For Somali Canadian Hip-Hop artist K’naan, World Cup is pinnacle of steady rise to stardom

For me it started with the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002. Which is to say that I didn’t watch (and to be honest, care) much about European football prior to watching Brazil’s prolific run toward claiming their fifth World Cup title 8 years ago. But since then, I’ve been bit by the footy bug. You certainly don’t need to be a lad from London to follow footy anymore. This year marked the first time I watched every Arsenal game. Thanks to a pot pourri of specialty channels, PVR, online video streaming, blogs, and 24/7 news feeds – no fan is left behind or left out in a media-everywhere-anytime world. Great days for sports fans to be sure, and very, very profitable days for sports teams who are cashing in big on extending their product to new markets.
Exactly one month from today on June 11th, the World Cup thriller starts anew and while Canada’s national team will be absent, there will be a major Canadian contribution to the festivities. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard some of K’naan’s work. Multiple Juno Awards, plenty of global music awards and recognition, and sold out live shows at big venues are now the norm for this creative powerhouse musician. But it wasn’t always like this for K’naan who grew up in war-torn Somalia before immigrating to Canada. K’naan didn’t even speak English when he moved to Toronto at the age of 13.
Vancouver-based new media maven Megan Cole posted this superb interview a few years ago (2007) at a time when K’naan’s star was just starting to rise.

When the 2010 World Cup begins in June from South Africa, the largest global sporting audience will be listening to K’naan and his catchy tune ‘Wavin Flag’ (original) which was chosen as the theme song for the tournament. I don’t think even K’naan himself could’ve imagined this a few short years ago…

New study shows Canadian media habits are changing

A new Ipsos Reid study has been released as part of their ongoing series entitled Inter@ctive Reid Report. This latest study confirms that many Canadians are slowly replacing their television, magazine and radio usage with the internet.

“The fact that Internet usage has caught up with and is keeping pace with television watching is just another indication of how rapidly online Canadians’ entertainment habits are changing. For many companies a multi-channel strategy is imperative for meeting the demands of today’s operating environment”
– Calgary-based study author Mark Laver

While internet usage may have caught up to television for the 35-54 Canadian demographic, it has overtaken television for the net-savvy 18-34 Canadian demo. The so-called Canadian ‘net generation’, the cohort most coveted by advertisers, now spends an average of 18.4 hours online per week which eclipses television by a significant margin. What is most interesting about this study is how different a picture it paints of Canadians as compared to the recent CBC submission to the CRTC entitled ‘Reject old assumptions about New Media‘. I discussed that report in a previous blog post when it was tabled to the CRTC. But to refresh your memory, the CBC made these claims:

a) Traditional TV and radio usage is not being displaced by the Internet. b) It would be a waste time for traditional media companies to create Internet-only content if the goal is to generate advertising revenue. c) Most Canadians use the Internet primarily as a communications and research tool (Ed: Implying that most Canadians do not use the Internet for entertainment.) d) The trend is towards personalizing and controlling media, not developing new ways to consume it.

Surely this latest study from Ipsos Reid debunks at least one, if not several of those key points. via mediaincanada

Incogna hits public beta

I want to give a shout out to my buddy Kris Woodbeck who just publicly launched his baby,! Congrats to Kris and the whole Incogna team who have been working extremely hard for quite a while on their revolutionary visual search engine. Kris is a super guy and I couldn’t be happier for him. If you haven’t tried searching for images on yet, go for it!

Hiring outside the box

Transcontinental Media is Canada’s largest publisher of consumer magazines and the country’s fourth largest print media company. When Transcontinental went looking for a new boss to run their magazine division, one might expect that a hefty dose of experience in the print business would be a prerequisite for the job.

Finding a job in Canadian magazines isn’t easy, so when a guy who’s never worked in the business gets the top position at one of the country’s largest publishers, a few “WTF?” emails are bound to go around.

John Clinton is their new VP and while he has done just about everything a person can do in the advertising world (and he’s a pretty darn good artist too), running a print business was nowhere to be found on his resume. The magazine industry, much like TV, radio and newspapers are searching for new growth strategies in an era where the internet continues to gobble more of the market pie.

“Most of the people in magazines seem to have been in the magazine business for a long time. Coming from advertising, you can come at it from quite a different perspective.” For example, while publishers and editors often view other magazines as competition, Clinton argues that the real competition comes from other media. “What’s magazine, 7% of the media business? To sit there and beat each other’s brains out over the 7% doesn’t make as much sense as expanding the whole piece of the pie.” “We are not a magazine company” As part of his pie-growing strategy, Clinton wants to change the way staff at Transcontinental think about the products they work on. “We are not a magazine company—we are a media company. We service communities of interest and we surround those communities with magazine, with Web, with mobile, with distribution, with event.”

Cue the cliche; ‘If you keep asking the same questions, you will continue getting the same answers.’ By hiring outside the box and bringing in some creative mojo, Transcontinental will no doubt be hearing some different questions asked, and with that comes the prospect for new answers, new ideas and new possibilities. via Masthead Online

CBC defends old media

The CBC recently submitted a 13-page document to the CRTC entitled “Reject old assumptions about New Media“. It’s an interesting read to say the least. Here are the paper’s main conclusions:

1. Traditional TV and radio usage is not being displaced by the Internet. 2. Amateur video will never be a substitute for traditional media, particularly entertainment programming. 3. It would be a waste time for traditional media companies to create Internet-only content if the goal is to generate advertising revenue. 4. Most Canadians use the Internet primarily as a communications and research tool (Ed: Implying that most Canadians do not use the Internet for entertainment.) 5. The trend is towards personalizing and controlling media, not developing new ways to consume it.

This paper seems more like a ‘Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey‘ look inside the CBC’s brain, and far less of a forward-thinking view of the old media / new media paradigm. For example, just a few days prior to the publishing of the CBC’s paper, came a new study about Canadians consuming TV content on the internet. Needless to say, it paints a very different picture.

Canadians are turning on, tuning in and watching traditional TV shows on the Internet often using underground ways to access American programming, says a new study. “A very important thing to realize is that every television program that is broadcast is available in most cases in illegal peer-to-peer broadcasting,” said Sawyer of Toronto-based Two Solitudes Consulting. “Canadians do an awful lot of that. I believe one of the reasons that Canadians do an awful lot of that is that they are not being offered sufficient alternatives.” “Television is largely irrelevant to Generation Y,” said Walker, president of Slurp Media, an online video content production company that produces There’s money to be made in online advertising and ads can be customized to the demographic that is watching a particular TV show, he said. “The larger, more aggressive youth-oriented brands, I think, really get the Internet and the more traditional, staid ones don’t. But I think that’s shifting. I think more and more, you are going to see people shifting their budgets away from print and television and into the Internet.

via InsideTheCBC via Canadian Press

Canadian web is just getting started

It’s really easy to get caught in the echo chamber and think that everyone, every business has a web site. Truth be told, I was somewhat surprised when I read the latest internet report from Statistics Canada. While 87% of Canadian businesses ‘use’ the internet, only 41% have web sites. In addition, only 8% of private sector companies, and 16% of public sector companies are selling on the web. It’s no wonder that CIRA is projecting that .CA registrations will double over the next 3-4 years. Bottom line: there is a lot of room to grow!

Medicine Man was right?

Did you ever see that movie back in the early 90’s called Medicine Man with Sean Connery? Connery plays the part of an eccentric scientist who travels to the Amazon rainforest on behalf of a drug company. Connery is one piece of the puzzle away from finding a potential cure for cancer and that final piece is hidden in a rare species of ant and flower both only found in the Amazon. But bulldozers are clear-cutting the rainforest and Connery must race to find the flower before the bulldozers destroy all of the trees and plants in the area.Medicine Man, while merely a Hollywood production, did carry an important message. The precious value of our planet’s biodiversity could be destroyed and once it is lost, it is gone forever. As species die off, they take with them hidden secrets and potential cures to a vast array of human illnesses.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is the National Science Advisory Body that advises the federal government on the status of species at risk. At its 20-25 April 2008 meeting in Yellowknife, COSEWIC is assessing the status of more than 30 species, including Polar Bear, Spotted Owl, Western Chorus Frog, and Vancouver Island Marmot. – CNW

While Canada is at risk of losing several species, a more dire global warning was released today from the United Nations.

Earth’s organisms offer a variety of naturally made chemical compounds with which scientists could develop new medicines, but are under threat of extinction, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program.”We must do something about what is happening to biodiversity,” Steiner told reporters.

“We must help society understand how much we already depend on diversity of life to run our economies, our lives, but more importantly, what are we losing in terms of future potential.” Steiner was announcing the conclusions of a new medical book, “Sustaining Life,” on the sidelines of a UNEP-organized conference in Singapore. The book is the work of more than 100 experts, its key authors based at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, and it underscores what may be lost to human health when species go extinct, Steiner said.

“Because of science and technology … we are in a much better position to unlock this ingenuity of nature found in so many species,” he said. “Yet, in many cases, we will find that we have already lost it before we were able to use it.”

via Wired

In the movie version of this biodiversity crisis, Connery loses the race, the bulldozers destroy the vital patch of rainforest, and the village where the research was being collected is burned.This makes me think of another quote from famous American biologist Jonas Salk. He said, “if all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”According to the United Nations report issued today, Jonas Salk may be right. There are currently 16,000 species on the brink of extinction.