BBC’s live streaming of today’s World Pipe Band Championships worked beautifully. In one marvelous effort the BBC has transformed, in one big-servered swoop, the perception of the the grand event as a need-to-be-there happening, at least for observers. A good set of speakers and high speed internet access provided any listener, anywhere, with at least as sound a listening post as those on the Green tenth row back from the ropes. To those who have never attended the event the broadcast has allowed a look-in to how things work and gives a fair representation to the scale of the event. To those pipe band zealots who have been (many times before, like me) and couldn’t attend, BBC’s magnanimity provided a fix that helped ease the angst of not being there.
I must admit, I didn’t sit arse-glued to the desk and watch the whole proceedings from start (0400 h EST) to end, but I did catch some medley stuff and the prize-giving. A couple of things struck me: first, what a small crowd. And, second, what a small global online audience.
We in pipebandom can – and do – get pretty uppity about our place, the pipe band movement’s place, in the culture of the world. We view pipe band music and pipe band importance as serious business: “don’t they know who we think we are”, I think back to a silly and oft-quoted line from a long-ago band. I know I have – and do. But really, I have to tell you, when the Chieftan guy, Lord Provost of Glasgow, Blethery MacSomebody, said, “…and I am happy to say that as of half eleven today the BBC has had 50,000 hits on their web offerings…”, I thought, “WTF, is that all?”. Good gawd, there’s 6 billion people on God’s green earth and a group of people not much bigger than the small town I live in tuned in … crap bags. Not good.
I suggest that should the full “ratings” stats be released by the BBC we, the “pipe band world”, will get one of the most accurate measures of our place in the world. We may not know, or have a sense, of the stretch of our influence in world music, world culture, but we will have a sense, courtesy of hard numbers, of our hard core audience. I would sorely hope it is way above 50,000 “unique hits”.
And a comment on the crowd: The BBC provided a fine aerial few of the crowd. The assembly of performers (and not all performers, I note, opted to participate in the massed bands thing) out-numbered the audience – or, at least, appeared to out-number the audience. Do the people of Glasgow really care about the WPBC? Enough to buy a ticket and have a listen? Once again, it looked liked families and friends filled the stands.
Hats off to Bob Worrall: He is one smooth, in-the-know and all ’round good-talker guys in the commentary department. While some of the pipe band world’s governing bodies (read: RSPBA) may not recognize his leading adjudication abilities, the world (all 50,000 of us online, at least) rates him tops in all areas that touch on fair and insightful.
Congratulations to all the winners and all the participants – you played your hearts out and we appreciated it all.
PS. Is it just me? I hate it when in a music contest like this people start saying stuff like, “I’m proud to be a Canadian because the Canadian band won”, or “Proud to be a Scot becauase the Scottish band won”? That rings hollow with me in a contest that, I think, is about music.
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