The Times They Are A-Changin’

15 07 2009

Man, I have wanted to write an article with a Bob Dylan title for a while now. Bob is the man. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with his music I highly suggest you do so ( I suggest working backwards with his first releases and working up until present day). Anyway, let’s get on topic.

The Internet and computers have changed the world works; there is no doubt about it. It is everywhere you go, from your office computer down to your trendy iphone. We are inundated with this technology day after day; and like anything that is new, widely accepted, and world changing, those who are early adapters and innovators usually benefit the most. Some may argue that the Internet isn’t new, but I say fuck that. I still remember when it wasn’t expected that every home had a computer or when school computers had trackballs built into the keyboard, games were made up of pixilated bloc images, and my greatest source of information was Encarta. All that shit happened in the 90s and I am not that old (or so I tell myself). So I don’t think I am going out on a limb here when I say we have yet to see the internet used to its full potential by many industries (except for maybe the porn industry, they are innovative bastards who have used the internet to make more than the MLB, NFL, and NBA combined. Proof). This leaves me with one major question, how well has rollerblading adapted and utilized the Internet?

I think rollerblading has adapted about as much as the other “extreme” sports out there. Now I could be wrong, I do not frequently check out other “extreme” sports websites, but I consider myself a fairly internet savvy individual, and when something hits the net I usually catch wind of it sooner or later. Rollerblading has websites for its products and companies, videos scattered throughout video sharing sites such as vimeo and youtube, numerous blogs covering anything from a local scene to people directly involved in the industry, a news website that is frequently updated (Rollernews), and a widely used messageboard that has grown somewhat infamous (Be-Mag). For the most part, it is safe to say that rollerblading is keeping pace; all of these avenues for promotion and Internet usage are also being utalized by the other “extreme” sports in some way or another. Rollerblading keeping pace may be seen as a good thing, but I think the flip side also has to be addressed. Lets face it, Rollerblading is a much smaller industry then those other sports, and we need to utilize every possible opportunity we can to gain some sort of advantage and hopefully draw some new blood.  The Internet provides this opportunity if a little innovation is combined with the proper ideas.

Now, I have never claimed to be the most creative individual, but I am willing to throw around some of my ideas to get this discussion started.

Yes we have websites for companies and products, but how often are they updated? All too often I see companies do a massive website overhauls and then I see no updates after that. Or if there are updates they are few and far between, to the point where I do not get wind of new products from their websites, but from other forms of Internet media. Some companies are seriously dropping the fuckin’ ball on this one.  I think its wrong that a frame website or a skate website isn’t the first one to debut its own products, but rather relies on other non-official sources to do so.  This leads to speculation, rumors, and sometimes disappointment. Not only is it wrong, but it also looks unprofessional. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t occur so frequently.  There are a lot of companies that are guilty of this, so I will take the counterpoint and look at the one company that has decided to take the opposite route since day one and are all the better for it, Valo.  For the most party, Valo has always updated their website and have often been the ones to first debut their products on that website. The result has been phenomenal, I know numerous people from all around the Internet who commend Valo for their work effort. On numerous occasions I have seen people who dislike the Valo skate state that they love how organized Valo is and how up-to-date they keep their website. Their website has been a major contributing factor towards Valo’s popularity and has helped them create hype for products, promote existing products, promote riders, and keep Valo on everyone’s mind with constant updates since its inception.  Basically, it has done everything a well run website should do. If every company/product website was run up to this caliber then we would have so many different forms of rollerblading media being presented in so many creative ways, done on such a frequent basis, that it would be hard to ignore.  Another notable company to have a good website is the Conference, the main webpage for the Conference is always packed full of new edits and news articles.* Websites run in this manner help rollerblading by looking professional and constantly updating us with content,  both are aspects that are important when catching a potential roller’s attention and maintaining that attention if they decide to stick with it.

Why the fuck aren’t more videos released online? Is it a profit issue? I don’t think it could be, from what I hear, after distribution costs, duplication costs, packaging costs, and all the other costs involved in making a rolling DVD, most creators are lucky to break even, or maybe, (and I stress MAYBE) make a small profit. I can see the argument if you have an established video series that has been known to make profit (Razors videos, 4X4 videos, anything made by Doug Urquhart, the Hyphy series, etc..) but I doubt that they are  making large quantities of money off of their DVD sales either. ** It seems that if it isn’t a major DVD release with a lot of hype behind it then no one gives a shit. This can be eliminated if videos are put online. The upsides are numerous, but there are three main advantages that I will address. First, the cost of the DVD goes down, the creators do not have to put in an exorbitant amount of money into making a hard copy. Also, if you think your DVD is good enough you can charge a small fee to download it or use a donation basis. I am sure lesser known DVDs could make more money this way then the traditional manner (but I am not marketing genius so I can be wrong). Second, it would reach more people. I know for a fact that Billy Kostka & Luke Bender’s  online video “Not a Lifeboat,” reached more people than some of our industries biggest DVD sellers. It reached between 10,000-20,000 people (that is just the people who downloaded it, never mind those who shared it with their friends), our industries best sellers reach a couple of thousand (source, Rolling Revival 54, an hour or so in to the show). Also, if an online video is popular enough it will be able to reach more people and eventually explode in popularity. This creates an opportunity for an online video to become a DVD series that may actually sell. I am not going to lie; I bought Say Word 3 strictly because I say Montre’s clips from Say Word 2 online. If I didn’t see those clips online I wouldn’t have given 2 fucks and a blowjob about the whole series, but now I am interested in it, and all because of a little internet advertising. Third, the more quality content we put online, the higher the chances someone who knows nothing about rolling is going to click on it, especially if the quality is so good that the video becomes popular in the mainstream media. A good example of this would be the ATL Waterpark 2 section from Blackmarket that got rollerblading a lot of exposure from non-rollerblading websites. Overall, I believe the benefits of making a video available online far outweight the pitfalls, especially if they are lesser-known releases.

Not a Lifeboat Trailer

Montre’s Revised Section from Say Word 2

ATL Waterpark Tour 2 from Black Market

Another idea I have had is a history of rolling database, but, you know, with a better name.  This is more a personal request because I am a history nerd, but I honestly believe this can serve a valuable function. It seems a lot of newcomers to this sport don’t really know much about rollerblading’s roots, which is not entirely their fault. The history of rollerblading has been rather short in relation to other “extreme” sports out there, and that boom period from the mid to late 1990s came and went rather quickly, with its remnants almost vanishing into obscurity once the mainstream companies decided to pull out. This occurrence has made it rather difficult to find information about rollerblading’s roots, such as, the companies who helped start it all, the products that helped us evolve to where we are today, and the legendary personalities that gave us our start. This has lead to a type of divide in rollerblading, those who remember the past and those who don’t.  When confronted about not knowing anything about rollerblading’s roots these newcomers begin to feel belittled and alienated from the people who have been rollerblading long enough to see its ups and downs. This is not the best way to make rollerblading accessible to those looking to get into it. There are ways to get around this though; one of the best I have heard is PDFing old magazines. How amazing would it be to read the first issue of BOX or Daily Bread. I have heard about this plan for a while but have never seen it come to fruition, which is rather disappointing, because I think it would be a huge step forward (plus I would love it as well). There are other ways of preserving our history, but I think I will save that for a future article.

Lastly, just a quick note on local blogs. I think they can serve a great purpose if used correctly. Local blogs can push a scene to get video clips and photos and can even rally everyone to get inspired to go out and roll. They can also be an inspiration to the younger rollers out there, who can see their picture right next to their local hero, or get a video clip in the same edit as them. This can be detrimental to keeping people interested in the rolling scene and bringing in new rollers.

Anyway, these have been just few of my ideas. I have more but it is late and I have to get up for work in the morning. If this topic becomes a popular one I will elaborate some of my other ideas and if the response is great enough I hope to share some of my readers ideas as well.***

*However, judging my the Conference past records I can say this, the main page is updated frequently, but the websites for the actual products usually grow stagnant over time.
** I remember Lonnie Gallegos complaining that he did not turn as much profit on the first video as he expected and wasn’t going to put up the full video online until the video was out of shops. So that gave me a little glimpse into the world of rollerblading DVD sales, because Fade Nation, was deemed to be a rather popular video
***I am aware the concluding paragraph was a copout and half hearted. I will most likely fix it later.




7 responses

16 07 2009

Dude that’s so true about a ton of shit what your talking about…. like yeah websites do need to take a strong step in recent updating quick information promptly and accordingly available…. It’s like the industry is run buy a bunch of unorganized stoners LOL!… Not saying there not hustlin and doin’ their best but honestly there’s shit that can be improved on greatly and simply….

….The point about the constant flow of new media like pics clips reviews is bang on… I would be so much more pumped to check up on a weekly podcast or like update of shit… And I have been seeing that from a few teams and companies but definitely not to their fullest potential and definitely not used as much as it should…

..Although razors podcasts, rolling revivals, online be mags, conference tv, hell even dp and sean knights monthly edits, all amazing at a new constant flow of media… it’s headin that direction Nick don’t worry, we’ll see rolling flourish in the near future man… It’s inevitable that’s for sure!!!

18 07 2009
» The Times They Are A-Changin’ |

[…] Check the full Article on Canadianroll. […]

18 07 2009

hey man im from malaysia and i gotta say, your article could almost be a “how to make rollerblading succesful on the internet” guide. im planning to open up a skateshop or park when i get money, so im gonna keep this article as a reference to boost up our scene!

18 07 2009

Hey Mik it is great to hear that you enjoyed the article! Thanks for reading, I know it was fairly lengthy.

19 07 2009

well written article and hoping for a follow-up
About “knowing rollerblading’s hystory” thing..its damn hard to find out what happened 10 years ago, who created what and the big names rarely get to a newcomer’s ears.
I like the idea of PDFing the old magazines. I have some old db’s that i’m willing to share if anyone will want.
uploading videos…There’s alot of work in making a movie and one would expect some profit.Uploading it could surely help,but one may think that’s giving the movie away for free, after spending alot of time (and money) to make it.In the long term, it could increase it’s popularity and help the producer and also the skaters from the video.

that’s about it,now i think i’ll check on what bob dylan has to say about this

PS: thanks to rollernews, i’ll be checking your blog(s) more often

20 07 2009
Freddy White

Quite an interesting read, keep it going !

Please just don’t steal my marketing scheme on our upcoming DVD, thank you !

22 07 2009
Chris Angelius

I think you need to understand that most rollerblading companies are not run by professionals, our sport differs greatly from other action sports in that regard. The majority of us do not have MBA’s or the luxury of spending all of our time focusing our efforts on skating. For 99% of rollerbladers, it is and will always be nothing more than a hobby. A hobby that most of us are very passionate about albeit.

Because this is a hobby and not a career, there comes a time when one must realize that you cannot sustain yourself or a family with rollerblading. This tends to come as a shock to a lot of rollerbladers who fall heavily into the lifestyle of drifting through their teens and twenties with no education and doing nothing but skating. Especially when 30 starts to creep up on them, and they have no goals, education or plans for the future. And thus this hobby often must be put on the back burner for real life commitments. This includes people who run companies, it’s often more of a hassle than you’d think to take photos of new product, and update a website/online store with products. Especially when you have say for example a real job, or school, or a family, or perhaps even all three.

And some companies even do this on purpose, skate companies relying on shops to spread the word about new releases is nothing new, and in many cases, the rumors and speculations provide much needed hype. Like they say, there’s no such thing as bad press, and as such if people are talking about your products, then the word of mouth is working as intended.

As for Lonnie not wanting to release another video until his prior video had sold out in shops. Had you ever done a video, you’d realize it’s a huge undertaking. Not a lot of people would be willing to release newer footage online for free when a DVD their trying to sell is still in shops. It’s not always a matter of turning a profit, but simply a matter of not ending up in the negatives so that you can continue to put out quality videos.

Your entire post here really all comes back to one thing, and that being that though some of your ideas are of some merit, it’s not always as simple as “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?” I mean really if it was that easy, you’d just do them yourself, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people would be grateful to you, should you track down and scan every old copy of Box, In-line skater, Daily Bread, Be-Mag, Kingdom Mag, etc. convert them to PDF and post online for everyone to enjoy. Same goes with a website detailing rollerbladings history. Though that is really unnecessary. Like you said, rollerblading is a relatively young sport. BMX, Skateboarding, and Surfing have decades of history, and no one seems to have much trouble remembering their roots, sure young grommets probably don’t know anything about where the sport began, but by sticking with it, and showing an interest, it’s not hard to find these things out, and I’ve always found it to be a part of coming into your own in whatever sport you choose to take part in.

So in conclusion, it really all comes down to, if rollerblade companies are dropping the ball, pick it up and do it better. Design a boot mold, build a website, put out a good product, and then make complaints about how these other companies are letting you down. Though I may not always agree with how The Conference (A company that you tend to talk down about quite often) is run, I think that they’re doing rather well considering the vast array of problems they’ve come across recently in regards to Chinese manufacturers. Skates are still being designed and released, and people are still getting products.

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