Halifax band an overnight Internet sensation with ‘United Breaks Guitars’ song

July 9, 2009

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I’m not the biggest fan of country music, but this guy PWND United Airlines big time!!!
– FlashAddict

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TORONTO – When Halifax’s Dave Carroll got off his United Airlines flight last spring and discovered his $3,500 custom-made guitar was severely damaged – allegedly by overzealous luggage handlers – at first he was mad.

When the airline’s customer service team gave him the runaround and refused to address his complaints to his satisfaction, he was incensed.

But in typically Canadian fashion, the songwriter decided to be the nice guy, shrug off his anger, and instead wrote a song about his experience.

As of Wednesday evening, that song, “United Breaks Guitars,” was the most popular music video on YouTube with about 169,000 views, and to his shock, his phone rang and rang and rang all day, with calls from across the continent.

One minute it was CBS asking him to play the network’s morning show, the next it was CNN, asking for details about his story so he could be featured on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

What started off as a lark has turned into far more exposure than Carroll has ever had with his band Sons of Maxwell, the kind of publicity he could never afford to buy, he said in an interview.

“I’ve been at this for well over 15 years, slugging away at it and … this has been an incredible lift to our career and my career as a solo artist,” he said.

After months of badgering with United for some sort of compensation he gave up, and told the last company representative that he spoke with that he planned to write a trilogy of songs about his disappointing experience.

“The whole thing has been a challenge artistically and that’s what makes this so fun,” he said, and added that he’s no longer bitter or seeking any kind of compensation from United.

“I think not only does it resonate with people because it’s an airline song, which all people can relate to, but I think the fact it’s a light-hearted song and fun is something that everyone can appreciate, because not everyone – including myself – likes to hear angry, hateful songs all the time.”

“It’s nice to have a light-hearted chuckle at things.”

He posted the video late Monday night and went to bed with the view count at about half a dozen. The next day he emailed a few hundred fans, friends and family and within 24 hours, the hits started to grow exponentially, by about 20,000 per hour.

Carroll said United has attempted to call him a couple times since the song went viral online, but he never got to the phone. But someone who spoke with United on his behalf said the company was gracious in accepting the criticism.

“They seem encouraged, by all the bad publicity I guess, to change the way they do things and change the culture of customer complaints,” he said.

“I think they’re actually having a great attitude about the whole thing, they’re not coming across as angry or threatening or anything like that. And maybe this will be a love story at the end of the day,” he said, noting that while song two of his trilogy is already written, song three could be about a happy ending.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090708/entertainment/halifax_band_vs_united

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Blocked by Facebook – Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project

January 17, 2009

Hello everyone,

Well, I guess the automated powers that be at Facebook have blocked me from sending out anymore Friend Requests to fellow Emily Carr University students/faculty/associates linked in to the school groups that can be found when you do a search. I can understand why they have such automated features, but it’s frustrating to be lopped into the same category as spammers, phishers or other types of crooks.

Because of this, I am asking for your help. If you feel that this project has merit and is worth the effort to bring in others to tell their stories as well, I would like to ask you to invite your friends to join the event. The future of this project is now in your hands as I cannot do it without you. Please help me in seeing this project become a reality because it means so much to me and I know that it means a great deal to you as well.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux

– Here is the link to the Facebook event page -Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=46093168338

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As a gift to everyone, please go to:

https://flashaddict.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/shot-by-shot-analysis-of-the-music-video-glosoli-by-sigur-ros/

The lyrics are sung in Icelandic, yet one need not know what the words mean in order to interpret the value and depth that they and the imagery convey. I actually don’t want to know what the lyrics translate to in English because it would take away the beauty and serenity that I found interpreting it myself.

Enjoy!

Instructions:
1. Watch the full video without pause to understand the essence of the piece.

2. Read through my shot-by-shot written breakdown.

3. Watch the video again and take in a new personal understanding of the imagery.

4. Rewind and go back to individual shots and if you feel inspired, write down what they mean to you and compare them to mine.

5. Smile and feel a sense of peace = All will be OK.

John

Please be kind to my film terminology – there were so many terms that we learned last semester, that it was a bit of information overload and I may have mixed some up 🙂

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PS After spending 15 minutes trying to find out how to actually send an email to Facebook customer service, I sent them the following letter asking for their help as well:

To whom it may concern,

I was just recently blocked from sending friend requests on Facebook. As a result of that, I felt it would be prudent that I send you an email to let you know that I am not some dirty old man trying to prey on young children, nor am I a nefarious crook trying to swindle little old ladies out of their life savings.

I understand that you guys have to have set TOS standards and I know why I was tacked onto the list of possible spammers/crooks by sending friend requests. I have been in your shoes as I have worked many customer service gigs, most importantly when I worked for eBay in their investigations department and had to respond to complaints sent in my members about other members, with spam being one of the biggest issues reported.

That being said however, I am just an aspiring art student struck by inspiration and in the process of trying to invite people to join my Art Project as I feel that it is a great event to participate in. I am not trying to sell anything, I am just asking people to share their stories with me and am sending Friend Requests to my fellow art students and art enthusiasts (people who would want to participate in such an event). I’m not asking for much here, but please check out my event page and see for yourself “Personal Journeys – Help John with his Art Project.” I’m not a bad guy, I’m just trying to create a beautiful piece of art and to allow people to tell others their story.

Please let me know where I can go from here – I need your help.

Sincerely,

John DeVeaux


The taxman cometh? IRS urged to tax virtual worlds, economies

January 13, 2009

The Internal Revenue Service should start taxing the fledgling virtual economy in Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other virtual worlds according to Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. In her annual report published on the IRS website, Olsen said that there are still a number of issues that the IRS should “proactively address” before they get out of control. And now that it’s on the IRS’ radar, it’s likely only a matter of time before Uncle Sam tries to figure out some way to get a cut of your gold.

As most of our readers know, a number of virtual worlds involve the trade of real money for various virtual products and services inside of the game(s). And wherever people are spending money, someone is making it. Entrepreneurs are making fat cash off the sale of virtual land, clothing, sex toys, and everything in between in Second Life and other games, and now Olson wants the IRS to go after them.

“Economic activities associated with virtual worlds may present an emerging area of noncompliance, in part, because the IRS has not issued guidance about whether and how taxpayers should report such activities,” Olson wrote in her report. She points out that almost all income is subject to tax—even prizes, winnings, and barter exchange. She also acknowledges, however, that tracking and reconstructing so many tiny transactions would be a huge burden, and that attempting to place a value on virtual transaction could present serious challenges.

She urges the IRS, however, to establish guidelines on whether (and how) taxpayers should report their activities even if only to help taxpayers better understand what’s going on. “IRS guidance could improve taxpayer compliance even if it simply clarified that in-world transactions are not taxable,” Olson wrote. “To its credit, the IRS has recently identified a number of issues presented by Internet auctions of virtual property and other aspects of virtual worlds. However, the IRS should consider doing more to help taxpayers comply with their tax obligations by quickly issuing guidance addressing how to report economic activities in virtual worlds, as well as in other emerging areas of economic activity.”

This isn’t the first time the concept of taxing virtual worlds has come up. Since at least 2003, people both on- and offline started looking at the tax implications of virtual economies, and Dan Miller, senior economist for the congressional Joint Economic Committee, started entertaining the idea of taxing MMORPGs in 2006 after diving into the world of online gaming himself. As noted by Silicon Alley Insider, however, collecting taxes from virtual world activities could very well put a serious hamper on the virtual economy. No one likes to jump through bureaucratic hoops just to play an online game, after all.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20090112-taxpayer-advocate-urges-irs-to-tax-economy-in-virtual-worlds.html