Artiste Connect

Artiste Connect is the Philippines’ first crowdfunding site for creative projects. Launched last May 2012, it works similarly to services like Kickstarter that help artists start and fund their projects. Artisteconnect has projects ranging from film, music, design and various social causes.

Artisteconnect gets 10% of the amount of the funds used to launch a project which goes to maintenance of the site and other administrative fees such as legal, accounting and marketing. This is excluding other fees such as credit card and paypal fees. On top of patrons and supporters that come in because they are attracted to the actual projects, Artisteconnect’s founders and programmers are still in the works of furthering the service and crowdfunding site, eyeing to get more long-term investors who support their advocacy. Artisteconnect currently has just around over a hundred projects and it seeks to expand its audience to other Asian countries in the next few years.

Ang Nawawala (“What isn’t there”) is an example of a successfully funded Artisteconnect project that combines different actors, filmmakers and independent Filipino musicians into one delightfully made independent film. It made its way this year to the Cinemalaya Festival in Manila, a major film festival in the Philippines.

Around 150,000 Philippine Pesos (or around 4,000 USD) was needed for the release and distribution of the film. Based on Artisteconnect, a pledge of:

500.00 or ($12.23)

: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

1,000.00 or ($24.47)

: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

2,000.00 or ($48.94)

: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

3,000.00 or ($73.42)

: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

5,000.00 or ($122.37)

: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) OR Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

8,000.00 or ($195.79)

: Theatrical poster 
: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) AND Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

10,000.00 or ($244.74)

: Ang Nawawala DVD 
: Signed script (director and writers) 
: Theatrical poster 
: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) AND Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

15,000.00 or ($367.11)

: Signed script (main cast, director and writers) 
: Ang Nawawala DVD 
: Theatrical poster 
: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) AND Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt + Two (2) tickets to a screening 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

20,000.00 or ($489.48)

: Two (2) tickets to Gala night 
: Signed Ang Nawawala DVD (director) 
: Signed script (main cast, director and writers) 
: Theatrical poster 
: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) AND Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

25,000.00 or ($611.85)

: 15 mins. Skype date with Dominic Roco 
: Two (2) tickets to Gala night 
: Signed Ang Nawawala DVD (director) 
: Signed script (main cast, director and writer) 
: Theatrical poster 
: Marie Jamora Music Video Collection DVD Vol.1 (2001-2006) AND Vol.2 (2007-2012) 
: Limited edition Press “Producer” Kit signed by the crew 
: Exclusive release T-shirt 
: Character poster (11” x 17”) 
: Film & Website Credit 
: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Mentions

Artisteconnect is a great sign of improvement in the artist climate of the Philippines that is often overrun by slapstick and showbiz culture at the expense of the awareness and support needed for talented emerging independent artists. It is exciting to see how this will develop within the next few years.

-Joey

SOURCE: http://www.artisteconnect.com/projects/ang-nawawala-what-isnt-there

Advertisements

Remember Shania Twain?

Remember Shania Twain? Well she will now be a resident artist at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. That’s right, she is now a Vegas girl! Following the likes of other aging stars such as Celine Dion and Rod Stewart who have also (at one point in their long lives) chosen to have contract performances in Las Vegas, Shania Twain opened her “Still the One” residency last Saturday (December 1) and it was full of the flashiness expected in “Vegas performances”. Shimmering bodysuits, motorcycles in the air and of course, this pop-country diva needs her horse!

subjpshania-popup

Some statements from The New York Times review of the opening concert entitled– “Rebound, as Demure as Ever. Shania Twain at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas”:

Ms. Twain used to specialize in extravaganza, and this show was merely flashy and energetic”

 “All her old personae were on display. In places she was the rural Canadian girl made good, and in others she was the pop-country diva who rewrote genre rules”

 It is back now [her voice], even if this busy, rotely dizzying new show didn’t take full advantage of it… they swallowed her whole, and sometimes her backup singers threatened to drown her out altogether

 Setting aside these unexceptional criticisms, it appears that Shania Twain has found a way to save herself, and it is working. On the one hand she may never be able to sell 10-million copies of an album consecutively as she did before. Since those days she has had personal issues as well as major struggles with her voice. In fact she has not performed since 2004 and has had relatively low-spotlight in the media.

But more notably, the Shania Twain brand seems to still be a cash cow. Tickets range from $55 to $250 (plus applicable fees) and she will be on residency for two years. Also merchandise outside the venue included a black top hat ($20), T-shirts ($60), perfume ($35) and shot glasses ($10).

It is interesting that she has not announced a release of any future album, solidifying once again the importance of live performance as more important than album sales (the reverse would be true just barely a decade ago). Perhaps Vegas is not such a bad thing for artists like Shania Twain.

-JOEY

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/arts/music/shania-twain-at-caesars-palace-las-vegas.html?_r=0

http://www.caesarspalace.com/EventsDetail.do?detailName=shania-twain-detail&locationCode=CLV

With Wheels and Wings


Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 3.44.58 PMMusic instruments continuously remain under the shadow of their musician. But Australian-based Filipino artist Alwin Reamillo thinks otherwise. Alwin is a conceptual artist that restores pianos and transforms them into playable art pieces. In the process, this transformation rethinks the framework of the piano instrument, blurring the often times rigid boundaries between the creative and the technical.

Alwin has turned obscure piano brands and models into mixed-media masterpieces, adding wings, extra lids, image carvings, and images from classic movies. While Alwin is a fulltime visual and conceptual artist, his father Decimo Reamillo was a piano-maker whose family owned Javincello & company which produced the Wittemberg pianos- the leading maker of Filipino upright pianos and the country’s only maker of grand pianos. Alwin’s pianos artworks reveal the craftsmanship and artistry of the Filipino, something that does not often get the attention it rightly deserves nowadays, what with today’s technology invasion.

His first piano project entitled The Mang Emo + Mag-himo Grand Piano Project in 2007 caught the attention of The Singapore Art Museum that subsequently purchased one of his grand pianos which in turn was used to fund the next batch of pianos for his second piano project, The Nicanor Abelardo Grand Piano Project in 2008 at the UP Vargas Museum. Clouds and Wings was his third piano project and ran from June 19-July 11, 2010 at the Manila Contemporary, Philippines (I was one of the pianists in the opening show).

While Alwin currently resides in Australia and maintains a busy schedule all over the world, this proud UP and PHSA (Philippine High School for the Arts) alumnus has a nationalistic fervor that is very much in tact. In an article by Business World Alwin stressed that the artist’s role was first and foremost to be a builder: “There are so many things wrong with Philippine society. The more radical act is to build rather than to make works that are transgressed or angsty. We have to move forward.”

With all due respect, in my opinion Alwin’s pianos do not sound as good as how they look. But Alwin painstakingly restores and converts each piano at his exhibits (together with the former craftsmen of his family’s piano company) with a special intricacy and visual aesthetic that attracts attention from the growing fine art market in East Asia. I may be going further from music management and music business, but as a pianist, starting art collector and friend of Alwin, I thought it would be worth sharing what was emphasized in class- the opportunity of niche markets, which can often arise in the most unlikely of places. And in the case of Alwin’s works, showing stunning results and drawing attention from the fine art world.

WMutyaNgPasig

grand 02

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 3.45.55 PM

http://www.galleryeast.com.au/multimedia/reamillo/main.htm

http://www.manilaartblogger.com/2010/06/23/clouds-and-wings-alwin-and-juliet/

http://www.artinformal.com/backroom/view/874

-JOEY

Manufacturing in China (again)

200309020158_4374China is a topic that is commonplace, especially when talking about manufacturing and production. So it should not come as a surprise that the world’s largest piano manufacturer is Chinese state-owned Pearl River Piano Group. China has overtaken Japan and Korea as the largest piano manufacturer. Over 50 years old, Pearl River has gone from producing 4 upright pianos a month to 100,000 pianos annually in 2011. Their sales account for 28% of the Chinese market, 18% of the US market and 15% of the European market.

While Pearl River is renowned and has a large following in the Chinese market it has struggled in garnering international recognition. And by recognition I mean going beyond the number of pianos produced, sold or exported; I am talking about the brand and quality associated with it.

Chairman Tong Zhicheng best captures Pearl River’s vision saying that “Pianos are from the west so it must succeed there to prove the high quality of pianos”.  This explains why their strategy has been going beyond just piano manufacturing ever Here is a brief summary of the highlights and major steps Pearl River has been taking the last few decades:

1987- Pearl River begins to hire top talent from EU and US to develop skills and techniques for high-end products. David Campbell, former technical manager of Steinway is hired as company consultant

1995- Yamaha Japan pays attention to developments at Pearl River and forms a joint venture with them creating the brand Yamaha-Pearl River, boosting opportunity to gain more input on product quality and operations

1999- Pearl River acquires Ritmuller, a 200-year-old respected German piano brand

-Opened first sales outlet in US

2004- Formally opens European branch in Munich

2008- financial crisis decreases China’s piano exports by 70% but Pearl River’s profits increase nearly 18%

2008- Steinway shifts production of its Essex (affordable-line) piano brand from Korea to Pearl River in China

But Pearl River pianos are still regarded as entry-level quality.  A report from China Daily says that most of the workers in Chinese piano manufacturing are “migrant workers who lack professional knowledge and can hardly make pianos sound artistic”.  But so far, Pearl River has opened 235 sales outlets in over 100 countries and regions. And perhaps their strategy of acquiring existing brands and technical expertise internationally will change criticism towards their products and improve the “made-in-China” image, into a top-quality global Chinese brand. It seems like Pearl River (and China in general) is gradually buying everyone else out in order to be a global brand.

-JOEY

http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-03/30/content_14948772_3.htm

http://knowledge.ckgsb.edu.cn/2010/08/28/china-business-strategy/pearl-river-piano-building-a-chinese-brand-for-the-global-market/

http://www.pearlriverpiano.com/en/about.aspx

Steinway Business

Steinway has been around for over 150 years and is synonymous with the world’s best concert grand pianos. Setting aside being the “best” as a matter of personal preference, majority of the world’s major concert halls and venues still use Steinways.

And on the business side, Steinway would seem to be an appealing candidate for a takeover or a merger. They are in talks of selling their band instruments division (brass instruments, woodwinds etc.) that will allow the company to focus on its mainstay—pianos. “Steinway will look like a very cheap stock in relation to sales, earnings or its brand name. And it may prove an attractive takeover target” (SmartMoney, 2012).

Last year, 2011, Steinway took $216 million in revenue and $77 million in gross profits- an increase from $64 million in 2010. Michael Sweeney, CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments Inc. also says on the second quarter results of 2012 (as reported in the NYSE: LVB) “We are pleased with our overall results. We saw substantial improvements in our manufacturing operations worldwide, leading to increased gross margins. Higher gross profit, along with tight control over operating expenses and lower interest expense, resulted in a substantial increase in net income for the quarter.”

In other words, they seem to be doing pretty well considering the negative economic climate that is the majority’s sentiment today. Steinway’s strategy also seems to fit more with luxury brands than music instrument brands; while Steinway’s more mainstream and affordable Boston and Essex pianos account for 3/4 of the pianos sold last year, the high-end Steinway pianos accounted for almost 80% of the piano sales last year. Last year 2,100 Steinways were sold for an average of $85,000.

(Photo below L-R: Steinway, Boston & Essex pianos)

Image

In addition, last year while Steinway’s sales in Europe and the Americas decreased, Asia-Pacific sales increased by 3% and China had a 17% increase in sales. It is important to note that China is now the world’s second largest piano market, but even with these sales, Steinway still has a small share there, perhaps in line with their brand image of catering to exclusive clientele.

Beyond financial figures, and bearing in mind that new brands are extremely difficult to build, Steinway is secure in that has been around since 1853. Steinway expresses that each grand piano they make takes nearly a year to create and nothing is hurried. Perhaps they can afford that luxury of time as well in their business strategy?

-JOEY

http://www.smartmoney.com/invest/stocks/steinway–sons-a-grand-investment-1332195987741/

http://www.steinwaymusical.com/images/newsfiles/166695Steinway%20Reports%20Q2%202012%20Results.pdf

http://www.steinway.com/about/

What is next for Fender?

Founded in the 1940s by Leo Fender, Fender (now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation) is associated with numerous icons of the music industry from Jimi Hendrix to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan to Kurt Cobain. Yet while its reputation and brand has seems to overshadow the fact that like most American manufacturing companies which suffered great losses and challenges during the last few years, Fender has to continually keep up with the immense changes in the music consumption habits and tastes of people happening nowadays.

While Fender is the world’s largest guitar maker, there is competition from guitars made in China, which cost a fraction of the price. And while Fender has been manufacturing lines of inexpensive (or reasonably priced) guitars for a while now, growth and profitability without sacrificing their brand is still crucial. Weston Presidio, an investment firm actually owns nearly half of the company, has been looking for ways to revamp Fender and on march this year intended to make the company publicly listed. But despite criticisms that Fender was “selling out” it actually did not push through and investors hesitated. The photo above shows companies controlled by Weston Presidio.

The viability of Fender has been uncertain even before though. When Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in the 1960s and all the way to the 1980s it struggled to keep its identity inside within a corporate ownership, after all shareholders were probably less concerned on the craftsmanship the gave the warm and unique sound of its guitars and more on the products being sold and cutting costs. Yamaha also started to become more popular during this time that brought more competition. Eventually Fender started manufacturing abroad and branching out into new products such as steel string acoustic guitars and ventures with Sabian Cymbals among others. Nonetheless many players regard the quality associated with the Fenders made during this period as something special, and a lot believe the biggest competition for the new Fenders today are the old Fenders.

But fan testimonials aside, the recent economic slump in the US and Europe has been hard on Fender. For investors there have been more criticisms to fender than compliments. At the initial stock offering on March, the company was valued at $366 million, which was considered high for a company of Fender’s size. Moreover it was criticized why Fender would go public when its sales were declining and simply “made no sense”.

Bill Mendello (Right side in the photo) who is a board member and 4.8% owner of Fender is more optimistic though. While he still believes in the possibility of a public offering in the near future, he states that “I love Fender — it’s the greatest company in the world,” he says.

During the 1980s Mendello was a top executive in CBS when they still owned Fender. Also during that time Mendello together with the late Bill Schultz (left side of photo), then president of Fender, convinced CBS to invest heavily in Fender and in revamping its marketing. Eventually there were management problems though and with Fender losing money, instead of liquidating the company, Mendello and Schultz bought it. Schultz was also associated as the “man who saved Fender”.  Mendello also says that “We’re herefor the long-term, and we’re going to do what’s right for Fender.” Lets hope its for the better.

-JOEY

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/business/fender-aims-to-stay-plugged-in-amid-changing-music-trends.html/partner/rssnyt?pagewanted=2&_r=3

Gibson Guitars & the Government

 The public perception of music instruments today seems to be overshadowed by everything else in the music industry: digital music innovations, upcoming festivals, rising stars, controversies in performances and so on. For my next blogs I will be focusing on issues in the music instrument industry. I think whether being a musician or a manager, music employee or employer, it is important to be well abreast on these issues.

***

It seems to have been a stressful year for Gibson Guitar Corporation who was recently charged by the US federal government for illegally importing rare wood for their guitars. Apparently what they use for their fret boards is illegally imported ebony from Madagascar.

Blame it on the Lacey Act, a century-old law originally passed to protect animal species. In 2008 it was expanded and now bans the importing of wood that is exported illegally under the other country’s laws.

But Gibson’s CEO Henry E. Juszkiewicz claims that the ebony they imported was exported legally under Madagascar’s laws. According to Gibson, Madagascar allows the exportation of “fingerboard blanks” (basically a piece of hardwood cut to the dimensions of a guitar fret board). Nevertheless Gibson agreed to the terms of the government and acknowledged that they failed to act on information” that the wood from Madagascar may have violated laws against deforestation.

Interestingly even before this charge, on 2009 and August last year, the federal government raided Gibson’s facilities in Nashville, seizing significant amounts of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar as well as India.

However, things have been resolved- for now. Gibson entered into an agreement with the US government, which defers criminal prosecution of the Lacey Act violations. Gibson had to pay a $300,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to promote conservation of protected tree species used in the music instrument industry. Also through this agreement, Gibson gets back from the government the fingerboard blanks from India that were seized and allowing future imports from India.

This case shows that the issues in the music instrument industry are worlds apart from the often elusive topics associated in the music industry such as copyright, digital streaming, royalties and so on. What remains though is the importance of product and quality that is top priority for a brand like Gibson. I think Gibson did the right think by complying quickly to avoid bigger lawsuits and risk being banned completely from their sources of wood.

All this talk on wood species, international law and government aside, this case of Gibson raises a question of to what extent laws and regulation can dictate on the music instrument industry. Here it can be argued that the government may be overstepping its bounds. Who knew guitars could be so involved in politics?

-JOEY

SOURCE:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/gibson-guitar-settles-claim-over-imported-ebony/

http://www.forestlegality.org/laws-policies/lacey-act

Music and Luxury Brands (III.)

The use of music as a marketing tool by luxury brands is relative to each brand. It is also hard to directly quantify its impact and influence on sales. But with so many things grabbing the attention of the consumers nowadays (from interactive media, animation, social media among others) and in an attempt to continually engage consumers and the public, some have taken it to the next level.

Since 2007, luxury jeweller brand Cartier has invited international artists to their interpretation of the question/campaign “How far would you go for love?”

In this video “Painted Love” by AIR, the focus of the music doesn’t seem as clear here (not that it really matters?), since it competes with a visual plot that almost seems like a short film. The culmination here is the artist’s obsession with his “painted love”. This is not just watches and jewelry anymore. Overall the central element is using music and art as a motivation and the elements of love, and the love in line with Cartier’s campaign.

“Painted Love” is set to be a three-part series of exclusive collaborations between musicians and filmmakers for Cartier’s campaign, which will culminate in this year.

-JOEY

http://luxurysociety.com/articles/2012/03/music-the-next-luxury-frontier

Music and Luxury Brands (II.)

Celebrities covering songs for fragrance advertising is not particularly groundbreaking. But this one- Givenchy and Sony Music Entertainment for Givenchy’s Electric Rose (perfume)- is actually quite innovative.  It seems almost like a launch of a branding alliance between Givenchy and Sony rather than a perfume commercial.

Here, Liv Tyler covers INXS’s “Need You Tonight”, produced in such a way as if it was a typical big-label release which follows typical big-label radio and video circulation afterwards. In this collaboration music brings obsessive qualities and stimulates Givenchy’s brand promise of desirability and appeal.

-JOEY

http://luxurysociety.com/articles/2012/03/music-the-next-luxury-frontier

Music and Luxury Brands (I.)

Tapping the emotion and continually reinforcing engagement between brand and consumer has long been a central element in marketing. For the next few blog posts I will be sharing developments in the use of music in the luxury industry.

Most people may already be thinking that luxury brands have been using music in their marketing and branding for the longest time. To a certain extent that is true: television advertising, retail store playlists, curated music at catwalks, endorsements by the biggest names in music and so on. It actually seems to be the norm for luxury brands (and brands in general) nowadays to use music in their marketing.

But few have taken it to the next level, of using music not just a mood enhancer but in actually embodying the brand.

***

Here is an example of a luxury brand, Burberry, using music to show the relevance and substance of the brand beyond style.

Burberry allows music to take center stage: they did not use music stars or glamorous clout but instead by “less famous” musicians to provide something more personal and nicely crafted.

Burberry is a British brand and so they used young British musicians in a rural British location that not only strengthens their brand image but also extends it to a fresh and younger target market. Since then, CD releases and live musical performances and campaigning have been a major keystone in Burberry’s marketing agenda.

-JOEY MANALO

http://luxurysociety.com/articles/2012/03/music-the-next-luxury-frontier