Archive for January 2, 2012

Politics: Obama Signs The NDAA. U.S Citizens Can Be Held Without Trial.

Do believe the hype, says Professor Turley: the NDAA, signed into law by President Obama on 31 December, authorises the US military to detain citizens indefinitely without trial. Photograph:
President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment, to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country … and citizens partied in unwitting bliss into the New Year.

Ironically, in addition to breaking his promise not to sign the law, Obama broke his promise on signing statements and attached a statement that he really does not want to detain citizens indefinitely (see the text of the statement here).

Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the president would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House and insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.

The latest claim is even more insulting. You do not “support our troops” by denying the principles for which they are fighting. They are not fighting to consolidate authoritarian powers in the president. The “American way of life” is defined by our constitution and specifically the bill of rights. Moreover, the insistence that you do not intend to use authoritarian powers does not alter the fact that you just signed an authoritarian measure. It is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines authoritarian systems.

The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Obama administration as they did the spin over torture by the Bush administration. Even today, reporters refuse to call waterboarding torture despite the long line of cases and experts defining waterboarding as torture for decades.

On the NDAA, reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the constitution.

There are also those who continue the longstanding effort to excuse Obama’s horrific record on civil liberties by blaming either others or the times. One successful myth is that there is an exception for citizens. The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans’ legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens as not just subject to indefinite detention but even to execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality.

The Obama administration and Democratic members are in full spin mode – using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032) is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorisation to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

Obama could have refused to sign the bill and the Congress would have rushed to fund the troops. Instead, as confirmed by Senator Levin, the White House conducted a misinformation campaign to secure this power while portraying the president as some type of reluctant absolute ruler, or, as Obama maintains, a reluctant president with dictatorial powers.

Most Democratic members joined their Republican colleagues in voting for this un-American measure. Some Montana citizens are moving to force the removal of these members who, they insist, betrayed their oaths of office and their constituents. Most citizens, however, are continuing to treat the matter as a distraction from the holiday cheer.

For civil libertarians, the NDAA is our Mayan moment: 2012 is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between rounds of drinks.

Interview: Fabolous Talks About Ray J, TINC 3, and Love and Hiphop.

Music Video: Jadakiss Feat. Teyana Taylor “Rock With Me”

Music Video: T.I. – “F*ck Da City Up” Trailer – In Studio w/ Young Jeezy

Music News: Ron Browz Talks Ether 10 Years Later.

Ron Browz doesn’t get his just due. The Harlem-bred producer’s résumé reads like a who’s who list of New York notables and he’s responsible for the sonics of classic records like Big L’s “Ebonics” and Nas’s “Ether.” Still, Browz’s work yields skepticism. Over the last decade, he’s also emerged into a capable hitmaker—producing and performing on his own “Jumping Out the Window,” as well as Jim Jones’s “Pop Champagne” and Busta Rhymes’s “Arab Money.”

Though all of Browz’s previously mentioned hits have charted higher than “Ether,” he’s still primarily known for assisting God’s Son in his scathing rebuttal to Jay-Z’s “Takeover.” Now, 10 years after the release of the classic diss song, RB reveals to XXL that Jay’s A&R, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, had the “Ether” instrumental first, how producing the track barred him from working with the God MC and why it’s a better beat than the Kanye West-produced, “Takeover.”—Carl Chery ()

XXL: When you made that beat did you have Nas in mind or was it for someone else?

Ron Browz: No. Me, when I’m doing production I stick myself in a house, don’t go nowhere and make straight beats. It was an awkward, hardcore beat. I kinda played around and rapped on it, me and my friends, but it wasn’t nothing serious going. Hip Hop from Roc-A-Fella, somebody had brought him to my house and I played him that beat I played him another beat. And he actually took these two beats, but I guess it never got to the ears of Jay, but it got to the ears of Nas.

When did you find out that Nas was going to go at Jay on the record?

Nas had that record at the summer time. And he held it for so long. I was like, “He ain’t gon use it.” So I forgot about it, but then Nas called me that winter, like that December. And he was like, “Yo, I need you to come to the studio and listen to what I did to your beat. I get to the studio and he’s just chilling, he was real calm about it. He wasn’t amped. He told the engineer to play the record and my mouth dropped. Nas knew the effect it was gonna have. I didn’t know the effect it was gonna have. And I’m like, “Wow, people gon hate me for this. I’ll never get to work with Jay as a producer. Is Jay gonna feel a way? All them ran into my mind. I got so many phone calls. Work started coming in for me, so it ended up being a positive thing.

Lenny S. said that every time you see him you say that you producing “Ether” may have gotten in the way of you working with Jay.

You know what, you hear so much then you start to believe it. Maybe he does feel some type of way. I’m gonna say he feels some type of way. I never worked with him. I worked with the greatest. Lil’ Kim, Foxy, Nas, Fat Joe, 50 Cent, Jadakiss. I worked with a lot of the top artists. I never got a chance to work with Jay and I’m nice so I don’t get it.

Since you produced it, did you feel like you had to pick sides when the battle was happening?

I tell people, I’m a fan of hip-hop at the end of the day. I like Jay, I like Nas. Did I pick sides? At that time, you already know who won. Once “Ether” came out, it wasn’t even picking sides, it was like which record was harder. “Ether” happened to be the harder record.

Over the years Jay and Kanye have compared the “Ether” beat to the “Takeover” beat—

Kanye know I trashed him.

So you think “Ether” is a better instrumental than “Takeover?”

Come on. I did that from scratch. Kanye sampled it. Come on. My mother can go in the house and listen to a record, chop that, chop that and make that. You know I heard Kanye when he was saying that, “How can people compare them?” I did that from scratch, the keyboard, a drum machine, my drum patterns. That’s me playing the keyboard with the strings and all the additional percussion. And it was hard. That’s a sample. Come on, anybody can do that. Is y’all playing? “Yo, it’s better.” Nah. I mean, I don’t know who produced ["Takeover"]. Kanye know, man. He know deep in his heart what beat is harder. And you can just do a survey.

For full article go to www.xxlmag.com

Ten Tips for Building Stronger Songs

by Peter & Pat Luboff

If you want your songs to stand the test of time, you have to build them solidly from the ground up. These are ten things you’ll need:

The cornerstone: a unique title, a dramatic situation.
The title is the emotional center of the song. Come up with as suggestive a title as you can, one that conjures up a strong emotional situation. If the title itself isn’t very dramatic, plot out the most evocative story and situation you can to bring fresh attention to an old title concept.
The foundation: a well-defined structure.
The structure gives the song shape and is key to making a song memorable. Know the two main forms of song structure: verse/bridge and verse/chorus and make a clear choice as to which one you are using. That will tell you where the title will be placed in the song.
The building materials: associative words.
Before writing a lyric line, brainstorm without judgment to come up with associative, provocative words and phrases that all lead to the title concept.
The paint: visuals aid.
Use imagery, metaphors and similes, to show us, not tell us, what the singer is experiencing. A song is really a mini aural movie. Again, every image and word of lyric suggests the central concept.
Interior design: balance and contrasts.
When writing lyrics, consider changing phrasing patterns from section to section. This will permit the music writer to create more interesting melodies. Once you have established a pattern, match it each time that section comes around so that strong melodic moments can be repeated.
Architecture: harmonizing emotion.
You want the melody to match the lyric (prosody). The melody of a song helps interpret the emotional intention of the lyric, so experiment to come up with the most emotional intervals and rhythms to set the words.
Inner spaces: how does it feel?
The feel of the music has a lot to do with how we respond to a song. Is it aggressive, tender, angry, good time, etc.? Don’t just accept the first groove you come up with. Experiment, imitate feels of songs off the radio, ’till you come up with the best one. Too fast or too slow tempo also affects the impact of the song; is it dragging, is it too fast for the words to be sung, enunciated well?
The columns: the chords that bind.
Use chords that support the message and the emotion of the melody. Stylistically keep chords in the tone of the genre you’re writing in (country, r&b, jazz, etc.). Also consider the frequency of chord changes line to line, section to section, as energy or intensity builds.
The floor plan: varying spaces.
Contrasting phrasing from section to section helps keep musical interest up. Maybe the verse is rapid fire, and the chorus spreads out with fewer words to let the singer wail heroically away. Think about this also when you’re writing melody without existing lyric.
Design details: little things mean a lot.
Look for catchy melodic and phrasing “moments” in every section and, when you find them, make sure you repeat them when that same section comes around.

source: http://musicu.com/article-stronger-songs.html

Industry Tips and Advice: Why You Should Give Music Away For Free.

Digital music caught the record labels off guard and smashed their business to pieces, and from the rubble new economic realities are emerging. In this new reality, most independent artists, especially those who are just starting out, should give their music away for free. Sound crazy? Maybe, but hear me out. It boils down to 3 main concepts. Starting with…

The Rise of Spotify and the “All You Can Eat” Music Services

Shortly after the introduction of the MP3, legal music subscription services started popping up. Companies like Rhapsody and a then-newly legalized Napster offered “all you can eat” music services. You paid a monthly subscription fee and had access to the millions of tracks in their music libraries. The services gained modest traction here in the US, but it wasn’t until the UK based Spotify arrived on US shores in July of 2011 that the concept really took off. Users flocked to the new service, which connects to Facebook to enable easy music sharing. Their basic free service got many users hooked, and many of them upgraded to paid subscription services. Now, what does this have to do with artists? Well, for better or worse, many people aren’t going to buy albums anymore with a service like this available. Why would they, when they can pay a monthly fee (about the price of a single album) for a library of thousands of their favorite albums, which they can easily share with friends? On a personal note, I have not bought a thing on iTunes since the introduction of Spotify, and even as a self-professed Apple fanboy, I have barely even opened the iTunes application (in fact, I am listening to Spotify right now as I write this). As an independent artist, you can place your music on any of these services quite easily with most digital distributors, but the payout is only pennies each time a user listens to your album, far less than iTunes or Amazon. Now, this might sound like I am gushing about these services, but the truth is that from the perspective of the music fan, it’s a much better deal for us. I want to discover and listen to lots of music, easily and inexpensively. And these services are showing no signs of slowing down. That said, the fact that independent artists earn far less for a stream is a red herring. The cannibalization of recorded sales doesn’t really matter for most indie artists, because the truth is…

Indie Artists don’t sell that much anyway

This isn’t my personal theory, it’s a fact. I followed the sales data from our digital distributor, FoxyMelody, for 6 years. The majority of artists make less than $10 per month. The reason for this is simple; most people are unwilling to buy music from a band they don’t know. And our data is by no means unique. There was a recent, hotly discussed article published recently on Digital Music News about another digital distributor, Tunecore. The article looked at the data of over 600,000 artists over the period of a few years and found that a majority of the artists make less than minimum wage from their online music sales. At FoxyMelody, this was absolutely true. The average artist made less than one hour of minimum wage over the course of an entire month. If that’s the case, why bother even putting your music behind a paywall in the first place? Is it worth the $6.43 you might make? Unlikely. Therefore, let people hear it, which brings us to our next point…


Why are people unwilling to buy an album from a band they don’t know? I read this concept years ago from Music Strategist Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies, and it has always resonated with me. The order in which a fan will interact with an artist is Hear-Like-Buy. Always. They need to hear your music before they can like it, and they need to like it before they will buy anything. You can’t skip a step here, and there are no shortcuts. Giving your music away for free allows potential new fans to get a chance to hear your music…the first step in the process.

Now you might be asking “But if I give it away for free, what can I sell them when they like it?” Fair question. For one, having fans come to your live shows is a big win, as well as buying merchandise like T-Shirts/Posters/Buttons etc. In addition, you can still offer your music for sale as well. Free music doesn’t always mean people won’t also pay. In September of this year, the most pirated artists on BitTorrent were Jay-Z & Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Adele, David Guetta and LMFAO. Most of these albums are still in the Top 20 on Billboard. That said, these are hugely successful artists, but the overarching point is that free does not necessarily cannibalize sales. It’s merely a question of quantity. Do you think OK Go would have been as successful as they are if they had charged people to watch their famous treadmill video? Hell No. Very few people would have paid for it, and they sure as hell wouldn’t be as big as they are now. The more fans you have, the more people there are who will buy what you are selling. That could be future releases, merchandise, live shows, or whatever else you can think of.

This concept is not new in the business world. It’s given names like freemium, content marketing, loss leaders, etc. In fact, I am putting my money where my mouth is with this very article, as I am writing it for free with the intention of you visiting our magazine, Think Like a Label. As an independent artist, you should remove any roadblocks that might prevent potential new fans from hearing your music. It is an ugly truth of the changing economics of the music business, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall. So, just give it away. Set the music free.

Industry Tips & Advice: How Record Labels Work by Allison Klein Pt 2

Organization of a Record Label

Remember that nowadays, many record companies are huge corporations that own a variety of record labels. For the most part, these companies are located in New York, Los Angeles or Nashville. These corporations usually consist of a parent company that owns more than one record label. For example, owns and . owns , and . In today’s economy, most large record companies are actually huge conglomerates that own a variety of subsidiary record labels. Often, the subsidiary labels are each mini-companies operating under the umbrella of the larger corporation.

To describe the hierarchy of a record company, it’s best to start at the top. The CEO (chief executive officer) is in charge of the business of the whole company. In addition, each label also has its own president. Under the president of the individual label, there are vice presidents in charge of different departments. Let’s take a look at the departments that make up a major record label:

  • A&R – The (artists and repertoire) department is often considered the most glamorous department at a record label. This is because A&R is in charge of discovering new talent. A&R people work very hands-on with the artists that they “sign.” (When a record label “signs” an artist, it simply means that the artist makes an exclusive contract with that record label.) They do everything from assisting with song selection to choosing the people that will produce the album to deciding where the album will be recorded. The people in this department work as the link between the recording artist and all the other departments of the record company.
  • Art Department – This department is in charge of all the artwork that goes along with producing an album. This includes cover art, advertisements and displays at music stores.
  • Artist Development – This department is responsible for planning the careers of the artists who are signed to the record label. It promotes and publicizes the artists over the course of their career. According to , many labels no longer have artist development departments. As record labels have come to see artists as products in recent years, some artist development departments have been renamed “Product Development.” Many insist that this is because the emphasis in the current music business is to promote artists very heavily in the beginning of their career, as opposed to long-term planning. *If you don’t want to be a “one-hit-wonder,” pay close attention to how the record label views this aspect of career planning.
  • Business Affairs – This department deals with the business side of things. It takes care of bookkeeping, payroll and general finances.
  • Label Liaison – This is usually one person, or small group of people, who serves as the liaison between the record company’s distribution company (either an entirely separate division under the huge corporate umbrella or an outside company responsible for getting the CDs into the stores) and the record company. The label liaison also helps decide when to release an album (when the album goes on sale to the public) and makes sure it doesn’t conflict with any of the other labels the record company owns.
  • Legal Department – This department is responsible for all the contracts that are made between the company and the artist, as well as contracts between the record label and other companies. Any legal issues that arise (such as lawsuits between an artist and the company) go through this department.
  • Marketing Department – This department creates the overall marketing plan for every album that the record company will release. It helps coordinate the plans of the promotion, sales and publicity departments.
  • New Media – This department is in charge of dealing with the newer aspects of the music business, including producing and promoting music videos for the artist. In addition, this department is often responsible for helping an artist create a presence on the Internet. It deals with the new technologies in which artists can stream music and music videos through the Internet.
  • Promotion Department – This department’s main purpose is to make sure that an artist is being played on the radio. It must get an artist’s new songs on the radio in order to ensure the future success of the record company. This department makes sure that all the other departments are communicating about the best way to sell the artist to the public. The promotion department may also try to get videos played on or channels. This can be the responsibility of this department or in conjunction with the New Media department.
  • Publicity – This group is responsible for getting the word out about a new or established artist. It arranges for articles to be written in newspapers and magazines. They also deal with and coverage of an artist. Many artists also have their own independent publicists who help coordinate publicity with this department as well.
  • Sales – This department oversees the retail aspect of the record business. It works with the record store chains and other music stores to get new albums onto retailers’ shelves. The sales department often coordinates these efforts with the promotion and publicity departments.

Remember that any given record label may have a slightly different organization. As large companies buy up smaller record labels, the organization of record companies changes a great deal. Most record companies have their own Web sites where you can find what labels the company owns and what artists the company is promoting. For more general information on record companies, check out and .

Why shop for a label?

Record companies (known as record labels because albums have a label indicating which company produced it) take on a lion’s share of the work of the music industry. They sign, develop, record, promote, publicize and sell music. Of course, all those things happen before the album ever gets into the store.

Record labels come in all sizes, from small independent labels run by one or two people to huge corporations made up of hundreds of people in dozens of departments. In fact, , the best known music industry publication, lists more than 2,000 record companies currently in operation. Music is big business. Successful records sell millions of copies and earn billions of dollars for the record



Quote Of The Day

New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.

Charles Lamb


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