Going back to the roots of music television with Ditty TV

Sam Shansky

October 28, 2016

DittyTV logoDitty TV is a television network dedicated to Americana and Roots style music, broadcasting 24/7 on traditional cable and all connected devices. We spoke with Director of Programming, Sam Shansky, about what Americana and Roots music means, how Hightail helps the team collaborate across continents and to get his new music recommendations.

We’re music television the way MTV used to be
Ditty TV is a television network that celebrates Americana and roots music. It’s not an on-demand service, you just click ‘watch’, sit back and enjoy. We curate our programs so that every hour you’ll see a mix of big names and up-and-coming artists. Our viewership is continually growing and over the past year we’ve had a really great reception from fans of the music.

Americana and Roots takes in a wide range of styles
It’s an all-inclusive style of music that can mean everything from rock’n’roll to solo singer-songwriters playing just an acoustic guitar. This allows for a lot of variation in terms of our programming so Ditty TV is a really good outlet for all kinds of musicians. It’s pretty fun to see what people are enjoying.

Sam Shansky DittyTVI worked at a coffee shop across the street from the studio
I worked as a barista while I was at the University of Memphis. A guy from college knew the owners of Ditty TV and invited me to come over because The Milk Carton Kids were playing in the studio there. When I walked in, I immediately decided that I liked what I saw. They invited me to work the cameras and I pretty much started an internship then and have never left.

Program curation is a good fit for me
I’ve been making mixtapes and playlists for as long as I can remember and eventually I transitioned into the Director of Programming role. But we’re a startup so you have to be able to wear a lot of different hats. I’ve worked on close to 200 live performances here from camera work to script-writing. It’s been a really cool experience to be a part of a lot of different stuff.

We produce 12 different shows every day
Ditty TV went through a rebrand recently so we had to recreate the opening titles for each of the 12 shows. Knowing that there was going to be a lot of phases as we developed each one, my boss started looking for a more efficient way to handle our post-production process. Previously we would get feedback on clips through email, which was a pain. He introduced us to Hightail and we adopted it pretty quickly.

Hightail helps us collaborate with remote team members
Our Lead Animator, Yubu Kazungu, is based in Kenya and Hightail has played a big part in making that workflow fit seamlessly with the team in Memphis. When Yubu uploads an animation, we are able to add comments to it immediately and make decisions quickly and efficiently. It’s a great way to get from the first draft of a concept to the final video in a single, intuitive and extremely accessible tool.

Ditty TV Hightail Spaces screenshot

Highlighting the screen is a faster way to give feedback
We have a show called Fun Facts where we play music videos with on-screen facts and trivia about the video. When we’re producing these, I often need to be very specific about where the on-screen media should appear on the screen. With Hightail I can be exact about not only where it needs to be in the shot on the timeline, but the where physically the media will appear on screen. I don’t have to waste time describing it, Yubu can see it right there. It’s so visual.

Ditty TV Hightail Spaces screenshot

I recently discovered a lot of great new music at the Americana Festival
I saw this fellow named Parker Millsap from Oklahoma, who has just got this amazing voice. He’s only 21 years old but he sounds really gravelly, like an old man. I would also recommend checking out Marlon Williams, from New Zealand. He’s got a voice like you’ve never heard before.

You can watch Ditty TV on all connected devices at www.dittytv.com, follow them on Twitter and Like their Facebook page.

Try Hightail for free at www.hightail.com.