Crazy Dreams

I had the weirdest dreams last night.

I dreamed I was a marine biologist in some absolutely crazy aquarium with fish and sharks I invented in my own head. There was one fish that was 20 tons and just looked like a big bit of gray dough and kept almost squishing me… and Freud would’ve had a field day with this one- there was a shark that if you were in his tank, he would show his domination over you by putting your head in his mouth, but not biting down and then squirting sperm on you and there were a bunch of little sharks that gnawed on your fingers like lapdogs but didn’t do any real damage.

Word of Mouth Marketing

The music industry today is facing enormous challenges. How do you market new bands and singers to people who no longer listen to the radio? MTV rarely plays music and when they do it’s prepackaged, bubble-wrapped remakes put out by established superstars. People in their twenties and early thirties listen to music almost exclusively on their Ipods and MP3 players and usually that music is ripped or illegally downloaded online. Focus groups, studies and other research have shown time and again that most people now make their musical selection based on word of mouth marketing/ viral marketing.

The old behemoths of advertising; radio, television and printed media are no longer nearly as effective as they used to be. Music companies have poured billions of dollars down this new black hole with little results and they are desperately looking for new methods. Many of these major media companies realize that they need to get involved in word of mouth advertising, but they have no clue how to do it. Major companies in other industries have stumbled badly when they attempted to control viral marketing; Wal-Mart secretly paid bloggers to write nice things and when they were outed it was a huge black eye. Dell’s poor customer service towards a major blogger led him to write an expose on them and caused severe brand damage. Bosley Medical harassed a patient so much he created a major negative website about them that has greatly harmed sales numbers and brand value. Obviously, music companies need to try to avoid similar problems.

Sadly, the music industry has not yet learned. By trying (and failing) to stick to their old model of selling music via albums in record stores, they have completely missed the new digital paradigm. To make matters worse, they have made vast swaths of the population their enemy by trying to fight for the old, obviously outdated ways. The music industry successfully sued and shut down Napster several years ago, only to watch in dismay as their steep decline in profits only steepened. Now they use spyware, traps and other shady methods to try to trap their own potential customers, creating enormous ill will and sending their brand values into uncharted negative territory.

Recently, Columbia Records has begun to see the light and hired Rick Rubin, a free-thinking man who could lead Columbia into the new age and bring Columbia monstrous profits if he handles it correctly. Rick Rubin understands that he needs to focus on word of mouth marketing, but does not yet know how to do it effectively. Viral marketing is a strategy that encourages people to tell their family and friends a marketing message.. and then have that message be strong enough that those people share it with their family and friends and it continues to spread. Apple has mastered this strategy. The way they built hype around the new iPhone and got people excited about it was sheer genius. Steve Jobs understands the power of the internet and it’s relation to communities of individuals and how to leverage both to completely dominate word-of-mouth marketing.

My advice to a theoretical unsigned musician who is trying to break his way onto the national scene would be to engage in an effective viral marketing campaign. How do you do that? Here are some basic steps to take in pushing a new album:

1. Have good music. Obvious requisite. But I have heard tons of good bands that are barely known in Seattle and no one knows of them elsewhere and that is who I am addressing.
2. Write/pick one really catchy tune, whether it be funny, sad, rockin’, whatever. The most important aspect of this song is that it be something people love or hate the first time they listen to it. Songs that exemplify this would be Tenacious D’s “Fuck her gently”, ACDC’s “Hells Bells” or David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. All 3 songs are very simple songs that grab your attention and you either love or hate right away. The key here is to generate strong emotion in your audience.
3. Put the aforementioned song on your own website, on both your band and personal myspace page, on your facebook pags in an easy to use music player. For free. Yes, I know this means giving up some small profits right now, but consider it an investment in the future for when you are 60 years old and playing the Super Bowl with your wrinkles flying around. Include at least THREE more of your other hit songs for free on the same pages.
4. Now it is time to kick off the viral marketing/ word of mouth advertising campaign full blast. Ask everyone you have ever met to link to your website with the anchor text “new punk rock (or whatever you play) music by Emo Boyz (your band name here)”. You are engaging in what is known as “Search Engine Optimization”. This will help make your website come up first when people search for “new ___ music” or “new music”… which people do literally millions of times a month. It will also make your website come up first when people go to Google and type in your bands name after one of their friends says, “Hey, i heard the new Emo Boyz song and it was great/sucked”. If they can’t find you in 15 seconds, they will forget about you and move on. Add every possible person you can as a friend on facebook and myspace. Singers recently have started to hit it big, just by adding thousands of friends on myspace. If you don’t want the drudgery of adding tens of thousands of people by hand and sending each an individualized message, you can pay to use the services of a ‘bot’. Yes, they are annoying, but they can get you a several thousand friends very quickly. Place fliers everywhere you go- plaster your city in fliers advertising your next few gigs and have your website URL in big, bold letters on it. Ahh, I almost forgot- pick the SIMPLEST possible URL. The URL needs to be a .com, because people are retarded and always type that in. would be ideal. Every time you play a show, go to class, pick your nose, or talk to a girl, tell them about your website.

Results: What will happen when you do all of that?

The opinion of the masses is a ginormous ship that is very difficult to turn, but once you get it headed in your direction it will be unstoppable. The goal here is to make a quick emotional impression on people with your hit song. You want people to send the link of the song they just heard to their friends, either because they loved it or hated it (hate works too.. look at the popularity of certain sob stories/ urban legends on the internet). You want people to tell their friends your name.. once people hear the name enough times they will look you up either through conventional means if they are old school or just by Googling you like everyone else. The viral part of it comes when you start to hit a critical mass of people and enough opinion makers are mentioning your name that it starts to stick in peoples heads and they start to listen to you. In today’s world of mass internet access, it will happen very fast… you could become a YouTube sensation overnight with millions of views in a matter of days.

Hello, Tonight Show. Goodbye, shitty venues and no pay.

Appalachian State vs Michigan

What usually happens when a Division 2 team plays against a bigtime D-1 powerhouse? The D-2 team gets run over. As a matter of fact, a top 25 D-1 team has NEVER in history lost to a D-2 team. Typically, big schools schedule smaller ones for their first game of the season for a guaranteed win to get the fan base excited and to prep their guys in a glorified scrimmage.

Except for last Saturday. Michigan had paid $400,000 to Appalachian State to come play patsy in the Big House (nicknamed this because their stadium holds 120,000 fans, more than 30x as many than attend Appalachian State). Michigan was rated the #5 team in the nation, with many returning seniors who had turned down joining the NFL for a very legitimate chance to win the national championship. Nobody gave Appalachian State a chance in hell, but Appalachian State entered the game as the 2 time defending Division 2 national champions and owners of the longest winning streak in college football.

Enter drama. In front of 109,000 screaming Michigan fans, little Appalachian State pulled off the biggest upset in sports history. Yes, this is bigger than the U.S. hockey team beating the Soviet team (same level of players).

Joel: Homemaker

My grandma and I today went shopping and bought a ton of new furnishings for my apartment. I almost never buy new, I usually go hunting through thrift stores for all of my needs. However, this time I was able to get some good Memorial Day deals, so I bought:

-A big, white microwave,
-A “Torchiere” (fancy lamp)
-A vial of crack cocaine for my homeless buddies
-An upright vaccuum for cleaning my 20 sq ft of floor
-2 sets of dishes (one of which is broken and I have to return)
-A complete set of nice pots and pans
-A knife set, so I can stab myself
-A blow up doll for “companionship”
-A rug for my bathroom floor
-A cutesy fish for holding my toothbrushes

I am starting to feel like Edward Norton in Fight Club. My apartment looks like an Ikea catalogue. Maybe I should blow it up.

I have too many possessions, they are weighing me down. I don’t feel like a free little butterfly anymore. I have 2 enormous TVs (Who wants to buy one?), a mini-fridge, 2 computers, an ancient bed, a solid couch (thanks Melanie Dies), skis, tons of clothing, a broken bicycle (see my earlier post to view my accompanying smashed face), and a ottoman. I should quit my job, give away all my stuff except my bike and my big hiking backpack and go for a ride to the southern tip of South America.

Lia Shiala Interview

Lia is named after Lia Point. Yes, I know you were asking that question.

Lia is currently on drugs and does not feel clever, so please forgive her in advance.

Lia is a 20 year old 5th year senior at the University of Washington. She got in at the ripe young age of 16 years old, which is also the age of consent in the state of Washington. I would have been in the frat at that point, and I’m saddened I was unable to find her when she was still fresh and hadn’t yet had her soul crushed by evil. Her favorite quote is “the house of delusions is cheap to build, but drafty to live in.”

Joel: “Do you think I can drink this half gallon of milk?”

Lia: “No.”

Joel: “If I finish it in 20 minutes, can I put a topless photo of you up with the interview?”

Lia: “NO!!!!!”

Joel: “How about if I do it in 10 minutes and the photo is ‘tactfully edited’ and put a password on it?”

Lia: “Ummm…..Uhhh…. Fiiine…”

Joel: “I am the best negotiator ever.”

Lia: “I feel sick.”

Joel: “Why does God hate man?”

Lia: “He doesn’t.”

Joel: “Want me to steal you one of these 40″ computer screens?”

Lia: “No, the size of the screen doesn’t matter. I am satisfied with smaller.”

Joel: “Sounds sexual.”

Lia: “My opinions of size and sex are different than my opinions of the size of a computer screen.”

Joel: “I win! YAY! awww my stomach is full.”

Lia: “Tickle FIGHT!!!”

Joel: … Starts to sob…

Lia: “I hope you feel sick and awful”.. “I never even wanted to make a bet in the first place.. I hate you”

Joel: “Hehehehehhe”

*Photo coming as soon as I get my camera and come back*

Joel: “What is your IQ? What is your GPA?”

Lia: “IQ tests are not accurate and it doesn’t matter anyways. 3.82 in the honors program double majoring in Poli Sci and English.”

Joel: “No wonder you’re a fifth year senior… double major and a year abroad.”

Joel: “I’m full but I still feel thirsty.”

Lia: ” Want some milk?”

Joel: “Uggghh”


Joel: “Your boobs are going on my website! hahha”

Lia: “Uggggh”

Joel: “How many times have you been drunk in your life?”

Lia: “I haven’t counted.”

Joel: “What is your favorite movie on Youtube, since you’ve seen all of them?”

Lia: “There’s a movie of a cat.. a home movie.. and the guy makes a loud noise and the cat levitates up off the bed and shoots out and splats into the wall with it’s legs out and crashes. But I’m bad about favorites, I usually don’t have one. I have lots of thinigs I like in different genres, but not favorites. It’s kind of like the question ‘is shylock a victim or a villain?’ ”

Joel: ” … Who’s Shylock?”

Lia: Giggles in a judgemental way.

Lia: “Shylock is a Shakespeare character from the Merchant of Venice who is treated very badly, but is also a bad man. It’s a tragi-comedy.”

Lia: “Blah… blah blah blah”

Lia: “… You’re not writing this whole thing down are you?”

Joel: “No”

Lia: “Oh great. You’re just writing down the stuff that makes me look stupid.”

Joel: “No, I am trying to engage my audience first and then they can get to know the deeper Lia.”

Lia: “They wouldn’t like the real Lia?”

Joel: “Nope.”

Lia: “Misplaced modifiers are really funny.”

Joel: “How did you motivate yourself for the triathlon last week?”

Lia: “I’m a good swimmer, so I thought I could do it if I could get myself to run.. I can bike, but I don’t like running. A secondary, more personal motivation for me was talking to the mother of my friend who died and she wanted me to live my life in a better way, being inspired by Natalie’s memory. I really also feel like not being involved in competitive swimming anymore, it’s good to have fitness goals. So I had a goal to train for and work towards and it was helpful because I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to win. I let go of my fear of losing and pride, and just did my own thing. A great experience, although it did weaken my immune system for the mono to set in. I am a badass because I did a triathlon with mono haha.”

Joel: “It’s a good thing to have fitness goals. Congratulations.”

Lia: “I’m fading. (She currently has mono and tonsillitis)”

Joel: Okay, we can continue this later.

Lia: “No, I’m perking up a little bit. I can feel my half a vicodin kicking in.”

Joel: “Ok…”

Joel: “Double or nothing on the milk?”

Lia: “No.. no more gambling today.. I already lost enough.”

Joel: “If both Dan and Trevor (2 of her sorta ex-bf’s because they both moved away and not because anything “ended” perse) came here and propositioned you, which one would you pick?”

Lia: “Dan was always going to be a short-term relationship, he was a bit younger (18) and he’s about a year and a half younger. Dan and I were really compatible when we were with each other, but when he was with his friends he was really immature and it annoyed me. Trevor is about a year older and I know him really, really well. We dated for about two years and there is just stuff you know about people when you have been that close. He also is not quite so unrealistic.. Dan worshipped me, but Trevor had a more realistic view… I don’t think any person is worth the kind of attention Dan was giving me. I think it was really high intensity and it wouldn’t have lasted. So if I had to pick someone it would probably be Trevor.”

Joel: “What is a question that would incise into your soul?”

Lia: “Ask me how I feel about lying?”

Joel: “How do you feel about lying?”

Lia: “I think I’m more honest about lying than most people.. if you can say that. It’s not possible to be perfect. There are times when I do things and I think I should feel guilty, but I don’t. People would disagree with the way I think about things. Though I have really contradictory standards… I both lie and I’m honest about lying. The least healthy people are those who claim to not lie. That is why religion can be so bad- people don’t take responsibility for themselves, they make excuses. You live a much less fulfilling life if you can’t be accountable for yourself. My biggest strength is Intrapersonal intelligence; I know what is going on inside of me. ”

Joel: “I don’t feel guilty when I kill.”

Joel: “Did you ever play video or computer games?”

Lia: “Actually, yes. I once played Age of Empires 2 and I enjoyed it for the time I did. I am very self-conscious about playing video games because I wasn’t raised on it and people have a hard time teaching me about it because I have never even handled a controller. It is incredibly frustrating and I have even cried. The biggest fight Trevor and I have ever had were when we played the Band of Brothers game. I never quite forgave him for it. Though that isn’t what it was really about… it was because problems had built and built and the fight was more about the way we interacted and communication issues than his inability to teach me a video game lol.”

Lia: “Do you know that Led Zeppellin song “Communication Breakdown”? hahaha… I am amused at the lead singer when he isn’t singing, he doesn’t play the guitar, so he just stands there looking very awkward.”

Joel: ” Would you have sex with Ian McKellen? (The famous Shakespeare actor)”

Lia: “No, he’s gay.”

Joel: “What if he was straight?”

Lia: “Then yes, if he was a lot younger.”

WCFL Proposed Regulations

I’m playing in a fantasy football league with my friend Josh Cochran and he keeps coming up with new rules and regulations, so I decided to come up with a few of my own and send them out to the league. Here they are.

Proposed new league regulations:

1. A) Any GM not paying on time should receive 40 lashes from a “cat o’ nine tails” whip.
1. B)League commissioner will be responsible for the administration of this firm, but fair rule. In cases where league commissioner does not pay on time, each member of the league will personally administer 5 lashes.

2. Any GM suspected of making an unfair trade shall report before the WTO commission for sanctions.

3. If a GMs player commits a legal infraction (dog-fighting, betting, drug dealing, murder, etc.), that GM will be suspended for a length of time to be determined by the league commissioner. The purpose of this regulation is to promote the image of the league and ensure good hygiene. In cases where the league commssioner violates this rule, he shall by lynched by an unruly, vigilante mob.

4. Any GM who willfully defeats the Emotional Cripple’s team shall be subject to immediate, unprejudiced termination.

5. Any GM caught complaining about Regulations 1-5 shall be subject to $50 fines, payable to Emotional Cripple’s team.

Please cast your vote by emailing the League.

Advice to UW freshmen, especially Justin…

… if he actually goes this year.

The University of Washington is an excellent school with a great balance of academics and a fun social scene. There are tons of great people and more groups and activities to be involved with than you have ever experienced before. Here are a few things I recommend you do while at UW in order to have the best possible experience:

-Be outgoing and be willing to befriend people who you wouldn’t usually talk to. You’ll meet some lions in sheeps clothing.

-Don’t start school with a girlfriend. Your wifey will make your college experience much less enjoyable. You will talk to her for hours on the phone every night telling each other how much you miss one another. My friend Richard did this and ended up not liking school at all. Being single and free will give you much greater independence to try new things.

-Party like a rockstar, but never neglect your studies. Remember you need to have a good college GPA in order to get a good job. Your community college GPA is meaningless, all people care about is how you do at UW.

-Take classes outside your comfort zone. I especially recommend Logic, Law and philosophy courses.

-You will have tons of free time, make use of it by working out at the IMA (Intramural Activities Center). It’s a great gym with lots of free and very cheap classes, basketball, tennis, etc.

-Pick a practical major and take classes you want for fun on the side; you will graduate and then will want a good job. Don’t end up flipping burgers at McD’s like a certain brother of ours lol. For instance, I was a business major, but took lots of english and philosophy classes because I was interested in those subjects. Look closely at Business, Engineering and Bio (if you want to be a doctor).

-Try as many new things as you can. There is a sailing club, rock climbing club, skiing club, etc.

Anybody else who went to UW want to add anything to this?