Streaming – The Changing Landscape

Yesterday, I was asked to talk on local ABC radio about streaming services and what they mean to average consumers, and I thought it was a great opportunity to expand on that and offer some alternatives to the big names – ie: Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney +

Here in Australia, with different licensing agreements, it is slightly different. We have region specific versions of Netflix and Amazon Prime plus local player Stan, which, along with the highest level of AU content, has held the license for a lot of Disney properties since last year. Foxtel Now provide a number of HBO titles here and HayU offers wall-to-wall reality TV shows, if that’s your thing. There’s also AppleTV+, YouTube Premium, 10 All Access and Kayo (a subsidiary of Foxtel) for sports nuts. Add in the free services, SBS On Demand, ABC iView, 10play, 9Now and 7plus and it gets even more complicated.

The problem is, particularly with the advent of Disney +, how is that going to affect local media consumers? Streaming video on demand (SVOD) was supposed to be the cheaper alternative to leaving the house to actually go to the movies (perish the thought) or the video store (may they rest in peace) but it’s rapidly turning into something of a digital dilemma and if you watch a lot of screen media, a potentially expensive undertaking. The other thing to remember in all this too, is as consumers, we only ever own the right to watch, not a hard copy of the media, and there is no guarantee that our favourite films or shows will stay on those services. 

For my household of two tech-savvy adults, we share Netflix with another family, which halves the cost of a premium subscription. I signed up for Amazon Prime a few months ago simply to watch Good Omens (and it was worth it just for that) and the Suspiria remake because I was doing a screen studies major and I love horror movies. But I don’t know if I’ll keep it on past the new year. If I see things I particularly love – Good Omens being a perfect example – I go and buy DVDs or Blu-rays. I know in this age of minimalist living I’m being very old fashioned, but I like being able to put a disc on with all the extra features – just like I love real, physical books! And I have a loyalty card at my local independent cinema and I still love going out for dinner and a movie. 

Having said that, I also subscribe to MUBI, which provides 30 films on a strict 30-day rotation. This service is curated to provide independent, foreign language SVOD and it remains my favourite paid subscription for several reasons. Firstly, I never suffer from the usual paralysis of what to watch because everything is only there for 30 days. The films come from all over the world and have given me a chance to delve into cinema I would never have thought of looking at – thinking of directors like Ruth Beckermann, Ciro Guerra and Krzysztof Zanussi as well as favourites like Peter Strickland, Agnes Varda and Ben Wheatley – it’s great for broadening your mind and getting away from the somewhat generic fare on offer through the major services. But when I’m looking for something less demanding, I go to TUBI. There’s a little of everything but it ranges from fairly good to absolute trash movies and television. The horror section is particularly worth sifting through and the bonus is, it’s free. 

So, what’s going to happen with SVOD? I think there’s going to be some casualties along the way. From what I’ve seen so far, I think Stan might fail as they lose content to Disney +, and in turn, they may well struggle to keep subscribers outside of school holiday times when kids require entertainment and I can’t see AppleTV+ keeping up with their initial business model of original content. Unfortunately, a lot of people in Australia simply won’t be able to afford multiple subscriptions and could revert back to pirating content – something we were infamous for in the early seasons of Game of Thrones, which was only available on Foxtel on first release. 

Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching MUBI and SBS On Demand, going to the cinema and dreaming of a day when the Criterion Channel and Shudder are available here in Australia – and spending more time out in the garden or reading books…

So what do you think? Are you a media junkie like me? Are you obsessed with The Crown or Carnival Row? Do you still buy DVDs or Blu-rays? Let me know – I’d like to hear your thoughts too.

And here’s a photo of me and Neko, because he’d far sooner have my complete attention than compete with a screen, even if it’s cat videos!

The Embrace of Now

So, I’m a week past handing in my final project for uni. All things being equal, I should pass and be able to graduate next year. Seriously, I’m too tired to cheer, and I’m still not sure if I want to travel up to Queensland for a couple of days, dress up in a funny gown and hat just so someone can hand me a piece of paper. Having said that, it would be nice to meet a few people in person, some tutors that were outstanding and some fellow students who’ve become online friends.

I uploaded a 4000 word research paper concerning villainy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I feel my work only scratched the surface. The last couple of weeks were intense but really, last week spelled the end of six years of online study. It’s been a mammoth undertaking and while I got a lot out of the experience there are some things I would’ve done differently and others I’d rather not have done at all. But that’s part of the study journey and it’s different for all of us. 

Despite what most people think, I only give a reasonable impression of an organised person, and some of my 3rd subjects were very demanding on my time as well as my attention. Combined with too much work, a laptop that kept crashing whenever I opened a pdf, increasing levels of anxiety and depression and rampant insomnia, the last three months have certainly been a struggle. 

But I got there. I did what I could, when I could – and when I couldn’t, I didn’t. 

Sounds so simple when I type it out like that but believe me, it wasn’t. Trust me when I say, I agonised over every single bit of it, but (fingers crossed) it’s done now and the big question looming on the horizon is what’s next?

Who knows? There’s a number of projects starting to take shape, some of them more realistic and better formed than others. But rest assured, it’ll be a ride – and as ever, I’ll stress about the smallest details like I always do. And while I stress, I’ll be holding every moment of it dear, imbuing it with passion, like I always do. 

Meanwhile, today is my birthday. I have a new laptop that I’m still getting used to (another kind of stress), I had the most wonderful dinner cooked for me and the wine was a perfect match. There was cake too that I didn’t make and I watched my favourite Ben Wheatley/Amy Jump movie, Kill List – not for the faint hearted. I should write a movie review about it but not right now. 

Now is for embracing the passion of time off, chilling out and enjoying it for what it is – now. 

Because, as I said to a friend tonight in Italy, now is all we ever have. Let’s enjoy it ❤ 

The new laptop for new projects

 

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday evening, while dinner was cooking on the BBQ – a wonderful Australian summer tradition – I came into the house to look at my phone, mostly to stop myself from checking the yummy things too often.

The Guardian was saying David Bowie had died. At first I thought (I hoped) it was a hoax. I walked outside and told my partner. I started to cry.

It was a surreal moment, one that I won’t forget. I’m certain there are many of you out there who will have similar memories of where you were and what you were doing when you heard that Bowie was dead.

For me and many of my generation, David Bowie was much, much more than an incredibly talented musician, a brilliant showman, a fabulous and insightful songwriter, a trend setter.

He was one of us – another misfit, a freak who didn’t fit into the mainstream, who kept kicking against what we were told was “right”. He gave us hope, and for many of us, gave us a reason to keep going on days when the world could look a very dark place.

I was in love with Bowie from the first time I heard Space Oddity in the very late 60’s when I was still in primary school in a small country town. By the time he released Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972, I was on that hideous roller coaster called puberty, and my mother was (perhaps with some cause) starting to worry about me. All my school friends were into Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. A few of us were listening to The Who, Clapton, The Plastic Ono Band and The Doors (particularly L.A. Woman) but we were a minority and considered pretty weird by our fellows.

I remember we were allowed in early high school to bring posters of our favourite pop stars to decorate the classroom. I took a poster of the cover of Hunky Dory, with Bowie doing his best Lauren Bacall impersonation and the teacher asked me who “she” was. When I told her it was David Bowie, I had to take the poster home with a concerned note for my parents. For a while I tried to fit in, but who was I kidding? And there was this amazing, skinny, obviously drug addled English guy who was telling me it was okay to be different and not be a sheep.

Throughout the years, I kept coming back to Bowie and his current works. Not just for entertainment, (though that was mostly mighty fine) but for inspiration and instruction for my personal arts practice. In particular, Bowie’s interpretations of Jacques Brel and Bertold Brecht were and remain profoundly important to me. Also, it was an ongoing reassurance that it was still okay to be different. Actively embracing change and personal reinvention is an important part of my life thanks to him.

All these years later, I still come back to Bowie’s music and continually find new lessons in my craft.

Although I never met the man and sadly, never had to opportunity to see him live on stage, I feel like I’ve lost a favourite, incredibly chic, slightly disreputable uncle. You know, the one who takes you out partying when you’re still under age with a “hush, don’t tell your parents we did this” conspiratorial wink.

And when my time comes, I hope I’ll have the strength of character to make something as beautiful and powerful as Blackstar and, in particular write a song as gloriously human as Lazarus. 

Along with the rest of the planet, my thoughts are with his family and friends in these incredibly sad days.

Vale David Bowie, and thank you from the bottom of my still fiercely independent heart ❤

The Last Gig of 2015

Hi everyone, it’s been lovely to have a break from blogging but I’m itching to write again – there’s been so much going on!

It’s the busiest time of year for me in the garden – I’m planting out heat-hardy salad vegetables like mad to take advantage of our brief but often vicious summer. There’s been several kilos of fruit off the raspberry canes already and several more to come, basil is being cropped, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis and chillies are starting to ripen. On top of all this, I’m making some small wicking boxes this week for the front balcony, which gets all the morning sun and is great for tender salad greens.

A couple of weeks ago, local musician and friend George Begbie won the Rudy Brandsma Award at the ASA national awards in Sydney. Many of us who knew George when he first started performing were thrilled but not really surprised – he’s always been that good!

And my wonderful singing group at Oak Tasmania are playing at the in-house end of year BBQ this Friday. Rehearsals are getting tighter and more intense, we’re all getting excited about showing off some new skills. I hope there’ll be some photos I can share with you all from that too.

But tonight is my last public gig for 2015.

I’m playing a short set at The Homestead in support of my dear friend Matt Sertori. I’ve known Matt for many years and despite his seemingly irreverent lyrics, he is one of the most thoughtful, intense and inspiring performers around.

11202811_1669931676582787_67758696071814436_n

There is a misconception that Matt playing solo is just a comedy act but I think it’s important to understand there are two distinct sides to this demanding performer. Listen to his (often scathing) lyrics and look behind the laughter, there are some deep and incredibly serious subjects being dealt with. Here, there is a depth to the writing and an intensity in performance that can be downright confronting.

I am honoured to be playing support tonight for many reasons. Matt is also the man who drew me into the ASA over a decade ago and instigated the supportive, mentoring attitude that prevailed until quite recently. If you’re in or around Hobart I urge you to come and listen to this most fascinating and complex songwriter. And say hello – I love catching up with you all.

Take care wherever you are ❤

The Blog Challenge – NaBloPoMo 2015

Hi everyone,

It’s coming towards the end of the year (where did the last twelve months go?) and that means we’re getting close to National Blog Posting Month – NaBloPoMo.

The challenge is to write a blog post every day for the month of November and it’s really quite challenging to keep it fresh and interesting – from a writing perspective as much as for the audience. I’ve done it once before, two years ago. I had no home internet connection and did the whole thing from my mobile phone. If I can do that, this year is going to be easy 😉

If you’re inclined to challenge yourself writing-wise, click on the badge in the sidebar and get involved. It’s really a lot of fun and I personally found it a great learning experience.

Take care wherever you are ❤

The Busy-ness of Spring – Upcoming Shows

Chestnut Tree Spring Oct 2015

Hello friends,

I love spring. The cycle of the seasons visibly turns and every day brings new things in the garden, the chickens are laying more eggs than we can keep up with, and here in Hobart we’re coming out of the hibernation of winter and starting to go out again.

Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Fool

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Wee Beastie Sourdough

Wee Beastie Sourdough

 

And I’ve been busy! In the kitchen I’ve been making Vanilla Ice Cream and Baked Coffee Cheesecake with the excess eggs, brewing and bottling cider, making Rhubarb Fool from the mass of spring rhubarb and my weekly “Wee Beastie” Sourdough. It’s been absolutely wonderful to eat so well, with so much produce coming directly out of the garden.

The garden is always a work in progress but I’ve started planting out climbing beans this week, there’s basil in the Seeds and Basil Seedlings Oct 2015greenhouse and too many vegetable seedlings coming on to mention.

And there’s music happening too! I’m in the middle of a unit in Creative Writing for my second major through Griffith University. For my final assessment I’m planning to write a portfolio of new pieces that will become new songs. Depending how it goes, perhaps the core of another album.

Meanwhile, there’s gigs coming up too.

This Sunday at The Brunswick Hotel in Hobart, I’m playing a short set out in The Yard (the beer garden) with a bunch of other local musicians, including the incredibly talented Cassie O’Keefe and my friend Matt Dean. Very pleased also that this is a family friendly show, so feel free to bring your young music-lovers 🙂

Thursday 19th November, I’m sharing a night with Cassie at The Homestead in Elizabeth Street, one of my favourite places to go and hang out with friends. No idea what’s going to happen that one – we might even work out some songs to play together!

Friday 20th November, I’ll be doing the early spot at The Globe Hotel in Davey Street. If you haven’t caught this weekly event yet, I really recommend it. It’s organised by Kevin Gleeson who basically loves all kinds of music and is good friends with so many of us. It’s a great excuse to hang out and have a good time with mates.

And there’s more on the horizon! If you want to keep up to date with my shenanigans, hook up with me on Facebook here.

Yep, it’s spring and it’s busy – just how I like it.

Wherever you are, be well friends ❤

New Playlist

And because it’s Friday – the best reason for everything – I’ve updated the playlist in the sidebar.

For your listening pleasure, I’ve uploaded three tracks from the digital download version of my solo album, “The Woman on The Edge of The World”.

TWOTEOTW Front Cover

TWOTEOTW Front Cover

It’s recently been remastered for a limited, numbered and signed CD release. More news on that soon – including ordering directly from here.

Meanwhile, have a listen and let me know what you think. I always value your comments.

Debra ❤

Previous Older Entries