Entries from March 2008 ↓

Bienvenido a Miami!

Some may have noticed some slight (temporary) change in blog design and lull in my blog updates… Reason being:

I’m currently in Miami taking care of some bih’ness :-)

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And secondly, right before I took flight, I had started migrating my blog to self-host. With the help of my friend Jeff, this will slowly but surely be up to speed pretty soon with some cool configurations on the backend that I’ll have a access to. I hope to have time to fiddle with the cool new stuffs soon, but not banking on it till about another month when I’m back up in the northeast… Stay tuned!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Music & Politics in China

I’ve been doing a fair share of reading up on music and lifestyle trends in Asia…with particular focus of course, in Shanghai. Every item I have read has alluded to this burgeoning international city that is soon to leave London, Paris and (maybe) New York in the dust. OK, OK for now… we’ll just stick with the “Shanghai is the NYC of China” claim. Whichever the case, the overall notion gets me amped and ever-so-antsy to check it for myself. Here are some of my findings:

  • In March 2007, a familiar name, Ticketmaster, acquired a majority stake in Emma Entertainment Holdings HK Ltd., a provider of ticketing and event promotions services, to expand operations in China. Emma Entertainment changed its name to Emma Ticketmaster to reflect the acquisition.
  • Since the advent of Emma Ticketmaster, China has become a viable place for major foreign acts to add to their world tours. Big names such as Bjork, Maroon 5, Harry Connick Jr, Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys are all performing this Spring. In addition, another big-name concert promotions company, China West Entertainment, is bringing over Incubus and James Blunt.
  • China takes pains to ensure concerts are politically correct. Artists are forbidden to perform content that would harm “national unity” or “stir up resentment” and promoters are asked to submit set-lists and lyric sheets for approval. Performers deemed to have hurt national sentiments are put in the freezer indefinitely, or until seen to have made due penance.
  • Knowing the above, in her recent performance, Icelandic singer, Bjork’s pro-T____ outburst at a Shanghai concert not only angered China’s wary cultural guardians, but annoyed music promoters who say politics is bad for business and worse for Chinese fans. China’s Culture of Ministry has now claimed that controls would be tightened over foreign singers and performers after Bjork allegedly closed her set with an unauthorized song, chanting “Declare Independence!” as a seeming dedication with the word, “T____!” twice, to close her show.

  • Here’s what Bjork had to say in response:
    • “I have been asked by many for a statement after dedicating my song ‘Declare Independence’ to both Kosovo and T___ on different occasions. I would like to put importance on that I am not a politician, I am first and last a musician and as such I feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions. The urge for declaring independence is just one of them but an important one we all feel at some times in our lives. This song was written more with the personal in mind but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure. I would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. Justice!”
  • As a result, the Chinese government is continuing behind-closed-doors discussion on additional measures (pending approval) by the Shanghai Cultural Bureau with regards to foreign performers in China:
  • 1. Organizers must sign additional guarantees that performers will not comment on political issues from stage, etc.
  • 2. A 50% of the total potential box office must be paid as a deposit on the show to the Cultural Bureau. Should performers break the law, this deposit will be retained by the government. Additional fines may be levied.
  • 3. Artist performances will be closely monitored to conform to the government pre-approved set-lists.
  • 4. Artists will not be allowed an unapproved encore.

Oye!! Now I’ve been in the business of concert promotions myself… and Point #2 above is STEEP. This Bjork backlash has most definitely set course for a possible decline just as quick as its recent acsent of hosting foreign acts in the Chinese market. So fascinating…. I’ll be keeping my ears on this one…

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- song entitled, “Declare Independence” from album, Volta by Bjork (05.22.07)

. . don’t burn the day. .

American Baby!

As I mentally ready myself to live abroad in a country where daily liberties that I/we as Americans take for granted are stripped away/censored, ie. accessing blogs for goodness sake – I just gotta say… I am happy and feel downright privileged to be an American Baby!

Some may have noticed my removal of a particular blog post from last week with regards to current affairs in a 5-letter country over yonder that begins and ends with a “T.” Truth is, I was on the fence all along with whether or not I should’ve posted on the topic in the first place, (knowing I have to carry my blog over), however, I felt the need to bring to light a tint of world affairs just the same as political headlines are brewing on our homefront. And since I am in the process of configuring shop to enable myself access to my fabulous channel (my blog) to my wonderful fans (that is, you) while I’m overseas, I need to have a “clean” platform in order for my connections abroad to be able to properly test/gauge censorship levels… All because the mere thought of having to have to relinquish my freedom of speech is just too hard for me to swallow! (More to come when my configuration is complete.)

And with the above, I might as well add a note on how vital it is for the American public to be educated and active in the upcoming election! Our “right” to vote must be acknowledged and exercised!! It is a RIGHT, YOUR right – Own it and Do something with it!

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Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen (06.04.84)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Keeping On Track

Just some words I came across to remind me… to stay on course… (right L. Rod?!)

  • You have spent two years dealing with the rigors of Saturn opposed to your Sun, so in effect, you have done all the necessary spadework to now launch your new life. That launch is due any minute.
  • The eclipses are known to enact a series of tests under the surface of things. If an eclipse deems an endeavor or relationship weak or outmoded, or one that offers no real future, the eclipse will “eclipse out” that situation quickly. Eclipses always seem to bring sudden news because outside factors come onto play, and those factors would be ones you have no control over. That’s why sometimes we feel a little helpless during eclipse time – we had no hand in what happens – truly, you have not lost all that much.
  • Only after you have swept out the cobwebs and cleared the decks of weak situations and relationship can you begin to live the life you were meant to live. If something or someone leaves, let it happen. Don’t look back, as tempting as that might be to do. You need to create empty space before the universe can fill it with something better. You don’t want to be in weak situations or unproductive relationships – the eclipses want us all to use our time on Earth well.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Politics + Marketing = The Brand Called Obama

Came across an interesting article from Fast Company Magazine on “The Brand Called Obama.”

Excerpt:

  • The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news. What has hardly been examined is the degree to which his success indicates a seismic shift on the business horizon as well. Politics, after all, is about marketing — about projecting and selling an image, stoking aspirations, moving people to identify, evangelize, and consume. The promotion of the brand called Obama is a case study of where the American marketplace — and, potentially, the global one — is moving. His openness to the way consumers today communicate with one another, his recognition of their desire for authentic “products,” and his understanding of the need for a new global image — all are valuable signals for marketers everywhere.
  • “Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand,” says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. “New, different, and attractive. That’s as good as it gets.” Obama has his greatest strength among the young, roughly 18 to 29 years old, that advertisers covet, the cohort known as millennials — who will outnumber the baby boomers by 2010. They are black, white, yellow, and various shades of brown, but what they share — new media, online social networks, a distaste for top-down sales pitches — connects them more than traditional barriers, such as ethnicity, divide them. Read More Here.

It is quite a hefty write-up, so if you don’t have time.. at least take a look at these pointers on “How to Build a Brand Like Obama” -

1. Lose Control

Traditional top-down messages don’t often work in an ecosystem, like the Web, where the masses are in charge. Marketers must cede a certain degree of control over their brands. And that can be terrifying. (Remember that “I got a crush on . . . Obama” lip synched YouTube tribute? When people can affect a brand, they become attached to it.)

2. Embrace the Modern Internet

Brack Obama’s campaign has been successful at converting online clicks into real-world currency: rallies in the heartland, videos on YouTube, and most important, donations and votes. BarackObama.com features constant updates, videos, photos, ringtones, widgets, and events to give supporters a reason to come back to the site. On mybarackobama.com, the campaign’s quasi-social network, Obamaniacs can create their own blogs around platform issues, send policy recommendations directly to the campaign, set up their own mini fund-raising site, organize an event, even use a phone-bank widget to get call lists and scripts to tele-canvass from home.

3. Cast a Wide Social Net

The Obama crew also tapped into other online communities. A member of blackplanet.com, one of Community Connect Inc’s suite of niche demographic Web sites (including asianave.com, migente.com, GLEE.com, and faithbase.com) excerpted a portion of a Vibe magazine profile of Obama. A flurry of discussion drove traffic to BarackObama.com, drawing the attention of Scott Goodstein, who runs the campaign’s external Web strategy. An exec at CCI invited all the candidates to create profiles for each of the company’s targeted communities. Only the Obama people created credible presences, updating them everyday or so.. It worked. The Obama profile on Black-Planet has more than 450,000 “friends.”

4. Let Fans Be Real

Obama’s campaign also took advantage of messages created by others. The “Yes We Can” mashup by the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, starring a handful of his famous friends, cost the campaign nothing and became a viral hit. By comparison, a Clinton mockumentary called “Hillary’s Leaving the Band” — young rockers, clearly actors, lament the loss of their favorite guitar player — fell flat. It seemed ad-agency slick and forced. And if it doesn’t resonate in the offline world, it won’t resonate in the online world. The Web has created authoritative consumers empowered by the Web and they can smell a fake.

5. Be Open (But Not Totally)

“OPEN brand,” an acronym for on-demand, personal, engaging, and networks, is a framework for companies to think about distributing brand messages in new ways. Being an OPEN brand can be daunting, but you don’t have to cede all control, just some. Obama has been made available to the press in strictly controlled doses. And while the Web site may have set the bar high in terms of openness, the campaign still keeps an eye on the imagery and messaging associated with the movement. Obama’s e-mails urging supporters to take action — “Tell the superdelegates what’s on your mind,” a recent blast implored — are often signed simply “Barack,” implying intimacy without risking exposure.

6. Lead, Don’t Boss Around

Obama is seen as a leader rather than a boss. He gets people to do things on their own, through inspiration, respect, and trust — rather than doing it because it’s part of a contract. Having a vision and inspiring or instructing others to follow that vision have long been hallmarks of business and politics. But Obama epitomizes a new way of thinking called “adaptive leadership.” While a visionary puts forth a specific plan to be implemented, an adaptive leader works with constituents to devise one together. Obama has tapped into this adaptive-leadership vein by inviting voters in with his “Yes we can” slogan.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Ode to Dave

You insisted.
I resisted.

It took some time,
some 27, 34, 36, 40 tries.

You asked me to stay for a while,
But rhyme or reason I had none;
for heavy as stone was I,
with a preconceived idea of you.

Was not until we waved hello again the 41st,
that you swept me up, up and away
onward onto a sweet up and down joyride.

You caught me kicking out all the windows,
and asked, “Where are you going?”

Space between
closing in,
you took me by the hand and led me down by the river.
There stood before us -  a mighty dreaming tree.

Nine planets around the sun,
only one does the sun embrace.

Following your step into the light,
You cried, “Don’t drink the water!”
but rather, “Seek up an emotion…
and our cup is overflowing…”

Oh an’ another (little) thing:

“Look up at the sky,
with your mouth open wide.
Lick and taste.
What’s the use in worrying?
What’s the use in hurrying?
Turn, turn we almost become dizzy.
Some might tell you there’s no hope in hand,
just because
they feel hopeless;
But you don’t have to be a thing like that;
Take these chances;
Stand up,
Start with one step, however small.
Dream little darling, dream;
Dreamgirl, you be a ship in a bottle set sail.” ~~~~~

~~~~~ Stolen away was I on 55th and 3rd. ~~~~~

As I rewind and hit replay,
I was then such a fool to think
of you as a greedy little pig.
I must’ve had let you down,
for now I agree, we’re all proud monkeys after all.

Now steady as we go,
celebrate we will,
leaving busted stuff behind.
Everyday feels so right,
turning typical situations into those best of what’s around.

Hey captain,
Do what you will, always.
Walk where you like, your steps.
Do as you please,
I’ll back you up.

You persisted.
I conceded.

This I admit,
tastes so good.
Hard to believe an end to it.
Smell
Touch
Feel
How could this rhythm ever quit?
Bags packed,
on a plane,
hopefully to heaven…

Yeah!

And despite when the world ends,
you need not help yourself;
I’m coming waltzing back
and moving into your head.
So, break free,
collect your things,
you’re coming with me.

We’ll come away with something better.
Resting high above the clouds,
No restriction.

Would you not like to be,
sitting on top of the world
with your legs hanging free?

So damn lucky.

So damn lucky,
are we.

~ ml

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Izod Center – East Rutherford, NJ
(11.13.07)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Bonus Trivia: Who can tell me how many single-count songs were referenced above? :-)

I Am Geeked!

I received the following (exact) words in a recent email exchange with a current teacher at my soon-to-be-school, Shanghai Pinghe:
  • “I feel tremendously lucky to have ended up here. The teachers are great and everyone has been appreciative and supportive of what I have to offer. (I’m currently directing kids in a shortened version of ‘Twelfth Night,” which will have alternating English and Chinese performances.)… I love it here. I haven’t missed a single thing about the US since I arrived. Shanghai is Paris in the 1940′s, Manhattan in the 1950′s – the flagship city of our time. Shanghai is BURGEONING – economically, culturally, architecturally and gastronomically. I feel like my whole life has led up to and prepared me to be here, and I have no desire to be anyplace else!”

Look forward to meeting you,

Thomas

:-) :-) :-)

Whoooooo! I look FORWARD to meeting you too, Thomas! :-)
Seriously, I’ve held a smile with super cheese since I read his above words!! I mean, every word of his sent good jitter vibes all up and down! I CAN NOT WAIT to EXPERIENCE for MYSELF! plus! I have made a new friend already! and he too is a Boston-area native who had spent a good chunk of time in NYC… and then hit Shanghai… Yay!

. . don’t burn the day. .

The O’s

O-lbermann… O-bama… O-shhh*t, O-shame!!!!

I’ll let the video speak for itself. Keith Olbermann on (Geraldine) Ferraro Fiasco!

Transcript HERE.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxkRmUmIVS4&hl=en]

(That was response to the following.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqL_sm0J8jc&hl=en]

 

. . don’t burn the day. .

Indie Travelers’ Top 10 for 2008

While flipping through the news last night, it was reported that London was the #1 most traveled-to European city in 2007…and also being the dirtiest. Paris was #2, but received #1 billing for the unfriendliest. Amsterdam, Dublin and London share top nods as being the most friendliest. Having personally traveled to Amsterdam last year, I absolutely concur! Here’s proof! Some Dutchmen who volunteered to be our tour guides. :-)

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Anyhoots, that little snippet of news made me curious to learn what the top travel destinations were for this year. I went off on my search, typing in all sorts and every travel expert/guide (Frommers, Lonely Planet, etc.) had their own Top 10′s. However, I then came across a site I had never heard of before, but took a liking to its hot spots for the year.

Now my peers regard me as being pretty well-traveled; I certainly do not entirely disagree with them but there are still just oh so many places on my wish list. I mean among those listed below, I can say I have knocked off one: Palermo, Sicily. I totally would LOVE to live in Buenos Aires for a period of time, and I hope to maybe hit up Thailand (though it would come after a few other must-go destinations while I’m in Shanghai) and perhaps (fingers-super-crossed) New Zealand… And mmmm Belize…and Budapest & Nepal sounds dope! But enough with my yapping…

Here it is!

BootsnAll.com, website for independent travelers, announces its Top 10 Destinations for 2008. The writers and editors of this global travel information and resource site have compiled ten great destinations that combine history and culture with value for travelers who prefer to arrange their own trips and challenge themselves in the most fascinating places in the world.

10 – Buenos Aires , Argentina — One of the nicest European cities of all is actually in South America. After its currency collaBuenos Airespse in 2003, this gorgeous place got embarrassingly cheap for foreigners, but that won’t go on forever, so don’t wait too long. Vegetarians may find beef-obsessed Argentina a bit challenging. It won’t be a deal-breaker, though, as this cosmopolitan city has something for everyone, including a diverse nightlife scene that usually goes until dawn or later. Brush up on your español before you go – it will help you experience the city more completely.
9 – Budapest, Hungary — The capital of Hungary is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Unlike some other Eastern European destinations, viBudapestsiting is still very cheap compared to the West. The old town district of Castle Hill is a highlight of this huge city, and the hearty portions of the paprika-accented food win over most who try it. You can spend days just admiring the classic architecture, but the city is also an excellent place to begin an exploration of the many historic Hungarian villages nearby.

8 – Marrakech, Morocco — This moderate Muslim country is easily visible and quickly reachable from the southern coast of Spain, but it feels a world away. Quickly pass throuMarrakechgh the “border-town” city of Tangier and on to Rabat, Fes, or Marrakech for a pleasant cultural shock on a backpacker’s budget. Choose Fes or Marrakech, and add in a smaller city to escape the constant tourism push, but skip the chaotic capital of Casablanca. For those with a bit more time, trekking the Atlas mountain ranges makes for an unforgettable adventure mixed with a cultural experience that contrasts nicely with Morocco’s bustling cities. Even for independent travelers, a tour using a local guide can be a great way to see all the magical parts of Morocco and avoid its often frustrating tourist traps.

Chiang Mai

7 – Chiang Mai, Thailand — This walled city in the Himalayan foothills is 700 kilometers north of Bangkok and is known as the gateway to northern Thailand. Over 300 Buddhist temples in all different styles dot the area, with the 13th century Wat Chiang Man being the oldest. An important trading center for many centuries, there’s plenty to do during the frequently steamy days. The famous Night Bazaar with its bargain crafts and fashions is the place to spend the cool Chiang Mai evenings. The fact that hotel rooms start around US$5.00 per night, and traditional Thai mini-resorts can be found for not much more, only sweetens the deal. This is a great place for a minor splurge for long term travelers in Southeast Asia.

Ethiopia

6 – Imet Gogo, Ethiopia — Forget what you might have thought about Ethiopia before, this large East African country is not depressing or completely parched. A growing tourist infrastructure is making it easier to discover for adventurous travelers. Having never been colonized, Ethiopia has its own fascinating history and culture, which mix nicely with one of the most impressive networks of well preserved national parks in the world. The Omo Valley in the east provides an unforgettable look at African tribal life today. Hotels in Ethiopia start under US$10.00, but luxury is available if you’ve got the money.

Queenstown, New Zealand

5 – Queenstown, New Zealand — Anyone who has been to New Zealand knows that Queenstown is the tourist mecca of its South Island. During winter the city is filled with snowboarders and skiers; for the rest of the year, the Bungee-jumping and adventure-travel crowd moves in, so the nightlife is good year round. This postcard-perfect mountain city on a lake is also so charming that you’ll want to move there before you even reach the center of town for the first time. You can have a great visit using public transportation, but if you’ve rented a car or campervan, your possibilities for exploring the area greatly increase. Queenstown is not terribly cheap, but it’s not a budget buster either.

Sicily

4 – Palermo, Sicily — This endlessly scenic island off Italy’s toe has its own ancient culture and even its own language, but in some ways it’s also more intensely Italian (and noticeably cheaper) than the main tourist cities in the north. The plentiful seafood is both exotic and simple, and the abundant vineyards ensure the wine keeps flowing at a very reasonable price. Check on the bustling capital of Palermo or the beach resort/fishing village of Cefalù at any time, except the sweltering and steamy summer. Ancient Greek ruins can be found in many areas and Mt. Etna – Europe’s largest active volcano – is easy to explore as well.

Petra, Jordan

3 – Petra, Jordan — The Middle East can sound scary and that helps keep Jordan from being overwhelmed with tourists, but this safe and welcoming country where most people speak some English – eco-tourism is quickly catching on – offers a fascinating look at the region with surprisingly few headaches. Don’t linger in the modern capital of Amman. Instead, spend a couple of days in the ancient city of Petra and another couple checking out the stunning desertscapes of Wadi Rum. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, but brave visitors are welcome all year round. As long as things remain stable in Jordan, it’s bound to start getting crowded in years to come.

Belize

2 – Placencia, Belize – This tiny English-speaking Central American country feels frozen in time, but in a very good way. Paved roads are a rarity on the popular tourist islands where most visitors go. Belize has world-class scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, sea-kayaking, cave-tubing and jungle expeditions, mixed with fascinating Maya culture. It’s one of the cheapest Caribbean resort destinations now, but don’t wait too long. Developers and even celebrities have caught on (Leonardo DiCaprio is building an eco-resort on a private island in Belize and Francis Ford Coppola already owns a couple of places), so it won’t be this way forever.

Nepal

1 – Kathmandu, Nepal — Most famous for being home to half of Mount Everest, there is a lot more to do in this ultra-photogenic country than follow a Sherpa into the sky. Trekking adventures for all skill levels are available throughout Nepal, and crowds still tend to be minimal for now. Check out some Bengal tigers, elephants and Indian rhinos during a guided jungle tour in the Royal Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital of Kathmandu – which dates back to the 8th Century AD – is filled with temples, but also has a sturdy tourist infrastructure. Hotels for under US$10.00 per night are easy to find, but so are international business-class hotels for those with deeper pockets.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Dear Record/Music Business…

I’ve come across several articles this week, that have zero’ed in on the downward spiral of the record industry. Le Sigh. All I can say (and many of ya’ll know this) is that, I’m happy and thrilled that I was able to be a part of it during its last legs of “fun lovin’ fun” days…

Check these links!

20 Biggest Record Company Screw-Ups of All TimeBlender Magazine

(shout out to Deangela for finding the online version!)

Sorry for the spoiler but I have to in order to include my blurb to immediately follow:

But the #1 Biggest Record Company Screw-Up of All Time = Major Label Squash Napster
Shawn Fanning’s file-sharing service attracted tens of millions of users, but instead of trying to find a way to capitalize on it, the Recording Industry Association of America rejected Napster’s billion-dollar settlement offer and sued it out of existence in 2001. Napster’s users didn’t just disappear. They scattered to hundreds of alternative systems—and new technology has stayed three steps ahead of the music business ever since. The labels’ campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane—upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks. Since Napster closed, “there’s been no decline in the rate of online piracy,” says Eric Garland of media analysts BigChampagne, who logged users of son-of-Napster peer-to-peer networks more than doubling between 2002 and 2007. And that figure doubles again if you count BitTorrent.
Unintended Consequence: Your grandmother deciding to trade up from that dial-up connection

With that in mind, in my weekend digging thru memorabilia, I found a copy of Washington Square News (02.29.00) from my alma mater, NYU. img_3182.jpgHeadline: University Bans Internet Music Trading Program. Here are some noteworthy quotes:

  • “NYU ITS (Information Technology Services) made a decision without even talking to any students. I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to respond… There should have been some communication between the University and students, at least warning students that Napster is a problem.” – B. Sloan, student in Stern School of Business (class 2002)
  • “There is no way to tell what malicious functions may be performed by the software you automatically download with the music. Napster violates University usage policies regarding for NYU networks in that the program opens a host computer to outside access.” - M. McMillan, Chief Information Technology Officer, NYU
  • “I understand the reasons for restricting Napster, but the University can not hope to restrict every oen of a growing tide of network-intensive programs like it. NYU should instead embrace the new technologies while concentrating on taking steps to increase the University network’s bandwidth. This is a big performance school, this is a big arts school. Students’ appetite for media is important to their study here.” - B. Sloan, student in Stern School of Business (class 2002)
  • “Napster had not contacted NYU. They could’ve taken the approach of working with the University at the beginning. We would certainly be willing to talk to them.” – M. McMillan, Chief Information Technology Officer, NYU

………………Mmmmmmmmmm Hmmmmmmmmmm!! Where’s B. Sloan now, I wonder?!???

The Music Business: State of The Union Address / Top 10′sThe World Is Ready

(shout out to Marcus for the words!)

and while we are at it……

The 50 Worst Things Ever Happen in MusicBlender Magazine

But this isn’t necessarily ALL bad…. Independent artists, this is your time to reap in your own rewards for your hard work!

The current Days of Digital = an Open medium of Opportunity. Play wisely!

. . don’t burn the day. .