The most stationary of all stationery items, scissors hate to be hurried. I learned this as a child. You did too, probably. Don't run with scissors. A clear and simple instruction. Pencils, glue, staples... no problem. For them, like us, it's a finite existence. Time is short so don't dilly dally. But don't run with scissors.

Friday, 30 September 2011

new songs from my band the subtitles

I joined The Subtitles as vocalist and rhythm guitarist late last year.  A few months ago we started writing our own material.

We picked two songs that we liked, worked on them and then recorded them a few weeks ago. After some refining and mixing, they are now finished. I hope.  :)

The links below should take you to them.  If not, leave a comment to let me know - or email me, or @-reply me on twitter. 

I would really appreciate some feedback on them.  They are yet to go on the band website but soon will.

Hopefully, we'll get some gigs sorted out soon so we can try these (and others) out on a live audience.

Thanks in advance - I really appreciate you taking the time.

The songs:

Falling - click here

Walk Away - click here

Added on 1 October:

I got some great feedback from people who kindly listened to the songs and shared their thoughts. I am really grateful, as are the other guys in the band.

This is some of what was said.  But I'd love to hear some more opinions.

  • Wow
  • Sounds great
  • Impressed
  • Awesome stuff
  • Both very good
  • instrumental section in Walk Away is too long - loses a bit of momentum, I thought it was the outro
  • Both *might* benefit from some vocal harmonies on the choruses
  • Seriously am now humming Walk Away
  • Your drummer's style is very musical rather than "technical" if that makes sense - suits your material well

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

telling stories, human nature and social media

Since the very dawn of time itself mankind has told stories.

Ok, maybe not since the dawn of time perhaps "since the evolution of language" would have been more accurate. But that didn't sound very story-like.

Someone once told me that all the stories we are familiar with are in fact based on just a handful of original story ideas that came into being eons ago.

That could be true.

Certainly many cultures have a rich story-telling tradition. Viking sagas, the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, Greek myths, the Tales of 1,001 Nights - frankly there's loads.

Stories don't just come in that more obvious narrative format either. Cave paintings, totem poles, the adornments on boomerangs - graphical story-telling is a strong part of human history.

We've come a long way from sitting round the fire recounting our ancestors' tales of derring-do or painting on cave walls. But stories are still a fundamental part of who we are as individuals, as nations and also in relation to how brands identify themselves.

The approach taken by advertisers and marketers just a generation or two ago looks naive by our sophisticated 21st century standards. It was, with some exceptions, "here's our product - buy it."

And while that approach still exists - and of course the motivation of generating sales is still hugely valid - consumers tend now to switch off to a lot of that stuff. We're all so accustomed to being marketed to that maybe we've started to become immune.

Whether you call it PR, communications, marcomms, or whatever, those who ply their trade in the same sector as I are in the business of telling stories. Stories that will resonate with our clients' target audiences and give them a sense of affinity with a particular brand.

This can be seen being played out in the digital space even more clearly, where the time between brand execution and customer feedback grows ever shorter.

But much like the crazy preacher-man berating the passing crowds at Oxford Circus I passed this morning, there's a danger we end up trying to tell our stories to people who simply aren't interested.

Again, the online world has made this trap ever more easy to fall into.

The fundamentals of story-telling – much like the fundamentals of human nature, in my opinion – remain:
  • Get the story right
  • Know who it is that you want to tell your story to
  • Be sure you're talking when (and where) they will listen.
  • And who knows, maybe even ask them to share their stories with you too

We haven't really come such a long way at all, in this story-teller's opinion.

Although at least we're not still writing on walls.


Yes Facebook, I'm looking at you.

Friday, 23 September 2011

i don’t want you but i need you

Smokey Robinson said it best when he sang I don’t want you but I need you.

As one of the most gifted song-writers in the popular music genre, this observation of what it’s like to be in love with someone you know is bad for you is beautifully crafted.

It also kinda sums up most people’s relationship status with Facebook.

I can’t think of an example of another organisation with such a vast following of people who are so quick to voice their dislike of the service.

And therein lies Facebook’s problem. Timelines and profile tweaks aside, it needs to do something about the toxic relationship it has with its users, many of whom are only sticking around because their friends are too.

It’s like a massive Mexican stand-offIf the day ever comes when enough people finally walk away from Facebook it could start a craze.

So far there hasn’t been a viable alternative to lure people away. For all the fuss, hype and expectation, GooglePlus won’t do it.  And there simply isn’t anyone else with the size and reach to be a realistic threat to Facebook.

That’s not much of a business model though, is it? Our customers are stuck with us and we are stuck with the fact they don’t like us.

If I was gambling man, I’d be looking at Renren as a possible longer-term Facebook rival. But that’s probably a topic for another day.

In the meantime, Facebook has to do something to stem the tide of discontent and griping.

Will Timeline be enough to do this?

No, of course not. But if it forms part of a coherent strategy to start putting people at the heart of the Facebook experience, giving them something to like – in the real sense of the word, not a silly fake Facebook like – then maybe it could be on to something.

Now, why not treat yourself to Smokey Robinson & The Miracles singing You Really Got a Hold on Me – the video and audio quality isn’t the best, but it’s worth it. Your soul will thank you.

Monday, 5 September 2011

give us your thoughts - dan purvis set to music

A few weeks ago I recorded a phone interview that I did with Dan Purvis (Global Director of PR at Meltwater Group, he's also a former colleague of mine at Octopus Communications and a friend).

I cut up part of the interview and dropped extracts into a dance track I had composed a few weeks prior to that.

It's called "Give Us Your Thoughts" and Dan & I hope you enjoy it..!