Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

22 FEB 2016

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015


Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries.

In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of their rights in 2015, making it our worst recorded year yet, nearly doubling the number of cases from 2014 with a 98% increase from the year previous, wherein 237 cases were registered.

While at the UN level there have been positive signs of larger attention being paid to the importance of protecting artistic freedom in 2015, sadly the year was dominated by a 20% increase in registered killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats, and a staggering 224% increase in acts of censorship.

2015 case break down

The disturbing increase can partially be explained by the fact that Freemuse and its collaborating partners have improved their documentation methods and strengthened their networks, as well as the fact that artistic freedom is an issue that is slowly gaining larger attention. However, that change is slow and artistic freedom violations continue to be under-reported in many countries due to lack of awareness, registration, political will and reporting capacity. (more…)

The Weird Global Appeal of Heavy Metal


Feb 2016

From Indonesia to Latin America, Russia to Japan, metal is taking hold

By Neil Shah

Today’s “world music” isn’t Peruvian pan flutes or African talking drums. It’s loud guitars, growling vocals and ultrafast “blast” beats. Heavy metal has become the unlikely soundtrack of globalization.

Indonesia is a metal hotbed: Its president, Joko Widodo, wears Metallica and Napalm Death T-shirts. Metal scenes flourish in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. China got an early seeding of metal 25 years ago when U.S. record companies dumped unsold CDs there. In a male-dominated genre, Russian band Arkona is fronted by singer Maria Arkhipova. Language barriers are less significant in the metal world, which is all about the sound, an often dissonant drone not grounded in any one musical tradition.

The explosion of local bands around the world tends to track rising living standards and Internet use. Making loud music is expensive: You need electric guitars, amplifiers, speakers, music venues and more leisure time.

“When economic development happens, metal scenes appear. They’re like mushrooms after the rain,” says Roy Doron, an African history professor at Winston-Salem State University.

Record labels are paying more attention now. At Nuclear Blast Records, one of metal’s biggest independent labels, global retail sales rose last year to 2.53 million albums, up from 2.25 million in 2014 and 1.84 million in 2013. In the late 1990s and 2000s, Nuclear Blast made a bet on bands with a potential to sell well globally, such as Norway’s Dimmu Borgir and California veterans Exodus, says Gerardo Martinez, U.S. manager for Nuclear Blast. Since he joined the company in 2003, payroll has doubled to 200 employees in five offices including Germany and Brazil.

NORWAY | Mayhem in Jakarta in 2015

In late August, Sony Music Entertainment bought Century Media Records, a leading metal and hard rock label, for an undisclosed sum. Universal Music Group last month bought metal label Candlelight. Aside from record sales and concert tickets, merchandise is a big part of metal culture—especially T-shirts. (more…)

200 Million Trendsetters: China’s Millennials are Shaping the Global Economy

Go to the profile of GGV Capital
GGV Capital Jan 14, 2016

By Hans Tung and Jixun Foo

China has about 200 million people aged 15–24, compared to about 40 million Americans in the same age group. Some 277 million[1] of China’s young people are already online — and they’re the most mobile-connected generation in history.

We recently analyzed just how mobile-crazy and tech-savvy China’s youth are — and what their behaviors mean for global companies trying to sell them products and services. We poured over data about young people aged 15–24 in China and uncovered some surprising things about their wants, behaviors, and viewpoints, especially in comparison to their parents. The findings should interest startups and established companies in every sector — from tech and entertainment, to automotive, education, finance, restaurants, and retail — as they seek ways to engage this massive demographic.

First, we found that China’s young people spend a crazy amount of time online each week — an average of 27 hours.[2] That’s compared to 21.7 hours a week American millennials spend online. And the vast majority of Chinese millennials use their mobile phones to access the Internet, instead of laptops or tablets. Half of Chinese millennials check their phones at least every 15 minutes.[3] So the first rule of thumb when trying to reach China’s millennials? Be mobile first — forget the PC.

But Chinese youth aren’t just screen addicts. They’re a unique consumer market with three distinct characteristics: they’re open to trying all manner of mobile apps; they embrace the homebody, or “zhai”, culture and thus spend lots of time online; and, because they spend so much time online, have a far more global outlook and desire to travel than older generations. (The global mindset may seem typical of young people in Western countries, but it’s new in China, where previous generations lived in a far more insular country.) So the second rule of thumb when trying to connect with Chinese millennials is to keep their unique behavior — mobile, open-minded, and global, yet homebodies at heart — in mind.

Mobile Minded (more…)

The true true size of Africa


RE-Post June-2016
Nov 10th 2010

LAST month Kai Krause, a computer-graphics guru, caused a stir with a map entitled “The True Size of Africa”, which showed the outlines of other countries crammed into the outline of the African continent. His aim was to make “a small contribution in the fight against rampant Immappancy”—in particular, the fact that most people do not realise how much the ubiquitous Mercator projection distorts the relative sizes of countries.

A sphere cannot be represented on a flat plane without distortion, which means all map projections distort in one way or another. Some projections show areas accurately but distort distances or scales, for example; others preserve the shapes of countries but misrepresent their areas. You can read all the gory details on Wikipedia.

Gerardus Mercator’s projection, published in 1569, was immediately useful because it depicts a line of constant bearing as a straight line, which is handy for marine navigation. The drawback is that it distorts the shapes and areas of large land masses, and the distortion gets progressively worse as you get closer to the poles. (Africa looks about the same size as Greenland under the Mercator projection, for example, even though it is in fact 14 times bigger.) This was not a big problem for 16th-century sailors, of course, and the Mercator projection remains popular to this day.

In Mr Krause’s map (above) he seems to have used the shapes of the countries from a Mercator projection, but has scaled up the outline of Africa, without changing its shape, to show the appropriate area. An alternative and arguably more rigorous approach would be to repeat the exercise using an “equal area” projection that shows the countries’ areas correctly while minimising shape distortion. These two properties are the hardest to balance when showing the whole world on one map. I decided to rework Mr Krause’s map usingGall’s Stereographic Cylindrical Projection (1855) with two standard parallels at 45°N and 45°S. Distortions are still evident at the poles, but for most countries shape is maintained, and their areas are shown correctly. As you can see (below), the results are distinct from Mr Krause’s map. But however you look at it, his point is a good one: Africa is much bigger than it looks on most maps.

Chinese Online Giant Alibaba to Buy Youku Tudou Streaming Site


International Correspondent@LeoBarraclough

alibaba logo


NOVEMBER 6, 2015

LONDON — Jack Ma’s Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group is to acquire Youku Tudou, one of China’s two largest streaming video operators. The merger will give Alibaba access to more than half a billion online video users.

Alibaba currently owns 18.3% of Youku Tudou. The shareholders of Youku Tudou will receive $27.60 per share. Victor Koo will remain as Youku Tudou’s CEO and chairman following the deal’s completion. Youku Tudou will no longer be listed on the New York Stock Exchange after the merger.

“We believe this combination with Alibaba maximizes value for Youku Tudou shareholders and significantly benefits our customers, users and team,” Koo said.

“We are eager to work with Alibaba to grow our multi-screen entertainment and media ecosystem. We are confident that we will strengthen our market position, and further accelerate our growth through the integration of our advertising and consumer businesses with Alibaba’s platform and Alipay services.”

Hip-hop is the most listened to genre in the world, according to Spotify analysis of 20 billion tracks

Kendrick Lamar and Drake had the two biggest releases on the service so far this year

Spotify has created a live ’musical map of the world’, analysing nearly 20 billion tracks to show localized listening trends for over 1000 cities.

Updated bi-weekly hereon, the map is based on music that is “distinctive” to each area – meaning songs that are listened to frequently in specific cities that are not frequently listened to in others.

The data shows a loyalty among listeners to musicians from their own cities, with London favouring Jamie XX’s new album and Philadelphia listening to a lot of Meek Mill.

The most interesting finding however is that hip-hop is the world’s top genre, showing up on playlists more than all others, regardless of geography or language.

There are all kinds of factors besides just the popularity of hip hop that could be at work here – including the relationship of hip hop labels with Spotify, the inclusivity of the genre, the playlisting of it, the use of Spotify in social settings (where, let’s face it, the trap bangers are going to come out) and the strong sense of narrative arc on hip hop releases that lead to longer listening sessions.

Hip hop has certainly had a big year on the streaming service, with Kendrick Lamar’s new album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ breaking the record for most streams in a single day (9.6 million) in March, beating Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ mixtape from a few weeks before.

For Hollywood, the road to China is littered with broken deals


'Transformers: Age of Extinction'

Hollywood executives have learned to greet news of a partnership with Chinese firms with a degree of skepticism. Above, audiences in China watch a 3-D showing of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” (ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images)

Hollywood talent agent Jeff Berg flew to Shanghai last summer to celebrate one of his biggest deals — a partnership with Chinese investors in Resolution, his new agency in Century City.

Two hundred business executives, government officials, actors and journalists gathered at the swank Hotel Shangri-La to mark the occasion. Celebrities posed for photographs. Guests dined on roast duck, fish and other dishes as a giant digital screen displayed the companies’ logos.

Four months later, the deal collapsed. The millions of dollars promised by Bison Capital never materialized, and Berg was forced to shut the agency down.

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As Hollywood increasingly looks to China as the new frontier, Berg’s experience serves as a cautionary tale.

While the entertainment industry eyes China as a source of capital and customers, interests there often approach the relationship with a very different agenda, according to studio executives and others who have sought partnerships in China.

Some investors are more interested in appearing to be in business with Hollywood than in putting serious money into deals, these people say — to boost their stock prices or profiles. (American studios also like to be seen to be doing deals in China.) (more…)

How Africa can benefit from the data revolution

The Guardian

Locally-driven data projects across the continent can enable the infrastructure to bring about economic change

workshop on data science in Africa

Data science in Africa workshop: discussing knowledge of technologies, ideas and solutions. Photograph: DeKUT

Tuesday 25 August 2015

The UN has estimated that across the world more people have access to mobile phones than to toilets. It is of course distressing to imagine what this means for many people’s exposure to disease and access to clean water, but the choice of mobile phone for the comparative statistic actually offers a great deal of hope. The mobile phone is part of a phenomenon where a new infrastructure is emerging, one that could bring the economic changes that enable those toilets to be built.

Our modern infrastructure is based on information. Since the 1950s, investment in data storage and distribution by companies and countries has been massive. Historically, data was centralised a single database. Perhaps one for representing the health of a nation, and another database for monitoring social security. However, the advent of the internet is showing that many of our existing data systems are no longer fit for purpose.

There is a shift in the emphasis from central to distributed computing. Distributed computing architectures are normally less vulnerable to failure and more accessible for everyday users. The modern computer is the mobile phone, and in this sector African countries are not far behind. In 2014 Kenya had an 82% penetration (pdf) for mobile phones, with 33.6m subscriptions in a population of 40 million. Access to the internet in the home is also becoming more common. In Kenya home broadband subscriptions are growing rapidly, but all of the growth is through systems that use the mobile telecommunications network. New protocols such as WiMAX have the potential to reduce the gap even further.

African countries may be coming late to the information revolution, but they will be able to exploit the lessons learned from those that have trodden the path before. The UK’s attempt to centralise its health system was an expensive failure. African countries don’t now need to spend £10bn to learn the lessons derived from that misguided effort. They could develop infrastructures for commerce, administration and health that exploit all the advantages of a distributed data system. (more…)


by Matthew Sterne
on October 9, 2014

At Rhino Africa we hold our clients’ safety as paramount. Safeguarding the trust our clients place in us is our highest priority. As Africa’s Leading Safari Company, we would never compromise the health or well-being of those who travel with us. We are committed to providing the most up-to-date and accurate information and will be updating our clients as the situation evolves.

As tragic as the effects of the virus are, irresponsible reporting has led many to believe that the entire African continent is in the throes of a fight against the Ebola virus.

Read the Open Letter that our CEO and founder, David Ryan, wrote to the media about irresponsible reporting on the Ebola crisis. To assuage concerns about travelling to Africa, Rhino Africa is offering our clients a guarantee:

In the event that a client’s home country government issues an Ebola related travel warning specific to any destination that forms part of the client’s itinerary, we guarantee a 100% refund on the land portion of the package booked through us.

By addressing the topic, we hope to reverse some of the harm caused by labelling Ebola as an ‘African’ epidemic rather than portraying it as a concentrated outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Presenting accurate and clear information about the size of Africa, the location of the outbreak, the vast distance between different parts of the continent and the nature of the virus will enable travellers to make educated decisions about travelling to Africa:

1. Africa is HUGE.

To understand the whereabouts of the virus and how it relates to the rest of Africa, one must first grasp the vastness of the continent. To put it into context, Africa is so large that the following countries can concurrently fit into it: India, Mexico, Peru, France, Spain, Papua New Guinea, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Norway, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Nepal, Bangladesh and Greece.

Map by Kai KrauseMap by Kai Krause

2. Ebola has only affected 6 of Africa’s 53 countries.

To date 6 of Africa’s 53 countries have reported cases of Ebola. Nigeria and Senegal are two such countries but the World Health Organisation has confirmed that both Nigeria and Senegal have stabilised and controlled the threat. It is widely accepted that the Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a different strain of the virus which is unrelated to the outbreak prevalent in the other affected countries. Regardless of this distinction, the Democratic Republic of Congo is included in the below map which highlights countries that have been affected by Ebola verses those that have not. That leaves three countries in a concentrated area of Africa that are tackling the Ebola outbreak, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. As alluded to earlier, irresponsible reporting has led to the outbreak being labelled an ‘African’ issue. Presenting the outbreak in this way is potentially disastrous for the African continent as a whole. (more…)


Music Business Worldwide

AUGUST 12, 2015

Lyric licensing platform LyricFind is expanding into China, after signing an exclusive partnership with local digital music distribution company R2G.

LyricFind has now been licensed by over 4,000 music publishers, including Universal Music Publishing, Sony-ATV, Warner/Chappell and Kobalt.

Its new deal in China means R2G will represent LyricFind in the region for both Business Development and Publisher Relations.

“We have great traction globally and by partnering with R2G as our exclusive agent it will further accelerate our business across the fast growing Chinese music market”, said Will Mills (pictured), LyricFind’s Chief Revenue Officer.

“R2G are the most comprehensive Chinese music metadata and lyrics provider,” explains Darryl Ballantyne, LyricFind CEO, “so this will also hugely benefit our existing partners like Pandora, Amazon, Deezer, Shazam, Microsoft, HTC and more than 100 others from an even larger, fully licensed international music catalogue.”

With over 10 years of market expertise, R2G claims to operate the most extensive digital music coverage in China.

It is part of China Music Corporation, the largest audio music platform in the world in terms of active user base – with 389m users – and also the largest digital music aggregator and licensing platform in China.

“As a first mover in the market, R2G has strived for over a decade to build a legitimate music ecosystem in China,” says Mathew Daniel, President of R2G.

“It was time to include lyrics in this ecosystem, and we can’t think of a better partner than LyricFind.”Music Business Worldwide