Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hints, Moles and Videotapes

Things have really been busy in Manilowland for the past few days. For years a fan in Europe has been supplying fans with music, photos, and videos of Barry Manilow. Not only did she post this material on her own site, she posted it on Internet sharing sites. Last week she got caught; an email from an attorney representing Stiletto arrived in her in box. Of course she had to share the pain of receiving such an email with all of her many online friends, one of whom she suspects turned her into TPTB. Fans have been up in arms about the treatment this fan received. Closer examination shows that she and her friend left TPTB very little alternative.

Many times fan has commented what a caring person this lady is to have taken the time to edit and post so many videos. Trouble is her concern didn’t go far enough to obey the laws that protect an artist’s material. Her sharing has another name – copyright infringement. The only way copyrighted material can be used legally by anyone other than the copyright owner is to obtain permission from the copyright holder, which this person clearly did not do. Claims have been made that this person didn’t think she was doing anything wrong but only helping by promoting Barry.

She did know and her own words prove it. On August 2, 2009, she posted a reply on the forum board about her videos being removed from the Daily Motion site. In the reply she says not once, but twice that, “I was expecting this to come one day…” and “As I said, I was expecting this one day or the other but I was hoping this day not to come that soon.” (Now before I get angry emails that I used quotes off a private forum, I want to pass on this bite of information. The discussion boards on the Manilow Network are not private. I was able to look this up and pull it off without even signing on to the network. Anyone can see what is posted there. The only reason to sign on would be to reply to a discussion. All goes back to nothing is private on the Internet.) So she knew what she was doing was wrong.

Copyright seems to be brushed aside by fans as not being relevant when money does not change hands. That is not true. What she knew or didn’t know became a non-issue when TPTB pulled all her videos off the public site. Big clue there that this fan was doing something that wasn’t supposed to be done. Not only that, but that she was being watched.

This rather large hint did not get through to this person. She came up with another plan to keep sharing copyrighted material. Once again she shared this information around the Internet on email strings. See where this is going? Where it always goes. Once again back to that nothing is private on the Internet (doesn’t that get boring that I have to keep saying that? But some people never get it.) It is supposed that someone, trying to score whatever it is moles get, turned her into TPTB. Tons of finger pointing and names named as to who this was has been going on all over the fan sites. It can be narrowed down to one place; My Manilow Network.

Some well meaning person posted on the MMN discussion boards that this lady was going to keep posting her videos but she couldn’t tell how the fan planned to do this because then TPTB would know. Think maybe this person, who all but dared TPTB to stop this fan had anything to do with tipping then off that something was afoot? (I went back to find the post but in true cult fashion, it has been removed. Good covering of tracks.) It is not hard to imagine that after reading this post, on their own official site, that TPTB knew that hints and being nice wasn’t going to work. It was time to get serious and they did.

I’m a black and white person. Rules and laws are to be obeyed in my book. I’m not naive to think that most everyone hasn’t shared a video or something with a friend. That is not the case with this lady. She had great amounts of material. Her material wasn’t limited to videos; she claimed to have unreleased music. Someone here in the United States supplied her with material. Trying to put a spin on it that she was “helping Barry” and other fans does not change the fact that what she did was not only morally wrong but against the law. She got away with it for years but her run is over, or I hope it is. Surely she got the message this time. Maybe this fan can use the skills she acquired in editing and posting Barry’s material into a new hobby—one that is legal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seeing Barry through Different Eyes

Last weekend quite a few fans got to see Barry perform in two different venues. Reviews and pictures appeared of both concerts. What I really found really interesting was how various people saw Barry’s performances through very different eyes. By sharing their accounts of what was experienced, I was able to see the many ways fans relate to a concert. In a way it was like the life cycle of a fan.

New fans saw the concert with child-like eyes. It was all new and exciting. Just being in the same place as Barry was nearly enough. Every aspect was enjoyed and savored with the awe of a wonderful Christmas morning when Santa fulfilled all the wishes. Oh, to have that joy again.

Older fans, (and I don’t mean in years as age, but more in years as a fan) tend to not only appreciate Barry’s performance but also the event itself. Friends and being together was a vital part of their experience. As people grow older they tend to be grateful for friends and the opportunity to do things mutually enjoyed. Maybe the show wasn’t exactly what it used be but that doesn’t matter. Knowing that there are still shows to attend makes them happy.

Last are the die hard older fans; the senior of the fans who have been there for the whole time. Long memories of days past sometimes hinder their ability to enjoy the concert. Seeing the changes reminds them that not only has Barry grown older, but so have they. That can be hard to accept. The concert is viewed with a more critical eyes of what it should have been based on what Barry once did. The past can’t be relived. Some will understand and accept that; others will not.

My thanks to all the people who shared their concert going experience from last weekend. I hope people continue to do that. Seeing Barry’s concerts through different eyes gives insight to how people think and feel. That always interests me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Manilow TV: Update

Looks like Manilow TV is about to come online. For a short while on Sunday, the website was up. It got taken down when fans started accessing the website and sharing information. Or was it put up to test the waters? What a great way to gage fan’s reactions. After reading what fans said, then pricing and terms could be tweaked. Great marketing!

So what did the marketing testing show? Manilow TV has generated a lot of buzz in the fans world. Over on MMN, the official site, everyone is expressing what they would like to see. There is no mention of thoughts on the price of $20.00 a month. Lucky people over there do not seem to be feeling any affects from the recession. I am happy for them. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe they are being careful not to say anything negative so they won’t get banned. I’ll be positive and go with the Manilow Network is a recession proof zone.

That is not the case with the newsgroup and other places. The monthly fee seems too high for most of these folks who have been hit by the recession. One great idea was a pay for view tier of service. Fans pay for just what they want to watch, say for maybe a twenty-four hour period. (Thanks to a newsgroup poster for this idea.) That might make the service accessible to more viewers.

I can’t say I was surprised by the no downloading or allowing the material to be put on any other site, as stated in the Terms of Service. That is how it should be. The service is not giving away videos; you pay for the privilege of watching them. I’m just not sure how the videos can be monitored. A little thing like TOS never seemed to affect the illegal videos on the Manilow Network. Maybe Manilow TV will have something in place to make the downloading complicated.

I mean, come on, you and I both know that someone somewhere will figure out to download the videos. Nothing on the Internet is ever safe. The best you can do is make downloading hard. That will cut out a majority of down loaders. Only the hard core, download-or-die fans will be left and TPTB probably know who they are. If the videos end up on a site, some one will blab. They always do. Gotta score those Brownie points.

Manilow TV –here it comes. Stay tuned to see how it goes. You won’t be getting any first hand information from me. I’m one of those recession people. I wish the venture all the best. All the people who do sign up for the service, I hope you enjoy it. Tell us about it now and then. We’ll live vicariously through you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Barry Manilow: On and Off

A couple of weeks ago Barry went to a listening party for Whitney Houston’s new CD in LA. Photos were snapped which got fans talking. Then last week, an article appeared in the Yamaha 360 magazine about Barry. Some very nice pictures accompanied this article but these pictures didn’t generate nearly as much conversation. Why was that?

The pictures taken at the listening party showed a more causal Barry. He didn’t look as put together as he did for the photo shoot done for the magazine article. Photo shoots are planned, like a show. Hair, make-up, clothes, the whole nine yards. Barry appeared in those pictures just as he would if you attended a show in Vegas. Probably a lot of pictures were taken during the photo shoot with only the best being used in the article. Not so with the listening party photos.

Caught on his way in or out, you can’t really tell, Barry looks like a mature man going out after work. No make-up, fancy hair, or show clothes. His appeared tired and pale. This is what caused the talk. Some fans like the natural look and some worried Barry was ill. These feelings were expressed in comments that appeared on the TMZ page with Barry’s picture. (I don’t put much stock in the cancer comment posted under the name of a former family member of Barry’s manager/employee. This same person sued and settled with his former father-in-law. I’m sure there was some kind of confidentially agreement involved in all that.) Most old time fans were very familiar with how Barry looked; they had seen it for years when he was on the road. Tired always shows on Barry’s face.

The two sets of photos illustrate the difference between Barry’s private and public life. Like the photos, the Barry seen onstage is not the same person his family and friends know in his private life. It’s nice when fans get a glimpse at the causal Barry and without invading his private time. I know some fans have a problem with the tabloid press, like TMZ, where the picture of Barry appeared. Attending an event like this listening party, Barry, or any other celebrity, knew that their presence was wanted to attract media attention. I would have a problem if I saw photos taken by someone of Barry in his backyard or photos taken with a telephoto lens of him; say out shopping, without his knowledge. Barry went to this listening party knowing the paparazzi would be there. He chose how to look. I applaud his choice. It shows a comfort with yourself to appear so causally. Thank you, Barry.