The Mottram Program

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FTW Grows to 15 Million Uniques, Launches Golf Vertical

I did a Q&A with Cynopsis Sports for their newsletter. A few excerpts …

After launching For the Win, dubbed “the first mainstream sports media property focused exclusively on social news,” USA Today Sports Media Group is poised to climb the next rung, launching a spinoff devoted to golf content.

Mottram on FTW growth: Since launching last April, FTW increased from 5 million monthly unique users, with most users coming from USA TODAY, to as many as 15 million monthly uniques, with most users coming from organic sources. In July, year-over-year viral traffic was up over 300%.  
On Fore! The Win: Without paying golf any extra attention, FTW golf content finds a steady and sizable audience. Now we’re going to cater to those fans, creating a sub-brand within FTW that’s all golf all the time. Fore! The Win ( is where you’ll find what golf fans are talking about, like a cool visualization of the evolution of Tiger’s swing or that buzzy moment when Rory had a heckler ejected.
What’s most interesting is that this approach serves as a test for developing other verticals/sub-brands within FTW, which is to date a one-stop shop for social sports news. The brand can, however, develop as a hub for many different social content experiences. 

Filed under Sports Media For The Win Fore! The Win Homonymic Branding

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The Golden Age of Sports Illustrated

From Jeff Pearlman’s interview with former SI executive editor Peter Carry:

J.P.: If you can answer this one in the best detail possible—what was it like working at Sports Illustrated at its peak?

P.C.: Do you watch Mad Men? Well, Don sits in what looks exactly like an assistant managing editor’s office from back in the 1960s, and Peggy has a senior writer’s office. There were bottles of booze in plain view on people’s desks and cigarettes in all 67 ashtrays on the conference room table during editorial meetings; there was a fair amount of fornicatin’ between members of the staff, and everybody knew who was screwing whom; you could buy a bag of really good shit, man, from the mail boy; on the weekends there was a fridge full of cans of Bud, just serve yourself; there was a bookie who arrived on the floor every Monday to collect debts; there was a poker game—a lot of seven-card high-low, a terrible game—in the TV room that started around nine Sunday night and often ended at dawn Monday that essentially financed Virginia’s and my social life; etc.

Filed under Sports Illustrated Mad Men Fornicatin'

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Bob Dylan, Out of Time

While listening to Blood on the Tracks the other day I thought, “This must’ve blown people away when it came out,” so I Googled “Rolling Stone Blood on the Tracks review” and there it was. The Internet is wonderful.

Thing is, the review, by legendary rock critic/manager/producer Jon Landau, isn’t that favorable. It’s mostly a treatise on Dylan’s “indifference to the process of making records” and how “his position as a premier recording artist is called into question.” It even includes the line, "I don’t believe that Bob Dylan would qualify as a great rock artist."

Forty years later, that scans as crazy talk. But Landau also wrote this, the final lines from that review in the winter of 1975:

The album answers to no one and was made for everyone. It is the work of someone who is not just seeing through himself, but looking through us — and still making us see things that we haven’t seen before.

So maybe it did blow people away, and still does.

Filed under Music Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks Rolling Stone Crazy Talk

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A Fun Little David Letterman Story, By the One and Only Sturgill Simpson


One of my favorite things about Letterman is when he really gets a kick out of the musical guest. You see it every year around Christmas with Darlene Love, it was obvious earlier this year with Future Islands, and it happened just last month with Sturgill Simpson.

Sturgill, who put out one of my favorite LPs of 2014, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, ripped through “Life of Sin” before Letterman came over and riffed a bit:

That’s all you need right there. Get yourself a, I don’t know, one of them 46-ounce things of Mountain Dew and rent a car and just start driving.

Get that on, you know what I’m saying? Just start driving. Every now and then stop someplace, start a fight, get back in the car, keep driving.

FANTASTIC, ladies and gentlemen.

Fast-forward to last night, when I saw Sturgill at the Birchmere music hall in Alexandria, Va. There, before playing “Life of Sin,” he talked about it (I’m paraphrasing):

Y’all might’ve seen us on Letterman. It’s on YouTube, him talking about Mountain Dew and stuff. 

After the camera went off, I was real excited, because I thought we were gonna get to meet David Letterman. There he was, this tall runnerman standing there, looking at us.

So he took off his $8,000 sports coat and just dropped it on the ground. Most gangster thing I’ve ever seen. And he walks our way, goes right by, and all he says is, ‘Fan-FUCKIN’-tastic’.”


Filed under David Letterman Sturgill Simpson That Sound

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In November 2006, for example, a source came forward with the recording of the Michael Richards racist comedy routine. The source wanted several thousand dollars for the tape, and TMZ would pay it, but the source wanted the cash immediately — as in before-the-banks-opened immediately. Levin couldn’t write a personal check and allow the money to be traced back to him, and he, like everyone else, had a limit on the amount of cash he could take out in a single day from the ATM. His solution, according to multiple staffers working for the site at the time: Call every TMZ staffer and force them to immediately take out their ATM max and bring it down to the TMZ offices. The staffers were reimbursed, but the story highlights just what lengths TMZ was willing to go to obtain — and pay — a source.
The Down and Dirty History of TMZ

(Source: BuzzFeed)

Filed under media tmz harvey levin checkbook journalism

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Top 20 LPs of the First Half of 2014

Hey, here’s what I’ve been enjoying these past six months. Listen via my Best Albums of 2014 for Real Spotify playlist, which will be updated all year long. Because I’m addicted, you see.

1. The War On Drugs :: Lost In The Dream

2. Sturgill Simpson :: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

3. Future Islands :: Singles

4. Beck :: Morning Phase

5. Strand of Oaks :: HEAL

6. Real Estate :: Atlas

7. Jack White :: Lazaretto

8. Damien Jurado :: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

9. Parquet Courts :: Sunbathing Animal

10. Band of Horses :: Acoustic at The Ryman

11. Mac Demarco :: Salad Days

12. Sharon Van Etten :: Are We There

13. Jamestown Revival :: Utah

14. Hurray For The Riff Raff :: Small Town Heroes

15. Walter Martin :: We’re All Young Together

16. Hamilton Leithauser :: Black Hours

17. First Aid Kit :: Stay Gold

18. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks :: Wig Out At Jagbags

19. Damon Albarn :: Everyday Robots

20. Kevin Drew :: Darlings

Filed under Music Indie Rock Lists War on Drugs