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Extreme Takedown: YouTube Edition

Extreme Takedown: YouTube Edition

Many times, videos posted on YouTube are removed whenever anyone from a record label to a TV network to the National Football League can claim copyright to anything that infringes on their intellectual property.

But what if a record label orders an instructional video that has no music on it to be taken down? I mean, it’s bad enough that Universal Music Group [UMG] can lay claim to Zoë Keating’s works even though she never signed a deal with them. Now, there’s Warner Music Group [WMG] taking down a video posted on YouTube by one Teresa Richardson in which she teaches crocheting, and has been seen over 50,000 times. Did Ms. Richardson ever sign a deal with WMG? Highly doubtful, since that video had no music on it, but that matter was eventually resolved, and her video was posted back on YouTube.

As for UMG, they apparently haven’t learned from their Zoë Keating mistake. Now, they’ve recently ordered a takedown of a video by a rap act that isn’t actually signed to their label. Granted, this is a more interesting case because it involves the unsigned act, After the Smoke, recording a “beat,” then shopping it around before drawing the interest of a rapper named Yelawolf, who then recorded his own words over this beat just as he got signed to UMG.

Yelawolf

But then Yelawolf’s track got leaked, After the Smoke never got credit, then recorded their own track over the beat they themselves recorded, and that version was the one that got taken down because, UMG assumed, Yelawolf got to it first. According to Techdirt’s report, it turned out that neither UMG nor Yelawolf had officially licensed the “beat,” but when After the Smoke’s complaint to YouTube resulted in them claiming UMG “owned the track,” the label realized what they made a mistake and backed off.

Accounts like these are part of what happens when major record labels that complain about Internet “piracy” decide to become pirates themselves by staking claims to material that isn’t really theirs to begin with. And it’s no surprise that UMG and WMG are among the best at bogus extreme takedowns. Some of their past efforts were enough to put them in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Takedown Hall of Shame.”

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Mayans Shmayans. 2012—It’s Simply Time to Move with the Cheese! Q&A with David Siemer on M&A, Venture Cap Trends & the LA Tech Scene in 2012.

Mayans Shmayans. 2012—It’s Simply Time to Move with the Cheese! Q&A with David Siemer on M&A, Venture Cap Trends & the LA Tech Scene in 2012.

by Kathleen Blackwell

Welcome, 2012. I, for one, am happy 2012 is underway and look forward to a year of opportunity and change, even amidst global uncertainty. On my holiday reading list was a pay-it-forward book passed to me by a friend: Who Moved My Cheese, a New York Times business bestseller since it’s release. The book describes change in one’s career and life and the four typical reactions to change by two mice—Sniff and Scurry—and two “littlepeople”—Hem and Haw—during their hunt for cheese. Cheese is a metaphor for what we want to have in life, such as a job, a relationship, money or a big house. Cheese can even be an activity, like jogging or golf—or starting a business, or investing in one with traction.

2011 brought widespread disruption across the globe on all levels, from the Occupy movement in the U.S., to the tsunami devastation in Japan, to the Grecian fallout, and the ending of the U.S. invasion in Iraq—this list barely touches the surface and left many people wondering what 2012 would bring against the backdrop of events that will undoubtedly lead us into a new future—yes, change. When the only constant is change, how you manage change can make all the difference in the world. How do you handle change? How do you lead your business into a new year and navigate the high seas amidst uncertainty? Do you “sniff and scurry” or do you “hem and haw”?

David Siemer – Siemer & Associates LLC / Siemer Ventures

Let’s check in with David Siemer, Managing Director of Siemer & Associates LLC, a global boutique merchant bank, and Managing Partner of Siemer Ventures, its early-stage investment arm and an active investment fund in Southern California, to see how he handles change with some Q&A on the global M&A market, 2012 venture capital trends, the LA tech startup scene, plus Siemer’s golden nugget advice for success as an entrepreneur.

Prior to the mad-dash holiday rush, I had an opportunity to interview David Siemer, and while it’s common knowledge the Mayans predicted the end of the world as we know it in 2012, Siemer and company have another perspective. Siemer sees ample opportunity in the right places, in the right sectors, and at the right time. Pursued with excitement and armed with data—moving with the cheese is Siemer’s golden ticket to success in 2012. While Europe is in a funk, Southeast Asia is wide open, brimming with momentum for investments and growth, and the LA tech scene is stamping its mark. Change is your ally—welcome to the future. Now let’s get cozy with Dave Siemer:

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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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40 VC Meetings + 40 VC Rejections = Google Funding

40 VC Meetings + 40 VC Rejections = Google Funding

By Kathleen Blackwell

Last Thursday night, I attended the second installment of one *badass* Meetup event: Tech Cofounder Dating L.A. featuring Google AND Justin Timberlake funded “Miso Media,” a developer of music education apps for Mobile/iPad devices, held at BLANKSPACES LA. Organizer, Aaron Abram brought his A-game—securing Miso Media’s Founder/CEO, Aviv Grill, and VP of Engineering, Brandon Goldman, for an upfront and personal discussion on what it takes to build a successful tech startup company. Aviv and Brandon shared their “off the record” journey—from flat-broke living with their parents to $3 million in Venture Capital (VC) funding.

In one word…WOW! Don’t take your butt off your seat until you read this inspirational story of Miso Media—it’s all about “the CEO hustle.” Do you have what it takes? Hang on for the ride.

Tech Cofounder Dating L.A. – Jonah Light Photography

Organizer Aaron Abram’s opening remark: “Tech Cofounder Dating L.A. is designed for people who are looking to join, build and expand their tech companies—we are a resource to help you succeed, and Miso Media is committed to our endeavor.” It was a sold-out crowd with 51 participants. Many familiar faces returned to the “cofounder matchmaking series,” which debuted as an instant hit this past November. As a matter of fact, at a recent fireside-chat I attended hosted by DocStoc, featuring TechCrunch Founder, Michael Arrington, Arrington himself mentioned that if he had the extra time, he would help develop a series focused on connecting up founders. […seems like Organizer Aaron Abram is ahead of the curve!]

Tech Cofounder Dating L.A. also saw the return of the trendiest mini cupcakes in town sponsored by BIGMANBAKES—(serving up fresh, moist, mini cupcakes in assorted flavors like “old school,” “red velvet cake,” yummy “carrot cake” and “black & white”—delish!) which attendees cleaned off by the event’s end, leaving no crumbs in sight. Also making the rounds that night, was celebrity/corporate photographer, Jonah Light, whose long list of loyal clients include: UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Warner Brothers, Forbes, Virgin Records, Creative Artists Agency, National Geographic, ESPN, LA Dodgers, Carl’s Jr., Robbin’s Brothers…just to name a few.

Now Introducing Miso Media

Miso Media is a Silicon Beach-based startup that develops ground-breaking music technology and mobile/iPad applications. By combining polyphonic note detection and real-time feedback, Miso Media is revolutionizing music education and music notation, and teaching people how to play music in creative, new ways. Think Guitar Hero with real notes, real instruments and real learning.

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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.

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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Thoughts on Amy Winehouse by a Celebrity Vocal Coach and Powerful VS. Empowered Singing +3 Harmful C’s

Thoughts on Amy Winehouse by a Celebrity Vocal Coach and Powerful VS. Empowered Singing +3 Harmful C’s

Guest post by Celebrity Vocal Coach Dot Todman (C.O.R.E. Vocal Power)

Amy Winehouse as a Singer—Powerful, or Empowered?


Powerful vs. Empowered Singing

Part of why I take an emphasis on empowerment as a vocal coach is because of the short-lived careers of many artists who fall so quickly after they rise, or never even make it to the top, because they suffer the consequences of making choices that permanently damage their mind, soul, and body. And sadly, many are deceived to feel it’s part of “living the rock star lifestyle.” Unlike a guitar or a piano, which I can replace if damaged, I only have one mind, one soul, and one voice. Why not enjoy my gift of expression with clarity, good health, abundance, and longevity?

Question: Do I just want to be a powerful singer, or an empowered singer?

Was Amy Winehouse a powerful singer? Yes. Was she an empowered singer? No. While Amy Winehouse was the perfect example of being a very powerful singer, perhaps it is clear now, that just singing powerfully does not guarantee a life full of joy and success.

Life can be tough, and it’s easy to fall into traps and develop bad habits. We’re only human. Practicing empowering principles and developing positive habits help us to become powerful masters of creativity and our unique gifts. What does it take to create the confidence, ease, and grace of a truly empowered singer?

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Persistence

Amy Winehouse was just another example of how an incredible voice and all the talent in the world alone does not guarantee personal fulfillment and self empowerment. It’s a shame…and a powerful reminder of how important your Mind, Soul, and VOICE are! It’s a tough world out there. We all need to look after ourselves from the CORE.

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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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Wider Wifi—”White Space”

Wider Wifi—”White Space”

Previously, I wrote about how a neighborhood in Houston, Texas was experimenting with wireless broadband [a.k.a. wifi] that used unlicensed “white spaces” between TV channels. Now, it looks like this idea, based on what the Federal Communications Commission authorized back in September 2010, has bred a standard that will increase its availability.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, who sanctioned the “wireless local area network” standard known numerically as 802.11, has given a number to this new “wireless regional area network” idea…802.22. According to IEEE’s press release, the “Wireless Regional Area Networks” that can be spawned from this new standard can cover a radius of up to 62 miles [100 km], based on flat terrain, and can deliver speeds of up to 22 mbps, which, by itself, would rival most existing available broadband services, wired or wireless.

But just because a new wireless broadband standard can provide speeds equal to much of what’s available now doesn’t quite mean it will. A more realistic scenario that could occur if twelve users are on any one unoccupied “white space” channel would have speeds at just 1.5 mbps for downloading, and 384k for uploading, on a par with DSL systems.

Even so, rural areas of the US, as well as in many underdeveloped parts of the world, are reported to be the most likely of areas to gain this new wireless broadband technology once it takes hold by 2013 or so, because those areas don’t have as much Internet access, but are certain to have plenty of white spaces due to less over-the-air digital TV channels. Larger cities, which have more TV channels on air, are less likely to have “white spaces,” though “channel bonding” [more than one empty TV channel] can increase the available bandwidth.

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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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Gamification—What Is It and How Can It Help Your Business?

Gamification—What Is It and How Can It Help Your Business?

Gamification. It has become one the top buzz words in tech advertising. Every agency that makes websites or apps for non-gaming products have started looking at the advantages and disadvantages of this new concept.

New Concept?

Yes, for those outside of gaming, this concept of gamification is BRAND new. The idea of game concepts in a serious business doesn’t seem to be a normal leap. First, let’s examine the concept of gamification.

Definition: Gamification is the integration of game theory or concept to non-gaming environments to increase engagement, loyalty, and entertainment values. Simply, engage users in a better way. This can be applied to any industry from health and fitness to education and transportation.

How to apply this to your needs. First a basic understanding of your customers is key. People want to feel accomplished and recognized. Then they like to share within their social circles. Games are the epitome of the Risk/ Reward system. To apply these to your business will most likely yield great results. So let’s take imaginary company X and apply this:

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Rupert Murdoch…Digital Education Innovator?

Rupert Murdoch…Digital Education Innovator?

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about school being out and virtual school being in. The latest twist on this idea could come from someone you never thought would involve himself in education, but this person has what he thinks is a good reason why.

Say what you want about media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, but at a Paris forum of Internet entrepreneurs and European policymakers, the 20th Century-Fox / Wall Street Journal / Sky News owner said that education was “the last holdout from the digital revolution,” and that “today’s classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age.” That’s the 19th century he was just referencing.

Mr. Murdoch also told this forum, the e-G8 conference, attended by everyone from Google head Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to President Sarkozy of France, that throwing money at the problem doesn’t work, and challenged the assembled to “bring to our schools the same creative force that makes businesses competitive and nations thrive.”

Rupert Murdoch

Given that this is the same Rupert Murdoch who’s had his hands in everything over the years from those naked “Page 3 Girls” in his daily Sun tabloid in London to such “wild” TV cartoon shows as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” to the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel, who knew that he would go into the education business? And to help him out in this cause, he hired a former New York City schools chancellor named Joel Klein.

Even while he was running the schools in New York City, then-Chancellor Klein supervised a pilot project in the Chinatown neighborhood back in 2009 called “School of One,” which implies the kind of online individualized instruction that Mr. Murdoch has been pushing for, in a variation on that “Victorian age” model of an adult giving lessons to a group of young students who learn at different levels.

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Class…Get Your iPads Out…Pencils May Not Be Necessary

Class…Get Your iPads Out…Pencils May Not Be Necessary

It’s not enough that Kindles are being introduced in schools to replace printed textbooks. Now there are some schools that are, on are planning on, going deeper than Kindles, with iPads in the classroom.

In South St. Paul, Minnesota, over $600,000 will be spent during the next 3 years to purchase iPads for 600 of the city’s 3200 students, plus 280 more for staff and school district board members. South St. Paul superintendent Dave Webb told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that his town is one that “cares about students and wants the best technology available for them.”

By joining other school districts from several states in purchasing these iPads, South St. Paul is spending $538 for each one. Not bad, considering that’s about how much an iPad2 might cost.

In the Charleston, SC area, students at two elementary schools will be getting iPads after a test run involving several classrooms at one of the schools was considered a success. Teacher Amy Winsted of Drayton Hall Elementary told WCSC-TV 5 in Charleston that iPad usage has “made a huge difference in learning. The kids’ test grades have gotten much better.”

Plans are for iPads, like Kindles, to be used in place of printed texts, with the eventual goal of making sure every student in the Charleston County School District gets an iPad.

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SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

On Monday, May 9, visionaries and high-tech players from all parts of the music technology spectrum will meet in San Francisco for the SF MusicTech Summit to “talk shop” on the evolving music industry ecosystem—converging culture and commerce and bringing together the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations in a proactive dealmaking environment.

The range of guest speakers, panelists, and attendees include founders and representatives from leading music-tech companies like Slacker, SoundExchange, Pandora, Topspin Media, Live Nation, and MOG, to tech and business press like TechCrunch, Bloomberg / Businessweek Magazine, and Billboard Magazine, to musicians like Lead Singer of Incubus, Brandon Boyd, and Incubus Guitarist, Mike Einziger, to VC groups like Walden Venture Capital, and organizations like GoGirls Music —”Cuz Chicks Rock!” says their Fearless Leader and Founder of Social Networks for Business, Madaln Sklar.

One of my favorite, new music-tech businesses in attendance is StageIt—a platform that brings together artists and fans, akin to a modern-day fireside chat. StageIt was founded by Evan Lowenstein of Evan and Jaron—the Pop/Rock, Top 40 hit-making duo who topped the charts in 2000 while signed with Columbia Records with their self-titled album Evan and Jaron—the StageIt concept is ripe and ready to blow-open living room doors across the globe by providing a platform for artists to “interact with your fans LIVE at anytime and from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have millions of fans or just a few, you now have an online stage where you can showcase your talents to the world and make money!”

“StageIt isn’t about broadcasting concerts online. It’s about sharing the amazing moments that happen in between. Did a friend drop by to jam? StageIt. Got a new tune you’re working on? StageIt. Getting ready to go on stage? StageIt. The front row seat is the most expensive in the house, but the place everyone wants to be is backstage. We made it so easy for you to finally give your fans a row seat to your ‘backstage’ experiences.”

How cool is that? What’s even cooler? Alongside an artist’s live performance onscreen is a tip jar, merchandise store, and chat window—clever, classy, brilliant, and 100% on par with the future.

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Cap the Net…Spoil the Competition? Super Wi-Fi, Broadband Co-Op’s, and Mesh Networks? And Could Google Become the New Word for ‘Internet Service Provider’?

Cap the Net…Spoil the Competition? Super Wi-Fi, Broadband Co-Op’s, and Mesh Networks? And Could Google Become the New Word for ‘Internet Service Provider’?

So AT&T is about to join Comcast and a few others by imposing limits on how much wired broadband subscribers can download per month. While 150-250 gigabytes a month isn’t as extreme as smaller caps in other parts of the world, never mind the caps imposed on many wireless broadband subscribers, it renders the idea of unlimited broadband service all but irrelevant here in the U.S. And that’s on top of the fact that U.S. broadband customers pay more for slower broadband than most other industrialized nations.

These same companies also provide cable TV service that isn’t subject to the imposition of limits on how much a subscriber can watch.

When another cable concern, Time Warner, which hasn’t imposed any downloading limits as of yet, is said to have made, from its revenues, 30 times what it spent on providing broadband service to its customers, then on the surface it could be suggested that the caps that service providers are imposing on Internet downloads is a money grab.

True, AT&T suggested that only 2% of its subscribers will be affected by the caps, and the average consumer downloads 18 gigabytes a month. But when everything from cloud computing and storage to Netflix is either already happening or in the process of happening online, that means more gigabytes to download, and more people at risk of breaking the cap and having to pay more, if not get their service cut off.

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Digital Music: Clear Skies for Cloud Streaming?

Digital Music: Clear Skies for Cloud Streaming?

Near the end of October 2010, the British version of Wired reported that Spotify, with its cloud-based streaming service in which no downloading is necessary, was the top revenue source for music in its home country of Sweden, outdoing even iTunes there. Despite that, Spotify has been having trouble getting started in the U.S., and one of its executives thinks it’s largely because of iTunes’ dominance.

When Spotify business development head Faisal Galaria was asked by Strategy Eye in January 2011 whether the labels were eager to break the hold iTunes has had, he said that if 80% of a label’s digital revenue came from one place, the executives could risk losing their bonuses if they opened up the competition.

Amazon, meanwhile, has beaten Spotify, as well as Apple and Google, to the punch with its own cloud-based streaming music service. However, Amazon claimed at first that their Cloud Player didn’t require licensing from the labels because “the music belongs to the user,” but has since decided to go into licensing talks with those labels. On top of that, Amazon suffered a sort of cloudburst when its service crashed on Apr 21, taking down a host of other websites with it for a couple of days or so, which proves how uneasy a solution cloud computing can be.

Meantime, Apple, the digital music leader, is, as of this writing, negotiating with the big four major label groups—Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI—to license content to Apple’s new cloud-based streaming music service. Reports are that Apple has signed with Warner Music Group, is close to getting Sony and EMI, but isn’t quite ready to lock up marketing leading Universal Music Group.

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Apple Tracking: Who Would Have Thought They Would Become Big Brother?

Apple Tracking: Who Would Have Thought They Would Become Big Brother?

Yesterday, O’Reilly Media researchers, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden released an article exposing a hidden file that records every movement  of an iPhone. All iPhones store location data in a file called consolidated.db. Warden released an OS X application to show users the significance of their discovery. The application shows each user where they have been since last July. Not only is the data stored on your phone but also your computer.

This database of your locations is stored on your iPhone as well as in any of the automatic backups that are made when you sync it with iTunes.

This isn’t the first time we have heard of the file. In fact in February 2011, Sean Morrissey and Alex Levinson previewed Lantern 2.0 at a Cyber Crimes Conference in Washington DC.  Lantern 2.0 however is a commercial forensics product that retails from $600-700. And before that, Alex Levinson began work on the vulenerabilities of iPhone and iPad. Check that out by clicking here.

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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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Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Gaming has always made me happy. But now, I have proof that I NEED to play. Last year, relatively unknown game designer, Jane McGonigal gave a speech at TED that began a movement by which a new term, and industry would evolve. Jane postulated that playing games, makes us better people. And now, she is launching a book that describes in detail that theory. To be honest, this is something I already knew being an avid gamer, but what makes her “studies” more poignant is the fact that we are starting to believe the science behind Gamification.

Jane said some, at the time, outrageous thing like: “If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week, by the end of the next decade.”

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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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InAppliCable: Legacy Media and Disruptive Technology

InAppliCable: Legacy Media and Disruptive Technology

Cable systems pay a fee per subscriber for the right to carry channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, USA Network and many more, on their systems. But does that right extend to putting those channels on iPads?

Time Warner iPad App Prototype

Back on March 15, 2011, TimeWarner Cable introduced an app that allows subscribers to view cable channels on their iPads, workable only with subscribers’ wireless home networking and Internet access. No sooner was that app introduced than some cable channels, including those owned by Fox—like FX, Fox News and Fox Sports—and Scripps—like Food Network and HGTV—ordered TimeWarner to remove them from that app, saying that it was prohibited under their carriage agreements.

Though TimeWarner Cable still, as of this writing, has some three dozen channels on their iPad app, the Los Angeles Times compares the scenario that the cable company is facing to one in which you buy peanut butter from a store, put it in a Tupperware container, refrigerate it, and then have the peanut butter manufacturer tell you that you have to pay extra for doing so.

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Zynga on Wall Street with Sheep—Yes, Sheep.

Zynga on Wall Street with Sheep—Yes, Sheep.

CityVille, FarmVille, and Mafia Wars are part of Zynga’s portfolio. Zynga is considered one of the fastest growing startups with no end in sight. To be realistic Zynga is doing great, but at a big cost. Games like FarmVille do very well in the first 6 months. After that, the numbers fall drastically, in fact so much so that CityVille peaked in one month, then showed decline by the three month mark. But that doesn’t deter a company like Zynga. They reinvent the games, at the latest outing by the company, does just that.

Zynga showed up on Wall Street with a few sheep. Yes, sheep. The company was promoting FarmVille English Countryside, the expansion to its popular FarmVille. With Zynga being valued at around $10 Billion, it’s easy to see how they can march sheep around the Big Apple.

Zynga continues to add gaming talent to its ranks, it evolved with the gameplay from FarmVille, its first breakout hit, into CityVille, an even more successful game in terms of user ramp and monthly active users. CityVille reached 100 million users in just 43 days. However, CityVille has peaked after its initial growth, and lost almost 5 million monthly active users in February alone, just three months after launch. CityVille is still increasing daily active users, but the writing is on the wall: CityVille will follow FarmVille’s decline, only faster. Now the next iteration of FarmVille, is destined for the same cycle. Rapid growth and even faster decline.

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