Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I just finished making my Shopify store, only like 3 months after I started . . .
Anyway, this is a nice way for me to help my friends. Basically, I bought a couple extra shirts on each of my trips to South Africa from my friends at Black Sunday Soweto, and have been asked by my dance teachers to help sell some stuff from Mali and Burkina Faso. So rather than drag them to each class I go to, I put them on this Shopify thing. They keep 3% of each sale, and the rest goes to me. You can only use PayPal at this point, but I think through PayPal you can also use credit cards . . .
Anwyay, we'll see what happens.
Check it out.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

for you a!

This is why you can't play this for your students . . .
and if there was a doubt, check this one from 1:40 to the end . . .

Thursday, January 25, 2007

why all this fair trade music stuff?

I've recently been involved in a discussion over at Negrophonic about fair trade music all sparked by the calabash Tune Your World campaign.
The blog discussion on Calabash's blog is linked up here for further reading . . .

Anyway, this is all the reason for my posting (finally) of my talk from South Africa. Please let me know what you think, I'd love some critique and discussion of these ideas. thanks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

irony? or alanis-y

yesterday was a busy travel day. coming back from nyc to boston using a couple subway sytems and a greyhound i noticed a couple funny things. perhaps they are ironic, or perhaps they are just that type of thing which alanis m tried to say were ironic but were actually just ridiculous in her song many years ago . . .

item #1 - a milk truck from garelick farms with the tag "think natural, buy local" on the side. nice slogan i thought, until i saw the license plate was from indiana. we were on the freeway in massachusetts. nice one.

item #2 - on the subway in boston there was one of those ad placards above the end seat on the T. the ad was for one of the medical studies, and this one was for people who might have ADHD. sitting in the seat directly below this sign was a lady in her 50's i'd guess (with the worst hair dye job ever, but that's another (mean) story). anyway, from park street to davis she never STOPPED MOVING. opening her bag, closing her bag, opening her purse, closing her purse, shifting around, messing with her nails (but that's another (DISGUSTING) story), opening her purse, closing her purse, etc. i sometimes wonder if that is part of the ad campaign. i almost wanted to get some of those anti-ADHD drugs so i could stand to watch her . . .

Monday, January 22, 2007

detailed notes on fair trade music

my previous post is my whole talk from Moshito.
this post is my notes of just those 7 elements of fair trade for music.
again, the caveat. these notes were meant for me to use on the podium as a guide, so they don't read particularly well. that being said, there is some good stuff in here, if i may say so myself.


I've been asked to speak on “Fair Play” in the music download environments. Probably because Calabash Music's tagline is “The world's first fair trade music company”. We have been very clear since our inception that we are not just another music company, and are out to change the face of the music industry.

I'm going to speak first on fair play, or fair trade, and then cover a topic that most of you will find more interesting. For, i'm assuming that most of us want to do good in this world, but that all of us want to make a living.

The majority of my talk will be on

How artists/labels can get income from downloads


“Using the Download as part of an alternative marketing and promotional strategy”

Let's turn first to fair trade, or fair play. Implicit in any discussion of “fair trade” is a critique of the current state of affairs as “unfair.” I would argue that the major label set up is unfair to artists. Earning 8-14% of sales is unfair. Major label domination of radio and TV broadcasts is unfair. Major label domination of shelf space in record stores is unfair.

It is worth noting that there is no organization certifying music as “fair trade.” However, there are a number of common themes laid out by those businesses engaged in fair trade business, and by those organizations that monitor and certify them as fair trade. These themes are fairly straightforward, and worth following in our opinion.

  1. Create Opportunity for Economically Disadvantaged Producers

You don't need huge amounts of cash to access the market.

  1. Transparency

Agreements should be clear, standard and open for the benefit of all involved. No more hidden fees, costs, etc that were borne by artists where they would end up owing labels after tours.

  1. Capacity Building
Fair trade should help the producer build their capacity. We do this by getting money back to the artist to use as they see fit. Perhaps that money will mean they can do another session, maybe buy some new equipment.

  1. Fair Price

What is a fair-price? This will be determined by the market. Calabash Music is experimenting with variable pricing.

  1. Consumer Education

As consumers learn which places are good for artists, they will make decisions based on which place gives an artist the better deal. This is proven – coffee, etc.

  1. Financial / Technical Support

Some sites help artists understand the available tools, and some will likely work with artists to do innovative and new promotions.

  1. Respect for Cultural Identity

Cultural Democracy possible with downloads. Don't have to log onto iTunes anywhere in the world and see the same bland american pop crap.

How can these conditions be fulfilled in the music industry? This is an industry that has faced challenges in fulfilling any of these mandates, at least in the USA.

The Answer is using the tool know as the INTERNET.

A close second is the need for education, on the production and consumption sides.

For an example of this, it is worth looking at a document written in 1976. The charter of the OAU touches on the last of these 7 themes – cultural identity & the democratization of culture. The internet gives artists, labels and producers the tools needed to meet this charter's goals, and democratize culture, and get Britney Spears, Madonna and JayZ some real local competition on radio and TV around the world.

So, now to the other part of my discussion.

How do artists/labels get income from downloads?

You MUST Use the Download as part of an alternative marketing and promotional strategy.

The download does NOT replace the CD. This is the mistake of the major labels in the USA. They are fighting losing battles on things like DRM, and missing the opportunity. This is GOOD news for independent artists and labels situated outside of the USA and Europe. It means that you still have opportunity to move into markets that were previously controlled by the majors. You don't have to wait for them to select your top seller and then take that act and tour them, or leave them on the shelf. It is now your call. Download sales will be part of a revenue stream for artists and producers going forward that will also include live show revenue, merchandise revenue, CD revenue, synch license revenue, ringtone revenue, and more. Now it's more about building a brand.

fair trade in music

i gave a talk at the moshito music conference in johannesburg, south africa back in september of 2006. they assigned me the topic of "fair play in music environment" which i turned into a 2 part talk. the first part of that talk was about "fair play" or "fair trade" and the second part was more or less a "how-to" for artists/labels/managers on how to actually use the internet to make money from music sales. obviously this is an intensely deep conversation and there are many many ways to do this. also note that due to the nature of the 'net and it's constant change, although i only gave this talk 4 months ago, this info is now "old" for those of you on the bleeding edge. it is (i think) still quite valid info, but much more has been added to my thinking and the reality of the boots on the ground situation for musicians.

anyway, without further ado, here is my outline. if you want my full notes, let me know . . . (sorry in advance about the formatting. when you grab stuff from powerpoint, it gets ugly)

Fair Play & Download Environments
What is “Fair Play” or “Fair Trade” in the music biz?
How do artists/labels get income from downloads?
aka “Using the Download as part of an alternative marketing and promotional strategy”

Fair Play / Fair Trade Key Ideas
* Create Opportunity for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
* Transparency
* Capacity Building
* Fair Price
* Consumer Education
* Financial / Technical Support
* Respect for Cultural Identity

Fair Trade in Music? HOW?
The Answer =

Fair trade in music will come with
the existence of:
an educated production force (musicians, producers, managers, labels)
an educated mass of consumers

Article 7. The African States recognize that the driving force of Africa is based more on development of the collective personality than on individual advancement and profit, and that culture cannot be considered as the privilege of an elite.
Article 8. The African States agree to undertake the following:
(a) create conditions which will enable their peoples to participate to the full in the development and implementation of cultural policies;
(b) defend and develop the people's culture;
(c) implement a cultural policy providing for the advancement of creative artists;
(d) to wherever necessary, abolish the caste system and rehabilitate the functions of artist and craftsman (griots and craftsmen).
Organization of African Unity - Cultural Charter for Africa - Port Louis, 1976

Downloads as Alternative Strategy
Q: How do artists/labels get income
from downloads?

A: You MUST use the Download as
part of an
alternative marketing and
promotional strategy.

Use all available download platforms to launch your brand worldwide – don't sit around and wait for the world to come to you!

How to “Make It” using downloads – the 12 Step Program
1 – Do your thing domestically.
Work off your strengths.

2 – Forget about CD's outside of your local market.
Do DIGITAL ONLY releases of your product internationally

3 – Put your music everywhere.
Obscurity is a Greater Threat than Piracy
If people can't find your music legally, they WILL steal it.

4 – Work the social networks.

5 – Get everyone involved

6 – Facilitate Sales
Put links everywhere

7 – Put something out every day

8 – Call Ahead Digitally

9 – Keep it fresh.
Remixes, Live tracks, collaborations

10 – Make videos.
And make them memorable.

11 – Get booked internationally, press up CDs and go!

12 – Work with the best.

Facilitating the Alternative Strategy
National Geographic
Afropop Worldwide
Adina World Beat Beverages
Global Rhythm Magazine

Calabash Music encourages inclusion of artist and fan via:
Musical Specificity
Variable Pricing
Long Tail Depth

New markets and technology tools have put the power in the hands of the producers.
It is up to the producers to use that power.
This power can drive growth and development.


i just got back to my friend's house in NYC after seeing globalFEST at webster hall. it was of course great to see Sara Tavares again, and she did a wonderful set. I also got to see Julia Sarr, who I've been writing to on myspace, and then talk to her at the end of the night, which was great. Saw Lenine, and Lila Downs, who was great. Lila combined some sick musicians who doubled on all sorts of fun instruments with some great politics. always a winning combination.
oh. my. god.
if these guys come within 200 miles of you, you MUST go see them. great people, great musicians, great energy. i think it also helped to have about 20-30 garifuna people from belize in the audience singing along to all the songs. and to have the 78 year-old mentor of the group get on stage and sing THREE songs! while dancing. i hope that i can do half of that when i'm his age.
if you want to check out their last song of the set tonight, check out calabash's free single this week - lidan aban (together).
wow. wow. wow. i turned down the opportunity to see a couple acts at globalfest after andy, as well as the after party, as my soul is so happy right now. really, you must go see andy if you get the chance.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

democracy delayed in senegal

oh oh. after one successful transition of power (PEACEFULLY!) it looks like it'll be a little tough to continue this transition . . .

photos from mali bike race!

check out some photos from the bike race, and another story as well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

more biking from mali . . .

malian farmer boy hangs tough with spanish pro and ties for the win in the first race in this promo campaign to plant more trees in mali.
yeah mali!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

biking in mali

i just came across this fascinating article about a bike race in mali.

also check out his day 2 post here

combines several passions of mine - mali and cycling and trees (or the environment).

however, i'm wondering why they are choosing eucalyptus trees to plant in mali. growing up in california, these trees are everywhere, they are weed like, and their leaves poison other plants beneath them, meaning no undergrowth. i've also never seen (i don't think) a eucalyptus growing naturally in my travels in mali, so . . .

also wondering if that eucalyptus wood is good for drums or other things that wood gets used for in mali.

as always, i find a way to question a super great idea - 1 million trees in mali should be a good thing.
the project is described here and here.

united nations of hip hop