Sunday, August 18, 2013

Random Thoughts: Bear Hair and Observations about (gasp) Entertainment Marketing

Hello, dear readers!

It has been a while. August is pretty busy which is why I haven't blogged in a while. But more about the busy later.

So, while my brain has been largely engaged in multiple creative projects, it continues thinking about stuff during other daily tasks, like eating, animal maintenance, and that day job thingy.

There hasn't been a Round Up in a while. I have been reading, I can assure you, but the last batch of books I have read haven't been so squeeworthy. (I won't name names, because one person's "Meh" is another person's "Holy Awesomesauce!") The same is true of things I've watched over the past few weeks. I am sure that soon, I will have a batch of things to rave about ... but... this experience has lead me back to a comparison I have been making between the music industry and the publishing industry.

Sometime in the 90s, the music industry's indie labels became as distinguishable to listeners as bands themselves. The first notable label to market themselves as a label as well as promoting artists was Sub Pop. (Fact checks are welcome here. One might argue that well before this different labels were marketing themselves through their catalogues etc... but the Sub Pop sticker became a ubiquitous thing for a while and music lovers paid as much attention to what labels were releasing as to the specific bands they loved, but I digress. Kill Rock Stars in another indie that fits the bill for that time period.)

It occurs to me that indie publishing is doing the same thing. A certain aesthetic accretes around the output of some publishers, creating a kind of brand. Much of this may have to do with chosen genre focus, but it also has to do with other, less easily pinned down qualities.

In music right now, almost everything Merge Records does tickles my ear-holes.

In publishing, it seems to be Angry Robot Books that gives me the narrative happy-pants. I come to this realization after looking at past Round-Ups on the Spotty Blog. When it comes to my personal tastes, they have never produced a miss. For what that's worth.

This is not to suggest that other indies don't hold sway, or offer other things that make me squee. It's just a trend I've noticed in my own reading.

Panverse Publishing is another one. Of course, there is a bit of bias there, I must say in the interests of full disclosure. I've been published through Panverse. This tends to encourage a person to pay attention to the other things happening with a publisher. It is a publisher, however, that has never let me down for a solid read. The hallmark here is Dario's eye for unique, diverse narrative voice in storytelling, which is most strongly evidenced in the anthologies.

When it comes to watching film, I don't have quite the same experience in regards to branding, yet. This may be unique to me, I tend not to pay attention to the production companies that produce movies I like. This may be because my tastes are all over the place and I don't remember, or it could be that I am not as diligent in paying attention to those details. But I don't see branding happening with production companies for film in the way it happens (for me) for books and music.

To be fair, this probably has something to do with my own personal experiences of work. I was in radio for a long time and have a heightened awareness of things like record labels. I write fiction have been published a few times so I pay attention to publishing companies as a matter of course. I've never worked in film, but I have begun writing scripts so this is probably a thing that will change. As I pay more attention, it is possible that a sense of "brand" here will accrete.

I have some serious movie buff friends that would probably argue the point that there is most definitely a sense of brand with production companies, but I'm really just talking about my experience as a consumer. It's all part of the random stuff that has been floating around in my head lately.

(Can you tell I've been reading over at ?)

Anyway, bringing it back around to the music industry, my point about the Sub Pop stickers is that I was aware of them as a label before I started working in radio. I think that's all I will say there because this chick right here is no marketing expert.

Right, so, next thing. What can you do with bear hair? Seriously. Not too long ago, a bear came through the yard. Probably because I dumped something in the compost pile that smelled super-yummy. I know this because the composter was torn down and its contents scattered. Also, our visitor bent a shepherd's hook which held suet for the birds and made off with the suet. In addition, he found a can full of birdseed, crushed it ate half and dug a hole in the dirt, then left a bunch of hair clumps. One might think this is distressing. Mmmm. Not so much. At least to me. (But then, I did, once upon a time chase a bear across the yard because I wanted a picture. Not exactly the normal reaction... but digression again, so...)

I kept the bear hair, because my inner 9 year old is all like, "Coolest thing EVER!"

There is not enough of it to make a sweater, or use in the vegetable garden as a deterrent to other small critters. So what do I do with it?

These are the kinds of burning questions that take space in my head when I'm not editing a finished novel, working on the new one (there are some thorny issues re: diplomatic relations between dragons and humans), waiting for submission responses, seeking a workshop venue for the play, working on the new play, trying to build amazingpants playlists for my last two radio broadcasts of the summer and... and... and... well, there are a bunch of things I am leaving out, I'm sure, but there's the short version of the busy.

So, for the next two weeks, the playlists will be up. My regular blogging irregularity will likely begin again in September.

Until then, dear readers, I am curious about you! Leave a note! Leave a note particularly if you have any good ideas about bear hair.

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