Month: May 2015

Robin Thicke and Copyright

Robin Thicke and Copyright

Blurred Lines

Copyright infringement has been a consistently hot topic as the line of intellectual property continues to blur. It is seen in television plot themes, musical licks and graphic imagery. There is a fine line between inspiration and outright duplication so there is a struggle for artists to adapt while remaining original. Often times where the most noticeable “barrowing” is seen in music.

The recent case of Robin Thicke versus Marvin Gaye is intriguing because while there are very strong similarities between the two songs, this case argued the “feeling” of the work is what was copied. Yes, the bass line and drum beat do share strong similarities, but this similarity is nothing close to the level of copyright infringement that has been seen in many other cases. Robin Thicke was found guilty in this case, and was slapped with a heavy fine for the copyright of Gaye’s song.

Duplicating song drum beats, bass lines and alike is not uncommon territory for musicians. Looking at previous examples, the song “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice received no fines for its blatant copying of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” In this instance, the similarities were so noticeable that the general population was able to pick up on them with little guidance.

Today sampling older tracks within new music, specifically in rap songs, is incredibly common. Generally, in order to obtain the right to use these samples, rap artists ask for the rights from the other artist to feature the song within their new work. Individuals famous for regularly practicing this sampling are Kanye West, Eminem and Sammy Adams. While West’s style of sampling is much more blatant, using definitive sections of the song right in his own, however Eminem approaches the duplication in a much more subtle way, taking the general melody of “The Stroke” by Billy Squire and pulling it into his recent track “Berserk.” In this case (despite even using some of the same rhyme schemes, and lyrics) Eminem did NOT inform Squire prior to his use, however Squire was quoted saying that he was flattered and really enjoyed the adaption.

Copyright issues run rampant in the music scene, artists often take inspiration and style from one another in order to advance the state of popular music as a whole. Bringing back classic music and putting old songs and styles on a stage in a new music scene is something that has the possibility to enrich and culture young music fans.

Packaging Design

Packaging Design


Album Art

Designers lend their talents to a wide variety of clients every day, oftentimes creating consumer perceptions for everyday products and items. Put quite simply, if your product does not stand out on the shelf, what will make someone pick it up to look closer? Consumers once given the opportunity to reflect will realize that design and aesthetic of a product has more influence on their purchase than they might expect. The Designer’s Republic decided to play with this concept in the creation of both the packaging and promotional material for the Aphex Twins album, Syrio.

Syrio approaches the album design in a much more minimalistic way than almost any other album has. The white packaging with simple black type is incredibly straight forward and devoid of the frills of imagery or illustration that accompanies most album art. That is not to say that TDR didn’t include layout flourishes here and there, the inside cover for instance features text running circularly around the center as if to mimic the size of a vinyl, however the style is meant to be fairly bare bones. Even the very front cover only shows the lower half of a face, and as this part of the packaging is opaque, there is a suggestion that the face is not truly the focus of the design. What sets the album design out from almost any other is the extensive construction that went into creating the complete packaging. The outside jacket holds a fold out vinyl compartment that unfolds to show an inner jacket that houses the three records within. Included in this packaging is the project budget showing the costs of each part of TDR’s campaign.

The simplicity of the work forces the audience to digest it in an abstract learning process, bringing out the larger questions of tone and current societal expectations. In a world where the ‘picture on the box’ is more appreciated than the craftsmanship of the physical item, our modern culture conforms to the digital standard that looks often trump physical features. This messages says volumes about what the Aphex Twins hope the audience will consider. The fact alone that they decided to produce a physical vinyl version begs customers to return to ‘craft’ with them, as they surely do within the content of their music. A simple exterior will shift focus to the importance of the interior content.

TDR’s approach to the design can be considered illustrative in a counter intuitive way because it highlights a culture that is obsessed with pretty packaging and shiny things, often leaving actual content quality to the wayside. The simplistic imagery is inspired to contradict the usual flash and appeal of an album, while still delivering a sharp and crafted product. This is much like the recent release of Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus, which famously did not even have a CD insert but rather just a red label on a clear CD case with the album title on it. Conversely Yeezus found critical acclaim for being one of West’s most successful records. Simplicity on the outside can often mean the true craftsmanship was focuses on what really matters: the product.


Despite what is (comparably to most), some incredibly simplistic cover art, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More was crafted with excellence from first song to last.
HBO Now Marketing Analysis

HBO Now Marketing Analysis

Is HBO Now worth the hype?

This past week, network giant HBO finally released their standalone video streaming service, HBO Now. The service is a step up from HBO GO, which gave customers of the premium cable channel the ability to stream movies and television on demand complimentary – included with their normal subscriptions. HBO Now picks up the slack left my HBO GO, specifically in the area of live streaming programs. Where “GO” is a compliment to the premium channel subscription, “Now” is an autonomous subscription service that moves the intended platform from cable boxes to computers, which indicates a potential major shift in the future of media distribution.

HBO Now pioneers into the future of television, however not without a cost. A subscription to “Now” runs for $14.99 a month, which is a comparatively high price tag in relation to other similar services such as Netflix ($8.99 per month). What “Now” promises to deliver in exchange for a fairly high subscription fee is live Internet video streaming, with a reduced likelihood of crashes caused by capacity issues. Additionally “Now” is a TV network’s first attempt at allowing a subscription to content, without needing to purchase an entire cable contract.

Bloomberg Business’ Joshua Brustein notes that Sunday’s trial run of the service had a lot riding on it, saying that outcry against spotty service could be massive. In order to be taken seriously, the service must be reliable. The launch of HBO Now was set to coincide with the series super-hit “Game of Thrones,” in order to simultaneously buildup the service as well as monitor the influx of live users for the premier. However, prior to the premier of the fifth season of “Game of Thrones,” four out of the season’s 10 episodes were leaked online, causing a frenzy for hardcore fans and HBO users alike. This leak may have hurt HBO as the first four episodes of “Game of Thrones” season five are currently topping piracy charts, potentially evoking a ‘why buy the cow if the milk is free’ mentality.

HBO Now relies on the awareness of its benefits to customers. This service is being sold as a convenient and easy way to avoid opting into a contract with a cable provider, however where consumers will find value in it is in the quality and amount of products available to subscribers. With competition such as Netflix- which is much cheaper with a wider selection- it is imperative that HBO Now provides value to its customers in other ways that Netflix does not. The strength of “Now” lies in the benefit of immediacy because theoretically the service will provide real-time streaming to mimic television, an area that Netflix falls short in.

With so many options for viewers to pursue (both legal and illegal), HBO Now will live or die by customer to business communication. While “Now” is still in its early stages of launch, the response from their customers will be crucial in both keeping current customers and ensuring the service is user friendly and simple. Interestingly, since much of the Feedback about HBO’s new service has been so public, there is an element of word of mouth that will define if potential customers will see value in the service or not. The Game of Thrones episode leak served to undermine the launch of HBO Now, while simultaneously created word of mouth about the show and the service. The unintentional viral publicity is a catch 22; the viral nature of the story was a building block to expanding awareness, despite giving out free access to the episodes.

HBO is aiming the revolutionize television and entertainment industry for a generation living in an increasingly digital world. Depending upon how well “Now” is received and diffused; it is possible that with large enough servers to accommodate for high trafficked premiers, this could be the future of TV.