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Strange Bedfellows: Can Gaga, Madonna, and Katy Perry Coexist? UMG to Buy EMI’s Record Labels—When 4 Really Become 3

Strange Bedfellows: Can Gaga, Madonna, and Katy Perry Coexist? UMG to Buy EMI’s Record Labels—When 4 Really Become 3

Back in May 2011, I wrote about Citigroup-owned EMI facing a possible buyout from Len Blavatnik’s recently-purchased Warner Music Group [WMG] and some implications of what would happen when 4 major recording companies get narrowed down to 3.

But when the sale of EMI’s recorded music product was announced while Americans were honoring the people who have served their country’s military, the big winner turned out to be someone bigger than WMG. It was Universal Music Group [UMG], once co-owned with the Universal Studios motion picture business but spun off into its own company back in 2006 by its current owner, France’s Vivendi, which, until 2000, also owned water and waste systems in addition to entertainment.

UMG put up almost $2 billion for EMI’s catalog of recordings, just a few weeks after WMG, which had put up a $1.6 billion bid that many thought would have been enough to win, but pulled out over unresolved pension liability issues for EMI’s office employees.

IMPALA, the European organization of independent record labels, is pushing the European Commission to not only block Vivendi/UMG’s purchase of EMI, but also prohibit UMG from distributing recorded music released by the new record label owned by concert promoter LiveNation, which includes a forthcoming album by the legendaryMadonna.

Katy Perry, Madonna, Lady Gaga

IMPALA might be right to be concerned, because the EMI/UMG merger, plus the latter’s partnership with LiveNation, could make for strange bedfellows. For instance, can Gaga, Madonna and Katy coexist? Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are perhaps two of the most popular singers over just the last 2 to 3 years, each with catchy chart-topping hits and successful, yet sensationally-staged, concert tours. And then, there’s Madonna…what’s been said about this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and mother of self-reinvention that hasn’t already been said over the last three decades?

Gaga, as mentioned previously, has that “360 deal” going with UMG and its Interscope label, while Katy Perry is signed to EMI’s Capitol on what could be a standard contract, and Madonna’s $120 million deal with LiveNation, signed way back in 2007 while she was still under contract to Warner Music Group, but now in full effect and given even more weight by LiveNation’s new partnership with UMG, also falls into that 360 realm.

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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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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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‘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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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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Truly Independent…or In Bed With a Major?

Truly Independent…or In Bed With a Major?

In early June 2011, a rapper out of Kansas City named Tech N9ne came out with an album entitled “All 6’s and 7’s.” In its debut week, it sold over 55,000 copies, enough for it to enter in at number 4 on the Billboard 200 album charts, behind only Gaga, Adele, and the cast recording of the hit Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.” What else was so great about it? As MTV’s website reported, Tech N9ne released the album independently, and had a strong fan base to thank for his success.

Tech N9ne, with the help of business partner Travis O’Guin, has, through their Strange Music label, released his own material independently through their Strange Music label since 1999, and has taken in about $15 million in the decade since. He says that he’s been getting calls from major labels even before his current album was released, but says he won’t be so quick to sign such a deal.

But is Tech N9ne really independent? It depends on how that meaning can be interpreted, because, on the one hand, Strange Music’s product is distributed through Fontana Distribution, an independent-level subsidiary of major-label Universal Music Group, which would put Tech and his label in bed with a major. [Sure enough, the slogan Fontana uses on its website reads, “Independent on a Major Level.”] On the other hand, if Strange Music were to own the master recordings, it would make them independent based on that standard.

By comparison, indie legend Ani DiFranco, whose Righteous Babe Records has, in the 20-plus years that her company’s been in existence, hasn’t (at least to the best of my knowledge), used a major-label’s indie-level subsidiary to distribute its product, which would make her company a “true independent.”

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Followups: Rebecca Black and Rupert Murdoch on the Fame Clock

Followups: Rebecca Black and Rupert Murdoch on the Fame Clock

A couple of subjects from some of my past blogs have been getting some press lately. The first has been doing some new things, while the second has gotten into some deep trouble.

Let’s start with Rebecca Black, whom I’ve written about twice already in light of her instant success from, as well as the controversies behind, her song “Friday.” Lately, it seems like Black’s fame clock hasn’t quite run out yet. First, she did a quickie cameo appearance in the video of Katy Perry’s hit “Last Friday Night.”

Play Youtube VideoKaty Perry: Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)


Now, just as this is being written, Black is about to release a followup to “Friday,” entitled “My Moment,” which she will put up first on YouTube and iTunes, to be followed in August 2011 by a 5-song EP, which she will release herself rather than through a label, so at least she and her mom are already learning to hang on to those master recordings.

Just a few words of advice to Ms. Black, from a layperson’s perspective…just make sure you put together a grassroots tour that would benefit you financially. Options would range from a “mall tour,” like everyone from Tiffany to Selena Gomez has done over the years, with a corporate sponsor to back it; to maybe playing some small auditoriums. I was going to suggest “house concerts,” but I think you’re a bit too popular for those.

While Rebecca Black is getting more time added to her fame clock, Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate whom I wrote about last month for his plans to innovate digital education, is loosing the fame clock. Maybe you’ve known by now that Murdoch had to shut down one of his newspapers in London after charges circulated that the paper’s staff had hacked cellphones of everyone from victims of murder and 9/11/01 terrorism to celebrities and government officials.

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Celebrity Leverage: Can Justin Timberlake Bring MySpace Back?

Celebrity Leverage: Can Justin Timberlake Bring MySpace Back?

As June 2011 was winding down, reports came out that MySpace—once the top social network on the Internet before being overtaken by Facebook—was sold for way less than a tenth of what it previously cost to purchase it.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which paid more than half a billion dollars to buy MySpace from founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson back in 2005, sold the social networking site for a reported $35 million to Specific Media LLC, whose co-founder and chief executive, Tim Vanderhook, said would build MySpace into “a digital media company on par with Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and all the other big names out there.”

One of the minority investors in Specific Media’s purchase of MySpace is Singer-Actor Justin Timberlake, who Specific’s press release says, will “play a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward.” Timberlake said in the same press release that MySpace “has the potential” to be that place “where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect.” There were also reports that Timberlake was considering turning Myspace into a talent search site, or at least considering that as one component.

While it hasn’t been disclosed how much of a stake Timberlake has in Specific Media’s MySpace purchase, his plans to help bring MySpace back is but another example of celebrity leverage. The idea of star entertainers and athletes owning businesses goes way back to the days of the silent movies, when prominent, yet controversial, film director D.W. Griffith, and stars Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. helped found United Artists way back in 1919. That historic brand name is currently owned, in part, by actor Tom Cruise.

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A Tale of ‘Friday’ and 50 Cent and Outlaw Disputes

A Tale of ‘Friday’ and 50 Cent and Outlaw Disputes

This blog is a tale of two recording artists who have been involved in recent disputes over their recordings. The first of these is about the aftermath of one of the most-watched videos ever on YouTube.

Back in April 2011, I wrote about the hubbub surrounding Rebecca Black’s YouTube sensation-of-a-song entitled “Friday.” Part of the hubbub concerned ownership of the master recordings of that song, for which—reportedly, I stress—Rebecca Black’s mother, Georgina Kelly, paid $4000 in production costs to Ark Music Factory—whose co-owners, Pat Wilson and Clarence Jey, wrote “Friday”—in exchange for that ownership.

In conjunction with that issue were charges of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation against Ark by Black’s lawyers, who sent Ark a letter to that extent back in March. The lawyers specifically noted in their letter that Rebecca Black never got the master recordings and that Ark didn’t have any rights to promote her.

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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.

Ahh Vegas…Gambling, Drinking, Showgirls. And Wait…A Technology Hub, Too?

Ahh Vegas…Gambling, Drinking, Showgirls. And Wait…A Technology Hub, Too?

Not long ago Las Vegas wasn’t part of the technology innovation. In fact, the basic premise of Vegas has kept it simple in a way—gambling, drinking, and showgirls. The nightlife is unrivaled and the entertainment is unforgettable. “Vegas means comedy, tragedy, happiness, and sadness all at the same time.” —Artie Lange. Artie has it right! Vegas is everything to everyone. But would you ever say Vegas was a technology hub?

Not until recently did I find myself in awe of some of the technology advancements going on in Sin City. I stay at the same room on the strip, great views and superb staff at the Paris/Bally’s, but then I hit the smokey casino floor, the waitresses clad in skimpy dresses, music was loud, and the craps table had a gang around it screaming and clapping. The sounds of slots and people from around the world engaging in all their vices. I found myself at a Pai Gow table. I play poker. I enjoy poker. The cards, the drinks, the felt tables where cards float across as if on a cushion of air, and that is when I noticed. There in the middle of this table, I couldn’t believe it, a small touch-screen LCD panel the dealer keeps tapping. As I watch for the next few hands—it hits me—that screen is a display of all the hands around the table. Wait, wait wait. I have been going to Vegas for years, but I have never seen anything like this. How did it know? If players had problems setting their Pai Gow hand the dealer would simple push the according seat number on the LCD and it would say how to play with best odds and correctly.

So I inquired with the Pit Boss and he explained to me that automatic shufflers not only shuffle, but continuously monitor the cards in the deck. It knows when cards are missing, what card is missing and which players have which cards. It knows everything on that table!

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Life After ‘American Idol’ Elimination: Could Pia Toscano Be ‘Robbed by the Label’?

Life After ‘American Idol’ Elimination: Could Pia Toscano Be ‘Robbed by the Label’?

On the Apr. 7, 2011 results episode of “American Idol,” Pia Toscano, the New York City 22-year-old woman whom many, even the show’s panelists—Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler—thought was good enough to perhaps be the long-running hit TV show’s winner for the season, had the least amount of votes and was eliminated, thus finishing her in 9th place.

Pia Toscano

Say what you want about what caused Pia’s surprise elimimation, which left the “Idol” panel in a state of shock and disbelief, and prompted some viewers to comment online that they weren’t going to watch “Idol” again, as typically happens when a perceived favorite gets bumped at an unexpected time.

One male viewer told Radar Online that his wife had trouble casting a vote for Pia online through the “Idol” website [which includes a Facebook app to initiate such voting], a charge that was refuted in the same article by an unnamed staffer, who claimed nothing went wrong with the voting process.

 

Also, dialidol.com, which according to its website, is known for “measuring the busy signal” based on toll-free phone numbers for each “Idol” contestant, had Pia ranked 3rd on their scoring system, which may have suggested she was going to continue, but as imperfect as that system was, and because “Idol’s” voting process also includes text messages and, more recently, online votes, it could be argued that not as many voted via the non-traditional phone-in methods as those who did vote by phone for Pia.

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Feuding Over ‘Friday’

Feuding Over ‘Friday’

Rebecca Black’s video of “Friday,” which has now been seen over 82 million times on YouTube, has spawned a few parodies, as well as dozens and dozens of cover versions, including one performed recently by late night TV hosts Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” and Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Miley Cyrus | Rebecca Black

It has also drawn impressive praises from former “American Idol” panelist-turned-creator, producer and lead judge for “The X Factor,” Simon Cowell, as well as caused Miley Cyrus to do a 180, going from hating to liking Rebecca so much that she, too, wants to do her own cover version of “Friday”.

What’s even more amazing about Rebecca Black and “Friday” is how radio, the time-honored way of breaking a new song, was not used as much as the viral spreading of that video via YouTube, with a little help from mainstream TV airplay.

Along with that success, “Friday” has generated its share of controversy, some of it based on the way Rebecca sang the song, and some based on how ridiculous the lyrics are perceived to be. But all that pales by comparison to a deeper controversy that has developed behind the song itself, and it’s one that may have ended up setting the song’s co-writers against each other.

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Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Jonathan Rosenberg, the Chief of Product Development at Google, said Monday that he plans to step down in coming months. A nine year veteran at Google, Rosenberg makes the announcement on the very day that Co-Founder Larry Page takes the reins in the CEO chair.

Jonathan Rosenberg

San Jose Mercury News reported that as Page reclaims the role of CEO from Eric Schmidt, Google’s co-founder has asked his senior executives to make long-term, multiyear commitments that they will remain at the company. Rosenberg, a member of the executive committee that makes Google’s key strategic decisions, said in an interview Monday that he decided he could not fulfill that promise to Page, given his long-held plans to leave the company around the time his daughter goes to college in 2013.

Larry Page, CEO Google, and Wife Lucy

This just can’t be good. If after all these years the tight-knitted group of the executive team begins to unravel as Page comes in, there is more a-brewing at the company than the normal anti-trust lawsuits and Facebook frenemy fighting. Clearly Rosenberg saw something that has weighed on him. Is it Page? Or is it because he was one of the trusted ones on team Schmidt? And is it important to anyone, especially Page, that he decided to announce the decision on the very day that Page starts as CEO?

Googleplex Culture

It’s not lost on any of us that Google has had some retention problems. They started a mass hiring a few months back and are still trying to attract great talent. But at what cost? Google isn’t necessarily the place people love to go to work, but to be fair it’s not the most hated either. Whatever it is about the company culture at Google, what is clear is that the ship is turning and one of the top officers is about to jump overboard.

This doesn’t mean that things cannot be great or on the verge of getting better. Sometimes change is needed. This.. this is a big one!

The Possible VEVO-Izing of Myspace?

The Possible VEVO-Izing of Myspace?

Back in 2005, MySpace had just become the darling of social networking. So much so that it attracted the interest of Rupert Murdoch and his friends at News Corporation, which beat MTV to the punch and bought MySpace—joining it with such“legacy media” as the Fox Television Network, co-owned cable channels like Fox NewsFox SportsFXSpeed Channel, andFuelTV, as well as long-standing print enterprises the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal—the latter eventually bought by News Corp. in 2007.

The MySpace brand was extended by News Corp. to also tie-in with a couple dozen or so TV stations in many of the largest cities in the US, all co-owned and affiliated with the Fox Network. The stations’ websites ended up using MyFox in their domain names, such as myfoxny.com for WNYW-Fox 5 in New York City, myfoxla.com for KTTV-Fox 11 in Los Angeles, and myfoxaustin.com for KTBC-Fox 7 in Austin, TX.

But very recently, the Wall Street Journal was not giving co-owned MySpace enough love, at least not from a business perspective, when they ran a story detailing MySpace’s revenue and visitor traffic declines, and the trouble MySpace has had in selling to advertisers. In terms of revenue and online visits, MySpace is practically back to where they were in 2006.  The declines can be blamed on Facebook having overtaken MySpace in 2008, and haven’t stopped even after MySpace was recently reinvented to be less about the social networking and more about the music and entertainment.

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Courtney Love Computes Record Label Deals; Doing the Math Again for Gwyneth Paltrow

Courtney Love Computes Record Label Deals; Doing the Math Again for Gwyneth Paltrow

In May of 2000, Hole lead singer Courtney Love spoke to an online entertainment conference held in New York City. In that speech, Love explained how a hypothetical red-hot four-person band with a major-label recording contract—that gets a $1,000,000 advance to record an album, plus a 20% royalty off the album sales—can, in those days before digital downloads mattered, still wind up earning nothing, at best, if that album sells a million copies. Of course, that’s because, in addition to production costs and taxes, there’s also the matter of recoupable expenses imposed by the record label for promoting that album, which by Love’s own math, means the label turns a sizable profit.

Courtney Love – Hole

Love was quoted as saying back then that “the system is set up so almost nobody gets paid.” But have entities that have sprung up since 2000, like iTunesYouTub, and SoundExchange, resulted in artists standing more of a chance at getting paid from major labels? I wouldn’t know, as I’m not a recording artist, but considering what a writer at a prestigious publication came up with—it’s time do the math again.

Glenn Peoples, a Nashville-based writer for the music chart magazine Billboard, recently wrote a story based on Internet rumors of a deal that actress-turned-singer Gwyneth Paltrow signed with Warner Music Group’s Atlantic label for $900,000. With the help of an anonymous Nashville-based recording executive, Peoples figured that the $900,000 would be divided between the cost of making the album [$300,000], and an advance that Paltrow would get [$600,000], which would be subject to those recoupable expenses.

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Youtube Sensation Rebecca Black: The New Bieber or the New Future?

Youtube Sensation Rebecca Black: The New Bieber or the New Future?

13-year-old California girl Rebecca Black, who had prior stage experience in musical theater and in ensemble singing, teamed up with writers/producers Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson, both owners of a promotional firm that doubles as an “indie record label” called ARK Music Factory, to deliver what has now become one of the latest YouTube sensations, helped not just by the usual Facebook and Twitter trending, but also in part by being featured on Daniel Tosh’s Comedy Central show “Tosh.0″. Rebecca’s song, called “Friday”, rolled out on YouTube on a Friday, March 11, 2011, but by the 18th went so viral as to have been viewed 16 million times, making it perhaps the latest “catchy song of the moment.”

Watch Rebecca Black Video for ‘Friday’

Play Youtube VideoRebecca Black – Friday


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Katy, Gaga & Ke$ha: Wanna Be Like Them or Wanna Be Like Yourself?

Katy, Gaga & Ke$ha: Wanna Be Like Them or Wanna Be Like Yourself?

Even in this Internet age, when people talk about today’s mainstream popular music, three names come to mind more than any other—Katy, Gaga, and Ke$ha.  These three ladies are in various stages of touring at the time I’m writing this, but as sure as they are each on a different label controlled by one of the big music-industry groups, they share many things in common besides being just catchy dance-pop singers.  Each of these three grew up in the shadows of the USA’s three leading entertainment cities—Katy was born in Santa Barbara, just up the coast from Los Angeles; Lady Gaga was born in the New York City area; and Ke$ha was born in L.A., but raised in Nashville.

Each of them has also had multiple chart-topping songs, and has combined those with their own levels of over-the-top flamboyance to make for exciting worldwide concert tours that, for all three, have been a far cry from what they did before they hit it big.

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Foo Fighters – Red Carpet – SXSW Film Premiere of ‘Back and Forth’ + Bob Mould

Foo Fighters – Red Carpet – SXSW Film Premiere of ‘Back and Forth’ + Bob Mould

“Back and Forth,” directed by James Moll, was an exquisite look at the life of a full-fledged, respected, American rock band—Foo Fighters. The line to get in to see “Back and Forth” last night was wrapped around the block of The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue in Austin, TX, as the SXSW Film Festival rolled on. Just as I was entering The Paramount, the Foo Fighters arrived, and I was able to capture their moment—a mere glimpse into the fantastical elements of their life. Seen in this video are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel—Foo Fighters.

Watch Foo Fighters On The Red Carpet For SXSW Film Premiere

Play Youtube VideoFoo Fighters – Red Carpet – Premiere ‘Back and Forth’ SXSW


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The ‘Little Monsters’ Will Learn When They Get Older

The ‘Little Monsters’ Will Learn When They Get Older

Lady Gaga calls her fans “monsters,” and in just the past year, two of them, each in their early teens, have been inspired by the Lady to cover her hits, put themselves on YouTube, and become instant sensations.  First, there was Greyson Chance with 38 million YouTube views for his version of “Paparazzi.”  Now, there’s 10-year-old Maria Aragon of Winnipeg, Canada, who’s been seen 12 million times already with her rendition of Gaga’s latest hit, “Born This Way.”

Greyson has parlayed his Gaga-inspired YouTube success into being signed by a major label, recording an album in which he composed some original songs, and earning an opening-act slot on a national concert tour headlined by Miranda Cosgrove of iCarly fame. One would not be surprised if Maria gets something similar down the road, but when she was interviewed last week on a Toronto radio show, the host ended up having her conference-in with Gaga herself, which led to Maria getting tickets, and perhaps, an onstage appearance at Gaga’s tour stop in Toronto next month. Time will tell.

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Foo Fighters ‘Back and Forth’ Documentary Film Premiere at SXSW Film Festival Tonight

Foo Fighters ‘Back and Forth’ Documentary Film Premiere at SXSW Film Festival Tonight

The Foo Fighters are coming to the big screen tonight with their world premiere documentary “Back and Forth,” by Director James Moll (Oscar-winning 1998 documentary “The Last Days”), at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival.

According to SPIN.com, “Moll’s visual portrait will chronicle the Foos’ 16-year-history, from its start as a one-man project started by Grohl up through the sessions of their latest album. The documentary promises to be a no-holds-barred look of the band.”

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Declaring Independence from the 90/90 Dilemma

Declaring Independence from the 90/90 Dilemma

Is signing with a major label still the best idea for a recording artist? True, it would be if you want the easy marketing, but 90% of artists who sign with the majors are going to fail, and 90% of new releases are not going to sell a million and go platinum.

It’s a 90/90 dilemma that not only explains why two of the four major labels are up for sale, but perhaps that’s why CD Baby founder Derek Sivers said back in 2007 that “90% of your career is now up to you.”

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SXSW 2011: Day 1 “Hot Tech Cold Beer”

SXSW 2011: Day 1 “Hot Tech Cold Beer”

I’m headed to the Austin Convention Center to begin my SXSW 2011 journey, and I am looking forward to a variety of keynote, distinguished, and featured speakers; notably, Barry Diller (“Insights On All Things Media”), J. Craig Venter (“Does The Future Include Synthetic Life”), Tim Ferriss (“The 4-Hour Body: Hacking the Human Body), Guy Kawasaki (“The Art of Enchantment”), and Gary Vaynerchuk (Vaynermedia), to name a few.

A quick visual scan of the attendees during registration yesterday indeed saw the “hipster-geek” style in action and yesterdays evening activities saw no shortage of the creative drive, with Capital Factory (an early stage accelerator program for tech startups) hosting a “Start-Up Crawl – Hot Tech Cold Beer” meet the founders tour around the Austin-area; replete with shuttle service and of course, cold beer. Fun!

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Ciara Wants Out

Ciara Wants Out

While some say that being on a major label can get a recording act some decent exposure, it can also be costly. The cost can be financial, in ways such as “recoupable expenses” for recording and promoting an album, and “360 deals” in which labels take in a percentage of the artist’s total income; as well as artistic, when, for example, you try to push your latest single at your own expense, but the label won’t support you.

Ciara is a current example of the artistic cost, never mind the financial. The urban songstress, whose recent feud with Rihanna has been a big entertainment story on both cable TV and Twitter, recently posted on her Facebook page that Jive Records, one of many labels owned by one of the recording industry’s “big 4″, Sony Music Group–part of the Sony Corporation that also makes content for TV and movies, as well as equipment to play their video and audio content on—has not been sharing what Ciara says is “the same views on who I am as an artist.”

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