Posted in My Damn Channel
, Writers Strike
on 11/30/2007 8:23:00 AM by Rob Barnett
Old media may be starting to fall in love with the bad boys. They've definitely gotten all hot and bothered.
Ever since the strike began, the collective power created by fans of video sites like this are captivating editors to get to the bottom of our business models and find out how and why major Hollywood talent is setting up a new rebel base here in dot-commie land.
I landed in LA late yesterday and learned that a conversation I had with Gary Gentile at the Associated Press about the writers' strike was picked up by over 100 media outlets including Yahoo!, MSN, MSNBC, ABC, Forbes, CBS News, and the Washington Post.
Our recent viral videos racked up millions of views in a matter of days. Advertisers like Lincoln/Mercury and Universal Pictures just bought a ticket on the My Damn Channel bus and this little anti-media machine is picking up speed.
If artists don't win more respect and revenues inside this strike zone, then old media is going to wind up looking like Bruce Willis at the end of "The Sixth Sense."
Here's Gary's piece.
Posted in My Damn Channel
on 11/29/2007 8:13:00 AM by Rob Barnett
Our twins are 6 weeks old today. I'm flying out early this a.m. on the first roadtrip since they were born. Heading to our LA base camp where half of our humungous fulltime staff of TEN are fueling the funk. Most of our gigantic talent is LA-based at the moment too.
We're planning out all the early 08 sensory assaults and targeting new channel announcements for next Tuesday.
An artiste behind one of these new channels was in our new NY offices yesterday with his producer for a "horrible" meeting. Details within days.
Posted in Harry Shearer
on 11/28/2007 7:16:00 AM by Rob Barnett
We've been planning a series of internet debates as the countdown to Iowa continues.
We were not ready to confirm the participants until word leaked out in Florida where the YouTube mothership is getting ready to land on the Republican candidates tonight on CNN.
We can now confirm that next Tuesday night, Dec. 4, Tim Russert will moderate an historic debate between Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Sen. John Edwards (D) on My Damn Channel.
My Damn Channel will make next Tuesday's debate available simultaneously on YouTube.
Our debate format was developed by Harry Shearer ("Le Show," Huffington Post, "The Simpsons"). Voters and caucus goers will have a unique opportunity to access the candidates without any of the usual barriers that prevent them from taking a look at the real people who want to be President.
More debate details to follow.
Posted in Harry Shearer
, My Damn Channel
on 11/27/2007 7:56:00 AM by Rob Barnett
Explore The Harry Shearer Channel on My Damn Channel and you’ll see Harry as Cheney; Harry as Bush; Harry as Elvis; Harry as Silent Debate moderator; Harry as Harry on the streets of New Orleans; Harry as curator of “Found Objects” from Dan Rather and Katie Couric; Harry as pop prince on “Waterboardin’, USA” and now this new “program” which needs no introduction:
Harry says, "Dr. Phil's New Show is a sketch which takes on two of the most annoyingly ubiquitous things about modern TV -- incessant promos and Dr. Phil."
Posted in My Damn Channel
on 11/26/2007 9:28:00 AM by Rob Barnett
When I last worked in corporate American radio, the employees, competitors, and constituents of Clear Channel used to enjoy calling them "the evil empire." Too many radio listeners feel the same way about most commercial music stations in this country.
One fine day, in a plush board room somewhere inside "the evil empire," their generals decided to launch a new strategy designed to win back the hearts and minds of the disenchanted masses. Since most humans hate commercial interruption on music stations, their visionary new plan added MORE interruptions with less individual commercials inside each break. The most expensive suits in old media are cut with the most cynical cloth. They'll tell you the plan produced positive results. But common sense tells you the best way to fix the problem is to re-think the business and play LESS commercials.
Before launching My Damn Channel, I reached out to a few chosen brains to gauge reactions to our evil little plans to disrupt old media by creating original, episodic videos by the best artists from television, radio, and film. One of the first V.I.B.'s (very imp brains) I approached was Seth Godin.
Godin is a new media marketing guru. His books are required reading in our world. His titles pop. Small is the New Big, All Marketers are Liars...
I'd read the books, seen Seth Godin speak, and broke bread with him once - enough contact to that know he'd throw the right kind of body blows to see if our plan was ready to last in the web ring.
He questioned whether or not we'd be able to get our talent to deliver enough professional video on a consistent basis to build a business. This is where I first started to think about re-applying the "less is more" strategy.
When Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, the new media gold rush began. Most new sites that launched in the wake of this sea change have tried to win by imitating the mothership and putting up destinations with a similar look and feel with a ton of the same content. Megatons. We're fans and business partners with YouTube. But we don't think our audience is looking for another site with hundreds of "channels" and thousands of videos.
Our "less is more" thinking is built to prove Brave Sir Godin wrong. In our first 4 months of life, we've brought a small number of big talents into a tent where they deliver new webisodes every single week.
Here's the current line-up:
Every Monday: DAVID WAIN
Every Tuesday: HARRY SHEARER
Every Wednesday: ANDY MILONAKIS
Every Thursday: DON WAS
Every Friday: BIG FAT BRAIN
Our thinking is that if the best talent delivers the best videos - consistently - then less can be more.
Or, not. Body blows welcome: info@MyDammChannel.com
Posted in My Damn Channel
on 11/21/2007 6:59:00 AM by Rob Barnett
Quitting or getting fired are two of the best escapes when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time...two good medicines when the morning alarm sounds, and your first thoughts are about not wanting to get up and go to work.
Once knew a guy who wrote a book called “Fire Your Boss.”
There’s a really good antidote for a bad gig! Never read this book, but succeeded with the concept – twice.
We spent time yesterday interviewing people for two new full-time jobs at My Damn Channel. The process always puts you into the fray with people fresh off the firing line – people who’ve just thrown in the towel – the disenchanted – the downsized – the pissed off. Exactly the kind of energy that helps fuel a rebel army.
Our baby site can’t be right without a few more people in the mix calling us out on our crap. We’re looking for a Community Director to prevent us from too much top down thinking. The right new hire knows how to drop matches on the rocket fuel that’ll bring people into our site from the bottom up. Our fan base is growing fast, but they now need direct access to the inside - and the ability to use our bandwidth to interact with Harry, Don, David, Big Fat Brain, and Andy. These bad boys are ready to respond.
We’re also looking for a skilled site programmer to upload and manage taking the videos from the brains & hands of our stars & getting them up onto the site every day with ideas on how to best program the content.
We’re about to announce 3 new channels & we can use the extra human power to not screw this all up.
Average salaries for both new gigs + good benees and the chance to touch Don’s dreads – this wonderment & more can all be yours in our NY office.
Bend our skeptical minds to your powerful will. Why do you want in? And what’s your game plan?: info@MyDamnChannel.com.
Posted in Found Objects
, Harry Shearer
, My Damn Channel
on 11/19/2007 2:40:00 PM by Rob Barnett
The newest web series from Harry Shearer is Found Objects on My Damn Channel.
Harry Shearer’s clips have got all the old Kings & Queens laughing…and we’ve started storming the castle.
Posted in Don Was
, Music business
on 11/17/2007 3:51:00 PM by Rob Barnett
This is NOT the title of a blog about my kids. If you’re a music fan – read on for a peek inside old MTV and for new pathways to free music. Here endeth the commercial.
My wife and I took our twins in for another doctor visit yesterday. They seemed to have grown visibly - in just one day or so. The thought seemed improbable - but it was true. Dylan’s up to 9 pounds and Jessie’s up to 7/13.
You hardly ever get to experience rapid change if you’re in the grown-up game. We’re conditioned to desire, to answer hunger, and to chase after what we want. But if you’re looking for significant, life-altering changes, then you’re usually looking at the kind of wait time that takes years.
Instant, important growth is a rare reality inside the vicissitudes* of life on the PIG (Planet Instant Gratification).
Expectations about life and work getting better in an instant are false realities made more intense in the post-MTV age of immediate online communication. In the 80s + 90s, we were attacked at MTV for fueling a quick-cut culture that turned art and music into crass pop product. Most juries would enter a guilty verdict on that one.
Bill Flanagan is a great writer and a soulful music fan. He was one of a few trusted co-cons during our VH1 days together in the late 90s. Bill is still at MTV. If you ever watched his VH1 shows like "Storytellers" or "Legends" or "Crossroads" on CMT, then you know that Bill Flanagan is dedicated to keeping the "M" in Music Teleeevision.
Bill once shared a theory about “music then” vs. “music now” - and it’s never gotten out of my fat head: Those of us who first met Rock as an original art form grew up believing that the music we heard had the distinct possibility of defining who we were. Our jukebox heroes delivered idealized visions of how we could live life if we had the balls or the guts. Ladies Rock too, fellas. Our Real Rock heroes were missionaries who showed us how to embrace freedom without fear. True Rock n' Roll hearts beat in opposition to rules that demand conformity and retreat. There aren’t many of these twisted, crazy aortas left out there. Unfortunately, many of the hearts you find in the music game are a little dyslexic.
Professor Flanagan said that the music culture we found in the late 90s sent out a simple and sad message to a new generation of listeners. New sounds were being served up and received as product. Quick hits popped up out of nowhere from artists who seemed to be a lot more driven by cash and fame than by the possibility of spiritual transformations with an audience.
The wheels have been falling off the music business wagon since the day Shawn Fanning put up his radical roadblock. At 19, Mr. Fanning introduced a revolutionary, anti-corporate, pro-democratic assault on crash commercialism by launching Napster. That tale has been written to death – but simply stated: he killed the music business. Shawn, if you’re out there – or someone is who knows how to get to him – here’s an open invitation to envisioning your own “My Damn Channel.”
The old business has been hanging on, hoping that somehow the digital genie would dissipate. Bad move. New distribution pipes opened up everywhere taking away one of the last reasons inspired musicians needed major record companies. Little Steven tried to tell me in 2000 that the new digital pipeline recreated the old ‘single’ mentality and shoved the ‘album’ idea to the back of the bus. I didn’t want to believe him, but he was right. He always is.
Good music still exists, but you rarely find it on commercial radio, or on corporate cable television. The monopolies that controlled these distribution pipes have little to no interest in taking risks by playing songs or artists that are not yet proven to be able to generate gobs of cash. The cumulative effect of decades spent denying all this shit at the top has done a great job of igniting soulful flames at the bottom of the corporate food chain. You know the places: it’s the basements, garages, and laptops where the good shit is happening.
Little Steven knew this when he created the world called: UNDERGROUND GARAGE. He continues to take ‘the word’ to every distribution outlet he can find: radio, satellite, television, web, Wicked Cool Records, record stores (remember them!), and even now: to Rock & Roll High Schools.
Steven: I know you’re a little busy at the moment – but it’s likely high time we did a little more co-conspiring. More than 5 people are starting to hear your call. We had over 160,000 unique visitors to My Damn Channel yesterday. We've only been LIVE for 109 days and our insanely fast success is largely due to the amazing work of Brothers Harry Shearer, David Wain, Troy Hitch, Matt Bledsoe, Andy Milonakis, and Don Was.
I first met Don Was about 8 years ago. He entered the mystical land of mass consciousness as a founding member of the band Was (Not Was). Their hits like "Walk the Dinosaur" ruled the earth + MTV back in the day. In Modern Times, this soulful saint has served many of the most important artists in music as one of the most trusted producers in the world. Don Was helped birth albums for Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, The B-52's, Brian Wilson, The Black Crowes, Willie Nelson, Barenaked Ladies, and scores more.
Don found our old web site: - and he emailed to reconnect just in time to be a charter member of the My Damn Channel launch team. Our baby business has never wanted to be “another comedy web site” and we’re certainly not trying to lay claim to the YouTube throne. But we signed Don Was to give My Damn Channel a shot at creating an entirely new model for music distribution. The result is something Don calls “The Wasmopolitan Cavalcade of Recorded Music.”
Our idea is pretty simple. Don produces new music every week with some of the most talented musicians from every genre – every sound is valid. He normally takes artists into an LA studio – the old Charlie Chaplin studio – later the home of A&M Records – and now Henson Recording Studios.
In one single session, Don produces an A-side and a B-side. He also documents the work by creating music videos shot in black & white and captured LIVE as the real music is being made. Try to find music videos on television where the guitar player is playing the real take that went down or the singer is filmed doing the recorded vocal live and you’ll end up with a sore thumb. We don’t have any cheerleaders or beach balls in our music videos (Hey Don – maybe we’re missin' something?), but we’re hell-bent on presenting the real deal - without artifice.
Don has a crazy business model we think just might be crazy enough to start a little revolution. He’s offering every new recording to fans as FREE MP3 downloads. The artists are paid through generous grants from our sponsors including LINCOLN/MERCURY. It’s just like it was back in the earliest days of broadcasting - except Don has much better HAIR! He’s even experimenting with a new LIVE performance show called the “Wasmopolitan Dance Party.” He’s creating “Radio Was: The Party Shuffle Show,” a weekly radio show available free at My Damn Channel. If you want to discover new and old music the old fashioned way – this is the most eclectic, authentic thing you can find.
Next time you find yourself jonesing for another dose of instant gratification ask yourself: "Well.......how did I get here?"
My beautiful wife reminds me of what's real. Our family: Julia and Jessie and Dylan - and our extended clan - is mixed with blood, marriages, and a like-minded circle of soulful rebels all searching for that beautiful reward. There are never enough minutes and seconds for soul time in Life on the PIG (Planet Instant Gratification) – but my kids are sleeping right now and I’m going to take my snoot out of the virtual troth to listen to some good music with a sincere invitation for you to do the same.
* Vicissitudes: 1 a: the quality or state of being changeable : mutability b: natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs 2 a: a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance : a fluctuation of state or condition <the vicissitudes of daily life> b: a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one's control c: alternating change : succession
Posted in Hollywood
, My Damn Channel
, Writers Strike
on 11/16/2007 2:08:00 PM by Rob Barnett
My Damn Channel is getting a heap of new attention, phone calls, offers and rapid traffic increases in the wake of the writers' strike. If we weren't completely spiritually aligned with the writers and dedicated to giving them the best deals in the business - we'd feel guilty. Bad fortune cookies cracking open all over old Hollywood Boulevard mean 'good times' for all the cowboyz and cowgirlz out here in VIRTUALWOOD.
We've been sleepless for the past 108 days that our site has been up LIVE - creating new channels and videos for mass distribution: backing professional writers, actors, musicians, comics, directors, and producers who still work in the old system but can taste and smell the new world dawning. Our co-cons are too talented to ever quit creating. We set them a new thanksgiving table with a feast of web freedoms. No turkeys in our oven - they're still alive out there - gobbling about how they're not really losing audience to the web and how business is better than ever. Ya think?
Hundreds of former co-cons have hit the beach over the last few years...especially in TV + radio. Old Hollywood is becoming layoff-land.
Our new media speedboats are outrunning the old battleships. Our generals have no fear. The best new media companies are run in ripped jeans, blaring loud music in offices that look like a cross between our college dorms and the OLD mtv.
The best part about not having a boss in a suit is that you don't have to second guess yourself. You can go back to making art the way you did before you thought your whole life depended on the outcome. (It actually does - but the wheels are about to fall off this posting - right?)
It always boils down to Freedom vs. Fear. Dylan's best interview - given in 1984 at about 4 o'clock in the morning - offered the best advice any creator can lend another:
(Paraphrasing) "......whenever you want to do anything in your life - don't ask advice - if you do - you'll either end up not doing it - or doing it wrong - but if you know what you want to do - and you do it - you'll be successful - no matter what."
We took a My Damn Channel camera out on the picket lines yesterday......we'll share some more strike energy later. It smells like Thanksgiving.
Posted in Big Fat Brain
, Don Was
, Reborn Studio
on 11/16/2007 2:08:00 PM by Rob Barnett
Thanks to Holly Cara Price, Reborn, Big Fat Brain, Nate and other friends for giving THE NIGHT FEED a little nourishment + encouragement to find sum mojo. Our website traffic is starting to blow up bigtime this week. Our little anti-media army is very jazzed. One quick note here and I'll shut up - inviting you to go get some free music from our DonFather - with much more to say about why tomorrow.