Sizing up the competition

Evaluating the market in which you are about to launch a new offering is an important stage of developing a product/service.

MelbinNoir appeals to a niche market: a community fore mostly defined by its love of jazz and live performance in Melbourne. This community consists primarily of Melbourne residents, 20-40 years of age who live in the city’s inner suburbs like Fitzroy, Brunswick and Carlton.

But what are the secrets to appealling to a niche market?

A great example of a company who has experienced resounding success in this venture is Sydney-based new media company Sound Alliance. Their success can be attributed to the focus they place on various niche music communities and offer a suite of websites tailored to the specific interests and needs of each group.

Sites include:– a dance and house focused site– rock and mainstream– a national gay and lesbian website  – alternative music

Though the target market of each site is different, Sound Alliance offers forums, blogs and groups that connect the community while also providing quality editorial content.

The powerful combination of social networking and editorial content connects community members and the numbers speak for themselves: Mess and Noise has over 5000 contributors and an average site visit time logged at 10 min, with over 16 000 daily unique visitors and 100 000 registered users.

Sound Alliance is a great example of how to establish a sustainable and profitable business model from niche web communities.

Our group can learn a lot from Sound Alliances’ example. I believe that  an online jazz directory in Melbourne fills a gap in what is currently on offer. Our site needs to capitalise on the interests and passions of a niche community and communicate with those consumers in credible and effective ways. Quality content and the facilitation of social connections between members to build credibility and loyalty.


Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

used with permission from the artistused with permission!


Reproduction has always been a primary aspect in the relationship between technology and images.

In his seminal essay, Walter Benjamin argued that with technological process, new capacities of image reproduction and the development of the mass media, the meaning and value of an image and its role in society changed dramatically.

 If only he was alive today to see how far mechanical reproduction has come. Youtube, Deviant Art, Tate Modern’s “Tate Shorts” series… these are all examples a profound shift in [visual] culture.

Enter copyright issues and violations… the reproduction and dissemination of art online is fraught with these.

One resource that is trying to provide guidance on the legal issues of art and the web is the Australia Arts Law Centre, . This organisation provides exhaustive literature, research and advice for those who are publishing, reproducing (images/music etc) online.  

Digital reproduction has unarguably made art more accessible to people; it can help to demystify art and make it seem more approachable. We can now be voyeurs from the comfort of our own homes… a situation that has serious implications on questions of authenticity and ownership.

Superman to die, so steel yourself

The data on what viewers will actually take the time to sit down and read online is depressing. As we discussed in class, studies have been done which prove readers block out a majority of website content, read in a defined “F” pattern, or they will skim headlines without reading the attached articles.

So it’s important to make sure headlines are smart, clear and intriguing to hook people into reading a bit further. Sell and tell.

I’ve been looking around online and found a cool series on headlines by CopyBlogger. These articles address a variety of different issues around why headlines aren’t effective, and how to make them as catchy as possible.

Check out magnetic headlines for more!

WordPress Templates

Today’s Hint: a useful link to WordPress theme templates! Saviours for the not so technologically proficient! This site is a great spot to find a range of different and did I mention FREE (!) templates to help you start to build your website.

MelbinNoir has decided Arthemia works best for our purposes. Here’s a preview:

arthemia theme

PS our “purpose” has been distilled. Here’s what MelbinNoir will  aim to do:

MelbinNoir is a free, user-centred directory that provides information about Jazz artists, events and venues around Melbourne. Our directory gives both local and visiting artists to Melbourne a platform to advertise their deserving work while simultaneously provide fans with comprehensive event details at a convenient one-stop location.

Melbourne is renowned for its chic noir: black fashion, laneways, dark intimate night spaces, intergenerational cultural diversity, nooks and crannies and its pivotal live music scene. Run by a group of Noir enthusiasts who take their music as seriously as their coffee, offers independent venue and band reviews, and gives you the ability to search gigs by venue, genre, location, performers and price. At we allow users to create their own accounts, which offers you a comprehensive customised Melbourne metro live music calendaring service.

The Noir team is committed to YOU and enriching your experience of MelbinNoir. Whether your tastes are specific or eclectic, MelbinNoir aims to optimise your access to intimate live music to suit and stretch your palate. MelbinNoir offers you a central directory to book all your Melbourne metro gigs. As we are not primarily a ticketing service and gain revenue upfront from advertising we remain steadfastly independent. We are also committed to sharing your views on venues and performers so all MelbinNoir can benefit from your experience.

You can view the work in progress at:

Searching Beyond My TOP FIVE

Writing and Editing for Digital Media. This is the subject I’m currently completing, the impetus for the creation of this blog and the force responsible for introducing me to a range of web-related “stuff” I was previously unaware of. Words like Del.ici.ous, Kwoff, Inqisitr are now in my vocabulary. Acronyms like CSS and PHP are no longer foreign and scary.

I am also exploring the web a lot more than I did previously. Perhaps shamed by Google Chrome exposing that my top 5 websites visited were fairly uninspiring; limited to email, news, social networking sites… I have found myself trolling around on the web more.

I wanted to share a cool site that I just discovered. It utilises web 2.0 technology and is an example of the way in which artists are embracing technology and constructing new forms of artistic expression via the internet.

Leonard Solaas is an Argentinean artist who works primarily in new media and electronic art. He believes that although Buenos Aires is an “enormous city that is far away from almost everything” there is always the internet…

This site is a fantastic example of how the internet disseminates information and ideas to build a community of like-minded individuals.

The “interactive” art… his most recent projects… is my favourite.

How did I stumble upon this site? Through the blog I’ve been following: Art Fag City. Exploring these fantastic connections and linkages between different sites uncovers some pretty cool “stuff”.

Also on AFC’s blog this week: excusing bad art just because it’s contorversial and how galleries are a part of this conspiracy through the “authority of the exhibition space”.

Personally, I cannot stand “gallerinas”… the horrid breed of species employed by several “top” Melbourne commercial art galleries for the sole purpose of making you feel like you don’t belong in their gallery space.

One of my favourite spaces in Melb is Linden Contemporary in St Kilda, a welcoming and warm gallery where you don’t even have to pass the admin desk inspection in order to view contemporary art. If someone such as myself, with four years of academic education in visual arts and art history feels uncomfortable in certain galleries, how is an average Joe supposed to feel at ease? Elitism in art is so two centuries ago, claims AFC… and it just so happens, I agree.

Wanted: Nick Haley

MelbinNoir would like to officially extend an invitation to all Nick Haleys (your name doesn’t actually have to be Nick Haley) but you must share his devotion for creating content out of nothing but your sheer passion for a brand.

Wondering what I’m talking about? Here’s the story: Nick, an 18-year old college student from England and massive fan of the Apple iTouch, created a commercial for the iTouch, posted in on YouTube, got discovered by Apple marketing execs, and got shipped off to Apple’s ad agency to collaborate on a “professional” version of the ad.

Here’s the original commercial on YouTube:

This story is one of many examples of the way “average” people are starting a conversation with the companies they purchase from/websites they surf/artists they are fans of. User Generated Content… there is a lot of hype around it, especially from the brands that can leverage it to their advantage ie Apple.

Starting my own website that services a niche community in Melbourne, I have to ask myself, how will I generate content, and what role, if any, should user generated content play for MelbinNoir?

There are several issues around user generated content including unreliability, legal issues such as privacy and consent and of course, quality.

If people connect with the content and service MelbinNoir offers and become passionate about the site, there is a greater chance they will want to participate and build a relationship with the site creators and with fellow visitors. MelbinNoir will have to offer quality content combined with extreme user-centred directory to appeal to our target market and begin our relationship with our audience.

ps. any suggestions from Nick Haleys are still very welcome.


Its time to get down to the business of creating a website.

But before my first real foray into creating a piece of the virutal world can begin, I need an idea. I’ve joined up with Suzanne, Stef and Rob and our group has been bouncing around a few ideas. So far, we seem to all agree on working on an online music directory for Melburnians and visitors to our fair city.

Issues that still need to be distilled:

what type of music? Concentrating on “music” as a whole will be exhaustively overwhelming and too vast a scope for this project. We need to concentrate on one genre, or even a sub section of a genre.

who is the audience? An important question to answer, because once we have an idea who we will be communicating to through our site, it will become a lot easier to get a sense of what we will want the aesthetic of the site to be and the types of things it will be able to do.

how is it going to all work? I’m talking site navigation, creation of content, getting an online community happening around our website and the service we will offer…and oh right, and technology… an important aspect that is a bit daunting to me right now!

Art Fag City

logo art fag city

Art Fag City is a blog I have begun following recently. Art Fag City is Paddy Johnson, a writer who lives and works in Brooklyn.

The irreverent name and engaging content has me hooked. Paddy provides a straight-shooting, tongue in cheek take on the contemporary art world. I love that she provides quality editorial content in the form of analysis, discussion and critique of works of art, film, music and exhibitions supplanted with personal anecdotes, experiences and opinions.  

Paddy is a proliferate blogger, updating almost daily and always includes high quality images.


The past few decades have seen an important shift towards acknowledging issues around accessibility and providing solutions to address barriers. Today, I would be shocked if a building wasn’t accessible to someone with a disability or if an employer refused to hire someone based on the fact they had a disability, but for some reason, before this week’s class, I had given little thought to how those with disabilities engaged online.

I now realise how ignorant this oversight was as I have looked into the topic and discovered a plethora of material addressing this topic. There are some great resources available online for web designers to help them create accessible sites. This video is a good introduction to the topic.

Just when the issue of web accessibility may seem to get a little dry, I found this website which showcases “cool and accessible sites”.


and so it begins…

As I was watching the Media History video posted on LMS, I was struck by the emphasis that was placed on web services of the future becoming more and more focused on suiting the specific needs and interests of digital consumers.
Personally, in the moment they were talking about TOTAL CUSTOMISATION! I was struck by a pang of isolation. If that becomes a reality, whose seeds are already firmly planted and currently growing, it seems to me that as everyone receives their own personalised, highly tailored story… common space will slowly slip away. Commonality is an important social cohesion tool, and I think as people retreat more and more behind their laptops and into their own personalised, totally customised worlds, we lose track of what everyone else is up to and engage less and less and it becomes increasingly difficult to have a shared experience.
Funny, considering how “connected” everyone is and how much of the web today is based on a project of communal development.
Perhaps it’s naive and idealistic of me to believe there has ever been “one” story. Certainly various news sources interpret events to suit a number of different factors, including target audience and style, and the potential biases of journalists is also an issue.
It seems to me that in the rush to cater to everyone’s specific interests, we forget how those interests are formed in the first place. Personally, I have discovered the things I love by being open to many possibilities and gauging my reactions to each to determine which I am most passionate about.
But perhaps I am too much of a generalist… as a fine arts student at uni, I ended up changing my direction away from visual arts when in 3rd year I was forced to choose a major, and I was unable to decide on just one medium… so I retreated to art history to learn about the “bigger picture” and acknowledge the vast body of ideas, knowledge and work that formed the narrative that led up to me sitting in my studio. Now, as an arts administrator I desire to be an advocate for all art forms and continue my quite politically correct stance as an equal-opportunity arts appreciator.
So that’s my piece for now… hopefully this will “fit” within someone else’s interests enough to be read!