and you and I both know what it is: eventually selling up the food chain (and I don’t mean just a bigger fish; for VC’s this kind of thing is usually a whaling operation). Guys in a cold water loft eating ramen noodles and peanut butter, maxing out their 23rd credit card to press more band CDs or buy more HDV tape, rarely think of their endeavor in terms of prepping it for sale. Ex executives with a wife, a couple of kids and a big house in Connecticut or Jersey and an exit package from CBS Radio usually do –if they’re smart (yes, some assuming going on here, I’ll admit –you tell me where I’m off the mark). Nothing wrong with that! It doesn’t mean you aren’t sympatico with your artists or fun to be around or in tune with what’s wrong with much of the media landscape today just because there’s an end game on the shelf. It’s all cool with me. I’m just an analytical dude who can’t help but question things and who likes keeping it real.

    To touch on a minor annoyance: perhaps I spend too much time online, but I’ve run across a number of ex-MTV types who can’t seem to resist adorning themselves in the presumed street cred offered by, “I worked in the early days at MTV” when blogging. Probably coincidence, but it’s almost as though it’s becoming the new, “I was at Woodstock.” Yes, you were there and an “executive” to boot as is so often mentioned in the press kit –and in the early days. That’s enviable. The others? …well, whatever …dunno. Just noting an interesting confluence of web texts.

    May the New Year bring peace to the fronts of the real wars out there, and providence to you and yours.

    Dr. Pimento

  2. Peace and providence to you dear doctor. Excellent points & questions. Let’s talk turkey. Military language could well be a writers’ crutch – but it’s been an essential mindset to get from “scmuck with a powerpoint” to millions served. Keep an eye on future posts & thank you. Venture-backed is true – substantially is not. We’ve raised a much smaller sum compared to most new video businesses. Important to prove the model works before catching bigger fish or whales, to your point. You delved deeper into asks – here are answers – we do eat ramen at the office – we barely have heat. We just moved into bigger space after spending the first 11 months of 07 in a shared space just a big bigger than a 7 foot couch. Guilty to the ex-exec charge – but NO big house – just a modest little thing in NJ. 3 children. one wife – one ex & Guilty on the ex-MTV thing – will refrain from reminding you – after one last shot at it here – those who were there in earlier days love it & love to bitch about it – they used to say it was like going out with the best looking person on the planet – who treats you like shit. But there’s no Damn without the early magic at MTV. Nuff said – shutting up now – but keep it coming! Thank you & happy 08.

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