AFRICAN MUSIC #1: Konono no. 1 from the Belgian Congo


The band was formed in Kinshasa, Belgian Congo and is specially known for the electric likembé, the instrument that three bandmembers use. The group´s full name is “L’orchestre folklorique T.P. Konono Nº1 de Mingiedi” and they have long lived with percussion instruments made from salvaged items from the backyard, improvised amplified devices, and few resources to live and perform.

While this group has existed since 1978, it was not until 2005 that they were worldwide known and even showcased their music in the festival Eurockéennes, France. Björk had them collaborate on the song “Earth intruders”

For sure there are many groups like Konono no.1 in the world and the questions that arises from the business point of view:

1) How are these artists being promoted? – before and after they are known-
2) Who is making the money? the record label, the manager, the artist…
3) Can countries like Congo benefit from these ´new ventures?

Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #9 EMINEM

Image(Picture source:

The purpose of this blog is to inform the class of America’s “Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012” and the various business ventures in different industries that contributed to their individual successes.

Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #9 EMINEM

Name: Marshall Bruce Mathers III

Stage Name: EMINEM

Age: 39

Forbes Celebrity List: #71 out of 100

Forbes Hip Hop’s Top Earners List: #9 of 9

How Much??? $15 MILLION

What more could you ask for from a guy who sold over 32 million copies in his music career and has 13 Grammy’s under his belt? Nothing.

But Eminem decided to add to his already impressive resume by starting his own record company in 1999 called Shady Records and signing big-time acts such as D12, 50 Cent, Royce Da 5’9, Joe Budden, Slaughterhouse, and Joell Ortiz (just to name a few). In 2002, he took the film industry by storm, playing a leading role in a feature film called 8 Mile. The film grossed over $242,875,078 and won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song.” In 2003, Eminem made a huge splash in the fashion industry with his brand and clothing line, Shady Ltd., making an instant impact on urbanwear. (Shady Ltd. was eventually acquired by Rocawear, Jay-Z’s clothing line.) He also created his own radio channel, Shade 45, which first aired on Sirius XM Radio in 2004, featuring different hip hop artists and DJs while giving a platform for Eminem to connect with his fans all around the world. The popularity of his channel has been growing ever since.

Today, although he is not as active as before in front of the camera, he has been working fervently behind the scenes on many different projects as a music producer. He also announced in July 2012 that he was currently working on his 8th studio album that will be released sometime in 2013. He has made special cameo appearances in different films and television series such as Funny People and The Entourage.

From music, to movies, to TV and fashion, Eminem has made his an everlasting mark in the entertainment industry – easily placing him as the 9th most successful and influential hip hop entrepreneur in the year of 2012 with $15 Million.

(In a couple days, I will post up #8! So please stay tuned! Let’s count down to #1 together!)

By: Aaron Kim (Duke)


Marketing tools- Band of the day apps

After introducing a website to produce your own artist apps, this is an apps that could be used for independent artist as another marketing tool to gain their fans database and exposure!!!

Description of Band of the day: Band Of the Day is the world’s first daily music magazine built solely for mobile devices. Surpassing traditional music magazines, Band of the Day delivers a new artist or band every single day through expert curation and engaging reviews, as well as full streams of the artist’s top songs, videos, photographs and more. A new band in your pocket, everyday. Listen, Discover, Share.

I like the concept of the apps that gives every artist an opportunities and a platform to show out their talent on music, manager or artist themselves can choose this as one of the marketing tool to promote and expose themselves to the audience. By the way, this apps will also help artist manager or record company to explore potential artist.

Using Artist Apps as a marketing tools

I’m tried to embed the environment of Chinese music, Chinese culture and Chinese artist into my articles with the topic i will discuss (Artist Apps) and bring out my perspective on it.

LeeHom Wang, an American-born Chinese artist has just launched his personal “ Lee Hom mobile APP” in Apple App Store 2 days ago, which act as a transmission platform, will completely break through the original path of issuing entity album.  The APP allowed user to buy his latest single or album, grasp the first hand information in a fun and interactive way, and allowed user to share the information through their social network. By the way, the APP’s supported by Chinese and English Language so it is not only focus on Chinese market but international market.

Leehom Wang王力宏-Heroes of Earth盖世英雄

(song- Heroes of Earth (蓋世英雄)
Not only that Wang invite the popular Chinese American rapper Jin to rap in the song, he also invited the famous Chinese opera singer Li Yan [4]. Heavy Peking Opera and kunqu tactics are used in the song, as well as an electric guitar solo by Wang. Jin raps in both English and Cantonese in the song.)
[Details on other song from Leehom Wang Heroes of Earth,2005

First of all, I would like to introduce LeeHom Wang to you, he is a talented and famous Chinese artist who coined a music style “ Chinked-out” – incorporated the often unheard tribal sounds of aboriginal Chinese music, Tibetan music, and Mongolian music into R&B and hip hop music. He is an American-born singer-songwriter, record producer, actor and film director of Chinese descent based in Taiwan. Formally trained at the Eastman School of Music, Williams College and Berklee College of Music, his musical style is known for fusing Chinese elements (such as Beijing opera, traditional styles of ethnic minorities, Chinese classical orchestra) with hip-hop and R&B. Wang has been active since 1995 and contributed in 25 albums. He is also a four-time winner of Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards, the “Grammys” of Taiwanese music. By the way, he had about twenty million followers on his Weibo (Chinese version of facebook) that is the artist who had the most followers on Weibo and also huge amount of follower on his facebook so his influence is strong among the Chinese Music Industry.

[More personal details on;

LeeHom found out that piracy and illegal download music from Internet has always been a problem that leads people refused to buy entity album and some of the Asian countries still have not adapted the culture of buying music through internet. With converse thinking, rather than called for people to buy entity albums or waiting for them to adapt the culture of buying music through Internet, why not integrated the power of his significant fans database and their behavior of listen music online to create a digital platform as a marketing tool that people can indirectly been guided and educated to buy legal music through internet.Through the artist APP platform, the bargain power could shift from the consumer back to the producer (the artist) or some new level of equilibrium so artist or record label may have some of the power to guide people purchase legal music.

By the way, piracy or download illegal music already become a culture in some of the Asian countries before people been educated to buy legal music,government try to solve this problem by introduce some copyright protection rules or laws but still under development and this take times and the law might not work. Instead of panic on piracy problem and waiting the problem been fixed, the Chinese artist realized that the power of pirates can make money for them. Chris Anderson mentioned that “ Pirates will pirate a CD, which creates celebrity, which you can use to create cash not on music sales but from making personal appearances, starring in advertisements, etc.” (wired,2009)

Nevertheless, if the artist did not have a significant amount of fans, will it still worth to have their mobile Apps? Yes, why not? This is still a marketing tool that can be use for artist to build their fans database, create a free music platform at the beginning to interact with those potential and existed fans by turning them into a super fans!

This is a link that artist cans create his or her own artist app:



This post series will discuss some ideas to help musicians, music entrepreneurs and managers think outside of the box and take creativity as their main tool. The first post will present is a business idea I had 2 weeks ago that I’d like to share.



Problem: musicians beg to play live when they are starting out, even if they have a high quality as performers there are some facts they have to deal when trying to get a deal with a venue:

1-    High costs of a personal manager and booking agent.

2-    No contacts or known network to make a deal with a venue.

3-    Dissonance with the music the venue they are trying to reach (ex: a punk band playing in a jazz club)

4-    No strategic plan on touring, just isolated gigs.

So here’s the idea: create a web portal designed to give musicians the change to play live WHERE they want, WHEN they want and WITH whom they want (5 acts per night), the mechanic is similar to Groupon. Musician’s can register for free on TICKSTAGE and look up for venues to play for a minimum rate (small bands $300) or (mid sized bands ($500), they can filter the area they want to play, the preferred style of music and the day they want to play, charges can apply depending on the day chosen (weekend, holidays, etc).

Also, they can taylor make a TOUR PLAN for a flat rate, strategic planning for this service is free when signing for 10 or more gigs (ex: local tour, 10 concerts for $2000, the band will have $1000 in return from TICKSTAGE if the past concerts had 50% of positive reviews from the venues).

TICKSTAGE can start by building a 50+ database with local venues, first local, then regional, then global. These venues will benefit by getting their night spaced filled up every day, with the band’s payment in advance. The venues could have the right to pre-select each band without having to actually listen then, TICKSTAGE could confirm the band’s quality by giving 4 or 5 stars, 3 stars or less will depend on the venue’s taste. 90% of the band’s payment will go to the venues, while 10% will go to TICKSTAGE.


–       Reverbnation/live nation: just promotion, not real deals with venues.

–       Nuevostage: the most similar, but “only a few” get to play, and just in empty spaces (probably w/no people as well –too early, too late-).

–       Girando por Salas: supports bands that want to play live, but it’s contest-based, just a FEW get the chance to play live.

–       Bands in town: just informative, descriptive, no interaction for bands, just for fans (no room for beginners)

Some basic SWOT to consider:

Strenghts: unique service

Opportunities: thousands of unsigned artists/venues (make exclusivity contracts with them)… hundreds of opinion leaders.

Weakness: initial investment

Threats: big companies could copy this model without giving EVERY band the chance to freely play live wherever they want.

Investors invited…

Media Consolidation in the US


This illustration (above) hits certain points that go beyond statistics and its nicely designed visuals.

It is overwhelming because it confronts the average person to continually rethink the source of their entertainment and mass media consumption. Most likely these major players in US media are ruthless in consolidation, through joint ventures, alliances and so on, essentially to prevent financial instability. In my opinion perhaps that is why they are acquiring as much as they can, every possible player in the industry that they regard as a threat.

Consequently this illustration does not take into account implications stemming from the new challenges brought about by the digital and social media revolution these past few years. Even so, these companies have all existed long before the advent of blogs, social media etc. and have the influence, resources and power to keep them very much afloat to this day.

It would be interesting to come up with a version of this for other regions especially in the fast-growing economies outside North America and Europe. Are the traditional media players in the US now culminating into something that is sort of a dead end? What is next?

It is an endless debate on government regulation, undemocratic practices and other economic and social effects. But overall I think this illustration does a good job in communicating quickly what would otherwise be more difficult to understand in accounting documents or as a case study.


Source: (complete illustration here)

And in today’s forecast: Blue Velvet with a chance of silver lining…

As I continue to figure out exactly what I would like my blog entries to focus on during this semester, I figured I would write about a current musical icon that we inhabitants of Valencia (and probably the rest of the world) can’t seem to escape seeing on the billboard of every street: Miss Lana Del Rey. It’s quite interesting actually… she has been the topic of discussion in a number of classes here at Berklee Valencia. To see her face pop up on every billboard around the city… It’s almost as if her ears were burning.

Anyway, to explain why Lana’s ‘I don’t care about anything’/deer in headlights facial expressions are pasted all over town.

Recently, Miss Del Rey partnered with the famous clothing chain, H&M, to launch their new LA Noir line. Being a fan of H&M myself (as well as a big fan of Del Rey), I have shopped there a couple of times since being in Spain, and her vintage-esqe voice on her exclusively for H&M track “Blue Velvet” has filled my ears numerous times as I combed through racks and stacks to find articles of clothing that are particularly my taste… and maybe even resemble a bit of Lana’s image.

The discussions that we have had in class about Lana focus on her ultimate failure performance on SNL as she performed “Video Games”. Although she has laid low on the live performance scene since then, Del Rey hasn’t failed in producing and releasing (in my opinion) amazingly beautiful cinematographic and artistic music videos that perfectly reflect the dramatic, sad, emotional, and lovingly passionate music and lyrics that make Lana who she is. I would say her image and these videos, in addition to her album, have helped to keep her afloat.
And as the time has passed, I think she and her team have seen and evaluated the mistakes they made and are using H&M as a popular platform to bring her back to a better standing position in the music world.
It will be interesting to see how this campaign works for Del Rey’s career; whether it will help or harm it. Possibly, this could be the focus of my blog entries; observing the way major companies and brands can help to revive or improve the career and campaigns of artists: new, established, struggling, or come-back. I believe this partnership between Del Rey and H&M will truly be a test to see if her SNL dive was enough to completely ruin her forever or if you can truly come back strongly after such a huge mistake.

NOTE: I stumbled across this article this morning. Apparently Miss Lana performed at the release party of the Jaguar F-Type in Paris and seems to be putting her stamp on luxury vehicles now. You go girl…

Is the music industry run by “arrogant and outdated dinosaurs?”

“You need to understand that some labels are run by arrogant and outdated dinosaurs who have been in business for 1000 years. These guys think an iPad is a facial treatment, the Internet is the devil, and wired phones are still hip. They are in denial about the new realities and opportunities. They don’t understand that the rip-off days are over. Artists are more educated than ever about how they are getting ripped off and how the big labels only look after themselves.” – Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom is the name behind the controversial streaming site Megaupload. He has hinted that the website will relaunch before the end of the year under the new name, Megabox. It will be an artist-to-fan music platform with the purpose of allowing artists to sell music directly to fans and gain 90% of the revenue generated, hence “unchaining” consumers from the music industry.

According to, the site will give users a choice of two. They can either pay for the music, like iTunes, or they can get it for free by installing a “Megakey” software that replaces about 15% of the ads served up by the website with ads hosted by Megabox. Details on the site are still rather vague but Dotcom seems certain that this time it will be impossible to shut him down. Arrogance or confidence? We’ll have to wait and see! If this works it could be a major game changer in the music industry.

Tweeting earlier this week, Dotcom released a video previewing his upcoming Megabox site saying “The Making of Megabox. Unchaining artists and fans. Coming soon.”
As of yet, no launch date has been announced. Dotcom is working closely with his lawyers to ensure that the site has “ironclad legal protection” and will be free of the legal controversies that dogged his Megaupload site that was taken down by the US Department of Justice in January 2012. Dotcom and his partners were arrested for allegedly operating as an organization dedicated to copyright infringement and encouraging online piracy. However, the case has been stalled due to a ruling that his home was illegally searched.


Wrestling and Rock and Roll always seemed to be a right match for each other, from CYNDI LAUPER as WENDI RICHTER’s WWF manager in the 1980’s to when GWAR’s lead singer, ODERUS URUNGUS jumped into the ring to fight TRACY SMOTHERS in 2009. More recently however bands have been incorporating pro wrestling into their live performances but taking it to new extremes.

EAT THE TURNBUCKLE is a band from Philadelphia, PA I caught opening for THE MENTORS (EL DUCE’S old band) on August 29th, 2012 at PORT 41 in Hell’s Kitchen. EAT THE TURNBUCKLE has six band members, two of which are singers; one is dressed as a bucher, the other has a chain and padlock around his neck and is armed with cheese graters on his forearms. EAT THE TURNBUCKLE began their set with the butcher pulling two ends of barbed wire across another band members head with his foot on his back, while the rest of the band built up the sound then broke into the first song.

All while they played things were flying around, trash can lids were getting smashed on band member’s heads, but my personal favorite was the fluorescent tube light bulbs that they would break over each others heads every now and then that would pop and shatter.

The energy at the show was great, and definitely an entertaining act, as long as you are not in the middle of the action… but is the world really ready for this extreme music sport? Maybe not your average top 40 listener, but there is definitely a home for “ULTRA-VIOLENT DEATH MATCH ROCK AND ROLL” the Hardcore Scene.



Tips for “indie” label success; Lessons to be learned from Mad Decent

In a world of corporate buyouts, mergers, and partnerships of huge media conglomerations, it’s no doubt that competition is tough for indie labels with big dreams.  When cash is king, how do smaller labels manage to take home their slice of the pie?

Today I’ll be looking at an American label that has become a tastemaker on a global scale in just five years from its inception.  Based out of Philadelphia as the brainchild of hyperactive non-stopping producer, DJ, songwriter, rapper, author and filmmaker Diplo (Whomas Wesley Pentz), Mad Decent is constantly pushing the limits and perceptions of what a record label is and how it should function.  For new labels, here are lessons to be learned from this forward thinking creative platform.

1. Let talent and taste guide you, not norms.

Baile Funk (Blonde de Rolê), Dancehall (Major Lazer), Progressive Kuduro (Buraka Som Sistema) and Post Trap (Flosstradamus, UZ) are just some of the genres housed under Mad Decent.

The label goes for sounds that feel like night and day when compared side by side.   The reason?  Diplo strongly feels the organization shouldn’t limit itself to one genre, but rather approach acquisition of artists based first and furthermost by talent and innovation, no matter what the category may be.

“At Mad Decent, we see what has always driven this culture and this movement has been the side stages, the underground, the kids taking chances and doing something different. Electronic music was a rebellion against the same old rock songs and messages and fashion. But that’s already what I see with the Top 10 DJ’s doing the same shit over and over, and festivals perpetuating it. It’s not for me, it never has been. I’ve always tried to nurture new sounds and help shed lights on what’s exciting and what’s moving music forward.” – Diplo

2.  Take chances in acts you believe in

“The label is definitely about trying out different experiments and seeing which ones stick and not really being jammed into a certain genre.” – Mad Decent artist Bosco Delrey

“The business side that I see from Mad Decent is that they reinvest to create a happy environment for people to release their music,” Bot says. “It’s about growing and building, and supporting new artists. That’s by far more interesting than the traditional label model of ‘let’s make the most money we can.’” – Andrea “Bot” Fratangelo, one half of Mad Decent production duo Crookers.

3. Give back (Mad Decent Block Parties & Heaps Decent)

Mad Decent Block Parties have taken over neighborhoods across the United States in the past few years, offering free entry and showcasing the label’s established artists and new talent.  This summer’s Chicago block party was so popular that fans rushed the barriers and the event was shut down due to over-capacity.  Free events like this help build loyalty of long time fans and attract new ones at the same time.

A little good will never hurt an organization’s image, either.  Heaps Decent is “committed to finding and nurturing the creativity of underprivileged and Indigenous young people and emerging artists.”  The Austrailian-based non profit organization co-created by Diplo provides resources to help talent develop their musical careers and promote creativity.