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<<May 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: YouTube, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 272
1. “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” Goes From Screen to Page

Paige McKenzie’s \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" YouTube series has more than 130 million views, her @hauntedsunshine page has 10.7k followers, and her book just pubbed. She’s 20.

Alexandra Alter in the New York Times described how McKenzie, a business partner at 16 with film producer Nick Hagen and her actress/voice-over artist mother, Mercedes Rose, launched the mockumentary web series almost five years ago. In about a year, the \"Haunting\" videos had more than five million views.

Shot, starring, and edited by McKenzie, the story features teenager Sunshine Griffiths, who captures on film the ghost that haunts her home and then struggles to save her mother from being possessed by dark forces. Weinstein Books has brought \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" brand to print in a YA novel series, slated to include three books so far, with screen rights optioned, as well.

Here’s the book trailer posted yesterday by McKenzie and Weinstein:

Alter describes how literary agent Mollie Glick spotted a piece on McKenzie in Seventeen magazine. She introduced McKenzie to YA writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel, who drafted a few chapters and an outline. A book deal quickly followed, and McKenzie is quick to credit Sheinmel:

\"I can’t do this by myself, are you crazy?\" Ms. McKenzie said. \"I’ve never written a book. I don’t know how to do that.\"

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2. 3 List Building Strategies for Success in Today’s Market

You've heard it over and over, what worked before isn’t working now. I attended a webinar by online marketer Clay Collins. It was about the newer strategies for successful list building. They've been around for a while now, but many haven't taken that step forward and gotten on board. As with most marketing strategies, once they become overused they become old and tired. What used to work

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3. Birth of a Morning Glory - Sketch

Slowing getting the hang of these videos. :)

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4. Tiny Hamster to Star in Picture Book

hamsterSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers plans to publish a children’s book starring the YouTube sensation, Tiny Hamster.

Here’s more from the press release: “Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster will have a photographic treatment and feature images from the video. When Tiny Hamster accidentally eats some mad scientist goo, he turns into a giant, Godzilla-like hamster, stomping through the city and eating everything in sight. This adorably monstrous story is sure to delight readers of all ages. The Tiny Hamster videos, including ‘Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Burritos,’ are created by Denizen Company.”

Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima, and Amy Matsushima, the co-founders of the Denizen Company, will collaborate on the writing for the forthcoming picture book. A release date for both the book and a new video with the same title has been set for June 2nd. Follow this link to check out a playlist of videos featuring the celebrity rodent.

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5. Video Marketing – Hosted or Self-Hosted

Video marketing is a must today. It should be a part of your content marketing strategy. Using video is a great way to generate visibility and motivate visitors to take action. And, almost just as important, video keeps visitors on your site longer. Why does this matter? Google and other search engines keep tract of this website metric. The longer a visitor stays on your site, the better. But

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6. Content Marketing- 5 Powerful Traffic-Generating Strategies

The greatest way to drive traffic to your website is through content marketing. If you’re not sure what content marketing is, it’s simply a marketing strategy using content to create inbound traffic to you and your website. It’s also the strategy of using effective copywriting techniques to motivate your readers to take a desirable action. Content marketing includes copywriting, SEO writing,

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7. Mondo Media Seeks Pitches For Toy-Driven Channel Spindo

After years of producing teen-targeted shows like "Happy Tree Friends" and "Dick Figures," Mondo Media is eyeing the lucrative kids' market by teaming up with major toy manufacturer Spin Master, makers of Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Air Hogs, and Hedbanz.

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8. On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan Empowerment

While the Nerdist Industries’ arena event at WonderCon this year was ostensibly about the future of the Youtube based pop culture conglomerate, and, indeed, plenty was said about upcoming projects, the question and answer period really expanded into a call to arms for fans to help directly determine the future of pop culture.

mbrittany hardwick panel 1 300x146 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentNerdist founder Chris Hardwick took the stage, joined by panellists Paul Provenza, Troy Conrad, and Matt Bennett, on March 31st, in the lead up to the season finale of The Walking Dead. Hardwick’s job as host of Talking Dead meant there was plenty of frisson in the audience about the upcoming show, and Hardwick teased, but didn’t deliver, spoilers on the show’s finale several times. In fact, he informed the audience that he was about to “get into a car to film Talking Dead” following his WonderCon appearance. Envy at his early viewing of the finale was palpable.

mbrittany chris hardwick 1 300x298 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentWhile Hardwick has a cult following as host of Talking Dead, and also from plenty of Nerdist projects, his presence live is even more dynamic, bringing with it plenty of his stand up comedy background. Since it was also Easter Sunday, Hardwick opened with a relevant quip: “That’s one person who came back from the dead and didn’t do it to rip someone’s heart out. Just put the love in it”. About a thousand attendees found this hilarious. Hardwick showed a promo video preview of upcoming Nerdist projects, often punctuated by applause and cheers from the audience when they recognized an anticipated segment or a celebrity guest coming up on a project, and followed by discussing several of the projects in a little more detail with his panellists.

mbrittany chris hardwick 3 248x300 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentBennet’s new series, currently being filmed, entitled Nerdy Jobs, a play on Dirty Jobs, got particular attention. The series will involve him visiting nerdy “cool” companies like tech industries and comic book shops to give an insider’s view of working there. Hardwick pondered what Bennett would find to say if he visited NASA for the show: “Uh, sorry about your funding?”. Another big push for Nerdist is the launch of a comedy combination of stand up and improv based on the British series concept Setlist, a competition that will tour around the world. As a veteran of stand up, Hardwick was particularly enthused, commenting that forcing stand up comedians into an improv situation is like “looking for the God particle of comedy”. His request to the audience about the upcoming new shows: “Please don’t feel compelled to say horrible things IN ALL CAPS in comment threads”.

mbrittany hardwick panel 2 300x133 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentThis led Harwick to speak for a moment about Youtube as a venue for hosting programming. Though delivered in a comically serious tone, the message had some bite: “No longer do companies tell us what to watch”. It was the first of several comments that indicated that Hardwick still has a lot to say about the role of open access and its giant-killing capabilities in relation to big media. Nerdist Industries, he said, is going to be expanding, but not along the lines of some of their peers on Youtube, who branch out into “piles of channels”; instead, they are aiming for a “hyper-curated partnership” with 6-8 channels and plenty of intensive “cross promotion”. They are also considering a move, based on fan request, to try out video podcasts, though Hardwick is a little skeptical of why people would want to watch them. Demand has been high enough that he’s prepared to yield to the experiment. Upcoming guests for the video podcast will include Seth Rogan, Steve Young, Scott Adsit and “surprises” too. Nerdist will also, finally, launch a major app to link to its content and, even more surprisingly, will be venturing into filmmaking following their purchase by Legendary Entertainment. They hope to work as producers on smaller budget films in this new role.

mbrittany hardwick panel 3 300x131 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentWhile Hardwick was delivering his energetic spiel, Provenza interjected, “Do you ever sleep?”. It was true, Hardwick looked a little peaked. “I have a robot heart”, he intoned, and continued on to the question and answer period. Questions began with a repeat offender from SDCC who Hardwick had once hugged in the past for his super fandom regarding Superman. “Comic Con is about getting super freaked out about stuff you love”, Hardwick reminded the audience (and he would deliver another hug later to a girl dressed as Wario in sympathy with his own Mario Brothers t-shirt). Harwick was then asked what he would do if his girlfriend was found to be “patient zero” in a potential zombie apocalypse. “Oh, I’d shoot her in the fucking head. That’s what you do for your loved ones”, he said without hesitation, to much hilarity, and added that he hoped she’d do the same for him.

mbrittany chris and mario 300x233 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentHe seemed pretty serious about that topic, but not as serious as he became immediately after the question on the subject of open access production. “There is literally no excuse for you not to pursue things that you love now. You are living half a life if you do not pursue the things that you love”, he said, referring to the tools now available for fans and pop culture creators alike. When a middle school teacher asked him for ideas to keep her students interested in pop culture in their newly formed lunch club, he gave a very invested answer, repeating that the most important thing the teacher could do for them would be to get them to “make things”, whether videos, or other media. “Teach them to be creators vs. consumers”, he pleaded, to much approbation from the crowd.

mbrittany chris hardwick 2 278x300 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Nerdists Chris Hardwick Pushes Fan EmpowermentOne of Hardwick’s winning qualities that keeps him from drifting too far from his fanbase  due to his ever increasing media success is his earnestness, often placing himself in the role of the fan once more. He described himself as a “lamprey” feeding off the “giant sperm whale” of pop culture products and feeling grateful, trying not to “impose” when working with actors from major shows. The Nerdist panel emphasized again that Hardwick still sees himself as an outsider in the mainstream, and an insider to “nerd” culture, no matter how many celebrity friends he accrues. That lends credence to his requests and his advice that fans continue to interact directly with the things they love through becoming “creators” too.


Photo Credits: All photos in this article were taken by semi-professional photographer and pop culture scholar Michele Brittany. She’s an avid photographer of pop culture events. You can learn more about her photography and pop culture scholarship here.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.

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9. Goodreads and Public Humiliation

These are actually two separate things. First, I've finally emerged from my editing cave *throws confetti* and found my publisher had posted my book on Goodreads *throws more confetti*. If you're into sci-fi and want to check it out, or add it to your shelf, you can find it here: BURN OUT on Goodreads. The cover is coming soon! Second (and this one is much more embarrassing), it was my turn this week to subject myself to public humiliation via YouTube. As part of the YA Valentines, a group of authors whose novels debut in 2014, I had to profess my love for chocolate via poetry. I'm sure you can tell how much I hate being filmed, but sometimes you have to suck it up in this business. If you have 90 seconds to spare, check out A Writer's Ode to Chocolate: YA Valentines.

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10. Books at Play

1 Comments on Books at Play, last added: 6/4/2013
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11. DreamWorks Animation Bets That AwesomenessTV Will Deliver Awesomeness

Earlier this month, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation had purchased the YouTube channel AwesomenessTV for $33 million in cash. Factoring in earning and performance targets, the sale has a maximum earnings potential of $117 million.

An online aggregrator-network aimed at young male entertainment consumers, AwesomenessTV was founded as collaboration between TV producer Brian Robbins (Smallville), United Talent Agency and law firm Ziffren Brittenham. According to the May 1st press release, it “has already signed up over 55,000 channels, aggregating over 14 million subscribers and 800 million video views”.

“Awesomeness TV is one of the fastest growing content channels on the Internet today and our acquisition of this groundbreaking venture will bring incredible momentum to our digital strategy,” said DreamWorks head Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Brian Robbins has an extraordinary track record in creating family content both for traditional and new platforms and his expertise in the TV arena will be invaluable as we grow our presence in that space.”

Under the new partnership, the network AwesomenessX, that will offer “original sports, gaming, comedy, pranks and lifestyle content” targeted toward males in their teens and 20s. Robbins, who has stayed on to run the company, has also been rewarded with an executive position at DreamWorks to develop a DreamWorks Animation-branded family channel.

AwesomenessX will pick up some AwesomenessTV faves like The City – Basketball, Sk8 Spotterz, That Was Awesome and How To Be Awesome as well as launch a new series around Winter X-Games gold medalist David Wise and videos of choice game moves and swimsuit model photo shoots. Shows like Frank the Dog, Baby Gaga and Fingerlings – which provide pop and web culture commentary from a dog, a baby and finger puppets, respectively – will also be featured.

“[AwesomenessX] will attract some girls as well,” Robbins added.

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12. “Ugly Americans” Creator Devin Clark Provides “Instant Life Lessons”

When it was announced that Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans would not be returning for a third season, the show’s creator Devin Clark did not waste any time in launching his new animated series, Instant Life Lessons with Dr. Dewey Pfister. But rather than shooting for another network show, he sidestepped the corporate groupthink and idea-crushing bureaucracy in favor of a smaller “less cooks in the kitchen” independent webseries. “It is pretty fantastic having that much control over something,” Clark told Cartoon Brew. “For me, apparently, it means lots of animated child abuse and poop jokes.”

Produced for the YouTube channel Official Comedy, Instant Life Lessons is an “educational” animated series that provides absurd “one size fits all” guidance from the socially inept Dr. Dewey Pfister and his hapless son. “He genuinely wants to help people,” explains Clark, “but in an effort to make his lessons simple and easily consumed, he has boiled them down into nonsense. Also his world view is a bit insane and he is a terrible person.”

Factoring in that Ugly Americans began as an online collection of shorts called 5ON, Clark has experience with both large and small productions and can safely advise that while talent and a strong idea are important to selling a show, people often forget about how much luck factors into the equation. “If you aren’t pitching the right concept to the right network at the right moment when they are looking for exactly what you are selling, the chances of it getting made are slim to none,” he said. Fortunately, a new group of YouTube channel producers, as well as companies like Netflix and Amazon, are actively seeking animation content, providing a slate of new options to those who are developing their own series.

The first three episodes of Clark’s Instant Life Lessons with Dewey Pfister and an eight-part behind-the-scenes video series are currently available on the Official Comedy YouTube channel.

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13. YA INDIE Carnival : Social Media…what works for you?


Social Media, what works for you?

Relationships. It’s all about relationships. Social media is just our virtual pub or café or bookstore or our neighborhood park. It’s about introducing yourself, & maybe your dog and making friends. That’s really all it is for me. I try and help people out and people help me out all the time. When I have questions about things I get great advice and when someone has some good news we all celebrate.

I hang out where I feel the most comfortable, like in real life. Social media really isn’t any different. The cool thing about it is that you can make friends and even keep up a friendship that starts at a conference or vacation…where ever. It’s pretty cool to have friends all over the world and really cool to discover and read stories I might never have had the chance to without social media.

As an author, I’m most comfortable using Twitter ( @Laurawriting ) and Facebook. Facebook is a little harder for me. I’ve got two pages…one for my personal life and one for my readers and I try to keep them separate, but it’s a little like trying to take the chocolate out of a banana split LOL. So that confuses me a little, to be honest. I do love Pinterest because it’s so visual. My favorite boards are book swag I love, food that I love and of course the YA Indie Carnival :)  I wish I knew how to converse with my Goodreads fans better. I have an automatic feed which posts my blog posts there, but I find it a little more challenging to have a dialog with my fans there. I love discussing books and so I look forward to people who post with questions/comments about my books or reviews.

Social media is just the modern word of mouth. And that’s the way books have been recommended to readers for hundreds of years. It’s just more exciting now. But it is super confusing sometimes, especially for authors who are just getting into it. At UtopYA, I can’t remember the author, but she was so sweet and walked up to me and said she just didn’t know where to begin. I hear that a lot. The advice I gave when she asked me is the advice I heard when I was getting started. Pick one place, it doesn’t matter where, if Facebook feels good to you pick that, if it’s easier for you to post in 140 characters then use Twitter, if you’re visual maybe Tumblr or Pinterest is for you. Just pick one and use it and start to meet people the old-fashioned way in a high tech pub/café/bookstore/park :D Twitter confused the heck out of me when I first used it…I was like what is this thing? But it’s been a great way to meet amazing friends, whether they’re dog lovers, book bloggers, readers, other writers, artists, screenwriters…you name it. (hint: it’s all about the # hashtags :) )

I sat in on one of the panels and the fabulous Kallie Ross, an awesome YA Fantasy writer/incredible panel mediator/one smart cookie, mentioned that youtube is the most searched place on the Internet. So it’s a great place to make friends. I have a channel there and post videos I use in my research and my book trailers and follow channels that make me laugh, have something to do with food and books too. I definitely could do more with my channel. Click here to swing by sometime if you want to see how I use it.

Wattpad is another site that Amanda Harvard, talented author/incredible musician/and all-around fun person, talked about on one of the UtopYA panels. Loads of authors and readers love that site. I might get my feet wet there next. But, enough about my take…what works for you?

See what the other amazing carnis have to say about it too :) And check out YA Author Club for upcoming carnival topics!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights
17. Author Cindy C Bennett

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14. here is a song for you

Here's a new drawing. Well, it's a new old drawing. You may well have seen it before. Quite recently actually.

I have a string of half finished drawings hanging around the house. I come across them all the time. In the strangest of places. Drawings that I've given up on for various reasons. Now and again though I'll try and breathe new life into them. This is what happened here.

This drawing must be at least three years old. It actually had a shoe print on it that I had to erase (I really do find them in strange places). I remember that I'd had this great idea of drawing each and every one of my pencil cases. I got half way through this before realising what a rubbish idea that was.

There was, however, another reason that I resumed this drawing; for a long time now people have been asking me if I'd considered making a film of me in action (drawing that is). When I came across this drawing I felt it could be used to show how I go about cross hatching. So, that's what I did - I say that's what 'I' did but I actually mean that's what a friend with the technology and know-how did.  Thanks Tim!

You can see the film in my last blog post or HERE.

Plus, you can get your hands on this drawing, and film star (haven't you always wanted to get your hands on a film star?),  as it is for sale in my little Etsy shop HERE.

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15. Female artists and politics in the civil rights movement

In the battle for equal rights, many Americans who supported the civil rights movement did not march or publicly protest. They instead engaged with the debates of the day through art and culture. Ruth Feldstein, author of How it Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement, joined us in our New York offices to discuss the ways in which culture became a battleground and to share the stories of the female performers who played important but sometimes subtle roles in the civil rights movement.

Ruth Feldstein on the ways artists used their art to advance the civil rights movement:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ruth Feldstein on Lena Horne’s legacy:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Nina Simone as an activist:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ruth Feldstein is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of How it Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement and Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965.

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16. Sony Demands Removal of Open-Source Indie Short ‘Sintel’ From YouTube

Sony Pictures has demanded the removal of the CGI short film Sintel from YouTube due to a claim of copyright infringement. One small problem: they don't actually own anything in the film.

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17. Verdun: the longest battle of the Great War

The battle of Verdun began on 21 February 1916. It did not end until December of that year. It was a place of no advance and no retreat, where national resources continued to pour in, extending the slaughter indefinitely. Paul Jankowski, leading French historian and author of Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, examines Verdun in a new, unique way, using both French and German sources with equal weight. Jankowski questions why Verdun holds such a high status in World War I when it sparked no political changes, had an indecisive outcome, and was not the bloodiest of the war. He explains not only the total history of the battle, including leaders, plans, technology, and combat, but also analyzes and stresses the soldiers’ experiences and the impact of war on national memory.

Why did the battle of Verdun begin?

Click here to view the embedded video.

“Verdun:a hell that was all its own.” – Paul Jankowski

Click here to view the embedded video.

“Nobody could win…but nobody could afford to lose…” – Paul Jankowski

Click here to view the embedded video.

Results of Verdun

Click here to view the embedded video.

Paul Jankowski is Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University. His many books include Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, Stavinksy: A Confidence Man in the Republic of Virtue and Shades of Indignation: Political Scandals in France, Past and Present.

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18. How To Write Your Name

Lots of people tell me that when they buy a new sketchbook (especially something like a Moleskine) they get new sketchbook nerves; the fear of the blank sketchbook. I'm quite the opposite. I can hardly wait to get it home before unwrapping it and laying my pen on the paper - that is why I have a hundred unfinished sketchbooks, though.
So, with those of you in mind, and for all of you guys who are starting the new semester of Sketchbook Skool and getting your school bags ready, here's a little video that'll take away the fear. See starting your sketchbook as an exercise too. Hope this helps!

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19. Tiny stories

One of the questions I was asked recently by a young fan (whoa, I have those!) is what things I am watching on YouTube. Which made me doubly excited, because a) this young fan had looked at my bio, and b) I got to talk about cool stuff I’m watching online. I love short stories, written or otherwise. Regardless of the medium, it takes a particular skill and cleverness to make you care about characters, or invest in a narrative in a compressed amount of time. While there are plenty of amazing live-action short films out there, I’ve chosen a handful of my favourite animated shorts, some of which are clever, funny, moving, inspiring, or simply a diverting couple of minutes from the real world. Like the best books, what they all have in common is that they made me want to re-visit them as soon as I had finished, and they made me want to share them with everyone I know.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Possibly one of the cutest things ever. Featuring a ‘dog’ named Allen.

Pigeon: Impossible

Bond meets Stop the Pigeon (if you can’t remember Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, look that up on YouTube as well).

[For the month of June, I will be writer-in-resident at the fab Inside a Dog - you can read the rest of this post here]

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20. Madison Beer Interview

Madison Beer

Meet Madison Beer, Internet singing star!

15-year-old Madison Beer got her first big break when Justin Bieber tweeted one of her videos to his millions of followers, and since then she has been working on her first studio album (oh, yeah, and she also recorded “Valentine” with Cody Simpson

. Whaaaaat?!). We chatted with Madison about singing, books, her most embarrassing moment, and more.

Q: What advice would you give to young artists if they wanted to get into the music business?

Madison: Well, I started on YouTube just for fun, really. It was something that I always wanted to do, so it was just me having some fun and messing around. My advice? If a teenager really enjoys singing, like me, I would just go ahead and post stuff on YouTube (only with your parents’ permission). I know that it can be really nerve-racking, especially when you start thinking, “What are my friends going to think? What are my teachers going to think?” You don’t really know how people are going to react. But if you’re confident in the video that you recorded, and if it’s going to make you happy, you should post it.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to perform?
Madison: I think when I started posting videos consistently is when I got really attached to the whole idea of doing it professionally. I’ve always wanted to be a professional singer, but the YouTube stuff made me take it more seriously. I felt, like, compelled to do YouTube videos.

Q: Do you remember the first song you sang as a little girl?
Madison: Yeah. I used to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” all the time. I used to sing that and “God Bless America” all the time.

Madison Beer

Q: What is your all-time favorite book?
Madison: As a child, The Giving Tree was my favorite book. It showed me the importance of sharing and caring for people and, you know, giving and not always being selfish. And I also loved all the Shel Silverstein books. Everybody knows that I’m clumsy, so they all were just laughing. They were like, “Oh, Madison’s back.” — 
En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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21. 17, ART and Paying it Forward

In honor of my baby girl’s 17th birthday today, I am giving YOU, my friends and readers, the gift of HER ART. (isn’t it interesting how close “her art” sounds like “her heart?) Seriously, this girl is hard worker – and gifted with many gifts, including the gift of tenacity. Just months ago, she sat…

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22. "Getting the Setting of Story"

"Researching the story's environment"
By happy accident, I discovered the  way to travel interstate, overseas, inter-culturally  and explore the  ambience of remote towns, cities, country lanes and outback outposts. Air tickets - well that's the ideal, but no, I used Google Earth.
It started with trying to locate a lovely country home in West Hougham, Kent, England by using aerial satellite and 'street view'. It was featured in Country Life for September 7th, 2000, and was the
Inspiration for "The Dolls' House in the Forest"
inspiration for my story "The Dolls' House in the Forest". 
West Hougham, Kent, country road, travelled via Google Maps street view.
I didn't find the house, but I had the most wonderfully inspiring time wandering down country lanes that were little more than wagon tracks, great boughs canopying overhead and wildflowers dotted in the fields...
Now, if I need to capture something of the 'feel' of an area. I seek out an address. Then in I go.
Exploring the Realtor advertisements in the research area gives insight into the lifestyle and inhabitants of the town. Many homes  give a slideshow or even a video tour online.  
Visualising Story
Other ways to 'get in the setting' for free include YouTube clips. This is even a Youtube video clip on West Hougham, Kent. Sadly, it doesn't feature that house...
Other ways to 'get in the setting' for free include Flickr, photographic collections held in State Libraries and on places like Pinterest. For historical setting, try online Heritage listings and databases for Australia and UK.
An example of other useful research sites  for historic buildings in Australia -
International settings - the virtual tour
Aside from a drop in to street level via Google Earth, many online sites feature virtual tours of historic settings, buildings, rambles around towns, cities and country areas. A few examples -
Castles -
Eilean Donan, the iconic Scottish Castle on Youtube Clips.
Neuschwanstein - site tour;
International Cities
A walk around Paris by video [not signposted but a good  overview of  everyday life on Paris streets];
Whatever the historic building or the town, you are quite likely to find a youtube clip or at least flicker photos, then there is always Google Earth! Have fun!

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23. No jingles: an alternative Christmas playlist

By Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Christmas is, almost inescapably, a time of music. A lot of it is familiar and much-loved, but for those who might be looking for some more adventurous listening this year – beyond Slade, the Messiah, and Victorian carols – here are some pointers to alternative Christmas music from down the ages.

“The Sign of Judgment: the earth will be bathed in sweat”. This unlikely Christmas sentiment comes from the Song of the Sibyl, a 3rd-century Greek prophecy of the Apocalypse translated into Latin by St. Augustine and whose first lines he popularized as a form of Christmas greeting to non-Christians. The poem acquired a chant melody in 10th-century Catalonia, since when it has been a feature of the Christmas Eve liturgy in churches in Spain, Italy and Provence. This is the 10th-century Latin version, performed by Jordi Savall, the late Montserrat Figueras and La Capella Reial de Catalunya:

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Song of the Sibyl could also be performed as liturgical drama, of the kind often found in the Middle Ages. The Officium pastorum of the 13th century is another example, and in its focus on the shepherds’ story one that begins to resemble our modern Nativity. This complete performance was given by Princeton University’s Guild for Early Music in 2011.

Click here to view the embedded video.

A century or two later, the Christmas carol as we have come to know it began to emerge. Its origins lay in a mix of secular and sacred influences, including the French carole, an important social dance that required the dancers to accompany themselves with their own singing. By the 15th century, the carol as a form of song usually on the theme of Christmas had begun to establish itself, and there are many wonderful examples to discover; this setting of the Christmas lullaby Lullay, lullow from the Ritson Mansucript of c1460–75 – different from the more familiar “Coventry Carol” of the same name – retains something of those dancing origins.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Magnificat, Mary’s hymn of praise following the Anunciation (Luke 1: 46–55) is one of the very oldest songs associated with the Christmas story, and one of the most frequently set. Great Baroque Magnificats were composed by Claudio Monteverdi (his famous Vespers of 1610 conclude with two of them) and Bach, among others. But that by Heinrich Schütz combines the Venetian exuberance with the Lutheran poise of the other to exhilarating effect.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Sidestepping the familiar Christmas favourites of the 18th and 19th centuries we encounter in the mid-20th century a major instrumental work, Olivier Messiaen’s La nativité du Seigneur (1935), a suite of nine scenes from the Christmas story, for organ. Messiaen, a devout Catholic, was possibly the 20th century’s greatest composer of religious music, as well as one of its finest organists. His musical language employed a variety of systematic procedures and a sometimes obscure symbolism, but there is no getting away from the extraordinary power and often tender characterisation of his music. (The capricious baby Jesus in the opening movement, La vierge et l’enfant, is a particular delight.) Both sides be heard in the virtuoso final movement, Dieu parmi nous, performed here by one of Messiaen’s leading interpreters, Dame Gillian Weir:

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Another leading composer of contemporary religious music has been Sir John Tavener. Unlike Messiaen, Tavener has drawn widely from a variety of faiths in the creation of his personal theology, in particular the Greek Orthodox Church, of which he was a member for many years. Works like Ikon of the Nativity (1991), which draw on Orthodox chants and liturgical practice, retain a strange and ancient mysticism beneath their apparently simple surfaces.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Is John Adams’s El Niño (1999–2000) the 21st century’s answer to the Messiah? Perhaps. In this “Nativity oratorio” the composer of the so-called “news operas” Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and Doctor Atomic turns his dramatic hand to the Christmas story, setting texts from the Bible and the Wakefield Mystery Plays (more medieval liturgical drama), as well as several South American poets. This extract comes from the final two sections of Part I, Se habla de Gabriel and The Christmas Star:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Finally, and to bring us right up to date, I’ve opted for Schnee (2008) by the Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. A secular choice, for certain, but if I had to choose a work that perfectly captures the frozen sunshine of a cold Christmas morning it would be this.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Looking for an easy way to play these in one jingle-free session? Try this Spotify playlist:

Tim Rutherford-Johnson is co-editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Music Sixth Edition, with Michael Kennedy and Joyce Kennedy. He has worked for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (now Grove Music Online) since 1999 and until 2010 was the editor responsible for the dictionary’s coverage of 20th- and 21st century music. He has published and lectured on several contemporary composers, and regularly reviews new music for both print and online publications. Visit Tim’s blog here, or find him on Twitter @moderncomp.

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24. Valentine’s Day serenades

By Alyssa Bender

Love is in the air at Oxford University Press! As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’ve asked staff members from our offices in New York, Oxford, and Cary, NC, to share their favorite love songs. Read on for their selections, and be sure to tell us what your favorites are too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Owen Keiter, Publicity
All-time is impossible, so…“Girlfriend” by Ty Segall is a feat of simplicity. Ty manages to stuff the headlong rush of a new, young, senseless love into about two breathless minutes. Nobody’s getting excited about the caveman-ish lyrics, which are almost incomprehensible anyway, but that’s not the point. The point is: when Ty hollers “I’ve got a girlfriend/She says she loves me,” you can tell it’s got him feeling like nothing can touch him.

Click here to view the embedded video.

For those having less pleasant Valentine’s Days: “Lipstick Vogue” by Elvis Costello. This Year’s Model is the Bible of those who are mistrustful of sex and love; “Lipstick Vogue” contains gems like “Maybe they told you were only one girl in a million/You say I’ve got no feelings; this is a good way to kill them.”

Lana Goldsmith, Publisher Services
My actual favorite love song right now is “Crazy Girl” by Eli Young Band. I love this song because I feel like I live it all the time. It’s easy to feel insecure or unappreciated, but this song shakes you by the shoulders and reminds you that you’re the greatest thing that ever happened to somebody.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Purdy, Director of Publicity
When you are single and in your 40s love has come and gone enough that I find it hard to narrow my choice down to just one favorite love song. I have three that make me wistful for another lover, and maudlin for love and lovers long lost:

Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You” is a bluesy jazz plea for recognition from some indifferent lover that is at times sultry, needful, demanding and lustful.

Another classic by Ms. Simone, “Turn Me On,” is a simile-saturated reminiscence of a lover gone too long and the heightened anticipation of his/her return.

Finally, there is Miss Etta James’s version of “Deep in the Night.” Etta’s mournful moan reminds me how love can come to plagues one’s every thought and action:

Read a book and I think about you
Put it down and I think about you
I make some coffee and I think about you
Wash up the cup and I think about you
Wind the clock I think about you
Turn on the light and I think about you
Then I punch the pillow and think about you

Anwen Greenaway, Promotion Manager, Sheet Music
“True Love” by Cole Porter is one of the most memorable songs in the 1956 film High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra. When I was a child my Dad had an old vinyl record of the film soundtrack. I remember being mesmerized by the film stills on the LP cover and listening to the record over and over at Christmas. It’s the soundtrack of all my childhood Christmases, a beautiful song, and unashamedly sentimental — what’s not to love about that?!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Flora Death, Editorial Admin Assistant, Sheet Music
“So In love” by Cole Porter, from Kiss Me Kate, because it’s gloriously melodramatic and haunting, and has wonderful lyrics like all Cole Porter’s music.

Emma Shires, Editorial Assistant, Sheet Music
Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet it is to be Loved by You” is so fun and upbeat. I love putting it on when I’m cooking, really turning up the volume, and dancing round the kitchen like a mad thing.

Ruth Fielder, Sales Administrator, Sheet Music
Biffy Clyro’s “Mountains” is my all-time favorite love song because it represents the ugly and beautiful sides to being in love, and therefore, for me, this song paints a more realistic picture: This being that most of the time love is a selfish act, but on occasion love itself as a thing of togetherness and intimacy; that ultimately nothing can tear you apart.

Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Publicity
“Laid” is a very sly love song by the British band James. The best line is the women’s clothes/gender roles couplet (if not the kitchen knives and skeeeeeewers) rather than the famous opening verse unfit for the OUPBlog. I sang this song, including the falsetto ending, COUNTLESS times with my friend Clara, who is now the history editor at NYU Press, when we were both assistants, as there wasn’t much to do in Princeton except go to the Ivy on Thursdays for karaoke and $1 beers. I hadn’t heard the song in ages until this past December at The Archive, a bar around the corner from our offices on Madison Avenue, and the television jukebox was playing, improbably, “The Best of James.” My friend and colleague Owen, the bassist for the great new band Journalism, said “The Best of James?? What the hell is James?” Probably for the best…

Matt Dorville, Online Editor, Reference
“The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields is a favorite of mine that is very apropos for a publishing house blog and one that I find myself singing all too often. It is from 69 Love Songs, an ambitious, and somewhat cheeky, look at love from The Magnetic Fields. If you haven’t listened to the album, I highly recommend it. It contains songs that are bittersweet, tender, pithy and catchy as hell. They’re not all winners, but the ones that are will make you smile all day.

Alana Podolsky, Publicity
“Tere Bina” composed by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Gulzar is my favorite. Meaning “Without You”, “Tere Bina” is the great A.R. Rahman’s composition for the Hindi film Guru (2007) starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood’s Brangelina. Rahman’s score derives from Sufi devotional music and is paired with Gulzar’s simple lyrics, creating a song that will resonate with any heartsick romantic no matter your language background. The cherry on top: the film’s dance sequence.

Kimberly Taft, Journals
My favorite love song is “At Last” by Etta James. I think it’s great because of her powerful vocals and the accompanying instruments. It’s truly a classic and I’m sure will be around forever.

Jessica Barbour, Grove Music/Oxford Music Online
I’m Your Moon” was written by Jonathan Coulton in reaction to Pluto’s demotion from planet to dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union. Coulton, stating that Pluto clearly must have found this “very upsetting,” wrote a love song to the slighted celestial body from the point of view of Charon, one of Pluto’s moons. (You can watch another live video in which Coulton tells the whole backstory here.) Pluto is only twice as big as Charon, and they orbit a point between each other instead of Charon circling Pluto the way our moon orbits around the Earth. And they’re always facing each other as they orbit, like two people doing this. Coulton says on his blog that he was just thinking about Pluto when he wrote it. But the way Charon sings about how the rest of the world doesn’t really understand them, encourages Pluto to stay true to itself, and promises that they’ll always have each other no matter what—what else can you ask for in the perfect love song?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Anna-Lise Santella, Grove Music and Oxford Reference
Back when we were dating, my husband and I used to hang out at Cafe Toulouse in Chicago where the great jazz violinist Johnny Frigo used to play with Joe Vito on piano. We loved the way he played “A Fine Romance.” If we had to pick something to be “our song,” that would be it. When it came time to picking a song for the first dance at our wedding, that was the first thing that came to mind. Then we looked at the lyrics — which are the opposite of a love song:

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend, this is
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes, But you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes….

Not a song with which to celebrate the start of a marriage. The song was written by Jerome Kern for the movie Swing Time, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Fortunately, the movie also includes one of the great love songs of all time, “The Way You Look Tonight.” We picked that instead. And we asked Johnny Frigo to play at our wedding. It was perfect. It’s one of the great romantic songs:

Some day, when I’m awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you And the way you look tonight….

A month after we got married, I ran into Johnny playing a Columbus Day gig in Daley Plaza in Chicago. I reminded him who I was and told him how much we’d enjoyed his playing at our wedding. “Great night, great night,” he said. “And you weren’t so bad yourself.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Your Oxford-Approved Playlist:

Alyssa Bender joined Oxford University Press in July 2011 and works as a marketing associate in the Ac/Trade and Bibles divisions. Read her previous blog posts.

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Image Credit: scanned from period card from ca. 1910 with no notice of copyright via Wikimedia Commons

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25. Social media and the culture of connectivity

By José van Dijck

In 2006, there appeared to be a remarkable consensus among Internet gurus, activists, bloggers, and academics about the promise of Web 2.0 that users would attain more power than they ever had in the era of mass media. Rapidly growing platforms like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) facilitated users’ desire to make connections and exchange self-generated content. The belief in social media as technologies of a new “participatory” culture was echoed by habitual tools-turned-into-verbs: buttons for liking, trending, following, sharing, trending, et cetera. They articulated a feeling of connectedness and collectivity, strongly resonating the belief that social media enhanced the democratic input of individuals and communities. According to some, Web 2.0 and its ensuing range of platforms formed a unique chance to return the “public sphere” — a sphere that had come to be polluted by commercial media conglomerates — back in the hands of ordinary citizens.

Eight years after the apex of techno-utopian celebration, a number of large platforms have come to dominate a social media ecosystem vastly different from when the platforms just started to evolve. It’s time for a reality check. What did social media do for the public — users like you — and for the ideal of a more democratic public space? Do they indeed promote connectedness and participation in community-driven activities or are they rather engines of connectivity, driven by automated algorithms and invisible business models?  Online socializing, as it now seems, is inimically mediated by a techno-economic logic anchored in the principles of popularity and winner-takes-all principles that enhance the pervasive logic of mass media instead of offering alternatives.

Most contemporary social media giants once started out as informal platforms for networking or “friending” (Facebook), for exchanging user-generated content (YouTube), or for participating in opinionated discussions (Twitter). It was generally assumed that in the new social media space, all users were equal. However, platforms’ algorithms measured relevance and importance in terms of popularity rankings, which subsequently formed the quantifiable basis of data-driven interactivity wrapped in “social” rhetoric such as following, trending, or sharing. In this platform-mediated ecosystem, sponsored and professionally generated content soon received a lot more attention than user-generated content. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook gradually changed their interfaces to yield business models that were staked in two basic variables: attention and user data. By 2012, once informal social traffic between users had become fully formalized, automated, and commoditized by platforms owned and exploited by fast growing corporate giants. Although each of these platforms nurses its own proprietary mechanisms, they are staked in the same values or principles: popularity, hierarchical ranking, quick growth, large traffic volumes, fast turnovers, and personalized recommendations. A like is not a retweet, but most algorithms are underpinned by the norms of popularity and fast-trending topics.

The cultivation of online sociality is increasingly dominated by four major chains of platforms: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. These chains share some operational principles even if they differ on some ideological premises (open versus closed systems). Some consider social media platforms as alternatives to the old mass media, praising their potential to empower individual users who can contribute their own opinions or content to a media universe that was before pretty much closed to amateurs. Although we should not underestimate this newly acquired power of the web as a publishing medium for all, it is hard to keep up the tenet that social media are alternatives to mass media. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly obvious that the logics of mass media and social media are intimately intertwined. Not just on the level of platforms mechanics and content (tweets have become the equivalent of soundbites) but also on the level of user dynamics and business models; YouTube-Google now collaborates with many former foes from Hollywood to turn their platform into the gateway to the entertainment universe. Newspapers and television stations are inevitably integrated in the ecosystem of connective media where the mechanisms of data-driven user traffic determines who and what gets most attention, hence drawing customers and eyeballs.

This new connective media system has reshaped the power relationships between platform owners and users, not only in terms of who may steer information but also who controls the vast amount of user data that rushes through the combined platforms every day. What are the larger political and social concerns behind deceptively simple interfaces and celebrated user-convenient tools? Where in 2006 the notion of user power still seemed unproblematic, the relationship between users and owners of social media platforms is now contentious and embattled. In the wake of the growing monopolization of niches (Facebook for social networking, Google for search, Twitter for microblogging) it is important to redefine and reappraise the meaning of “social,” “public,” “community,” and “nonprofit.” The ecosystem of connective media has no separate spaces for the “public”; it is a nirvana of interoperability which major players argue for deregulation and which imposes American neoliberal conditions on a global space where boundaries are considered disruptions of user convenience. Common public values, such as independence, trust, or equal opportunities, are ready for reassessment if they need to survive in an environment that is defined by social media logic.

José van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam; her latest book, The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media has just been published by Oxford University Press (2013).

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Image credit: 3D little human character X9 in a Network, holding Tablet Computer. People series. Image by jojje9999, iStockphoto.

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