July 20, 2016 6:29 pm

A few years ago, a friend mentioned Snapchat to me as an app specifically purposed for sending and receiving naked pictures that immediately disappeared after the user viewed it. While I thought this was a great way to make it harder to store, share and publicly humiliate people who send nude photos of themselves to others, my genitalia is quite camera shy, so this was not for me. Only after being told that I could do other stuff on Snapchat by a much smarter friend did I enter the ghost world.

funny-snapchat-darth-phoneSoon after joining, I discovered just how fun Snapchat is, and with continuous improvements happening, it’s only gotten better. Their filters are frequently updated, unique, silly, and also allow the user to be creative with each one of them. As a proud recluse, the only reason why I’d even consider travelling the world is so I can see all the different geography based filters Snapchat has to offer in each city and town.

No other photo/video based app has those features nor can compete with the up-to-the-second spontaneity of the app. Whether it’s Vine or Instagram, a narrative arc seems necessary within each post in order to even legitimize its existence. With Instagram, it’s nearly taboo for somebody to post more than one image a day. Seriously, I’ve seen countless examples of people prefacing their post’s caption with an apology for sharing, god forbid, TWO photos in one day. Snapchat does not have this problem, all photos or videos that the user chooses to share get bundled up into the their “Story,” so there’s no timeline flooding to worry about. No apologies necessary.

In a surprising development, however, the app championed for its entertaining disposability has decided  to make a strong commitment to journalism. Over the past few updates, major media outlets and TV channels like Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, MTV and Comedy Central began popping up at the top of the “Stories” page featuring videos and articles made specifically for the app. At first, they were tiny little circles that were easy to ignore. Now, they’re bulkier rectangles demanding more attention. They’ve also added a new page labelled “Discover,” which is entirely dedicated to those outlets.

At first glance, this can certainly be taken as a blatant “fuck you” to the ghosts of Woodward and Bernstein (neither of them are dead), as well as the distinguished history of journalism as a whole. But if executed well, this wouldn’t be the first time an app created for inane intentions became a hosting ground for brilliant voices who may not have been discovered otherwise.

When Twitter began getting attention, Ashton Kutcher was the first master of the medium somehow. Yes, Ashton Kutcher. This can not be forgotten. He was the first to hit a million followers and it was actual news. Athletes like Charlie Villanueva and Gilbert Arenas used Twitter as an easier way to get in trouble instead of them having to risk a broken hand by going all the way to a nightclub and punching somebody in the face. As the site grew, smarter people began using it in smarter ways. Activists like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie (or simply, @Deray and @Nettaaaaaaaa) used Twitter as a way to organize the Black Lives Matter movement. Comedy writers started getting book deals left and right. And as Twitter implemented new features, writers had better ways to expound on richer ideas incapable of being summed up in 140 characters.


What worries me about Snapchat is how it doesn’t seem to be following the template of Twitter’s template. The potential is certainly there and the Story feature has already been well utilized during major events by prominent figures. The problem is that most of the notable examples of heavily followed Snapchat users are celebrities who were already famous to begin with. Snapchat did give DJ Khaled’s relevance a boost, however, the appeal of his snaps to begin with was that he wasn’t exactly starving for the boost to begin with.

Any good social media app worthy of its over inflated IPO obviously needs some celebrities, though. Just look at how well it worked out for Dane Cook and MySpace. The celebrity base is necessary. But aside from the famous folk and those aforementioned media outlets, there isn’t an easy way for a regular user be shown to a wider audience.

Ironically, this is what made the app such a sensation in the first place. The path Snapchat wants to take gives great hindrance to a user’s drawing power due to the privacy afforded to them. Standard features on social media simply can not be done at this present time because of this. There’s nothing comparable to a Re-Tweet, a Like, a Share, or a ‘Person You Should Follow’ feature. There isn’t even anything in place that allows someone who read and enjoyed a certain media outlet’s Snapchat article to follow the author’s personal account. And while Snapchat Live does show a collection of snaps by individual users pertaining to a major event, none of their usernames are shown there . It’s also kind of a mystery to me how someone gets featured on Snapchat Live in the first place.

Such a lack of accessibility to an organic, non-famous, user’s account really delivers a blow to the whole “social” aspect of Snapchat. The skeezy, yet well intentioned, foundation of Snapchat needs to be reconfigured in order to help make the voices who want heard on there can get exposure without Buzzfeed or Comedy Central press credentials. If left in its current state, there simply won’t be a high likelihood of there being Snapchat’s version of a Vine Star or Twitter Sensation, just a bunch of dicks with dog ears.

June 21, 2016 12:22 pm

Remember when MTV played actual music videos? I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw an MTV music video. Vh1 had it going for a while, but now both channels are overwhelmed with shitty reality shows voiding themselves completely of music. Well, never fear because My Jam TV is the new MTV! The company started last year and is rapidly growing, spreading to London and China, getting on Sky TV, Roku and soon on Apple TV. My Jam TV is causing some major waves.

Here is the real break-down of what it is: It’s a channel where artists pay to have their music videos played on the air in an ever shifting rotation.

What this means for the viewer: An endless stream of music videos of all genres from new and growing artists. We scored a few minutes with CEO, David S. Zucker, and talked about it’s inception and its plans for the future:

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Where did the idea for My Jam TV come from?

After MTV started to die, I talked with my partner, Russ, about how there is nothing that really shows music videos and new artists anymore. I then asked if he wanted to start up a channel that does exactly that. He was a tiny bit unsure but I told him, “We have nothing to lose, why not?” And so we did it. We’re trying to get the word out there so that the independent artists know who we are and that they know it isn’t just another YouTube, it’s a station that is on constant rotation and people all over the world will be able to see who they are. Its tough to start, but little by little we’re trying to get out there and help the independent artist, that’s what it is about.

How does it work for the viewer and artist?

We want to educate the artist. We will broadcast their music video many times throughout the month, they get to build their own fan page, be on a radio show, a chance to be on live TV and play on the air. We also offer digital distribution with the artists to the viewer, but unlike most companies, 100% of the money from buying music goes straight to the artist.

You are broadcast all over the world, are you open to other languages?

We are mostly English right now, we do have a few Chinese bands actually and their stuff is incredible, so in other words, yes we are open to other languages. We would love to also get into the Latino community and even have a separate Spanish channel and possibly other language specific channels down the road.

What do you see for My Jam TV five years from now?

I see us having multiple channels for the various music genres, a hip-hop channel, rock channel, country and so forth. We want all sorts of music on My Jam TV, letting people explore genres they normally wouldn’t. We want to give an opportunity for artists to grow, expand and let people worldwide experience something new.

So for our readers who love new music, you know what to do. The indie channel is right up our alley, sticking it out for the underdogs. If you’re an aspiring artist, they offer a great way to get your name and music out there. Check out their website and enjoy this awesome endless flow of music videos.

June 20, 2016 11:48 am

Quick: how many bands can you name from Austria? None? I’m disappointed in you. You can make it up to me by checking out Vienna-based electronic band Leyya. Their 2015 debut, Spanish Disco was recently reissued with some new remixes for their fans in the US and UK, with the song “I’m Not There” to be featured on the MTV show Scream.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with vocalist Sophie Lindinger about what’s to come, festival life, and the best new bands in Vienna.

Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Spanish Disco! Is there anything you’d like people to know before they listen to it?
If it is your very first listen: take your time, sit down, let the music do it’s work. To really get into it – absorb it!

Did you do anything to celebrate its release?

On release day, we were playing a show in Brighton at The Great Escape Festival and learned that “Butter” went Number 1 on our favourite radio station. But else, not really. Marco and I are not the kind of people who “rest on our laurels“. If we had not have set a final date, we probably would still work on it. We are very happy with the result and after a time of consideration and the realisation that it is finally out, we wouldn’t change anything after all. Meanwhile we have already started to write new material – that’s the best way to celebrate!

Did you help with the concept for your “Butter” video?

We always start with a certain idea we have for the song we want to make a video to. But in the end, the people we work with, like Gabriel Hyden or Martina Trepczyk, convert our ideas to an actual viable concept. We might change a few scenes or involve in the editing a little bit, but basically we just let it happen.

Your Facebook page says “Leyya” means “marketing strategy” in the Alaskan Yupik language. How did you figure that out?

Well, to be honest…Leyya is a not a real Inuit word. It doesn’t mean anything. We just thought, if someone actually Googles the term to get proof, it has already got stuck in his head and we love the irony about that. The name Leyya is simple, short and you remember it.

Do you prefer performing at large festivals, or in smaller (more intimate) clubs?

I can’t really decide what I like best. Small club shows mostly are something special, because the people actually come to see you and somehow absorb everything you do and play. On the other hand, festival shows give you the opportunity to catch a new audience and a larger target group. Everything is already set up, you mostly have a huge backstage and you don’t have to think about anything.

So I think if time, surroundings, mood, people and many different factors play together – it doesn’t matter where you play. It’s all about giving the audience a good time and to have a good time playing.

Are there any bands you were/are really excited to perform with at a festival?

It is always exciting to perform in a festival where someone is playing that you like. Most of the time you don’t actually meet them, but to see your band name on the same poster as the name of one of your favourite bands, makes you feel a little proud.

I was really looking forward to seeing and meeting at a German festival in June, but then I saw the timetable and realized that we’re playing on a different day…so… damn it.

What is the music scene like in Vienna?

The music scene in Vienna is growing exponentially – and luckily it is getting more and more international attention. Plus there is also much more attention for this scene in Austria itself, which is something considerably new, too.

What are your favorite places there to see live music?

We do now have festivals in Austria where only Austrian bands are playing and people love it! But also the small locations, especially in Vienna, are pretty charming, too. B72, Chelsea, Rhiz, Fluc, WUK…the list goes on and on.

Are there any artists in Vienna you feel deserve more attention?

There are a lot of bands who deserve more attention, and I do not know where to begin – Hearts Hearts, for example, whose debut album was one of my favourites last year. Schmieds Puls, Ant Antic, Avec, Monophobe, Mynth, Robb…be sure to get yourself a little more into that. Austria has a lot of hidden treasures.

What are your plans for the rest of 2016?

In summer we’re continuing to tour and going to play festivals around Europe and we’ll use the time we have left to write new music. I think it reduces your creativity when you are always worried about what to do next, so we don’t really plan much further into the future. Many things just happen and might open up opportunities you don’t expect at all.