Archive for January 9, 2012

Politics: How Banks Cheat Taxpayers

A good friend of mine sent me a link to a small story last week, something that deserves a little attention, post-factum.

The Bloomberg piece is about J.P. Morgan Chase winning a bid to be the lead underwriter on a $400 million bond issue by the state of Massachusetts. Chase was up against Merrill for the bid and won the race with an offer of a 2.57% interest rate, beating Merrill’s bid of 2.79. The difference in the bid saved the state of Massachusetts $880,000.

Afterward, Massachusetts state treasurer Steven Grossman breezily played up the benefits of a competitive bid. “There’s always a certain amount of competition going on out there,” Grossman said in a telephone interview yesterday. “That’s good. We like competition.”

Well … so what, right? Two banks fight over the right to be the government’s underwriter, one submits a more competitive bid, the taxpayer saves money, and everyone wins. That’s the way it ought to be, correct?

Correct. Except in four out of five cases, it still doesn’t happen that way. From the same piece [emphasis mine]:

Nationwide, about 20 percent of debt issued by states and local governments is sold through competitive bids. Issuers post public notices asking banks to make proposals and award the debt to the bidder offering the lowest interest cost. The other 80 percent are done through negotiated underwriting, where municipalities select a bank to price and sell the bonds.

By “negotiated underwriting,” what Bloomberg means is, “local governments just hand the bid over to the bank that tosses enough combined hard and soft money at the right politicians.”

There is absolutely no good reason why all debt issues are not put up to competitive bids. This is not like defense contracting, where in some situations it is at least theoretically possible that X or Y company is the world’s only competent manufacturer, say, of armor-plated Humvee doors, or some such thing. It’s still wrong and perverse when companies like Halliburton or Blackwater get sole-source defense contracts, but at least there’s some kind of theoretical justification there.

But this is a bond issue, not rocket science. In most cases, all the top investment banks will offer virtually the same service, with only the price varying. Towns and cities and states lose billions of dollars every year allowing financial services companies to overcharge them for underwriting.

It gets even worse in the derivatives markets, where banks routinely overcharge state and local governments for things like interest rate swaps, for one very obvious reason – swaps are not traded on open exchanges, so only the banks know how to price them.

Imagine what NFL gambling would be like if the casinos didn’t publish the point spreads every week, and you’ll get a rough idea of how the swap market works. If you couldn’t look it up, how many points would you give the Dolphins against the Jets next week? Two? Five? Seven? The big casinos know, because they’re taking all that action, that the real number is one point.

In the same vein, exactly how accurately do you think some local county treasurer might be able to guess the cost of an interest rate swap for his local school system? Answer: he’d probably do about as well as you or I would, guessing the odds on a Croatian soccer match.

The big banks know this, which is why there should never, ever be non-competitive bids for those sorts of financial services. In a sole-source contract for a swap deal, you’re trusting a (probably corrupt) Too-Big-To-Fail bank to give you a good deal for a product whose price is not publicly listed anywhere.

There have been numerous investigations and lawsuits across the world connected with this sort of systematic overcharging, from Erie, Pennsylvania to the notorious Jefferson County, Alabama case, to Milan, Italy (which sued Chase and four other banks for misleading them about derivative prices).

In the Erie case, Chase recommended to the locals that they hire a financial adviser to review the deal. What they didn’t tell the local government was that Chase had paid a fee to this adviser, a firm called Investment Management Advisory Group Inc., or IMAGE. They pulled the same scam with the school district of Butler County, Pennsylvania.

And in the oft-discussed Jefferson County case alone, Chase reportedly overcharged the locals $100 million for the crooked swap deals that, in a completely separate outrage, will probably leave Birmingham bankrupt for the next generation.

All of which is exactly what people like the OWS protesters are complaining about when they talk about greed and excess on Wall Street. Nobody is begrudging a bank’s desire to make money, and nobody is saying a bank shouldn’t be allowed to make money, even a lot of money, performing legitimate services for the state and the taxpayer.

But when you put a thumb on the scale in a financial services contract, the costs start to get outrageous very quickly. The banks would still do a very crisp, almost effortlessly lucrative business if they just stuck to submitting competitive bids for legitimate work – but instead of that, they for some reason have to game the system, grease politicians, rig bids, and stick the taxpayer with overpriced products. Which sucks, of course. Hopefully politicians will catch on and go the Massachusetts route more often.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/how-banks-cheat-taxpayers-20111227#ixzz1iw1vt0zj

Humor: Kevin Hart a.k.a “Chocolate Droppa” Drops New Video

New Music: Jay-Z “Glory” (feat. Blue Ivy carter)

Music Video: Young Chris, Tone Trump, and Fred The GodSon Live In NYC

Industry Tips and Advice: Writing Music For Television.

Written by Michael Klasgow

I recently wrote about recognizing opportunity and then seizing it. In this article, I’m going to make it even easier for you. I’m going to show you the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to make money with your music.

I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out for yourself yet. You stare at it night after night, and it stares right back at you. As a matter of fact, it even talks to you (and millions of other people). That’s right you slackers, wake up and smell the half-caff, low-fat, double mocha-latte, it’s your TV!

Think about it. In the early days of television there were only three networks and only slightly more channels. With the advent of cable and Direct Satellite transmission, the average American home has 60-100 channels of programming and virtually every show needs music. Even better—there are a lot more countries other than the U.S. that have TV’s with music hungry programs, and more channels are popping up every day.

Let’s see… you’ve got your big time networks, then you’ve got your not so big networks (I hate the frog with the top hat logo—really dumb), you’ve got your food networks, your travel networks, your hunting networks, your fishing networks, your beauty networks, your health networks, your classic movie networks, your porno movie networks, your “classic” porno networks, your religion networks, your fire-breathin’ heathen networks, and God only knows what else. My point? They all have programming that needs music!

So where does all that music come from? Most of it comes from people like you. If you think all those shows have high priced music houses do custom scoring for them, think again. The majority of the music you hear on TV comes from what are commonly called production music libraries (they used to be called needle-drop libraries, but for obvious reasons, they’re not any more).

Production music libraries buy much of their music from people who work out of home or project studios. You don’t need to have an arsenal of equipment. A studio with MIDI and at least eight tracks should do the trick. If you can afford to go digital, so much the better—not because anybody listening at home will have a clue that they’re listening to a digital recording, but because it allows you to bounce tracks more cleanly, thus needing less tracks, and keeping the cost of your studio to a minimum.

So, what’s the next step? Well, you need to know that making music for TV isn’t like making records, and it isn’t like making demos. The quality of your recording has to be what is commonly called, “Master Quality.” In short, that means, better than a demo, but not necessarily as good as a record. The companies that buy or use these tracks are not looking for good compositions that need to be re-recorded. They want something that’s done, finished, complete, finito. They want a mix done to DAT that they can then use in their library, or master on to a CD. No re-cutting, no re-mixing.

Many libraries house their most popular cuts on CD volumes that are often categorized by type of music. Some categories that typically get requested by end users are: Jazz (of all types), Rock, R&B, Country, Alternative, Horrific, Serial Dramatic, 50′s, 60′s, yep, even 70′s period music, Rap, Anthemic (think Marlboro man meets Francis Scott Key), World Beat, Ethnic, Corporate—in short, just about every kind of music is needed for something sooner or later.

Tracks for TV, radio, documentaries, and corporate videos are usually requested in lengths of :2, :5, :10, :15, :30, :60, and 3:00. Most libraries will ask for a specific track in all or most of the aforementioned lengths. Some lengths are used for TV commercials, some are for radio, some are used for station I.D.’s, and some are used for cues in films. Be prepared to write your tracks so they are easily editable to the shorter lengths from the longer “parent” track, and make sure the tracks have a button, or closed ending. That simply means the tracks ends on a beat, not a fade, and by the way, should somebody tell you they need a :30 track, they really mean they need a :29.5 (reverb decay included), a :60 should be :59.5 and so on. If the tracks are too long, they will be cut off by the next commercial or segment of the TV show. Golden rule: never go over the allotted time. Come in just short, ring out included.

The exception to the button ending, timed to perfection track is when the film or TV show needs a song with lyrics, not just an instrumental track. There are often cases where a scene requires something that sounds like a hit song, but has never actually been a hit. It’s cheaper to license a song from somebody who is “nobody” than it is to license a song from a major superstar. In fact, it can be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper. My advice—try to license the stuff that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while and has no great probability of ever being a hit. Save your best for Clive Davis if your ultimate goal is to get a record deal.

Speaking of record deals… I realize that for many people a record deal is the brass ring they’re after, but the truth of the matter is that getting a deal on a major label is very, very hard, and getting a deal on many indie labels means that you’ve just signed with a label that can give you lots of attention, but they have no marketing machine or promotion money behind them so your record is doomed.

I’m guessing that most of you who are reading this column would be very happy to just make a living doing nothing else but music, and the most realistic way I know how to do that is to get your music in to TV shows and film. You probably won’t make millions, but you can earn a very nice living.

I know of quite a few people who subscribe to my service (TAXI), who have been successful in getting their music into music libraries, who in turn have placed their music in T.V shows and films. One of our subscribers makes over $100,000 a year working from his home doing music for film and TV, and another was recently able to quit his day job as a phone line installer (with 20 years seniority) because he is becoming very successful doing music for film and TV Nice work if you can get it!

One of our subscribers had three songs picked up by the show, Sisters on NBC last year and between his publishing income and his performing rights income (in this case, ASCAP), he made about $1,700 per song for a grand total of $5,100. While he didn’t make a fortune, at least he made a nice chunk of change and some credits on a national TV show.

The bottom line is that if you get off the couch and get motivated, you can make enough money making music to quit your day job. One word of advice—the companies that need this music won’t track you down, you’ll need figure out who they are and how to make contact with them. Hint: The networks themselves aren’t the people to call. Try to find music libraries, publishers who regularly work in film and TV, and music supervisors working on film and TV projects. There are directories that list some of these companies. Work on your phone presentation before you call—be succinct, keep the conversation very short and very to the point.

Happy hunting!



New Music: Common – “Stay Schemin” Remix (Drake Diss)


Drake’s Lyrics:

It bothers me when the Gods get to acting like the broads
Guess every team doesn’t come complete with niggas like ours
Thats why I see no need to compete with niggas like y’all
I just ask them when you see me you speak up nigga thats all
Don’t be ducking like you never wanted nothing
Its feeling like rap changed, there was a time it was rugged
Back when if a nigga reached it was for the weapon
Nowadays niggas reach just to sell they record
Spaghetti bolognese in Appolo lounge
Me and my G from DC thats how I roll around
Might look light, but we heavy though
You think Drake will pull some shit like that you never know
Million dollar meetings in appollo lounge
Me and my man all Oliver North thats how I roll around
Shawty wanna tell me secrets ’bout a rap nigga
I tell a bitch its more attractive when you hold it down
Kobe ’bout to lose a hundred fifty M’s
Kobe my nigga I hate it, had to be him
Bitch you wasn’t with me shooting in the gym
(Bitch you wasn’t with me shooting in the gym)
Tell Lucien I said f-ck it I’m tearing holes in my budget
Bag her like we in Publix and take her ass out in public
Ordered it a filet tell her butterfly she’ll love it
She used to soda and nuggets she really just out here thuggin’
Im just hittin my pinnacle you and pussy identical
You like the f-ckin finish line we can’t wait to run into you
But let me get my mind of that
Young rich muthaf-cker getting mine off rap
with my niggas

Common’s Lyrics:

My motto is Chicago, bitch
Everybody know you sweet, what the problem is
Don’t play dumb, I’m the one that acknowledged it
Son of a bitch, I imagine what your father is
She said, “How you make your opponent, the rapper of the moment?”
His style, he don’t own it
Acting all hard when he hardly like that
You gon’ mess around and make me catch a body like that, ooooh
Don’t do it
‘Cause every song you make Joe is really hoe music
I heard you said you wasn’t a bitch because you sing
You a bitch because you cling like a bitch that’s eighteen
Can’t say my name but rap about a nigga’s wife
You so black and white, tryna to live a nigga’s life
I’m taking too long with this amateur guy
You ain’t wet nobody, nigga, you Canada dry

[Common talking]
Soft nigga, make no mistake, I’m talking to Drake
It’s the remix. Rick Ross, Common, and that hoe ass nigga
No, man-to-man, don’t hide behind them other niggas
Nah, this man-to-man. You can’t run behind them man
This is some real man shit right here

Article: Adele For ‘Artist Of The Year’

Adele owned 2011. The kicky, 23-year-old British singer released her second album, the break-up requiem “21,” in February, and in barely 11 months, she has already sold more than any artist in the world, currently inching towards 13 million globally. But it wasn’t just heartbreak that made her popular. In contemporary music, Adele is one of a kind, a woman who thrives off no bells and whistles, just pure personality and talent (and the ability to make the toughest curmudgeon cry).

Despite it all, Adele has been living in exile, of sorts. After having surgery to remove a benign polyp from her throat, she was not allowed to speak for weeks, never mind sing — and, as readers of her blog know, she wasn’t quite feeling it. We emailed her a few days before she was nominated for six Grammys (by which she expects to be vocally recovered) to discuss her latest live DVD, her astronomical success and, naturally, true love.

Billboard ask : In your “Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall” DVD/CD, you talk about your cover of The Cure’s “Love Song,” and how your mum used to play it for you when you were little. Does she love that you covered it? How much in general has your family influenced where you are now, and what do they think of your success?

My mum loves that I covered a Cure song, yes. I remember their records being a huge part of my early life. The soundtracks to some of my first and fondest memories. They’re a bigger part of my life now than they were then because I reference them in my writing and I’m aware I’m inspired by them.   

My family are obviously a huge part of where I am now, but my music and certainly my career are very separate from my home life. I don’t and never have involved them in it but they’ve never gotten in the way of it either.  They’ve always encouraged and loved what I’ve done from the moment I took an interest in music. I think they’re as baffled by my success as I am. I don’t ask my loved ones how they feel about it actually! There’s too much other stuff to catch up on when we see each other.

source: www.billboard.com

Sports: Giants Run All Over The Falcons For a 24-2 Victory.

It seemed like all the missing pieces – defense and a running game – are aligning at the right time for Eli Manning and the New York Giants. And just in time to play the Packers.

After routing the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 Sunday in the NFC wild-card game, the Giants head to Green Bay next weekend, a place where they will need all the help they can muster.

Manning carried the Giants (10-7) for much of the season, hoping the defense would get stingy, the pass rush would materialize and the running game would get on track. Now, all of that is happening.

“A great mix of run and pass and these guys have a great understanding of what our offense is,” Manning said of the help he’s receiving. “If we can get that run game going like we did in the second half, that opens up a lot of windows.”

And if the defense remains impenetrable, watch out.

“If we can play defense like that, we will continue to make ourselves heard in this tournament,” coach Tom Coughlin said.

Manning punctuated his best pro season by throwing for three touchdowns and scrambling for a 14-yard gain that woke up New York’s offense in its first postseason victory since its Super Bowl upset of undefeated New England four years ago. Next up is as big a challenge: the defending champion Packers (15-1), who won here 38-35 in December.

`’We know they are a good team,” Manning said. “We played them tough here, did some good things here, we scored some points. We know offensively we are going to have to play strong, score some points.”

The team that couldn’t run the ball will be sprinting there, bringing along a defense the Packers actually might fear. Not to mention the passing offense led by Manning, who hooked up on a 72-yard catch and run by Hakeem Nicks in the third quarter that put away the inept Falcons (10-7). Manning also connected on a 4-yard TD with Nicks in the second period, and a 27-yard TD throw to Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter that finished it off.

The Giants’ last postseason trip to frigid Lambeau Field was a 23-20 overtime victory for the NFC championship two weeks before they upset the Patriots.

“Cold, I remember that. I remember coach Coughlin’s face. I remember (tackle) David Diehl sweating and it froze on his hair and he had icicles on his hair,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “And I remember us winning.

“Hopefully, we can go back there and do it again.”

The tempo in the first playoff game at MetLife Stadium was set by New York’s defense, which never allowed Atlanta to get going, and by the league’s lowest-ranked rushing game, which ran for a season-high 172 yards, 92 by Brandon Jacobs and 63 by Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants averaged 5.5 yards a carry, 2 yards more than in the regular season.

For all of Jacobs’ and Bradshaw’s success, it was Manning’s escape and 14-yard dash on third down in the second period that got the Giants rolling. Jacobs soon broke a 34-yard run, and Manning hit Nicks on a post pattern to put the Giants up 7-2.

“I don’t think anyone is game-planning for me to run the ball,” Manning said, “but obviously there were a couple of situations where you have to do it. I am not scared of running to get a few yards.”

The Giants never really had to look back as the Falcons bumbled their way to their third straight playoff loss under coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.

New York was aided greatly by Atlanta’s penchant for gambling on fourth downs – and failing. Twice the Giants stymied the Falcons on fourth-and-1 as Ryan’s sneaks went nowhere. The defense also stopped Michael Turner, supposedly the most effective runner on the field, on a third-and-inches late in the third period.

“That really inspired everybody, to be honest with you,” Coughlin said. “Those plays that our defense made really inspired everybody.

“Our defense played great, kept us in the lead,” Manning said.

Other than some sporadic movement, Atlanta’s offense was incompetent – particularly in short yardage.

“It’s less than a yard, less than half of a yard. It’s a play we go through all the time,” Smith said. “I felt it was the right play both times, but we didn’t execute. We should be able to move the ball there.”

Both offenses sputtered in the first half with an assortment of penalties, drops and poor throws.

When the Falcons wheeled out the no-huddle offense, though, they marched from their 10 to a fourth-and 1 at the New York 24. On the first play of the second quarter, Ryan was stacked up on his sneak.

Giants would then take over but not for long.

Giants guard Chris Snee was called for holding, and, from his 13, Manning was pressured back into the end zone by James Sanders. He threw the ball away to avoid the sack, resulting in a safety.

New York had its own fourth-and-inches run on its first touchdown drive. Jacobs ran over safety Thomas DeCoud on the play from the Atlanta 6.

Nicks caught his post pattern over Dominique Franks, the fill-in for injured cornerback Brent Grimes, to make it 7-2.

Notes: It was the first time a team scored exactly two points in an NFL postseason game. … The Giants’ most recent home playoff victory was a 41-0 rout of Minnesota for the 2000 NFC title. … Atlanta’s last playoff win was in 2005 over St. Louis when Michael Vick still was the Falcons’ quarterback. … Ryan was 24 for 41 for 199 yards and was sacked twice. .. There were no turnovers in the game. … Giants CB Aaron Ross and RB D.J. Ware left with concussions. … Gonzalez is 0-5 in playoff games in his 15-year career.

read full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Industry Tips & Advice: How Music Licensing Works by Marshall Brain Pt 3

The television hit “American Idol” features new singers performing songs made famous by other performers.

Image courtesy

Licensing the Song

In the case of a “real song”, like something you would hear on a top-40 radio play-list, there are several different parties involved with the song:

  • The label owns the actual sound recording — the performance of the song as recorded in the label’s studio.
  • The publisher works on behalf of the song’s composer (the person who arranged the music) and songwriter (the person who wrote the lyrics). The composer and songwriter probably own the actual copyrights for the song, and the publisher represents them in all business dealings.

If you want to use a song for any reason, you have to somehow obtain rights at least from the publisher, and possibly from the label as well (if you are planning to use a specific performance). Here are just a few examples of when you need to obtain rights:

  • You own a station and you want to play a song on your station.
  • You own a and you want to play songs as background music.
  • You are making a commercial and you want to use a song in the commercial.
  • You are making a toy and you want it to play a song when a child pushes a button.
  • You are making a video production and you want a song as background music.

Perhaps half a billion dollars trade hands every year through licensing fees.

With each of these American Idol contestants performing hits from famous recording artists, obtaining music rights must be a big concern for the folks at FOX.

Photo courtesy



Quote Of The Day

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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