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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SpinTunes 1: Round 4 Songs

You can find the "SpinTunes 1: Round 4" album on BandCamp here: --> LINKAGE.

The deadline for the judges to get their reviews done is August 15th, at 11:59PM EST. The reviews & results will be posted on the 16th. The popular vote will stay open until the judges deadline.

Voting Details:
The judges do NOT get to pick the winner of this final round. Everyone who originally signed up for this contest, who ALSO submitted at least 1 song (shadows included) will get to vote on who wins. Some people entered as teams or bands (Godz Poodlz for example), and those bands will only get 1 vote...not 1 vote for each member. If bandmates disagree on who they should vote for, how they decide to cast that 1 vote is up to them. If it's just 2 people, their votes would cancel out anyways.

So again...you have to be one of the 31 original people who signed up if you want to vote, and you need to have submitted at least 1 song to the contest. Shadows count, but if you haven't turned one in by now...you will not be voting. The voting will be done via e-mail, and you have until the judges deadline (August 15th, at 11:59PM EST) to get those votes in my inbox.

When you e-mail me your vote, title the e-mail "(Your Name) - Round 4 Vote". The only thing I want in the body of the e-mail is the name of whoever you are voting for. I don't want any justifications or added commentary...just a name. (Kevin or Ross)

I counted 23 people who are allowed to vote (correct me if I'm wrong), but if someone doesn't cast a vote by the deadline, they just don't get a vote. I'll try to remember to send e-mail reminders out since some of those people have been eliminated for awhile now. If there is a tie, the popular vote is the first deciding factor, and then the judges are the last deciding factor.

Good luck guys,

Reviews & Links Of Interest For This Round:

- Mark wrote a song bio for his round 4 shadow. LINKAGE

- Paul Peterson submitted a shadow for round 1 called "Hero". LINKAGE

- Paul Peterson also submitted a shadow for round 3 called "Expectations". LINKAGE

- Denise Hudson submitted a shadow for round 3 called "Mercy Killing". LINKAGE

- The Boffo Yux Dudes now have a video for their round 1 song "The Ballad Of Henry Pym ". LINKAGE

- Russ Rogers, of Godz Poodlz, went on YouTube to perform the song he was working on for round 3 called "Always Be My Girl". LINKAGE


  1. My placing third in Round 3 puts me in an odd position to bring these things up, but I think others will see that it's worth talking about. To downplay any bias I may seem to have because of my Round 3 ranking, I'll let slip that, given the choice between Kevin and Ross in Round 4, I actually already voted last night for Ross (no offense Kevin, I really dig you as a songwriter!). So all other things being equal, I'd have no interest in trying to disqualify the song that I myself voted for out of the two.

    So far in this contest, entries have only been disqualified from contention on the basis of deadlines. All else has been left up to judges as they see fit, subjectively assessing how well a challenge has been met as well as whatever other factors they felt like considering about each song. Subjectivity in many aspects of judgment is, of course, a given. But it's another thing when a submission objectively fails to meet criteria. And Ross' song is less than three minutes long, and by my reckoning, there are not a minimum of 30 seconds for each of at least three different ethnic styles.

    If only deadlines can disqualify, then this means that, in any round, including the final one, anyone still in contention could have, one minute after a challenge was revealed, recorded a one-second-long song consisting only of an "Ah" being sung a capella on a single note, turned it in, and expected the submission to be considered a valid entry for contention in the given round. Because it made the deadline. And because it's being left to the judges to worry about everything else.

    Now, none of us is likely to ever do that in a contest like this. But there's a pretty important question here. Would such an entry be allowed into a round as valid, or would it be disqualified up front?

    Based on how things have worked so far, with only deadlines being grounds for disqualification, then the answer has to be that this song would be allowed in. How does everyone feel about that?

    If that song wouldn't be allowed in, though, then there's another important question, which is where the line is, on one side of which an entry is deemed disqualified up front, and on the other side of which the entry is allowed go into contention against others. Without an answer for this, without knowing where that line is, it's problematic to say that a one-second "Ah" song should not be passed on -- and equally problematic to say that any other song should be put up for voting even though it failed to meet some really clear criteria just as objectively as if a deadline had not been met.

    Depending on how these questions are answered, the results of past rounds might have ended up very differently. Related issues are being discussed and may have an impact on future contests. But here we all are having to judge and cast a vote for a round that's still undecided, so I think it's worth at least asking the question: is it a given that the entries from Kevin and Ross are the two entries we should all be weighing as we choose who to vote for in Round 4?

    Listen, I'll be fine if things go on as they're going. I just felt these things were worth discussing, in general but also while there is still the opportunity for them to make a difference in some way other than hindsight. And I'd have felt the same even if I'd placed very differently in Round 3.


    Mark a.k.a. OHB

  2. "If only deadlines can disqualify, then this means that, in any round, including the final one, anyone still in contention could have, one minute after a challenge was revealed, recorded a one-second-long song consisting only of an "Ah" being sung a capella on a single note, turned it in, and expected the submission to be considered a valid entry for contention in the given round." - Mark

    A song not having lyrics is another way to disqualify yourself...it's in the rules. However let's say someone just threw something together that was 10 seconds long & had 1 line of lyrics. Well that would probably end up being a judgement call on my part or the judges. If it was the final round & this happened I would be inclined to use an alternate. In the case of the song Ross submitted that is clearly not the case. Effort, skill & time went into his submission & it's up to his peers to decide how much (if any) to penalize him for being a few seconds short. The judges had to do the same thing in the first 3 rounds, and now it's everyone else's turn to deal with that issue.

    You do point out some flaws with the current system though, and hopefully they'll be fixed for the next edition. Good thing judging guidelines & a new final round format are all up for possible change.

    "is it a given that the entries from Kevin and Ross are the two entries we should all be weighing as we choose who to vote for in Round 4?" - Mark

    Yep. Stays as is. Both people put a lot of effort into the final round, and turned in solid tunes.

  3. Thanks for the response. I certainly see that keeping things as is can make sense if for no other reason than that it keeps Round 4 consistent with everything that came before.

    Maybe I exaggerated too much to make the point. Sure, 10 seconds with one line of lyrics. Even two minutes with plenty of lyrics, but with no attempt to qualitatively meet the stated challenge. And I know full well that this isn't the case for either current Round 4 finalist, both of which absolutely do show, as you say, effort, skill and time put in.

    The point is the basis on which you and the judges might decide to make that judgment call. If an objective deadline is not a question, it seems tremendously odd to me that other purely objective requirements are questionable (and therefore not requirements at all) and could lead you and the judges to let a song through, while other subjective things could actually lead you and the judges to make the call to pull a song rather than just let judges develop their subjective opinions about it.

    In the end, and I hope it's okay I'm making the comment here rather than on the general contest planning post, I think there's an appropriate role breakdown to make. Contest runners should qualify entries on the basis of unambiguous objective criteria -- requirements. The entries that make it past that should then be passed onto judges who would judge subjectively based on all other criteria, which by definition wouldn't be requirements.

    And incidentally, that's exactly why I can stand by my own vote for Ross' song even though I also can believe that his song shouldn't have been eligible for Round 4 voting in the first place. My role in Round 4 is judge, not contest runner. If the contest runners are passing songs by Kevin and Ross on for contention, I believe that my job as a judge is *not* to deal with objective criteria but only with subjective ones.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    Mark a.k.a. OHB

  4. Well, I make no secret that my vote cast in the popular voting was for Kevin. I blog about it here:

    The sum of my reasoning is that it is pointless to express ANY requirement for length if it is simply going to be ignored. Not wanting this to be a pointless contest, I'm taking the astonishing (and apparently unprecedented) position that a "requirement" is a REQUIREMENT, as in, "it is required, not optional."

    As I've said before, "crashing and burning in style is STILL crashing and burning." Ross crashed and burned in style by not meeting a REQUIREMENT. It doesn't matter one bit how hard he worked on it, and it doesn't matter how much I enjoy it; he didn't deliver the goods. It's a really great song that objectively fails to meet this challenge.

    Neither am I going to rationalize that because there are judges who apparently don't care that there are requirements, It's cool for me to ignore them, too. It's NOT cool. It's like showing up to a sporting event with insufficient players to field a team, and claiming that you shouldn't forfeit because you failed to follow the rules. Or awarding Tommy the widely-missed goal, because -- gosh darn it -- he tried so HARD. I submit with all seriousness that there is no sensible argument you can make to allow it. By this I unapologetically mean that none of the arguments regarding allowing Ross' entry make any logical sense whatsoever.

    If you don't want the time to be a requirement, fine... DON'T PUT IT IN THE CHALLENGE at all. Don't use the word "minimum". But it's THERE. Live with it. Don't change the rules after the fact.

  5. There are multiple requirements each round, and it was left up to the judges to decide how harshly to rank each person if they did not meet those requirements. This round it's the peers who are the judges...it's not changing the rules to give them the same option.

  6. Spin,
    In your post you don't specifically say where to send the e-mail. I assume it is the same e-mail address to which we sent our songs during the competition. Is that correct?


  7. *facepalm* Thanks for mentioning that Steve. Yes it's the same e-mail you've used to submit songs in the past. I'll repost it up above in just a minute.

  8. It's not quite true that things were left up to the judges. At minimum, the deadline wasn't. No judge is free to vote for someone who submits after the deadline. Maybe there are a couple of other things like that, too. Which is why I believe the fundamental issue underneath this whole discussion is separating clear objective criteria to be handled before entries are put up for judging from all remaining criteria that would be subjective and therefore worthwhile to leave up to judges.

    I agree that the requirements are clear and objectively demand that Ross be disqualified. And I *don't* think it's cool to ignore requirements. But there are no voting guidelines in place to demand that all judges vote against Ross on that basis. But if there *were* voting guidelines in place to demand that all judges vote against Ross on that basis, then it wouldn't really be left up to the judges at all. The vote would be a foregone conclusion and therefore meaningless. There would be a winner by default, which is exactly what SpinTunes wanted to avoid. The decision would be out of the judges' hands.

    Which is where I believe it should be. Out of the judges hands. Made before the judges have an opportunity to judge anything. But that's not how this works right now.

    In the end, I not only understand but completely *respect* any judge's decision to vote for Kevin purely because of these criteria issues. At the same time, if the decision isn't going to be made for us judges, then I want a vote in which votes have meaning. And in this pretty odd situation, the only way for our votes to have meaning is to *not* reject out of hand the possibility of voting for Ross. Once Kevin and Ross are put on the field before us, the rules of *this* contest communicate to us that all the criteria are to be looked at as *not* requirements but things to be weighed, and each judge is bound to have different opinions about what is most important. And I don't think that's a good thing at *all* -- it makes for very messy results, and I've got a lot more to say about this, which I'll be posting soon. But it is what it is for now.

    Now, I didn't vote for Ross because I thought it was the only way to give my vote meaning. But just as surely, the moment that any one conclusion is forced upon all judges is the moment that all our votes lose all meaning.

    We could continue to argue this, but this is one of those things where the structure of the situation creates and preserves inherent conflict. Only a change of structure can resolve it, and that's obviously not going to happen within SpinTunes 1. Here's looking to SpinTunes 2 and some rule changes that address some of these concerns.

    Mark a.k.a. OHB

  9. I'll weigh in with a cop out. I judged the songs before realizing the issues, and thought Kevin's was the better of the two.

    Now I'm caught up in the minutiae of 'is it valid, etc.' Should this win by default...

    It comes down to: Which song did you feel meets the challenge, and which, in your opinion, was 'better'.

    Both were strong entries. It's in the hands of those voted off the island.
    I'd leave it to those voting to decide how close is close enough to meeting the challenge. My cop out was I didn't have to use it as a factor in my decision.

    To complicate the issue further, I haven't voted yet, because of the 1 vote per group rule. Al hasn't gotten back to me with his pick yet. So we could possibly be canceling each other out. Who said a simple vote couldn't be complicated?


  10. Hey guys - a couple thoughts here - Mark, these are mainly directed toward the issues you raised in your comments above.

    The way I read the rules and guidelines coming into round 4 was that alternates were encouraged to write shadows in case one of us did not submit a song, either from giving up or for missing a deadline. Just as in all previous rounds, if someone doesn't get a song submitted, or doesn't get it submitted in time, he or she isn't in the running.

    But nobody anywhere ever was told they wouldn't be allowed forward if they didn't submit a *good enough* song. That's judging before the song gets to be judged. I think you're giving equal weight to deadlines and challenge criteria when you shouldn't.

    Ross and I both got songs in on time. So before anyone got to listen to either one of them, Ross and I secured our places in the final challenge.

    Since both songs got in, alternates weren't needed. Even if Ross and I both turned in our weakest songs to date, while everyone who shadowed turned in songs that were clearly superior to ours... unfortunate as it would be, we're the ones who earned the right to have our songs duke it out.

    It's in the duking out that the challenge requirements come into play. Every person with a vote is going to have to decide what's more important: (1) how good the song is, and (2) how well it met the challenge. These are not binary choices. Both are on a sliding scale. And one song meeting the requirements doesn't force the judges hands any more than one song being much better written forces their hands.

    Ross' song is prettier than mine. It's more cohesive and it keeps its momentum through the transitions while mine does not. His is the better song to listen to.

    Mine meets the challenges better than his does.

    Nobody with a vote is having their hand forced. It's up to them to decide whether my meeting of the challenge criteria is enough to earn the vote over a better sounding song. It's up to them to decide whether the quality of his writing and performance is enough to overcome the fact that he didn't nail the req's.

    You voted according to these considerations, as did I, and as I trust all the other voters will. And I do not think that the outcome is a given... not at all.

    But I'm sure the system didn't fail this round. The next SpinTunes, however, will have a different system that I think will eliminate a lot of the potential concerns that have been raised so far. We're all in this to improve. That goes for the contestants and the contest itself. I think we're all well on our way :)

  11. "I think you're giving equal weight to deadlines and challenge criteria when you shouldn't." -- Kevin

    Yes and no. If you look closely at just how yes and just how no -- and especially in light of your own comment at Dr. Lindyke's blog -- I think you'll see that you and I actually agree straight down the line.

    The current system has some traits some of us don't like. One of those for me is that it doesn't give equal weight to all the criteria that sound as if they are objective, e.g., deadlines and some (and only some) challenge criteria. If some challenge criteria are going to be phrased in a way that makes them seem objective and clear cut -- binary, as you say -- then yes, in a future system, I'd like to see that given equal weight with other objective criteria like deadlines, as part of a qualification process before entries are put into contention for judging. That's the yes.

    But I'm also clear that that's not how the current system is designed. From what Spin says and from how the contest has run so far, it's pretty clear that the intention is that judges weigh all challenge criteria -- no matter how much some of them may *sound* like objective and clear cut requirements -- as if all are guidelines only and none of them requirements. I accept that current system as it is, not weighing any challenge criteria as equal to deadlines. I could have voted for you and still have that be true, but I couldn't have voted for Ross as I did *unless* it were true. That's the no.

    On its own terms, the current system has not failed -- except to the extent that it fails to make truly clear, in challenge criteria and other judging instructions, the fact that judges are expected to treat challenge criteria as guidelines rather than requirements.

    What you said over at Dr. Lindyke's about phrasing requirement-sounding criteria instead as "targets" seems dead on to me. I think you're right that that alone would have made the whole situation non-controversial -- and it would have addressed the lack of clarity I just mentioned. In the future, I'd love to see objective/binary language (whether contest-geneal and/or challenge-specific) used only for *requirements* in qualifying entries for contention in the first place, and "target" and other non-binary language used for all other criteria that judges are intended to weigh for those qualified entries.

    Mark a.k.a. OHB

  12. Just a quicky....
    Remember this challenge in particular was two fold.
    There was the topical challenge
    and there was ALSO the technical side.

    The *style must be 30 secs min and song 3 mins minimum*.

    The question here is, if a song does not meet the irrefutably MEASURABLE part of the challenge, i.e. timing, should it be accepted or disqualified.

    The topical challenge, as has been seen to GREAT debate, can be construed and misconstrued in a great many ways, but those things CAN be hard to quantify.
    TIME however is immutable.
    It either IS 3 mins long, or it isn't.
    If it isn't, the question then simply becomes, does that disqualify it?
    Because if it DOESN'T... the stipulation for a minimum time is pointless.

  13. Well, i'm embarrassed and bummed to have goofed on this thing. My brother can tell you that is not like me. The last couple of weeks both my time and my living situation have been very unaccommodating to having a focus on this. I ended up finishing in a rush, and I made some mistakes. Even so, whatever my peer judges decide, I am proud of the song, know that I had no intention of disrespecting the requirements, happy to have made it this far, and had a lot of fun in this competition.

  14. I didn't feel disrespected, but I felt bad for you when I learned of the technical short comings. I knew it would cost you votes. Didn't know how many, but I knew it would hurt your chances.

    Overall I felt as I did when you signed up, I was thrilled to have you on board. Now that it's over, I'm thrilled to have gotten 4 new Ross Durand songs to enjoy along with 50+ songs from other people.