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Media Guy Takes a Break, Meet Media Boy

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As happens every once in a while, Advertising Age lets Media Guy take a week off to enjoy life beyond the media business. But respect for his readers, who generally remain shackled to the business year-round, demands a column nonetheless. Thus we turn to Media Guy's trusty sidekick. Meet Media Boy.
. Credit: Mario Perez

Last week Viacom, which recently told YouTube to yank 100,000 clips of its content, struck a deal to show videos on Joost, which is designed to suppress piracy. Never mind that YouTube has more eyeballs; things are getting screwy out there.

The big-media content factory used to be a simple place, one where anyone who got the attention of gatekeepers like TV executives or magazine editors could pitch their ideas. The gatekeepers could then shoot down the pitches and steal the ideas. Lo, content was born -- and you watched, read or listened to whatever those executives deigned to make available.

But now Media Boy keeps hearing the Wu-Tang Clan in his head, asking again as they once did, "Can it be that it was all so simple then?"

Forums for insanely narrow interests are proliferating while mass media boils down to the broadest draws -- think celebrity gossip, reality TV and, in the case of "Dateline NBC," the televised humiliation of perverts who use new media to get underage dates.

As long as we're all content generators now, here are some suggestions for getting your own content out there.

How to pitch celebrity weeklies
Celebrity rags such as Us Weekly, Star and In Touch Weekly have more to worry about than TMZ, Perez Hilton and X17 Online, the Bald-Britney overachiever that's run by a freaking photo agency, speaking of the media free-for-all. They also still have each other. Collectively they may be the brightest constellation in the magazine universe, but individually they're stuck trying to break exclusives on a weekly news cycle. So if you happen to work in the salon when Britney comes in to get buzzed or you're the Hard Rock Hotel employee that last saw Anna Nicole Smith and snapped a cellphone pic of her, hold out for the highest bidder.

After all, American Media executives recently told bondholders that Star is "closely monitoring photo buys of competitor titles" to help distinguish its covers -- but also looked forward to a "positive effect" from the Anna Nicole Smith tragedy, which won't distinguish Star from anyone.

And behold, Star and People wound up running the same cover photo of Anna Nicole in the same week.

Getting your satellite-radio gig
The Satellite Radios nee XM and Sirius just announced a $13 billion merger that could close by the end of the year and eradicate the rivals' talent arms race. So if you've got modest name recognition -- usually the price of entry for a satellite show -- the clock is ticking.

The deal would place Howard Stern and Oprah's shows under one roof, but it also would make even more commodities of the many, many smaller voices on XM and Sirius. "Some of the duplicate programming could be rationalized," a Barrington Research analyst pointed out, and Media Boy is reading "rationalized" to mean "clear-cut."

Soon the staples of the satellite duopoly, like refugees from terrestrial radio (Opie & Anthony, Bubba the Love Sponge) and print (Jane Pratt, Judith Regan), will suddenly be crowding company elevators with their Bizarro World equivalents. And monopolized satellite radio won't see much value in that.

Wrap up that TV-series pitch
Know what happens after you close the case on Laura Palmer.

In a Long Tail world, gatekeepers and their corporate overlords believe downstream sales will matter more and more. That's encouraging some far-reaching story planning and even a willingness to pull the plug before live ratings demand it.

To take a leading indicator, "Lost" producers are already talking with ABC about when to end the serial -- partly to make sure fans get answers. That's going to produce a much more holistic and compelling DVD collection or iTunes library than a series that wanders on without satisfying its core viewers. (Cough, "Twin Peaks.")

"Prison Break" and "Heroes," Media Boy is looking at you.

When to launch your blog
You're already too late. Try a vlog and maybe work your way up to a YouTube channel.

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