Monthly Archives: July 2013

Music That Transcends Borders

Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

The singer-songwriters Carla Morrison, left, and Julieta Venegas, both Latin Grammy winners, performing as part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference.

By Published: July 14, 2013

Women from Mexico reigned at the 14th annual Latin Alternative Music Conference: five days of showcases across three boroughs, including free concerts at Central Park SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn!

Lila Downs, a songwriter who fuses Mexican and pan-American folklore with a streak of social consciousness, performed at SummerStage on Thursday, and Julieta Venegas andCarla Morrison, both songwriters whose affectionate pop is tinged with philosophical reflections, performed there on Saturday. All three are LatinGrammy winners. (more…)

The Slow, Impending, And Painful Death Of Basic Cable

By  July 11, 2013
The Slow, Impending, And Painful Death Of Basic Cable

[Editor's Note: Dashiell Reinhardt is the Partner and Head of Post Production at Happy Little Guillotine Studios, one of the web's first and most successful creative agencies and production houses. Reinhardt has been on the front lines of digital production and advertising for the better part of the last decade and has an incredible amount of fantastic thoughts on the industries. Here he is sharing a few of them.]

I’ve been receiving a reoccurring call from TimeWarner Cable for a while now. It goes a little something like this:

TimeWarner: Hello is this Das…squirrel?
Me: Sure, let’s go with that.
TimeWarner: Hi, we’ve noticed you’re subscribed to our broadband service but not our cable or phone services.  We have a deal we think you’d be interested in.
Me: No thanks.
TimeWarner: Well, may we ask who you’re with?
Me: Who I’m… no one, just don’t need them.
TimeWarner: Oh…
Me: Yup, fine with just the internet.
TimeWarner: (Piercing shriek of confusion and agony)

That last part wasn’t true. It was more of guttural howl.

Besides being particularly amusing, Time Warner calling with the desperation of a jealous ex-girlfriend is an indication to the state of current affairs in ye ole world of television. Cable companies have seen a steady decline in subscription rates over the last decade and have found themselves scrambling to gain new customers and hold on to existing ones.  A task made more difficult knowing that “according to the FCC, the price for basic cable has grown by an average of 6.1% a year over the last 16 years.  Three times the rate of inflation and far outpacing the average American’s paycheck. Cable bills are projected to continue rising to an average of $200 a month by 2020.” (more…)

Doing Business in Africa

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Home Page

Doing Business in Africa

July 2013

Launched by U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank in November 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Doing Business in Africa campaign is part of the Obama Administration’s government-wide strategy to help U.S. businesses take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Doing Business in Africa campaign harnesses federal trade promotion and financing capabilities to help U.S. businesses both identify and seize upon trade and investment opportunities, furthering the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa.

The Minority Business Development Agency is poised to play an important role in the Doing Business in Africa campaign by promoting more U.S. trade with Africa through increased financing for and engagement with important stakeholders, including the African Diaspora community.

MBDA’s Africa Agenda

African Flags

MBDA is particularly focused on assisting firms with access to markets on the continent of Africa because of their rapidly growing economies and increased opportunities for American firms. According to The Economist, six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa: Angola (1), Nigeria (4), Ethiopia (5), Chad (7), Mozambique (8), Rwanda (10). It is projected that by 2050, Africa’s population will reach 3 billion people. This is an exploding consumer market. MBDA is ready to assist businesses in accessing these markets and taking advantage of these opportunities.

MBDA will work with businesses and public sector partners through its network of Business Centers to help minority-owned firms broaden their platforms and launch export operations.

YouTube Channels Seek Audience, Advertisers Off YouTube

Ad Age Digital

Exclusivity Clause Ends, Syndication Spree Begins

Published: July 11, 2013

YouTube’s top talent is on the move.

Once locked into exclusive contracts, a growing number of YouTube producers — even thosefunded by YouTube as part of its original channels inititative — are looking beyond the world’s largest web video service for viewers and revenue.

WIGS, now on Hulu
WIGS, now on Hulu

“Part of the reason to go to other portals is you’re committing to advertising partners to give them a certain amount of impressions to make the proposition less risky and you can’t get enough of them, frankly, on YouTube,” said Larry Aidem, CEO of YouTube network IconicTV which he runs with fellow Viacom alum Michael Hirschorn.

When YouTube started shelling out funds to networks and filmmakers to produce original “channels” more than a year ago, the company included an exclusivity clause in those contracts confining those videos to YouTube for one year or until their investment was recouped through ad sales. But in February, YouTube began removing that requirement. That has freed up its funded partners to syndicate their series elsewhere in order to expand their audiences and boost revenues.

“The irony is YouTube’s absolutely on board with this strategy,” said Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, senior-VP at Fox, of the network extending its scripted channel WIGS, producer of several TV-quality dramatic series invented for YouTube, to a competing outlet, Hulu.

Seeking older viewers
Even though YouTube’s 1 billion monthly unique viewers would appear to offer all the audience a network needs, Mr. Van Rensselaer said Fox had closely observed Hulu grow its audience of 18- to 54-year-old women, which he described as “really the sweet spot for [American Express- andUnilever-sponsored] WIGS.” He added, “It’s probably easier to imagine on Hulu the target audience being a great fit whereas YouTube has got a much bigger endemic audience of 13- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 24-year-olds.” (more…)

Tech entrepreneurs in the Middle East Start-up spring

Clusters of internet firms are popping up all over the region

Jul 13th 2013 | AMMAN

copy & paste Video

WHEN Fida Taher decided in early 2011 to launch a website showing recipe videos, her family laughed. Not only were her cooking skills mediocre; she had no experience in business. And she was leaving a good job at a video-production company. “But I had stopped learning there and felt too young to settle,” she explains.

Today Ms Taher’s firm, Zaytouneh (“olive” in Arabic), boasts 600 visual recipes, from frying salmon to baking doughnuts. The short clips, which show only the ingredients and the hands of the cook, are a hit on YouTube and other websites. In May Zaytouneh, which now has a dozen employees, attracted financing from a satellite broadcaster, which will also air its videos. Several of the region’s mobile-telecoms operators will carry them, too.

The story sounds like a common one from Silicon Valley or Silicon Roundabout, London’s start-up district. But Ms Taher tells it in a café in Amman. She is just one of several hundred entrepreneurs, many of them women (see article), who have started online firms in Jordan’s capital in recent years, making it one of the Middle East’s leading start-up hubs. Even more surprising, such clusters (“ecosystems” in the lingo) have been popping up all over a region that is better known for armed conflict and political strife. Whether in Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh or even Gaza City, small technology firms are multiplying, creating a sort of “start-up spring”. (more…)

How Verizon Is Using J.Lo, Kids’ Playgounds to Sell Smartphones to Hispanics

Ad Age Digital

15 Viva Movil Locations are Scheduled to Open by the end of 2013

Viva Movil in Brooklyn
John McDermott

Viva Movil in Brooklyn

Across the street from the Jay-Z’s home court, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is a block-long billboard of Jennifer Lopez and her own new business venture, Viva Movil, a series of Verizon retail locations targeted at Hispanic wireless consumers. The Viva Movil flagship store is located directly beneath the billboard and is the first of 15 locations slated to open up in Hispanic neighborhoods across the U.S. in 2013.

Targeting Hispanic-American consumers was the result of Verizon recognizing the importance of phones among Hispanic-Americans, according to Jeetendr Sehdev, the branding expert hired to spearhead the Viva Movil launch. Hispanic-Americans use their phones more than the general population and are more celebrity-focused, Mr. Sehdev said, thus making Ms. Lopez a natural fit. (more…)

Streaming Now Accounts for 66% of ALL Music Sales In Norway…

Friday, July 12, 2013
by  Paul Resnikoff

Is this what the rest of the world eventually looks like?

Welcome to Norway, where streaming is now hyper-exploding: according to the top-level data shared by IFPI Norway, streaming accounted for ‘just’ 46 percent of total music (ie, recording) sales in 2012.

Now, it’s two-thirds of the entire music sales pie in 2013.

The streaming surge has caused an outrageous 17 percent gain in music sales in Norway (in 2013 alone).  But it’s clearly starving almost every other format: according to the data, downloads are down a drastic 21 percent over the same point last year.  Physical sales, already in deep trouble, plunged 29 percent.

Which makes the overall pie look like this for the past six months.

Similar trends are happening in nearby nations like Sweden, the birthplace of Spotify (and, the Pirate Bay).  So far this year, sales are up 14 percent in Sweden, part of another unexpected recovery.  In 2012, Sweden experienced its first recording sales increase in at least ten years, with platforms like Spotify reversing the carnage. (more…)

Oregon Could Be The First State To Let Students To Go To College Tuition-Free

Business Insider

JUL. 8, 2013

college students at portland state university

Oregon is on its way to becoming the first state to implement a radical new program that would let students attend state schools without taking out a single loan or paying out of pocket.

The “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back” plan lets students enroll with no money down, so long as they agree to pay up to 3% of their future salaries back into a state fund annually for 24 years.

“If it’s done correctly it’s essentially creating a social insurance vehicle for enabling access to higher education,” said John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, the Washington state-based think tank that helped come up with the idea. The EOI passed it on to students from Portland State University, who brought it to the legislature’s attention.

Students are clearly driving the push for tuition reform across the country, as the nation grapples with a $1 trillion debt load, state funding for schools has been slashed left and right and more and more students turn to student loans to fill the gap.

In January, students from cash-strapped University of California Riverside proposed the UC Student Investment Proposal, a plan to collect 5% of state school graduates’ income annually for 20 years in exchange for allowing them to enroll in school with no upfront fees.

The way both plans work, no payments would be collected from graduates unless they are gainfully employed, which means they’d be off the hook while in graduate school or out of work. It’s a lot like the income-based repayment plan that students who take out federal student loans are already entitled to. IBR caps payments at 10-15% of their income over a 25-year period, after which any remaining debt is forgiven.

But there’s a huge difference with Oregon’s plan that is worth noting. With the federal IBR plan, graduates must pay taxes on the amount of debt forgiven.

Oregon students wouldn’t be charged taxes on any remaining debt after the 24-year repayment period expires, which could mean even more savings.

So far, Oregon is the only state to really make moves to put such a plan in place. Lawmakers unanimously approved a committee to develop a pilot program for Pay it Forward, Pay it Back, but it would be at least until 2015 before they decide to move ahead or not.

Shazam Gets $40 Million Investment from Carlos Slim’s America Movil


By , Nashville | July 07, 2013
Shazam has entered into a strategic partnership with, and received an investment from, Mexican telecommunications company America Movil. Part of a conglomerate of companies owned by businessman Carlos Slim Helu, America Movil has put $40 million into Shazam that will aid its growth into advertising and television and help the audio recognition service expand in Latin America.

This deal isn’t just about the money, Shazam executive chairman Andrew Fisher tells Billboard. “The reality is we have a very strong balance sheet and we didn’t necessarily need to do a fund raise. We’ve actually preserved a lot of the cash we raised in the last round,” he says.

Instead, the investment and partnership reflect the strategic value of a relationship with America Movil and Slim. Although the service is available worldwide — the app is available for both smartphones and feature phones — the company has recently focused on North America and Western Europe. Initiatives in advertising and TV have helped double its user base to 325 million since its previous funding round in June 2011. (more…)

Chinese Web giant Tencent faces obstacles in its goal to expand in global IM market

The Washington Post Business
By ,  July 5

BEIJING — With Web giants such as Facebook and Twitter blocked by the government here, an entire ecosystem of home-grown companies has flourished with names that are unfamiliar to many outside China.

Tencent, one of the country’s biggest tech firms, is hoping to change that with a product that is already one of the fastest-growing mobile services in the world.

(Tomohiro Ohsumi/BLOOMBERG NEWS) – Tencent’s WeChat app is displayed on an iPhone. The instant messaging product has more than 300 million users, the equivalent of the U.S. population.

The company’s instant messaging product, WeChat, has amassed more than 300 million users — nearly equivalent to the U.S. population — in less than three years. Tencent says there are more than 70 million users across southeast Asia, India and Mexico, with 30 million of those added in just the past three months. WeChat has also expanded into Saudi Arabia recently, and there are plans to open an office in the United States. (more…)