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5 Bytes of Newness at CES 2012

5 Bytes of Newness at CES 2012

While Microsoft decided to make their presence at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas their last, and Apple chose not to exhibit at CES this year, that didn’t mean thousands of others stayed away. CES 2012 was not complete without technological newness. Here’s five newbie-gadgets that I thought were noteworthy:

1. Ultrabooks May Be the New Notebooks

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Mobile computing, at least the kind that has keyboards, has progressed over just the last 5 years from notebooks [laptops] to netbooks to ultrabooks. After Intel revealed last year that it was putting new processing chips inside these ultrabooks, made them 4/5 of an inch thick, combined elements of netbooks, tablets and notebooks, and priced them around $1000—give or take a few hundred, depending on the features—companies like Dell, Samsung, and HP began showing off the new machines at CES 2012.

Inspired by Apple’s MacBook Air—whether these thinner, lighter machines will sell, never mind work—as good as the other types of mobile computers that are around, remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if by next year a unique enough market for ultrabooks establishes itself.

2. An Ice Cream Sandwich for $79?

No way would you pay $79 for an ice cream sandwich that can be had for a fraction of that price at your favorite convenience store. But you could pay that much, perhaps slightly more, for a tablet that uses Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich [code name for Android 4.0] operating system.

Novo 7 Legend

Chinese firm Ainovo showed off their Novo7 Paladin tablet to Engadget's Brian Heater at the CES, and while there's nothing high-end, in terms of video display or the lack of a camera or GPS, he wrote that it's good for casual gaming and watching YouTube videos.

Ainovo's website says theirs is the first tablet to make use of the Ice Cream Sandwich OS. It list-prices the Novo7 Paladin at $89, and the Basic [with the front and back cameras] at $99, and has not yet made available their Swordsman and Legend tablets. With a 7-inch screen, built in WiFi and 3G networking, the battery power for their tablets can last anywhere from 6 hours, if you're playing a game, to 25 hours if you're listening to music, to as much as 300 hours if on standby. Storage is 1 GB internally, but can be up to 4 with an external drive, though there has been talk of expanding that to 8.

It wouldn't surprise me if Ainovo were to develop a tablet that takes advantage of 4G wireless.

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Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Democratic Congressmember, Zoe Lofgren, represents a constituency in central California that includes parts of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. In late October 2011, after some of her colleagues in the US House of Representatives, led by Congressmember and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith of Texas, introduced a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA], Ms. Lofgren declared her opposition to the proposals as “the end of the Internet as we know it.”

SOPA, sometimes known as E-PARASITE [Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation], is the House’s equivalent of the Senate’s PROTECT-IP [Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property] bill, in that both are meant to put a stop to websites that carry content that infringes on copyrights, combined with Senate Bill 978, which would criminalize online streaming even of people who sing others’ songs on YouTube. Whatever kind of anti-online piracy legislation gets passed, there is the thinking that it could do more harm than whatever good may come of it. How so? Let us count some of the ways:

1. No due process.

Under the proposals, any copyright holder can get a court order to shut down a website that posts any infringing material without giving the accused website an opportunity to challenge such a shutdown in court. On top of that, the owner of such a website could even be denied Internet access…again, without due process.

2.  Guilt by association.

Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford told the public radio program “Marketplace” that if you so much as put up a link to a website that carries the infringed copyright material, you’ll end up just as guilty of “facilitating infringement” as the website that infringes copyright. Even Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be all but put out of business as a result.

3.  What constitutes a ‘copyright infringement’?

David Sohn of the Center for Democracy & Technology commented that under SOPA, “a central issue is that the bill’s definitions of bad websites are vague and broad.” So much so that the Future of Music Coalition commented that even legitimate sites, both within and outside of the US, could be held for violations of SOPA, thus making the Internet “too wide for comfort.” On top of that, copyright owners, by filing a court order against an infringing website, don’t have to go to court and explain their actions, which adds to there being no opportunity at justice for the accused.

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Startup Spotlight: IgnitionDeck Looks to Ignite Crowdfunding by Empowering Creators with a DIY Twist—Funding On Your Terms (#WordPress)

Startup Spotlight: IgnitionDeck Looks to Ignite Crowdfunding by Empowering Creators with a DIY Twist—Funding On Your Terms (#WordPress)

Hallelujah—it’s here! Finally, an intelligent twist within the crowdfunding platform that speaks to creators (musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, etc.), and aims to put the “$-kaching” back into the hands of developers, versus middlemen. IgnitionDeck is a newly launched WordPress plugin allowing artists to self-fund their projects without asking for permission, or giving away more money than they have to when using a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or IndieGogo.

Last week I ran across a post on Facebook talking about IgnitionDeck and instantly became smitten with the “take charge, empowering concept,” so I reached out for a quick “Startup Spotlight Q&A” with the IgnitionDeck Founders—Nathan Hangen and Shawn Christenson. Super smart guys, awesome concept twist—enjoy the Q&A!

1. What is the IgnitionDeck app? Who is the intended, or target audience?

Here. We. Go. IgnitionDeck is a DIY crowdfunding platform for WordPress that installs as a plugin and allows creators to raise money without the restrictions of other platforms. The problem we see with Kickstarter and similar platforms is that if your campaign fails to raise, you end up with zero investment despite the fact that you’ve worked your tail off trying to drive traffic to the Kickstarter site. We’re building IgnitionDeck for those people, and anyone else that wants to crowdfund on their own terms, rather than the terms of the middle man. It’s perfect for musicians, filmmakers, software developers, artists, and anyone else that has something cool to sell.

2. How is IgnitionDeck different from Kickstarter, or other crowdfunding platforms, like IndieGogo?

For starters, it’s the only product of its kind that empowers the creator, rather than the middle man. With ID, the creator is in complete control—they get to drive traffic to their site instead of another platform, get to keep the SEO benefit of linking/sharing, and get to keep all of the money (outside of Paypal’s fees). Another big benefit is that it works outside of the U.S., so anywhere you can use Paypal, you can use IgnitionDeck.

3. Are you the sole Founder/Creator of IgnitionDeck?  If not, who are the other team members?  Backgrounds?

The team is made of two co-founders, Nathan Hangen & Shawn Christenson, who live in Florida and Alberta, respectively. We both do a little bit of everything, but Shawn, being the better designer by far, does much of the product design, while Nathan focuses heavily on development and product management.

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Björk Being Björk: There Are Apps for Her New Album ‘Biophilia’

Björk Being Björk: There Are Apps for Her New Album ‘Biophilia’

For more than a quarter century, particularly as lead singer of the Sugarcubes back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and more prominently since then, as a solo act, Björk has delivered music that’s unique enough to make her perhaps Iceland’s greatest export, musical or otherwise. At the same time, of course, she has also made headlines for everything from her swan dress at the 2001 Academy Awards to her 2008 stance on Tibetan independence, which didn’t sit well with the Chinese government. When you combine the music, the fashion, the politics and everything else about her, you can think of it as just Björk being Björk.

Bjork 'Biophilia' Cover

And just as Björk continues to be Björk with her new concept album Biophilia, which she produced, in part, on an iPad and is releasing both as CD’s and, in what’s probably a music industry first, as apps for iPads and iPhones in conjunction with Apple, she even added her own take on the music industry’s troubles in an interview with the trade website midemblog, in which she was asked whether the recent changes in the music industry have made it a better place. Björk said that the big labels “killed Elvis and will rip you off,” elaborating further on how the major labels once had unnecessary overhead, were making too much money, and now “has gone normal again.”

While it’s doubtful that the big labels really killed Elvis, Björk does make an interesting point, at least if one sign of the industry having “gone normal again” is Sony Music Entertainment having recently shuttered three of its labelsJiveArista, and J; the latter two founded by veteran music producer and impresario Clive Davis—and folding those labels’ signed artists’ contracts into the RCA label it acquired from Germany’s BMG back in the mid-2000’s. The RCA label, which Elvis once recorded for, goes back over a century, to the days of the Victrola.

A far cry from the vinyl that originally pressed Elvis’ recordings, though, would have to be the way Biophilia was done. Beyond the fact that Björk produced the album, in part, on an iPad, is that she also made each of the 10 tracks on that album into its own app. The main app for Biophilia is free, but each track/app on it is worth $1.99, or $10 for all 10, at iTunes, and those aren’t your typical “hear the song” apps, mind you. Lots of interactivity comes with each app. Björk herself told NPR’s Laura Sydell recently that on one of the track/apps, “Thunderbolt,” you can tap the lightning icon to change the speed or range of its bass line.

The Techie Minute (VIDEO 2) – 1) Facebook & the No Email, Email 2) Facebook & the Holy Grail & 3) Groupon COO & Spinal Tap

Welcome to the second installment of ‘The Techie Minute’—a ‘one minute dish’ on tech gossip of the week—like Talk Soup meets MTV News for the tech world. Yes, this is a homemade video—recorded using PhotoBooth, edited using iMovie and Picasa—trying something a little fresh here at HOLLYISCO—a boutique press site covering entertainment technology from Silicon Valley, to Silicon Beach, to Silicon Hills.

HOLLYISCO: The Techie Minute (Video 2)

Play Youtube VideoHOLLYISCO – The Techie Minute – Video 2


In this video:

BOOTSTRAPPING:

What is ‘bootstrapping’ your business? Bootstrapping is the art of building your business without much external help and on a budget. Two bootstrap concepts introduced this week on “The Techie Minute” are 1) Bootstrap Lighting—for when you don’t have the Hollywood budget, or a P.A., and 2) Bootstrap Branding—how to make a mockup product using just your business card and packing tape only—kaching! The featured mockup product this week on “The Techie Minute” is WineBeer by HOLLYISCO.

THE DISH:

#1. FACEBOOK and the ‘No Email, Email Announcement’

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Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

HOLLYISCO is excited to be covering The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—a premier event formulated to meet today’s hottest trends in entertainment technology. In this article:

  • Siemer Silicon Beach Summit (Keynote by Arianna Huffington)
  • The Rise of “Silicon Beach” (The Next Wave)
  • The Emerging Celebrity-Tech Crossover (Celebrity Branding)
  • The Boom of Digital Multi-Media Companies in L.A. (Global Interest in Hollywood)

Siemer & Associates, LLC—a global, boutique, merchant bank serving digital media, software, and technology companies will host a specialized invite-only conference at the famous ‘Shutters on the Beach Hotel’ in Santa Monica next week, aptly named Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—bringing together an elite group of leading players in digital media and emerging entertainment technology companies from around the world. Co-hosted by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP—a leading national law firm representing a sophisticated client base from Fortune 500 to a diverse range of emerging companies—the Siemer Silicon Beach Summit will draw 300+ CEOs, VC’s, and global media executives with a focused intent on increasing the recognition of Southern California as the premier epicenter for technology investing—banking on the power of Hollywood. Online media pioneer Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, who launched HuffPo right here in Los Angeles—aka “Silicon Beach”—will present the opening keynote.

The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit is seen as a way to foster relationships and connections throughout the burgeoning international tech community—especially those companies centered on entertainment technology that comprise a large part of the “entech” startup scene currently thriving in Southern California.

“The Siemer Summit presents tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to shape the future of digital media. Connections and networks define the new media landscape, and this Summit will build both,” said Hale Boggs, a partner at Manatt who, with firm partner Jonathan Bloch, created the Summit with Siemer & Associates.

The Siemer Summit is on the cutting edge and poised to become the premier “must-attend” conference on the West Coast—“SoCal is leading the world in digital content creation, content monetization, game development, and celebrity-focused media and commerce, fueled by the expanding focus on major film, television, and music studios who are increasingly becoming purveyors of streaming video, music, and digital content,” says Seimer & Associates, LLC.

The Siemer Summit will provide 50 industry-leading companies an opportunity to showcase their visions. A sampling of presenters in attendance include:

BuzzMedia: the web’s fastest growing entertainment publisher reaching more than 50MM monthly pop culture, music, and celebrity enthusiasts worldwide. BUZZMEDIA’S more than 40-category leading brands include Buzznet, Celebuzz, Absolute Pink, and GoFugYourself to name a few, plus the official sites for celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Whitney Port, Kimora Lee Simmons, and others.

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‘The Techie Minute’ (Video) – TechCrunch/AOL Brouhaha, Netflix Uproar, and Mea Culpa’s Oh My!

Welcome to the very first installment of ‘The Techie Minute’—a one minute dish on tech gossip of the week, like Talk Soup meets MTV News for the tech world. Yes, this is a raw, homemade video—we’re trying something a little fresh here at HOLLYISCO—a boutique press site covering entertainment technology from Silicon Valley, to Silicon Beach, to Silicon Hills.

HOLLYISCO: The Techie Minute

Play Youtube VideoHOLLYISCO – The Techie Minute (Demo)


#1. TechCrunch/AOL Brouhaha

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10 Tips to Get Real Fans (Not Friends) to Shows

10 Tips to Get Real Fans (Not Friends) to Shows

Guest post by Madalyn Sklar (music biz coach. blogger. social media maven. fearless GoGirls leader.)

I was recently contacted by Tracy Petrucci of ListenLocalSD.com, a blog for the San Diego music community. She asked me to write about a simple yet commonly asked question, “How do I get real fans to come to local shows and not just my friends?”

Here is what I came up with…

How do I get real fans to come to local shows and not just my friends?

I get asked this question all the time. The answer is simply get out and hustle. Just because you’re playing a show, it doesn’t mean the venue will pack itself. There are many things you can do both online and offline to attract fans.

Here are 10 tips that will help:

1. Update your website calendar. There is nothing worse than a bunch of outdated gigs listed on your site. It’s a turn off and will give the impression that you are not out playing shows. As soon as you book a show, go update your website.

2. Shoot an email blast to your mailing list. You have a mailing list, right? Use it! This is your most valuable tool in your arsenal, yet I find so many bands are under-utilizing it. You can easily manage your list and send out messages through ReverbNation or Fanbridge. Be sure to collect email addresses at your shows and from all your websites.

3. Set up a Facebook Event. Invite your local fans and friends. Don’t waste your time inviting people from all over the world. They aren’t coming! Make a friends list – log into Facebook >> Account >> Edit Friends >> Create a List. Go through your friends and add the local peeps to a list and call it Local Fans. Every time you make a new friend/fan in your local area, add them to this list and watch it grow! You’ll set this up once, add people to it as you become friends, then every time you create a FB Event you’ll invite people from this list.

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Three Terrific New Net Thingies: 1) Google+, 2) Skype/Facebook, and 3) Spotify U.S. Debut

Three Terrific New Net Thingies: 1) Google+, 2) Skype/Facebook, and 3) Spotify U.S. Debut

In no particular order, here are three terrific new things that are making, or are about to make, their presence felt on the Nets.

1. Google+

MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, but can Google+ eclipse Facebook? Currently in test mode with limited invitations, which may explain why I haven’t tried it yet, Google+ is already getting some writeups all over the Web.

Google handled its late June 2011 launch of Google+ rather modestly, with just a blog and some video demos, but it does give some idea of what it will offer. Like “Circles” that could be a modern-day variation on those “Friends & Family” calling circles that the old long-distance company MCI had way back in the pre-Net 1990’s.

Google+ is also going to feature “Sparks” that enable content to be shared, because Google considers the Web to be “the ultimate icebreaker.”

Also, in a twist on the ideas of online chats and instant messaging, Google+ offers “Hangouts” that allow for multiple, in addition to one-on-one, communication. Oh, yes, and they’ll also extend the ideas to “Mobile,” thus furthering the experience.

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Music Education Startup Chromatik Is on a Three Month Funding Tour—a Slam Dunk for Any Early Stage Investor

Music Education Startup Chromatik Is on a Three Month Funding Tour—a Slam Dunk for Any Early Stage Investor

We are experiencing a bit of “June gloom” in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean we are without our requisite ray of sunshine. Last Friday here in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to visit with Chromatik Founder, Matt Sandler, who is heading-up one of the brightest startups based in Southern California—Chromatik Music—a ray of sunshine indeed. As a matter of fact, Chromatik might just be one of my favorite startups eva’ because Chromatik combines my love for music, education, tech, and yes—a ton of progressive innovation << and all that entails. Least not, one of the most important factors for any startup, the combined RAQ (relationship acquisition intelligence) of the Chromatik team alone makes this startup gleam—they’ve covered their court with cross-platform strategies and any investor interested in courtside seats should get ‘em while they’re hot.

What is Chromatik? In essence, Chromatik is doing for music what the Rosetta Stone did for languages—Chromatik (a word-play on a musical term, as in a chromatic scale) is redefining how students learn music by offering an adaptive learning platform that brings the world’s best music techniques, teachers, and resources to students’ fingertips via mobile and desktop applications. Founder Matt Sandler says,

“Our overarching goal is to blend the best practices of music education with what is possible in technology today. Tons and tons of people are learning music throughout the world, but music education hasn’t changed since Bach and Beethoven. Yes, we’re seeing the ‘gamification’ of music—Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Miso Music—and those are great stepping stones, but the fact remains we don’t have anything that actually helps you learn an instrument and approach music in a pedagogically-appropriate way.”

And in a world where schools are adopting new technology left and right (Kindles, iPad’s), whether state-funded, parent-funded or self-funded, and in a world where kids live, breath, and eat “gadgets and tech”—the melding of Sandler’s concept (education + music + tech) sits beautifully in a steady-state pocket of harmonic overtone perfection coiffing through band hall just moments after a Mozart Quintet releases its last note, um…let’s say the Mozart K452 Quintet in E-flat Major. Yes, that’s it. Sweet!

Founder Matt Sandler

Twenty-three-year-old Matt Sandler is energetic and perfectly-cast in the role of Founder. Sandler, an East Coast transplant whose father was a Salesman and whose family has roots grounded in music, attended UCLA, has his degree in Saxophone Performance (<< cool!), and has taught woodwinds in Los Angeles Unified and Huntington Beach Unified School Districts. Sandler has also worked A&R at Capital Records in Hollywood (<< the gig I always wanted!), helped program music at the “world famous” KROQ (106.7) here in Los Angeles, (plus attended a couple of “them KROQ Weenie Roasts”); and in the startup world, Sandler curates the Los Angeles Startup Digest and was on the early team of the social media marketing startup CitizenNet.

For a twenty-three-year-old relatively new transplant, I’d say Sandler has transitioned exceptionally well to the Los Angeles lifestyle (currently residing in Santa Monica). When we met he was adorning the “native Angelino uniform,” aka Hollywood Casual, which consists of a great pair of blue jeans and an even greater pair of flip-flops (that all non-natives adopt the minute their ship sets sail, their anchor strikes pay-dirt, and their heart docks somewhere between the worlds 18th largest Port in Long Beach, the 18th hole on Trumps National Golf Course in Palos Verdes, and the 18 bikini-clad ‘girls gone wild’ in Malibu).

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Lady Gaga and the Bigger 360 Monster; Plus Backplane and Beyond

Lady Gaga and the Bigger 360 Monster; Plus Backplane and Beyond

Statistically speaking, there is no denying that Lady Gaga is the most powerful celebrity in the world. In making that declaration, Forbes magazine noted that Gaga took in $90 million in 2010. There’s also no denying how extremely popular Gaga is on Facebook and Twitter, to say nothing of what she wears, nor the stands she takes on many of the hot-button issues of the day. And while Lady Gaga is the creative master-mind behind Lady Gaga Inc., she shares the business stage with Troy Carter, her Manager and the quintessential digital strategist behind her well-oiled machine—a duo like none other who claim to practice the 95/5 rule.  [95% of the time Carter does not comment on the creative side and 95% of the time Gaga does not comment on the business side—a “real trust relationship”.]

Nor can you deny how the Mother Monster herself can also do those little things for some of her Little Monsters, like feeding pizza and doughnuts to a couple dozen fans waiting in line for a couple of days outside the NBC Television studios in New York City for tickets to “Saturday Night Live”, where Gaga was not only the musical act on that show’s 2011 season finale, but also joined in some sketches with guest star Justin Timberlake.

But have you ever wondered that someone’s been making money off her power? When major-label leader Universal Music Group [UMG], through its Interscope brand, signed Lady Gaga way back in 2007, they gave her one of those “360 deals”, in which the label takes a cut of any money Gaga takes in, whether it be through album sales, concert tickets, endorsements, website, anything. And the label still owns the master recordings and music videos, among a few other things.

Troy Carter

So far, according to The Wrap’s Johnnie L. Roberts, who cited executives familiar with the numbers, UMG’s share of Gaga’s success these last 4 years has reportedly totaled $200 million, and perhaps with the blitz that centered around her latest album, “Born This Way”, as well as the new Gaga, Google-Chrome commercial, it wouldn’t be surprising if the label’s share cracks the quarter-billion dollar mark.  Of course, we wonder if her label also has a “360” claim in the development of the yet-to-be-unveiled, integrated social platform for celebrities called Backplane, which is led by Troy Carter and a team of seven, including technology investor and entrepreneur Matthew Michelsen [with Lady Gaga acting as an informal consultant with a 20% shareholder stake] and described by Carter as “a platform meant to power online communities around specific interests, like musicians and sports teams, and to integrate feeds from Facebook, Twitter and other sites,” in a recent interview by The New York Times.  Oh who are we kidding, we’d hedge a bet the label has some claim on Gaga’s shares of Backplane—unless there was a legal wrap-around loophole found on behalf of Lady Gaga, aka Stefani Joanne Germanotta.

As powerful as the Mother Monster is, I’m thinking, were it not for that 360 deal she has with the Bigger Monster that is the major record label, she would have gotten millions of dollars more than she’s getting now.

Bob Donnelly, of the law firm Lommen, Abdo, Cole, King & Stageberg, wrote about why artists should “do a 180″ on a 360 deal. In addition to extending on the analogy that signing a major-label recording contract is like “taking out a mortgage on a house, repaying the mortgage in full, but the bank winds up owning your house,” Bob says that long-term recording contracts of 8 years’ duration are that way because the labels want that “reasonable return on their investment.” Terms that, as Bob elaborates, motion picture companies and book publishers don’t require.

The record label’s cut from a 360 deal are based on gross revenues, but Bob wonders why that is when the artists and their managers don’t get paid on gross. And if an artist, hypothetically, has to give 20% of tour income to the label, after paying all the production costs and commissions to manager, booking agent, lawyer and business manager, Bob figures that artist is left with half of every net touring dollar, while the label pockets the other half.

Mr. Donnelly also makes some arguments in favor of the 360 deal, if the label used it as collateral against what they spend on the artist, and then revert the 360 rights back to that artist once the debt is paid back, it would make more sense. However, as Bob also writes, many 360 deals extend the label’s rights beyond recoupment, probably to the extent that the label would still take a cut of the artist’s earnings even if the label chooses not to release any more recordings.

What’s to say if Lady Gaga would have gone with one of two alternatives that Bob recommends—either a “Net Profits Deal” [label and artist split profits after manufacturing, distribution and marketing are deducted] or a “Self-Release Deal” [finance your own recording and own the masters, which would be a more truly independent deal]? And what’s to say if, a few years from now, Gaga will come out and say that she lost millions on that 360 deal she signed in 2007 and wants to do that 180?

And if she does, perhaps the time will come when those millions of Little Monsters get asked to “crowd-fund” a future album for their Mother Monster. Or perhaps, going a step further than crowd-funding, what if the Little Monsters could get an actualized monetary return on their investment; which is exactly the vision of start-up company ROCK STOCK, which aims to educate fans on investing and money by providing an opportunity for a fan to invest in their favorite artist, thus providing a new revenue stream and a new economy for artists, industry, brands, and fans by measuring parts and monetizing the sum of an artists career—where artists are stock purchasable by fans. In essence, Rock Stock is Kickstarter with equity.

Well…until that happens, Gaga has to put up with the Bigger Monster that is the 360 deal.

Engineer Notebook: How to Bring Life into Sampled Drums

Engineer Notebook: How to Bring Life into Sampled Drums

Mixing Drums is most definitely one of the biggest challenges for a mixing engineer. In today’s world of home and project studios—not being able to record acoustic drums a lot of times, combined with the need to have a current sound—this is even more of a challenge.

Here is an approach that works for me and might work for you as well:

First, to note, drums played by a great drummer—sampled or not—will always sound better, so the first step is to try and find a great drummer for your project—it’s more than half the battle won.

Being a drummer myself I tend to play on most recording sessions that I end up mixing and since I can’t record acoustic drums in my project studio due to noise concerns, I invested in a Roland V-Drum Set because it’s the closest to a real drum set in regards to feel, but drum pads and even a keyboard can do the trick as well.

Ok, let’s get started: The overall philosophy here is to treat sampled drums just like acoustic drums—that means you need to get a bit creative.

Taylor Hawkins – Foo Fighters

Do not over quantize, the better the performer the less you should need and the more life-like it will feel, only correct what is absolutely needed, otherwise you will get a drum machine sound.

I record every instrument through a quality preamp, maybe a bit of EQ and some compression. If you don’t have enough pre’s, solo the instruments and record them separately—bass drum, snare, toms, etc.

Stay mono, at least for the snare, hi-hat, and bass drum. Toms and cymbals can be done in stereo, but you will have more room to play in mono when it comes to panning.

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From the Developers Notebook: Game Making—the Largest of the Entertainment Industries

From the Developers Notebook: Game Making—the Largest of the Entertainment Industries

Game makers around the world have been trying to entertain us for years. At current the Games industry is somewhere around a $50 billion worldwide industry. Certainly the largest of the entertainment industries. But how are they made? We are familiar with movies and music but so often no one addresses the game development process. We are here to show a high level view of what goes on behind the doors of a game studio.

All games are produced by a team of very smart and talented people:

  • Game Designer—The principle person who designs the game from beginning to end, this would include story, characters, goals, and game play.
  • Executive Producer—Oversees the development of the game (timelines, resources, planning).
  • Producer—Oversees part/s of the game development under instruction from EP  (Engine Programmer).
  • Artist—Draws all graphical elements of the game.
  • Game Programmer—Responsible for coding the game, there may be one or several coders.
  • Engine Programmer—Creates and programs the game engine. If the engine is created by someone else, this person may be used for game engine integration
  • Level Programmer—Creates the different levels of a game.

There can be more people involved, but this is the basic crew. Now that we have the team in place, let’s make a game!

Part 1: Game Design Basics

I have been asked several times on how games are made. What are the processes and activities that go into a game? Well to start, games can be very simple or very complex, but there are some overarching rules that most game designers use. Games are made of a set of simple rules that allow the player to advance through the game, but sometimes these rules become complex for the designer. Without getting into too much detail I will go over a few things to keep in mind.

First off, games are not puzzles. They are experiences that take players through an interactive journey. Games are different in that they change with the decisions of the player. Puzzles never change.

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From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook:

Seattle startup Zipline Games looks to make mobile development a speedy process with its new platform. The new platform will allow developers of mobile, social and web-based games and applications to easily get started—up-and-running the same day. It promises to remove the difficulty of cross platform development.

“I wanted to make it possible for game developers and designers to go have a crazy conversation at lunch, then come back and get those new ideas working in the game by the end of the day,” said founder and CTO Patrick Meehan in an interview on Zipline’s website.

The Mobile Platform For Pro Game Developers

Zipline has released the beta version of its development platform MOAI which allows mobile game developers to write the games in Lua rather than writing for each device. Then once the games are completely developed, Zipline offers cloud hosting and royalty free distribution. This is a stand out for smaller developers.  The Moai SDK can handle graphics, animation, input, physics, collisions, and more. Moai Cloud hosts your game logic, databases and additional game content.

“There’s a lot of interesting challenges in the market,” said Zipline co-founder Todd Hooper. “People want to be on board with IOS and Android and you need a solution that lets you get on board with those.”

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More iPhone 5 Rumors: Edge-To-Edge Screen, NFC Chip, A5 Processor. In People-Speak That Means a Bigger Screen, Better Apps, Longer Battery, Faster Speed and Paying for Your Starbuck’s Coffee Without Opening Your Wallet.

More iPhone 5 Rumors: Edge-To-Edge Screen, NFC Chip, A5 Processor. In People-Speak That Means a Bigger Screen, Better Apps, Longer Battery, Faster Speed and Paying for Your Starbuck’s Coffee Without Opening Your Wallet.

I love to hear the latest rumors about the newest technology to hit our favorite-to-hate company: Apple. I have written before about the latest iPad, and now we are beginning to speculate about the newest iPhone. First, if any of the photos are true, which I am certain they are not, then the phone looks great. Not to say that Apple won’t make it a great looking product, but knowing how secretive they are with their products I am pretty certain no one in the public has seen this thing. But as rumors go, let’s spread them some more!

The iPhone 5 is reported to have a new screen, NFC (Near Field Communications chip), and the A5 processor.

iPhone 5 – Rumored Design

First, the iPhone 5 has a purported larger screen. While the form factor for the phone is similar to the iPhone 4, they say the increase in screen size is significant. Some pictures have emerged showing this could be another big step for Apple. Edge-to-Edge screen!

The screen will use the same technology as the iPhone 4 and will remain the best in the business.

iPhone 5 – Alleged Point-Of-Purchase System – NFC Interface

Second, the NFC chip will be a new feature for the phone. Near Field Communications chips in simple terms will allow users to complete contact-less payments. Think about going into Starbucks and buying your coffee with your phone. The ability to complete purchases with your phone brings us one step closer to removing all those pesky cards in our wallets. To be fair, the iPhone is not the first to do this, but with all the recent talk surrounding NFC, it’s clear Apple doesn’t want to be left out of the loop.

And lastly, and probably most importantly, the iPhone 5 will come with a new processor. The A5 processor, which was recently launched with the iPad 2, is incredibly powerful. Speed is the key here. The A5 processor is a dual core processor. For us this means a few things: Better apps, better battery, and speed. As if the phone wasn’t fast enough, the new A5 processor will turn your device into a very powerful computing device.

Safe to say the next generation of the iPhone will not disappoint. It will be a major step in technology advancement and we will benefit from the speed.

Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

As much as I love being indoors playing on some computing device, there are times when I want to be out playing in the sun. I am fortunate that I live in Southern California. I spend weekends exploring the many things to do from Ventura to San Diego. But something caught my eye recently. Geocaching.

What is this thing might you ask? Let me tell you.

Geocaching Hide-and-Seek Container

Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, or other navigational techniques, to hunt hide-and-seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches,” anywhere in the world. Simply: It’s a treasure hunting game that requires some sort of GPS. Think pirate maps where “X” marks the spot, but then add technology.

Geocaching is more similar to the 150-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embed into stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.

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Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

When the school term started in August 2010, Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida USA, embarked on a new approach to that old scholastic standby known as the textbook.

You remember textbooks? They were those big, clunky, printed things you had to lug around from class to class 5 or 6 times each day, and you weren’t supposed to write on, or otherwise mess, with them. Then, when the day was done, you either had to store the books in a locker and hope no one broke in and stole them. Or, perhaps, you took one or more of those books home with you if you had to do some homework.

But the new approach that Clearwater High took was one that was never tried before, at least not on-campus, and that was giving each student an e-reader; specifically, a Kindle. This “Kindle-ization” at Clearwater High not only made it easier on the students as far as carrying books around, but it also made it easier on the school itself because of the savings in costs versus buying hard-copy textbooks.

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Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Jason Cohen is ‘one of those guys’ anybody would aspire to be—genuine, motivated, brilliant—and indeed, in a class of his own. ‘Entrepreneurial Guru’ of Capital Thought (Lean Customer and Product Development for Startups), Capital Factory (Early Stage Accelerator Program for Tech Startups), and WP Engine (Finely Tuned WordPress Hosting Service), Cohen shares his thoughts with HOLLYISCO on a series of questions surrounding his business, business models, startups, tech, the future (hint: mobile and ‘gamification’), seeing internet darling Amanda Palmer in New Zealand, and yes, Cohen references liking one of my classical favorites, Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, along with Depeche Mode.

Jason Cohen is Managing Director of Capital Thought. Co-Founder, WP Engine. Director, Capital Factory.

So, if you’re in the business of life, and the game of understanding some inalienable truths—tech, business, startups, or what-not—Cohen’s interview answers are a must read. As well, for any startups considering this summer’s Capital Factory Accelerator Program—deadline to apply is March, 27. Cohen says, “So hurry up!”

« Introducing Jason Cohen »


How many business ventures are you personally involved in? Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and anything else that you can share?

That’s enough right? (Wink!)

Capital Thought is the structure by which Joshua Baer and I launch new startups and help others through consulting. In particular, we launched WP Engine last summer and it’s doing great!

Capital Factory is an incubator in Austin, TX (with applications for this summer due March 27, so hurry up!). I’m a mentor and investor.

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