Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Alexandria Fire?

Listening to the news on the way into work today, hearing that there was a mysterious fire in Cheney's offices, my first thought was that we are having another mysterious fire of Alexandria. . .
I wonder which documents, tapes, computers, etc have been destroyed in the fire. . .
I'm sure the cause will be mysterious, or something that could have been created by a talented agent. And I'm sure that just like that old fire, history has lost some key documents which would help us understand how this empire of the USA started its descent.
Sad news indeed.


I'm going to just paste Brooks column today from the NYTimes here, as I think it is a great piece of writing on why Obama is the best choice for President. . . More Senators like Hillary, and a President who is Barack, and we're on our way, prosperity bound.

The Obama-Clinton Issue
Published: December 18, 2007, NYTimes

Hillary Clinton has been a much better senator than Barack Obama. She has been a serious, substantive lawmaker who has worked effectively across party lines. Obama has some accomplishments under his belt, but many of his colleagues believe that he has not bothered to master the intricacies of legislation or the maze of Senate rules. He talks about independence, but he has never quite bucked liberal orthodoxy or party discipline.

If Clinton were running against Obama for Senate, it would be easy to choose between them.

But they are running for president, and the presidency requires a different set of qualities. Presidents are buffeted by sycophancy, criticism and betrayal. They must improvise amid a thousand fluid crises. They’re isolated and also exposed, puffed up on the outside and hollowed out within. With the presidency, character and self-knowledge matter more than even experience. There are reasons to think that, among Democrats, Obama is better prepared for this madness.

Many of the best presidents in U.S. history had their character forged before they entered politics and carried to it a degree of self-possession and tranquillity that was impervious to the Sturm und Drang of White House life.

Obama is an inner-directed man in a profession filled with insecure outer-directed ones. He was forged by the process of discovering his own identity from the scattered facts of his childhood, a process that is described in finely observed detail in “Dreams From My Father.” Once he completed that process, he has been astonishingly constant.

Like most of the rival campaigns, I’ve been poring over press clippings from Obama’s past, looking for inconsistencies and flip-flops. There are virtually none. The unity speech he gives on the stump today is essentially the same speech that he gave at the Democratic convention in 2004, and it’s the same sort of speech he gave to Illinois legislators and Harvard Law students in the decades before that. He has a core, and was able to maintain his equipoise, for example, even as his campaign stagnated through the summer and fall.

Moreover, he has a worldview that precedes political positions. Some Americans (Republican or Democrat) believe that the country’s future can only be shaped through a remorseless civil war between the children of light and the children of darkness. Though Tom DeLay couldn’t deliver much for Republicans and Nancy Pelosi, so far, hasn’t been able to deliver much for Democrats, these warriors believe that what’s needed is more partisanship, more toughness and eventual conquest for their side.

But Obama does not ratchet up hostilities; he restrains them. He does not lash out at perceived enemies, but is aloof from them. In the course of this struggle to discover who he is, Obama clearly learned from the strain of pessimistic optimism that stretches back from Martin Luther King Jr. to Abraham Lincoln. This is a worldview that detests anger as a motivating force, that distrusts easy dichotomies between the parties of good and evil, believing instead that the crucial dichotomy runs between the good and bad within each individual.

Obama did not respond to his fatherlessness or his racial predicament with anger and rage, but as questions for investigation, conversation and synthesis. He approaches politics the same way. In her outstanding New Yorker profile, Larissa MacFarquhar notes that Obama does not perceive politics as a series of battles but as a series of systemic problems to be addressed. He pursues liberal ends in gradualist, temperamentally conservative ways.

Obama also has powers of observation that may mitigate his own inexperience and the isolating pressures of the White House. In his famous essay, “Political Judgment,” Isaiah Berlin writes that wise leaders don’t think abstractly. They use powers of close observation to integrate the vast shifting amalgam of data that constitute their own particular situation — their own and no other.

Obama demonstrated those powers in “Dreams From My Father” and still reveals glimpses of the ability to step outside his own ego and look at reality in uninhibited and honest ways. He still retains the capacity, also rare in presidents, of being able to sympathize with and grasp the motivations of his rivals. Even in his political memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” he astutely observes that candidates are driven less by the desire for victory than by the raw fear of loss and humiliation.

What Bill Clinton said on “The Charlie Rose Show” is right: picking Obama is a roll of the dice. Sometimes he seems more concerned with process than results. But for Democrats, there’s a roll of the dice either way. The presidency is a bacterium. It finds the open wounds in the people who hold it. It infects them, and the resulting scandals infect the presidency and the country. The person with the fewest wounds usually does best in the White House, and is best for the country.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kwani Experience Video

Watch more free videos

This is from a group in South Africa who I am working with, and I love this video. Fun combination of great music, talented animation work, and good videography. The embed doesn't seem to work, but if you just click on the link in the title or in the "watch more free videos" you should be able to see it no problem.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I seem to be the quote man for my friend Dmitri. At APAP in January, I gave my bit about "obscurity being a great threat than piracy" to the artist that the "world music" community works with.
Now at this years WOMEX, I talked about the development of niches, and the communities to support them. Apparently, he was listening.

"Just back from WOMEX, where two of my favorite quotes were "Music blogs are what college radio used to be" (Yale Evalev, Luaka Bop) and "Give it two years for the niches online to really develop" (Erich Ludwig, online music consultant)."

Follow the link in the title for the full report.

For more (I'm going to scoop myself here), I just sent in my WOMEX report to Dmitri, and I'll post it here as well.

> 1st Favorite WOMEX artist discovery:
[Hmmm. I'm not sure I love the work "discovery" (hints of colonialism,
imperialism and all the rest). However, this WOMEX was a great
opportunity to see a bunch of artists live that I have been hearing
about, or listening to for a long time. Mamani Keita & Nicolas Repac,
Seun Kuti, Balkan Beat Box, 3canal, etc. OK, off the soapbox, onto the
questions at hand. . .]
1. Mayra Andrade -
> 5-10 words about why you liked this artist:
What's not to like? Beautiful voice, nice variety in her set. Plus
Cape Verdean Creole is so expressive, even though I don't understand a
word, I think I understand perfectly . . .

> 2nd Favorite WOMEX artist discovery:
Bajofondo Tangoclub -
> 5-10 words about why you liked this artist:
Great stage show, lots of remixes (recorded, not live). However, they
have an awful flash website.
> 3rd Favorite WOMEX artist discovery:
La Shica -
> 5-10 words about why you liked this artist:
This one is my wife's favorite. She loved the dancing, the whole stage
schtick, and the way flamenco was brought into a new element.
> New idea: T-shirts
> Who did you hear it from: reminded me of it when they gave me the MarceloD2 Futbol Jersey
> How will you use it:
Not sure, but maybe next year I'll have a box of T-Shirts to pass out, since no one at WOMEX seems to have gotten to the massive schwag giveaway levels seen at SXSW and other conferences state-side, and the first one in wins. Can you say "Free Advertising"?
> Describe WOMEX 2007 in 1-3 words:
> New company you discovered: Mine (seriously, my business cards got to me shortly before I left)
> Why you were glad to find out about them: That there is a huge need for me (and many many other) to get busy helping people understand and actually capitalize on the digital tools, technologies and opportunities available to them.
> New service you discovered that you want to use:
Well, I didn't discover them _at_ WOMEX, but in service of one of my clients, I am starting to understand the full power of
> What is cool about them:
You can control (and share control of) your roster of artists/clients on a variety of social networks. In non-tech speak, what I mean is that I can make one change for an artist (add a song, update a link, add a picture, etc), and have it appear on Facebook, GarageBand, and more. This service is the future of a variety of open-source applications that will allow all of us to play with those niches I talked about, once they fully develop.
> One thing you will do differently as a result of WOMEX 2007:
Bring my own food snacks to the day time stuff. Must avoid a repeat of
tequila shots on an empty stomach.

> One thing you are especially proud of from WOMEX 2007:
Having a good time, getting some work done, and still making time for
my newly married wife! I think she'd be open to coming back (thanks

> How would you like to be credited for this article?
> Name: Erich Ludwig
> Company: Erich Ludwig Creative Consultancy
> Position: Instigator

Friday, November 02, 2007

the tax man cometh - Canadians to pay tax on downloaded tunes

this is going to be interesting . . . i think many of us have been dreading the tax man's intrusion into the mp3 business, and kind of hoping that he wouldn't show up. however, here he is, and we'll see what folks in canada do, both on the business and consumer side. I just hope that the SOCAN in Canada is better than the ASCAP/BMI/RIAA cartel down on the south of that border.

OTTAWA -- The Copyright Board of Canada has approved new taxes on digital MP3 music files - at least for files that are downloaded legally.

. . .

Meant to compensate artists for the reproduction of their songs, the charges follow similar levies that add 21 cents to the price of every blank CD sold in Canada. And they are retroactive to 1996, when Canada's music industry first began pushing for tariffs on transmitted music files.

. . .

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), which collects money on behalf of musicians and redistributes those funds to songwriters and bands, had called for the levies.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

RIAA forced to put up or shut up

Read the story linked in the title. My favorite piece is this:

"Toder, Thomas's attorney, plans to start with the basics — making them prove they own the songs at all. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis threw out 784 pages of documents produced by the record companies to show they owned a sample of the songs. Toder had argued that the documents were produced seven months late."

Hah! So the RIAA wants to do lawsuits but produces documents 7 months late! 99% of life is showing up, I was always told . . .

Friday, September 28, 2007

whew. read this, laugh, breathe, read again

a stunning shredding of the term 'world music'. oh my. read it and then let me know what you think. i posted a comment thanking this blogger for their commentary, as we inside the world music echo-sphere get too caught up in this argument all the time with very little new commentary added. this is a nice outside perspective, and the bonus is that it is a nice reminder that there is a huge market for the music that we love, whatever we call it, and our job is just to figure out ways to market it, ways to get it out there, ways to promote it, ways to share it. and, as pointed out in this article, putting it all into an ill-defined lumpy box and calling it a shiny cadillac ain't the way to do it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another online Video Editing Solution

Live performance of Zola's 'Umdlwembe' shot at the launch of in Jozi, South Africa in 2006. ControlArms is a project of Oxfam, Amnesty International and other groups designed to create tougher controls on the global arms trade.
Zola is on Ghetto Ruff, and mp3s are available at:

Rough footage here, but great dancing part way in . . .

Breaking News - Zingku acquired by Google!

as mentioned in an email to users, and posted on their site:
"We've entered into an agreement to have Google acquire our Zingku service."

Zingku, and another branded version (Ripple9) have done some work with CalabashMusic, but they have a killer set of mobile tools that the artists I work with are all using . . .

oops! someone forgot to renew their domain!

On one of my little journeys round the web today, came to the Universal Music Groups job page (yes, i am job hunting, and no, i wouldn't mind working for "the man"). Clicked to their US based jobs, cool. Clicked thru to see what international opportunities might exist and . . . BINGO! someone forgot to renew the domain. doh!
see for yourself - go here and click outside the US.
The domain is now reverted to
which is double funny. cause if you haven't heard, is dead (or about to be any second). i've moved my domains from there to another registrar, and i know there has been a mass exodus of others as well. so someone at Universal forgot to renew, or got caught in the renewal hell. and now according to ICANN, took the domain! which is stunning. perhaps they are planning to steal domain names, backorder them, or otherwise acquire a catalog of domain names and then ransom them off to pay their debts. amazing story if people have to compete and bid against their domain registrar for domain names!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sharon Chadha: More good news: Tuareg rebels in Niger and Mali are NOT branches of Al Qaeda

Sharon Chadha: More good news: Tuareg rebels in Niger and Mali are NOT branches of Al Qaeda

Great post by Sharon here. I too have been troubled by both the attempts at outside Islamic groups to try and gain a foothold and radicalize Mali, as well as the attempts by the USA and others to try and put soldiers into Mali to resist this radicalization. Neither a fundamentalist Mali nor a militarized Mali is in the interests of the Malian people. This is the new cold war it seems. Someone puts money in to a country to try and play god ("make the country in their image" so to speak). Meanwhile, the people still suffer. I remember my first trip to Mali in 2001, I was so glad I was American, and not French, as people were more open to me not being a colonizer. However, on subsequent trips, it has not been as advantageous to be American, due to invasion of Afghanistan/Iraq backlash, general Bush (p)Resident idiocy, and the increased presence of US troops throughout Mali and the lower Saharan desert region. I'm not sure when our politicians are going to realize that putting troops in various countries actually lowers local tolerance for political efforts . . .

p.s. - in the general universal energy pick-up amazing-ness, the track 'Ahimana' by Tinariwen came up in my random playlist as I was typing this post . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Calabash Widget from Widgetbox

Just found this on Widgetbox. Thanks Bluemen!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NYTimes "Gets It"

The NYTimes gets it! It is about making content available to people to use, and they will use it! As the google example has shown (for better or worse), advertising is enabling content owners to trade eyeballs for content. I had long been a reader of the Times online, reading all sorts of stuff. But when they launched their TimesSelect section, I no longer could read the key articles, so basically stopped visiting the site (except when Google News took me there). Now, I think I'll be back. Op-eds for free! Great. Old articles for free. Even better.
This isn't much of a big brain idea either really. Consider the Rick Rubin article I talked about in a previous post. This was being passed around in emails as full text of the article and posted all over the web. But if you went to the site, you couldn't read the article unless you paid. So the result of that was the people were reading the article, but not on, and the Times was losing valuable CPM eyeballs.
So good on ya, NYT for realizing what is happening. (Read the news on the news below).

NY Times to End TimesSelect, Open Free Archives
Submitted by Mark Hefflinger on September 17, 2007 - 3:14pm.

New York - The New York Times announced on Monday that it will shutter its TimesSelect subscription service, which had kept older articles and its roster of op-ed writers in a pay-to-view area of its website, opting instead to open its archives to potential advertising revenue.

The TimesSelect service cost users $7.95 per month or $49.95 per year, and was free to print subscribers and some students.

As of Wednesday, the Times' entire archives between 1851 and 1922, and from 1987 to the present will be available for free, along with some select content from 1923-1986.

The company said that TimesSelect, which was launched in September 2005, had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers out of a total of 787,000 overall, and generated about $10 million a year in revenue.

The first sponsor of the opened areas on will be American Express, the company said.

Monday, September 17, 2007

RIAA, File-Sharing, Lawsuits, and more

Just finished listening to a quick report on NPR Marketplace on filesharing lawsuits being pursued by the RIAA. As someone working in the music industry, and potentially looking at working for a major label, I can't think of a more inane tactic than the lawsuits being pursued by the RIAA. And, more specifically, the tactics and methods used in pursuing these lawsuits.
I mean, really, if you are going to sue people, why go after small timers? Do cops go after small time drug users? Or the big time dealers?
And are lawsuits the right strategy? How much money are these guys spending on lawyers? And how much have the recouped? Why not spend that money on figuring out ways to monetize music? Figure out ways to make money off of existing customer behavior? You can't legislate behavior, nor can you sue behavior out of existence. What you can do is learn what the customer wants, get them that product, and figure out a way to do that where you provide a service that customer is willing to pay for.
Other labels like Nettwerk (and pretty much only them) have spoken out against these suits, with Nettwerk going so far as to get involved on the customer side of RIAA lawsuits. Don't believe me? Read it.
A small slice:
"The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests," said Nettwerk chief executive Terry McBride in a statement.

"Litigation is not 'artist development'. Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love."

The woman featured in the Marketplace story has sued the RIAA (article on suit here), which is great news. From the suit:
"For years, the RIAA and its member companies have been using flawed and illegal private investigation information as part of their coordinated scheme and common enterprise to threaten, intimidate and coerce payment from private citizens across the United States. As such they have clogged and abused the federal courts for many years with factually baseless and fraudulent lawsuits."

Zola Video

I've been meaning to put up this video for a LOOONG time. Anyway, I shot this with my little canon a90 digital camera, so the video ain't great, and the sound is worse. But, Brightcove and their new little consumer tool Aftermix came along and made it really easy. I just grabbed an mp3 of Zola's Umdlwembe (available at if you wanna buy the song, and you can get more of Zola here as well - and the video from my camera, and mixed em up on their little program.
Nifty, eh?
Back to the topic - needless to say, this was an intense show. ControlArms is a project of Oxfam and Amnesty International and their mission is to reduce gun violence and availability around the world. Their launch in South Africa was a show, a party, with some serious message from the artists performing, plus victims of gun violence. For Zola's performance, Hempza and I were sitting on the floor, and Zola was dancing literally 1 foot from my face at points. For as bad as the video is, I think you can still get a sense of the skill of his dancers.

More Links:
ControlArms -
Ghetto Ruff (Zola's label)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

perspectives on the music industry

because i'm in the music industry, and specifically, working on the future of music, about 15 people forwarded me this article in the nytimes about rick rubin. if you don't subscribe to the times, you can probably find it excerpted on the web somewhere.

however, no one forwarded me this blog post by the craziest man in the music blog biz, bob lefsetz.
i say crazy in the sense of that lefsetz really is crazy, but in this new game, that isn't always a bad thing. for a first rate example, read lefsetz's full post. his money line is this:
"The youth come up with Facebook. Columbia comes up with Rick Rubin. Where would YOU put your money?"

basically, his point is this - when the going gets tough, you have to ask tough questions, and actually answer those questions. you can't just do things a different way without examining why. especially when different just means a different way of doing the same old thing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

this IS future of music

This seems to me to be the future of music. DRM-free, easy plug into other sites, very viral distribution, sharing revenues with fans, creating long term relationships between fans/artists, simultaneous releases across all platforms and territories. The revenue sharing piece is especially important to make sure that DRM-Free is profitable for artists. This is also worth a quick caveat, that caveat being that sales of actual tracks will no longer be the most profitable piece of an artist's body of work.

"As part of Universal's growing DRM-free experiment, Musicane has created a widget to coincide with the Interscope release of the Black Eyed Pea founder's solo single "I Got It from My Mama" on August 28th. The Musicane widget acts as a media player on websites, blogs and social networks selling both digital and physical product and can be added with a single line of code.

"Interscope In a somewhat revolutionary move from a major artist, is sharing the monies earned from Musicane product sales with fans that embed the store onto their blogs and social network profiles. Fans who pre-order the album will get a free download of the new single, as well as exclusive remixes. All of the downloads will be DRM-free mp3's.

"Universal will also be one of the first releases on The Universal Music Group roster to be simultaneously released digitally without DRM to all digital business partners worldwide within the same album cycle as its physical release."

Friday, August 10, 2007

bye bye drm. . .

what did i say? way back . . . and not just me, but everyone else. DRM is doomed. Universal is actually doing some real work on sorting out what the future will be, and doing so outside of iTunes, since real experimentation is impossible there. . .

Universal to Test Sale of DRM-Free Tracks Everywhere but iTunes
Submitted by Mark Hefflinger on August 10, 2007 - 10:59am.

New York - Universal Music Group announced on Friday that it plans to experiment with selling a portion of its catalog free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions from a number of online retailers, including, RealNetworks' Rhapsody, Best Buy and Walmart -- with the notable exception of Apple's iTunes Store.

The songs will be available in 256K MP3 format for the same price as DRM-wrapped tunes -- 99 cents per song -- and be available from later this month through at least January.

Universal Music told the Los Angeles Times the test is being conducted partly to see how sales and piracy rates will be affected if songs are offered without DRM, adding that Apple was excluded so "iTunes could serve as a 'control group' to make sales comparisons easier."

Analysts said the exclusion of Apple by Universal was also aimed at curtailing Steve Jobs' growing influence on its business.

Universal will help drive traffic to the DRM-free downloads using Google ads that link directly to digital retailer gBox; the songs will also be offered from some artist and label websites.

The only other major label to experiment with DRM-free songs thus far has been EMI, which sells high-quality MP3s at a premium price of $1.29 each at iTunes and other retailers.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

the power of music, part 2

and now from my own country -

According to the band's web site, Pearl Jam's Lollapalooza webcast was censored by sponsor/webcaster AT&T:

When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:

  • "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and
  • "George Bush find yourself another home."
so who let anyone at at&t decide what was good for any of us to hear? and mind you - this is in a webcast!!, not just traditional TV broadcasting, where i'd assume to have everything censored.

the power of music

the title of the linked article says it all:

"Music is too subversive for the new South Africa, says apartheid hero"

the article continues:

"One of South Africa’s greatest musicians — a hero of the struggle against apartheid — believes that he is no longer welcome as a performer in his own country.

The virtuoso trumpeter Hugh Masekela claims that many of the talented musicians whose voices became symbols of protest against white domination are finding it hard to get bookings in South Africa because the ruling ANC is “terrified” of music as an agent of change."

and is worth reading the entire thing. hugh is a visionary, and continues to really be involved in social change as well as music. some of the guys i hung with in soweto who are doing hip-hop have told me about hugh meeting with them, passing them music, and giving them free rein to remix, sample, cut it up and more. i think hugh's comments are probably too true for much of the world. certainly us politicians don't love political music, and as you may have seen in our documentary "African Underground: Democracy in Dakar", the politicians in Senegal are actively involved in oppressing musicians that don't tow the line.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

micropayments are a lie

i've been meaning to write this post for a long time. waaay back, when i worked for SEIU, a co-worker and i were talking about this issue, even before i really got into digital media and payment issues.

anyway, it turns out that one of the puzzles we've been trying to solve with calabash is that of pricing. how to price an mp3. how do we bring the price down from the $0.99 arbitrary price that apple established to a real price point? how do we let the market act on the price of a music track, and really find the "true" market value of an mp3? well, obviously, the scientist in me just wants to run a lot of tests. set the price of tracks at a wide variety of prices, and let the market act. let artists set their own prices for tracks, and step back, watch, and learn.

however, one impediment to that pricing plan is this - the merchant fees associated with transactions done by credit card or paypal. credit card transactions have fairly large fees ($0.05 - $0.50 depending on transaction size), and paypal is even worse. paypal has some nice interest rates for consumers, and some nice features, but merchants pay for it all. paypal fees are close to double that on credit cards.

a proposed answer to this dilemma has been micropayments. these unicorn-like payments are described as allowing all sorts of price point transactions, allowing new pricing models, blah blah blah. anyway, all the schemes i have seen from vendors who we have thought about dealing with at calabash always involve some variation on the following: users buy some "Credit" or don't get charged on initial transactions. they then get charged at the end of the month, or use the credit piece by piece on small transactions on the site. which isn't really micropayment now is it? basically, it is the same thing - one charge for $5 instead of 50 charges for $0.10. meaning that customers still have to put in $5 or the merchant has to pay a huge % fee on a very small transaction.

anyway, i have a lot to read, as i'm really starting to take this idea from my head onto paper. i've put a couple links below, which i need to read as well, but here's hoping for some good conversation on this issue. i'll be back for more posts on this same subject.

to read:
wikipedia entry on micropayments
misunderstanding micropayments
the case against micropayments
paypal micropayment press release
another bloggers take on micropayments are crooks!

i have posted on other blogs about this as well, but you know i got to talk about it here on my own blog. the site was a site based in russia that supposedly was "legal" under russian law (according to the site and its defenders). however, as the article in the header link details, "Russian prosecutors are targeting Denis Kvasov, former owner of controversial MP3 store, with copyright infringement charges that would include jail time, according to published reports."

now, was an amazing site from the perspective of a consumer, but awful from the artist perspective. as a consumer, you could get cheap music delivered quickly to you in your choice of format, all without DRM or copy protection. brilliant. however, they didn't pay any artist anything, so forget about it from the artist perspective. the challenge in my mind is how a company can deliver something like the service of allofmp3 while paying out to artists and labels. apple ain't doin' it now, nor is emusic, nor anyone else. calabash is trying to develop a download manager, and we are spec'ing the project of encoding everything in a variety of formats, or writing some scripts to dumb down lossless files on the server on demand. is doing some good stuff with delivery, and if you get stuff early, you get it cheap there. so a reputable answer will arise sooner or later.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Boston Herald Article on the GU Tour

Hip-hop hits Hub
By Chris Faraone
Friday, July 20, 2007

Ben Herson went quite a bit out of his way to organize the Global Underground hip-hop tour that marches through the Middle East nightclub in Cambridge Sunday night.
The founder of world-music label Nomadic Wax, Herson, a Newton native and Hampshire College alum, traveled as far as Tanzania and Senegal to scout hip-hop talent.
“I went to Senegal in 1998 with a friend just to visit,” Herson said from New York. “In the marketplace there I discovered the hip-hop section. I couldn’t believe how many original artists there were in that country alone.”
Since his first African outing, Herson’s interest in world hip-hop expanded. Through Nomadic Wax, he connected with the artists featured on the Global Underground tour, who include Chosan (from Sierra Leone), MC Eli Efi (or LF, from Brazil) and rapper Laylo (Dominican Republic), Zuluboy (South Africa) and DJ Boo (Philippines).
“In the beginning, we focused on African hip-hop, but now were looking at it as a global label,” Herson said. “World hip-hop has a unique flavor, the flavor of whatever country or culture these guys are coming from.”
Chosan, who was born in West Africa, raised in London and now lives in the Bronx, received American exposure when he appeared in Kanye West’s “Diamonds of Sierra Leone” video. He said his tour mates might come from different backgrounds, but they share a common sensibility.
“We’re all representing the same kind of spirit,” Chosan said from New York. “We’re all poets and performers by nature.”
While it’s impossible to squeeze all international rappers into one category, there are some themes that show up across the globe - themes, one could argue, that have driven hip-hop since its conception in the United States 30 years ago.
“Hip-hop in Brazil is its own political party,” Eli Efi said in an e-mail interview. “Hip-hop in Brazil is the outcry of the excluded.”
According to Boston-based music consultant Erich Ludwig, who regularly collaborates with Nomadic Wax, a universal spirit shines through the language barrier.
“When I listen to these guys,” Ludwig said, “especially when I can’t understand the lyrics, it’s all about the music surrounding the rhymes and the flow behind the rhymes.”
Not every rapper on Sunday’s bill will be twisting foreign tongues. In order to properly represent planet hip-hop from Jamaica to Jamaica Plain, promoters asked globe-trotting Boston duo Foundation Movement to join the tour.
“This tour is about style and world perspective and Foundation was the natural fit for Boston,” said Ludwig, who recently was a presenter at the United Nations-Habitat Global Hip-Hop Summit in South Africa.
Having witnessed firsthand the contributions international MCs have made to rap music, Global Underground organizers hope their tour will dispel some myths about foreign hip-hop.
“These guys aren’t just copying 50 Cent and Ja Rule,” Herson said. “They have their own unique styles.”
“Some people think that because I’m from Africa I’m going to come on stage in a sheepskin,” Chosan added. “But I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy. I always have been and I always will be.”
Nomadic Wax Global Underground Summer Tour, with Foundation Movement, Chosan, Eli Efi and Laylo, Zuluboy, DJ Boo and others, at the Middle East, Cambridge, Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 day of show; 617-864-EAST.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


DJ Boo on the 1s and 2s on tour with Global Underground
Posted by Picasa

Global Underground Percussion

Chauncey rippin it up on djembe.
Posted by Picasa

Rebel Diaz - Global Underground @ Middle East

Lah from Rebel Diaz _killin_ it on tour with Global Underground.
Posted by Picasa

tour continued

the tour ended up on a high note at the middle east on sunday night. great show, great energy. even overheard the indy-rock hipster staff at the middle east say that this was the best hip hop show they'd seen!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chosan at Galapagos

Chosan (from Sierra Leone) rips it up at Galapagos on Thursday night, July 19th.
Posted by Picasa

Eroc at Galapagos

Eroc from the Foundation Movement flanked by Op (Foundation Movement) and Chosan.
Posted by Picasa

tour started, lessons learned, press gathered

we just kicked off our little mini-tour for the Global Underground Hip Hop 2007 season last night at galapagos in brooklyn. the crowd was enthusiastic, but less in numbers than we had hoped. the musicians were great, although we had a different line-up than anticipated. and we're ready to roll onto providence and boston!

speaking of boston, we got some great press today in the boston herald, so check it out!

our line-up changes had to do with some events beyond our control. Zuluboy couldn't make it out of South Africa and get to the shows, which was a bummer, but we saw that one coming. However, Eli Efi and DJ Laylo, who went home to Brasil for a couple weeks, are still stuck in Brazil due to the awful TAM plane crash in Sao Paulo. They were supposed to fly out on TAM back to the US shortly after the crash, and are now stuck in Sao Paulo, with the word that they may be home within 10 days.

Fortunately, Ben is well connected with some other great talent, and we pulled in Bamboo and Koba for this show, in addition to the already lined up DJ Boo, Chosan, Foundation Movement, and the African Underground percussion all stars. They all pulled it together and threw down a very nice show. Each act doing one song, then passing the mic. Very fun flow, good vibes, and a good time. However, we were charging $12 at the door. So small paying crowd, big guest list. Some previous shows Nomadic Wax has done has had 300+ people come through, but charging $5 at the door. In a city where Lauren Hill is playing a free show this week, and ?uestlove is hosting a party for $10 cover, I think we overshot our market. We'll pull down cover in Providence and Boston to $10 at least, and hope for better results.

I shot some photos last night, so I'll go through those now and upload a few. Peace.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

john boutte

if you don't know this man and his voice, you should. we had the pleasure of seeing him in new orleans in a club during jazz fest. wonderful. this was his regular weekly residency, and a pack of local regulars jammed in early, grabbing the chairs around the edge of the room, and sitting on the floor down in front of john. kind of like a little library show. however, john and his group (bass, trumpet, guitar) threw down like no library show i know. sweet, deep, penetrating vocals and wonderful musicians to back him up.
anyway, i bring him up now cause my music library is on shuffle. i'd been hearing a bunch of great urban african music (hip hop, kwaito, dub, etc) and then . . . . john.
wow. woah. wonderful. so i had to write a quick post and shout him out. thanks john. for the music. for ya'll out there, you got to check him out.

from his website:
Who is New Orleans vocalist John Boutte?

Think of Nat Cole, and then of Jackie Wilson, and then of Marvin Gaye, and then of Sam Cooke, Joe Williams and Jimmy Scott. Not of them actually, but of the moods that surrounded them, and especially of their audiences. Think of the way they treated an audience, of the way they read the room. Think of how the audience felt about themselves on the way home. Then treat yourself to the music of John Boutte.

John has won Best Male Vocalist of the year at both the Best of the Beat Awards (including the most recent 2006 award) and the Big Easy Awards. His critically acclaimed collaboration with Cubanismo, Mardi Gras Mambo, won multiple awards including a Big Easy Award for Best Latin Album, and a Best of the Beat award for Best Latin Album by a Louisiana Artist

Friday, June 29, 2007

smaller widget - no videos

more new widgets!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Soundslikeaphone Releases Their First Ever Album of "RINGTONES" on iTunes

Soundslikeaphone Releases Their First Ever Album of "RINGTONES" on iTunes

Album Release Coincides with iPhone release on ATT/Cingular

June 28, 2007

Soundslikeaphone Ringtones Pay Tribute to Classic Film/TV Characters

  • Benny - Benny Hill

  • Bugsy - Bugsy Malone (This is the phone used in the show)

  • Capt Mainwaring - 1940's 'Dad's Army' Phone

  • Frank - Both Frank Finlay from "Bouquet of Barbed Wire" and Frank Spencer

  • Genie - The shape of this phone is that of a lamp

  • Bogart - Humphrey, of course.

  • Bacall - Lauren, of course.

  • Ms Peel - Emma Peel from the Avenger

  • Rhoda - This is the pancake phone from the American Sitcom 'Rhoda'


"Wben we started in the UK, we started a backlash - lots of people like us wanted their phone to sound like a phone. Apple's iPhone is great news. It offers an alternative to the current phone market. Soundslikeaphone tones on iTunes are an alternative to ringtone madness - the perfect accompaniment to the new iPhone."

- Andrew Misingham, Creator

(Boston, MA) - Coinciding with the release of the iPhone, Soundslikeaphone is bringing the first album of ringtones to iTunes. Originally released only in the UK to restore sanity to a world gone insane due to the likes of the Crazy Frog and other annoying mobile phone ringtones, Soundslikeaphone is happy to bring mobile tranquility and respectability to the USA.

Taking you back to the golden age of telephony, where a phone went "ring ring" and not "ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong", the album of Soundslikeaphone ringtones names their classics after famous characters: Benny (British 1960's Type 700 Phone), Bugsy (Hand Cracked 1911 Bell Phone), Capt Mainwaring (1940's Type 221), Frank (1960's Trimphone), Genie, Humphrey (1920's Candlestick Phone), Lauren (1920's Candlestick Phone), Miss Peel, Monty P, and Rhoda (1980s "pancake" phone).

Originally recorded from real telephones at the Darvel Telephone Museum in Ayrshire, Scotland, and ranging from modern phones and recent classics like GPO trimphones all the way back to a 1911 hand-cranked bell, Soundslikeaphone has created ringtones that won't make you cringe if your phone goes off when you're in (or out of) a meeting.

Andrew Missingham, director of a creative consultancy based in London, created the ringtones because he was irritated by the surge in popularity of novelty ringtones such as musical tunes and even animal noises.

"Wben we started in the UK, we started a backlash - lots of people like us wanted their phone to sound like a phone. Apple's iPhone is great news. It offers an alternative to the current phone market. Soundslikeaphone tones on iTunes are an alternative to ringtone madness - the perfect accompaniment to the new iPhone." Misingham said.

The rings are available from iTunes (specifically for the iPhone market) as well as at a variety of other sources that serve all major US mobile carriers, including MyxerTones,, and MyNumo. More information about the ringtones and links to all sites mentioned in this release are available on the Soundslikeaphone MySpace page. will make a donation from every ringtone towards the running costs and growth of the Darvel Telephone Museum.


Technorati Tags: | | | | | |

Monday, June 25, 2007

freedom of press under attack in Mali, West Africa

Those of you who know me, know that I love Mali. So I was very sad to read this today, that 5 journalists were arrested and jailed for "insulting the president". Man, if only they'd institute that here in the good ol' us of a. we'd have us a even more overcrowded prison situation, and as a bonus, we could probably put a dent in the racial inequality of the prison-industrial-complex. . . .
anyway, on to the real story here:

Mali papers protest against arrest of journos
June 26 2007 at 01:25AM

Bamako - Mali was without independent newspapers on Monday in protest over the arrest of five journalists and a school teacher arrested on charges of insulting the president.

Only four papers, among them the state daily L'Essor, appeared on the streets of the capital Bamako, compared to about 20 that normally roll off the presses. But those published were not easily available at the usual newsstands.

"There is real solidarity around the jailing of our fellow members. The place for a journalist is in a newsroom and not a prison," said Makan Kone, president of Press House, which groups Malian journalists associations.

The boycott was also heeded by most private radio stations broadcasting in the capital which played only music and repeatedly ran the statement calling for the observation of the "no press day".

The boycott was also heeded by most private radio stations
Authorities in the west African nation have been under pressure to release the six who were arrested over an article on a school essay a school teacher gave to his students about an imaginary president's mistress.

High school students were tasked to write about an imagined female student and prostitute who battles for recognition of her out-of-wedlock child after being made pregnant by a fictitious president.

Four privately-owned newspapers commented on the essay assignment, but state prosecutors said they had offended President Amadou Toumani Toure. The president has not commented since the arrests.

The journalists, who ranged from reporters to newspaper editors, from Info-Matin, Le Republicain, Les Echos and Le Scorpion newspapers, were arrested more than a week ago and were due top appear in court on Tuesday.

If convicted, the defendants risk a six-month prison term and a maximum fine of about $1 200 (about R8 600). - Sapa-AFP

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

control v. survival

this is always an interesting discussion - that of control vs. survival. the most entertaining gas bag of the blogosphere - lefsetz - has an interesting case "study" of 3 cases of this. att/verizon & iphone, xm/sirius & howard stern, and major labels & napster.
his conclusion:

"If you’re on top now, don’t think twice about putting a stake in your competitor’s heart. Pay a premium, give up a bit of control. Because, as detailed above, the tables can turn seemingly INSTANTLY!

Don’t move slowly, don’t kick the tires, move NOW!"

the big picture lesson i think is that control doesn't equal success. something i'm always working on is letting go of control for a bigger good, and it seems that in our society, when corporations are equated with individuals, they also seem to have this flaw, but don't seem to pay as much attention to it . . .

visa woes, extortion by unions, and more

i'm sooo frustrated! by my honesty, by the US visa red-tape bs, by 9-11 "security" measures, by the musicians unions, by the rich, by all of this!

so this is shaping up to be a nice rant. i thought we had a nice little thing going. ran into a friend from south africa when we were in amsterdam. we have a nice little tour going on this summer with hip hop artists from all over the place who are all based in the us. so we threw this guy on the bill. it was going to be a nice extra flavor, a chance to get him some publicity, some love in the us, to open up some new markets for all of us. this tour, however, was already at the break-even point, in that we're doing this for promo, not for cash. so bringing someone else on was additional weight without immediate financial return.

anyway, i write a nice little letter to this guy and his management team. invite dude to come over and be part of this promo tour. this letter is also to help get him into the country. but i forgot one thing. i forgot i live in the USA. and that we don't like people coming into our country to share culture. that if you want to come into the USA and perform music, you have to pay $190 (going up to $260 or something ridiculous in July) for the visa, PLUS you have to pay a damn union $250 to tell you that you're not taking some american's job, and if you want an answer before 45 days, you have to pay a $1000 expediting fee. then they'll get you an answer in 15 days. otherwise, due to 9-11 back-ups, general gutting of our federal government by bush and his cronies, you won't get an answer for months, literally. meaning i'm SOL. meaning my friend is SOL. (shit-out-of-luck if you want the full version)

now, if i had just said - dude, come visit me! it would all be cool. he could jump on stage, do his thing, and have a great time. we'd have all been cool. but no, i had to be honest. and now, to double my frustration, i'm pissed at the unions! now, you may know that i ORGANIZED unions for 3 years! so i'm down with solidarity, the unions, and all that. i'd be happy to be paying dues right now if i had any job where i had co-workers and a boss that wasn't me. but this is BS. straight-up. the unions have ZERO influence in the music industry, especially the underground, new artist side of things. now, if there was an artist union here that would provide me and my artists with benefits, reduced health care, access to resources and all that, i'd be a happy camper. but if all this union does for my scene is charge me to bring in foreign artists, then fuck 'em. i'm not sure if they've looked out at the scene lately, but if you're playing a club, you're happy to get $75 and a pitcher for the whole band. more often, it's pay to play. or rent a VFW, take the door, dodge the cops, the city, and ASCAP, RIAA, BMI and the rest of the mob.


for more info on this whole process, check out this great site:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can You Help Save My Friend's Life?

I'm going to post Seema's post here in full totality. Pass it on.

You are reading what will forever be the most important missive I post on this blog. It is my call to you to help save my friend Vinay's life.

This is a picture of Vinay and his wife, Rashmi. They were married in 2005. Vinay is 28, has finished med school and is on his way to becoming a star physician, and imminently needs a bone marrow transplant.

There's another reason why I am urging you--from the bottom of my heart--to heed this call. Just over an hour ago, my mom called me on her way to work to tell me that the Registry (NMDP) phoned my family last night. Apparently, we just learned that, for somebody else out there who is in need, my father has been tagged as a match. I almost couldn't believe my ears but, it reminded me how important it is that *everyone* register themselves. If that doesn't compel you to give a cheek swab and maybe give someone a shot at living . . .

And all it takes from you is a cheek swab. And committing to getting just 5 other people you know (preferably people of South Asian descent) to get a cheek swab done, too. It will increase the chances of helping save Vinay's life: Vinay who is 28 and no different from you or me--except that my friend has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and needs a bone marrow match in the next six (6) weeks. Vinay and his beautiful wife Rashmi (no different than your partner), his brother Bharath (no different than your own sister or brother), and his dear mom and dad (surely no different than your own parents) need a match. And they need it now.

Vinay and I lived together in Unit III/Priestley Hall at UC Berkeley when we were freshmen in undergrad. Vinay lived on the 2d floor (all guys; I frequented the place often), just below me & my friends on the 3rd. We were homies. You know as well as I do that the bonds formed during your freshman year in college are the ties that stay with you for life. Even back in our adolescent days, Vinay exhibited a zeal for life comprised of calmness, coolness and camaraderie that spread to everyone with which he came into contact.

How You Can Help Vinay:

1. Register yourself in the National Marrow Donor Program. Kid you not, it takes nothing more than a cheek swab.

2. Get your family & friends to register. If you've ever corralled up a group of friends to go dancing, called up a few folks to hit the beach on a sunny afternoon, or even last-minute met up with your peeps for happy hour, you can do this.

3. Donate Money Towards Testing Vinay's Extended Relatives in India. Chances of finding Vinay a match are highest amongst his blood-relations. Vinay's family & friends have arranged for a well-respected cancer center in India to go out and test all of Vinay's family relations (and the larger community there), and ensure that results and potential matches get back to Vinay and his doctors ASAP. To help defray these costs, the family is collecting donations.

4. Help Us Organize a Drive in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C.-Metro Area. So far ten (10) California drives have been organized. I live in Baltimore, MD and am looking for folks to help organize a drive here out east. I just need a few hours of your time to round up folks, get people to give 30-second cheek swab, and, most importantly, to spread the word. If you are in Washington, D.C. and/or the Baltimore-Metro area and can help--even to just flyer at your local mosque, mandir, temple, church or community organization/meeting--please contact me at

Click Here for a List of Upcoming Drives

5. Link Vinay's Website to your Blog. The more exposure we have, the better chance we have at saving his life. Please copy/paste the URL:

I hate to keep repeating myself but these are the only thoughts streaming from my being right now. Please. If you do just one good thing for the world today, do this. Register and get people to register.

Save Vinay's life.

clipboard back in hand

last saturday, i had the chance to grab a clipboard again. however, this time, it was for a really good cause. someone's life. one of my surrogate sister's friends is battling for his life. he has leukemia. and he needs a bone marrow donation. BUT - since he is south asian and so few south asians are registered in the bone marrow registry, he needs to find someone. so i was at this event and we were getting folks registered. south asians. hoping to register that one person who matches vinay.
if you are south asian, please go to this site and find a drive near you this week and go get registered. it takes about 15 minutes (most of which is filling out a form), and takes 4 swabs of your cheek with big q-tips. it is free for south asians to register since there is such a shortage of donors. if you have questions, check out these links, or put a comment here.


other links:

more new widgets!

in my ever evolving set of projects, i'm now doing work for Sounds Like A Phone, so here is the test of some new widgets. hey - get rid of that cheesy "tune" and get a real tone on your phone. and i guess if i really believe in myself, i should say, in my ever newly created set of projects . . . . lol. sorry. flashback to reading about the "creation museum". if you have minute, check it out.

[send ringtone]

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Incredible Arrogance of Dinosaurs (GM)

I was listening to NPR today and they had on some schmuck from GM called Bob Lutz. Some VP of something or other (Actually the Vice Chairman, Product Development, and Chairman, GM North America - just checked his resume). Incredible. He managed to go on the insulting attack to just about everyone. UCS, scientists, bachelor degree holding people, etc. It is amazing to me that one of the largest corporations in the world would let a senior person on the air to talk like this. It is also highly revealing as to why they are struggling. As someone in another industry populated by DINOSAURS (the music biz), I instantly saw this man for what he was. Something from another era. Someone whose business ideas were formed back in the day, when insults, bullying, and loud talking made you “right”. Thankfully, in today's business world, those things come flying back in your face and smell pretty bad when they stick. If GM is serious about saving itself, whether or not they actually give a rats ass about climate change (the topic of the conversation), they'll hide this Lutz putz in a closet. Let him hang onto his fat pension while the union workers starve in retirement. Fine. But come on, haven't they watched “Thank You For Smoking”? Haven't they seen struggling and besieged industry tactics? You put some super nice, good looking, great voiced person out there as your spokesperson. The ugly raspy voiced old white men get hidden behind the curtain. You play nice, you compliment everyone, you acknowledge how smart and pretty and yet wrong your opponents are. I'm still stunned.

I guess I learned my lessons back in the day in court with Dr E. Watching these defense (and prosecuting attorneys) work in the courtroom. The grumpy old white guys always lost. Always. Winners came in two styles: young good looking, sweet talking figures, and older kind gentle sympathetic figures. Nothing else. So, if you want to win public opinion (or a jury's opinion), what do you do? NOT what GM is doing. If anyone at GM is reading this, hire me. I'll help you get your public image team in tip top shape. Or just hire a little kid. If your spokesperson could make a 4 year old cry with their attack voice, you need someone else.

You can hear the scary nasty man here. Mothers, hide your children.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007



This summer marks the first GLOBAL UNDERGROUND HIP HOP TOUR! Hitting the East Coast July 19 through July 22nd, the Global Underground tour
features international hip-hop pioneers Chosan (Sierra Leone), ELI EFI and Laylo (Brazil/Dominican Republic), Foundation Movement (Puerto Rico/Liberia), Zuluboy (South Africa) DJ Boo (Philippines) an accomplished group of percussionists including Ernesto Abreau (Antibalas/Ya Esta), Chauncey Yearwood (The Pimps of Joytime/Escort), and Nomadic Wax founder Ben Herson (Nomadic Wax/Escort/Subatomic Sound System). The tour launches at Galapagos Art Space on July 19th in Brooklyn, New York, and will visit clubs in Providence, Rhode Island on the 21st and Boston, MA on the 22nd.

"Hip-Hop culture is more than just guns, girls and glamorous lifestyles,” says Sierra Leonean/UK MC Chosan who was featured in Kanye West's 'Diamonds of Sierra Leone' video. Chosan will be performing material from his debut 'The Beautiful Side of Misery' as well as new work from his upcoming album.

Bringing politics to hip-hop is nothing new to veteran Brazilian MC Eli Efi who performed for years with Brazilian hip-hop pioneers DMN. "Hip Hop in Brazil is the outcry of the excluded," says Eli Efi. "Brazil sells itself as a tropical paradise, but for us it's more like a nightmare – we're here to bring about positive change." LF’s track ‘Marcha Soldado’ was recently featured on National Geographic's Global Hip-Hop Georemixes compilation.

Rounding out the diverse talent on this tour are Foundation Movement and Zuluboy. Based in Boston, Foundation Movement - a formidable duo whose live shows have earned them fans in Tanzania, Palestine, South Africa and Puerto Rico.

Johannesburg based Zuluboy broke new ground in South Africa by releasing the first major album in Zulu. Some of its beats creatively sample field recordings from the traditional Zulu groups, others incorporate maskanda elements and traditional gospel music.

"The Global Underground tour features live percussion which sets it apart from the usual hop hop setup. The energy is massive" says label founder Ben Herson. "The way we designed this show was to make it so that there's no opening acts - everyone is on equal footing. It's just one big party from start to finish”

The Global Underground Tour will kick off at Galapagos Art Space on July 19th, 2007 - 8 pm
Tickets – 10 dollars in advance – 12 dollars – Day of show

Contact Ben Herson – ben at nomadicwax dot com

to RSVP for july shows . . .

The RSVP for show code:




Mali News

I just found this great blog on Mali via the wonders of Afrigator.
Excellent stuff. I found the posts on the "African Magna Carta" and traditional medicine quite intriguing. And of course, given my work on the elections in Senegal via Democracy in Dakar, news of the election in Mali was also interesting to read.

testing a new widget

Online Event Registration - Powered by

as so often happens, i use this blog as a place to test out my new forays into digital promo tools. enjoy.

Monday, June 04, 2007

barbaro vs. malaria drugs

i listen to lots of radio. which is kind of funny given my penchant for digital media. i flip between the local npr news station (FM) and the local sports talk station (AM) for many of my work at home days. something to keep me company (which i don't really find online) as i stare at my crystal display for hours on end.

i find that this helps balance me out somewhat, ensuring i remember that there are many viewpoints and hopefully keeping my bubble world a bit bigger.

anyway, this morning on npr i heard a story on the counterfeiting of anti-malarial drugs. which was awful. i had malaria twice while traveling in west africa, and my experience with artemisinin based drugs was much much better than my experience with other drugs. faster recovery, fewer side-effects, etc. anyway, fake drugs are being produced in china and sold all over asia that could be causing drug resistance! meaning that this will have real negative health effects (read: deaths) all over the developing world should the parasites that cause malaria develop a resistance to the artemisinin drugs, as they have with many of the other cheap and "natural" drugs often deployed in the fight against malaria.

then later today i heard a radio advertisement for some hbo or something sports documentary on the life of barbaro. and i thought - do people really give a shit about some horse? i mean really - a horse breaks his leg in a race (which people are spending mad money on), and then he has to be killed. so what! SO WHAT! come on. this is what people are being distracted by? THIS THIS is what is being played on the tube so that the men behind the curtain can keep doing their bullshit! call me heartless for not caring about the life of some horse, but then let me call you heartless for spending your time and energy on this horse, instead of on the many many real problems that face our ecosystem, our world, our species every moment of every day. call me speciest, or species-centric, or whatever.

whew. ok. i feel better.

very interesting take on major media efforts to stop new technology

this post, by this guy who is a net security researcher, and all round troublemaker (i think likely in the mother jones good guy tradition of being a trouble maker) posted this very interesting analysis of major media companies efforts to block "piracy". check it out.

if you lazy, and just want the meaty bits, here they are:

"By going after people for sharing movies and music online, the major media companies have essentially created a huge market for anonymous (or close to anonymous) technologies. Technologies such as Tor, Freenet, Gnutella, and Skype arguably wouldn't exist as they do today if the Media companies didn't go after 'pirates' with such vigor. And with the influx of millions of new users, these programs have become better - either through more financial support/advertising, or through new developers/open source coders who are finding bugs and adding features."


"What is the moral to this story? The record companies have made an entire generation of college students into criminals, and as such, those college kids have resorted to technical means of avoiding detection - which create a gigantic crowd of encrypted and obfuscated data in which 'real' criminals can hide. These evasion methods are the very same techniques which can frustrate legitimate and useful law enforcement, which as an unintended side-effect, suffer. The ability to catch genuine terrorists and child pornographers is significantly limited through the short sighted actions of the major media companies."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

major label bye buy!

Great stuff here . . .
and I'm in the midst of trying to sort out how much big money stuff to do in work with some labels. There are some serious discussions around doing things like releasing video that is done well vs releasing video done on imovie. in trying to reach market you need to look different, and maybe looking produced right now is looking different . . .
it's too late for deep thoughts now, other than to wonder why i'm using these damn ellipses so much over the past couple weeks . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

more buttons

to get this code, you can use the firefox developer toolbar or any other tool that allows you to see the code on a page. that page would be:

Calabash Music :: Tune Your World

Calabash Music :: Tune Your World

Calabash Music :: Tune Your World

Calabash Music :: Tune Your World

Do you use Google as your homepage? Customize your look with these music updates from Calabash.

Add our Weekly FREE Single to your Google Homepage:

Calabash Music :: Free Song of the Week

Add to Google

Add our Top Five Artists Chart to your Google Homepage:

Calabash Music :: Top Song Charts

Add to Google

Add our Playlists from BBC's The World to your Google Homepage:

Calabash Music :: Top Song Charts

Add to Google

new buttons!

Calabash Music :: Tune Your World

check them out here:

Saturday, May 12, 2007

one and only one time that i'll do this

so this is hopefully the ONLY time i ever mention someone like paris hilton in my blog. but you known when you go to any "news" or "information" site on the web (including google, yahoo, msn, etc), and you see all of these insipid "entertainment" headlines? of course, they are above the real news in many cases, and so i have these silly messages in my head as i run down to the real news. over the past few days, there have been numerous mentions of paris hilton heading to the big house for 45 days for violating her probation. and of course, some "fans" have started a petition to keep her out of jail.

my first thought was that i'd love to see a petition to make sure she gets put in jail. i guess i wasn't alone. there is another petition to make sure she gets her court ordered jail time.

what is really great is that this petition is leading the "free paris hilton" petition by a 2:1 margin (56,000+ to 23,000+).

however, what i find very interesting is that our crack team of media (or rather, crack-addled team of media) has mentioned the "free" petition in about one billion stories, but the "jail" petition is not mentioned. awesome. let's hear it for a democratic media. . . .. .

ok. i'm done. no more. promise.

Monday, May 07, 2007

artists beware!

wow. i just read a very scary contract. there is an ongoing dispute over ownership of tracks and payment of royalties with an unnamed artist from an unnamed country in africa on our site. the artists' representative has claimed that they have a contract with the artist, but recently, the producer of the recording (!) has stepped in, saying they have the rights to the music. I have recently been sent a purported contract between producer and artist, and have just seen one of the most abusive contracts from an artist's perspective that i've ever seen.

On one level it is a recording contract, but it somehow transfers management rights to the recording company, as well as prohibits the artist from working with anyone else for 5 years. The artist gets 15% on domestic sales, 10% of international sales, and only gets paid every 6 months.

The terms are so loose that as an unscrupulous business person, one could clearly do the recording and never pay the artist again. amazing.

Very scary if this is a standard contract for artists in this part of Africa on several levels. Scary for the artists there and their ability to actually make a living on contracts like this, and scary for those interested in getting music out of Africa and helping artists reach an international audience. If an artist has one of these 5 year contracts lurking in their past, and probably never read nor understood the implications of such a contract, and someone comes in to help them bring their music to an international stage, record a new album, etc, and risks ending up in court to fight a contract like this, . . . . . .

wow. talk about a damper. must move on to happier pieces of work . . .

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

democracy in bamako

It appears that ATT has won again, following the example in Senegal of an incumbent somewhat popular president winning a slight majority and avoiding a runoff election. Here's for peaceful transitions, and continuing declines in corruption and poverty in west africa.

Spinal Tap is back!

one of my first favorite bands - Spinal Tap - is back, and they are ready to turn it up to 11 in the fight against global warming. This follows in Spinal Tap's long history of doing good, such as campaigns to help ferrets -- by raising money to feed them Caesar salad -- and to help people with high insteps.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


just back from the big easy, the crescent city, and we are so FULL. full of the life energy that is there in new orleans, filled with wonderful family, filled with tasty food, and of course, filled with beautiful music from the clubs of NOLA and JazzFest.

we were only in town for something like 48 hours, and besides checking in on the fun little tool i build for offbeat magazine, we were there to see some of alli's family, and see jazzfest. we got there on friday and got a quick tour/re-orientation of the french quarter. got a tasty muffalata (sp?) and some coffee & beignets at cafe du monde. a quick wander around jackson square, and then off home to alli's dad's cousins' home. next was a poignant tour of the late cousin's artwork (here, here, and here) that is all around the house, keeping daniel's energy present in such a deep and present way.
our first show set the bar pretty high - terence blanchard. playing with a tight talented group (piano, bass, sax, kit, and terence on trumpet). great set, and we ran into our good friend simeon at the bar! he lives in vermont, so we had no idea we'd run into him.
after terence, we moved on to ray ray's boom boom room for some live latin music, some spins on the dance floor, then on to see eric lindell. wow. night one done.
saturday we headed out to jazz fest, and saw some great stuff as usual. started off with some healing in the gospel tent, moved on to the magnolia brass band to bring it close to home, nola-style, and then checked out the amazones (female drummers from guinea), the new orleans klezmer all-stars, and many more. and did i forget the food? oh hell no. we ate and ate and ate. some crawfish sacks, some of this spinach, chicken, plantain platter that i remembered from '00 and '01, and more. we closed out the day seeing simeon perform with the dartmouth gospel group. excellent!
back home for a quick shower, then off on the town. tried to catch jonathan batiste, but got there too early, so we headed off to frenchman street, and instead heard one of the most amazing voices i've heard - john boutte at dba's.
then off to the house of blues to see lucinda williams, and back to frenchmans to see trombone shorty and his krewe of talented youngsters (see some moving video of troy - aka trombone shorty - here - there is also a great FREE mp3 download of troy's o holy night).
finally, back to see jonathan batiste for a little bit at the little private-ish party, and then back home.
and this morning up to get on the plane and get back here.
so, i can't really believe all this happened in such a short period. and i haven't really even got into the katrina aftermath . . . which was not that apparent on the surface, but ever present, especially if you dug a little, or just opened your ears/eyes to the changes apparent. more on this later, but now, off to bed, to fill up on the sleep which is the only thing on empty after this weekend.

Monday, April 23, 2007

david byrne's take . ..

David Bynre write a bit about his set with Forro in the Dark on his blog here. . . . i wrote about this show from my side a bit earlier, and of course, since i found his blog, and since he has been quoted as saying that calabash is his favorite download site, of course, love is being given. . .

Thursday, April 05, 2007

payola - digital style

> New Music Business Briefing - Apple Paid EMI $5M, Auto iPod Use Soars & More

>>> is reporting that Apple paid EMI a $5 million advance to be the first to sell their
> tracks DRM free. Will other services be required to pay advances and how will it effect
> DRM-free momentum?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. wow. so DRM can be removed for the low low price of $5 Mill?!? and the artists on EMI are getting how much of this? right. $0.00

jeezus. not really surprising, but still, this is gall. this is payola, straight up. big player pays big player to keep general public appeased, but small guys (artists, fans) still get screwed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

interesting take on DRM ditch by EMI

found this in another blog -

> Combined, independent labels have twice EMI's US market share.
> Yeah, I know: that's a lot of combining, but two big reasons _artists_
> have scoffed at iTunes are low-quality and DRM.

> With those matters settled, it'll be fascinating to watch how deals evolve.
> My suspicion is that _indie_ sales spikes on iTunes may be what
> convinces the other majors to get into the game.

I think he's right. The driving forces in the market now are artists, indies, and customers. The driving force is not the major labels. All of us in the game are trying to figure out how to serve these 3 masters, and if the majors want to be part of this, then great. If not, then we'll keep on moving without them . . .

there is also some info here on the numbers in the world music market: