Tag Archives: Jay-Z

Celebrity Cyber Report – LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dave Chappelle, Kanye West

LeBron James

YouTube has added another big name to its Red subscription streaming service. NBA legend LeBron James will get executive producer credit for “Best Shot,” an eight-episode documentary covering a high school basketball team. The team is being mentored by former NBA star Jay Williams. “Best Shot” follows the players struggles with life’s everyday challenges while simultaneously chasing their hoop dreams.

The documentary will be directed by Michael John Warren. Warren has impressive credentials and is best known for his documentaries on hip-hop stars Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj. No date has been released for “Best Shot” so look for it on Red sometime in 2018.

Dwayne Wade

Another NBA star showing up on streaming media is James’  teammate Dwayne Wade. Facebook is offering a reality based show with the NBA star.  The show, which premiered on November 20th,  gives fans a look inside the star’s daily life.  Entitled “BackCourt” cameras follow the three time NBA champion as he travels to Europe for fashion events, attempts to master golf all the while managing his business interests.

Wade will be joining other pro athletes with Facebook programs to include Lonzo Ball of the L.A.Lakers and his family,  and Raider’s running back Marshawn Lynch.  Episodes of “BackCourt” will air on Mondays.

Dave Chapelle

According to Variety comedian Dave Chappelle’s third Netflix special, “Dave Chappelle: Equanimity,” is set to debut on the streaming service on New Year’s Eve.  This is Chapelle’s first exclusive comedy special for Netflix. Last year Netflix announced that Chapelle would perform three specials for the channel.  The first two performances, released in March, were  shows performed at Austin City Limits entitled “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “The Age of Spin: Live at the Hollywood Palladium.” Both were previously un-released performances. 

In addition to Chappelle’s specials, Netflix is rumored to have dropped $40 million for the rights to two Chris Rock specials.

Kanye West

Rapper and all around attention getter Kanye West is taking his business empire into cyber space. According to reports West’s business people recently filed a trademark for a new service called “Yeezy Sound.” “Yeezy Sound” is intended to do everything from stream music to broadcast television.

“Yeezy Sound” trademark statement reveals the service will offer “streaming music, audio, images, video, and other multimedia over the Internet, mobile devices, wireless networks, and other computer networks and electronic communication networks.”

Essentially Kanye is getting into the merciless combat that is fought among the likes of  Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube. Other services from “Yeezy Sound” will include “providing online chat rooms, online electronic bulletin boards and community forums” allowing fans and other users to communicate.

Kanye is known for his ego and grand aspirations. “Yeezy Sound” is no different. It appears that the bruising he is sure to receive in the music streaming game is not enough. “Yeezy Sound” will also seek  “broadcasting of cable television, television and radio programs” as well as “video streaming services via the Internet, featuring independent films and movies.” So it seems he is also picking a fight with heavyweights Hulu and Netflix. Good luck brother!

Celebrity Cyber Report – Beyonce, Jay-Z

beyonce-22Black artists and athletes are all seeing the value of technology. Beyonce, the ‘Queen Bee’ herself has jumped into the technology investment game. But Beyonce is showing her smarts when it comes to the tech game. Miss Bee and her management company, Parkwood Entertainment, dropped $150,000 on Sidestep, the company that created an app that lets music fans purchase those concert t-shirts and other merchandise and pick it up without waiting in line.

Beyonce and her business people understand that concert souvenirs bring in a nice chunk of change. Anyway you look at it for a superstar like Beyonce  this is a smart move. The Sidestep app started selling t-shirts and posters for Beyoncé’s current world tour. Apparently the purchasing app must’ve performed pretty well since Beyonce invested in the company a mere two weeks. Beyonce is also invested in her husbands Jay-Z’s  music streaming service  Tidal.

You can download the app for Apple devices here. Click here for Android.

tidal-share.239a2bdcSpeaking of Jay-Z and Tidal things are not so smooth over there. According to an Esquire.com report the music service has been nothing but disappointing. Tidal was supposed to be the standard in high fidelity music streaming with a nice share of the money going to the artists. At least that was the original idea. And plenty of artists and music fans jumped on board. But according to reports Tidal has become known for slow download times and little if any increase in the sound quality for too much money. Complaints have surfaced that Tidal has been luring in listeners by promising a complimentary trial subscription then making it difficult if not impossible to cancel the  subscription before it automatically starts charging.  Tidal has also been stringing users along with some shady tactics like Kanye’s  Life of Pablo album release. The rapper updated The Life of Pablo with new songs right as the 30-day free trial ended.

But the news gets worse. Tidal has made some decent moves with people like having his wife Beyonce and buddy Kanye onboard but there is still the problem of money. Tidal is losing it big time!

 According to the Wall Street Journal Tidal lost $28 million last year as reported by the streaming service’s Aspiro AB holding company. That’s down another $17.4 million more over 2014. The WSJ reports that Tidal is struggling to pay its bills owing roughly $438,000 to about 100 record labels and is lacking enough on hand capital to make it through 2016. The bottom line is, Tidal bleeding to death…slowly.

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Drake, Carmelo Anthony

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Drake

According to Billboard, rap artist Drake has broke out with his his first solo hit “One Dance.’ The cut is one of two singles from his new album Views. The second cut  ‘Pop Style’ reached the top spot on the newest edition of the Billboard Hot 100. ‘Views’ skyrocketed to the top with first week sales of over 1 million units. Drake shattered the record for first-week streaming totals even though it was available exclusively on Apple Music.

Drake is an accomplished artist but has never had a number one hit he could call his own. Nine other Drake songs have made it to the top ten and come temptingly close but fell short only reaching the number two spot.  These include 2009’s  ‘Best I Ever Had’ and 2015’s monster hit ‘Hotline Bling.’ Drakes exclusive deal with Apple iTunes contributed to the album missing out on the top spot . Drake’s only other number one hit was laid on Rihanna’s 2010 “What’s My Name?” and this year’s “Work,” both rose to the top spot.

The most amazing fact of Drake’s recent success is that he sold a million units of ‘View” in less than five days on Apple iTunes and its subscription streaming service.

‘Views’ was released on April 29 and had 191 million plays by the following Tuesday blowing Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ out of the water. The biggest difference between the two releases? The services they each chose to exclusively stream through.

Let’s look at the numbers. Beyonce released “Lemonade’ through her husband Jay-Z’s Tidal music service. Drake through Apple. So its not hard to understand why Drake’s new album became so popular so quickly. He got a helluva of a lot more from Apple Music’s three times larger subscriber base than Jay-Z’s Tidal.  Apple simply had more ears to pump Drakes music into. Drake is riding high on Apple iTunes and launching a summer tour.

‘Melo’

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Carmelo Anthony

Preparing himself for life after basketball Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is setting his sites on the tech industry. Anthony has partnered with Stuart Goldfarb to promote technology entrepreneurship forming Melo7 Tech Partners a venture capital fund.

Anthony and Goldfarb hooked up socially and soon began discussing a business venture. Anthony has had a long time interest in technology and said, “The money is enticing but it’s also the thrill of being involved with businesses and companies changing the world today. Tech is changing the world in everything we do, whether it’s sports, fashion, music…. regardless of what it is tech is changing the world.”

The NBA New York Knicks are using Catapult , a wearble device to collect data and analytics on the team’s performance. “In the NBA everything is data. Everything is data driven,” said Anthony.

But ‘Melo‘ as he is known, maybe looking at some cutting edge technology investments. According to Goldfarb virtual reality and augmented reality devices are technologies that spark investment interest from the fund.

“For me the most interesting thing is fan engagement,” Anthony said. Virtual reality could give fans at home an opportunity to experience a game as if they were courtside,” he said. “And who wouldn’t want that?”

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Beyonce

beyonce-lemonade-stream-1It’s always big news when Beyonce is involved. The mega star and wife of Jay-Z released her new album, Lemonade, originally thought to be exclusively on Tidal. That didn’t last long.

Lemonade hit the Internet minutes after Beyonce’s HBO special of the same name  aired.  It’s her sixth studio album and first since 2013’s celebrated, Beyonce. Exclusive streaming releases are normally a week long venture for most artists.  The question was; does Tidal have the power to sell her album to her millions of fans?  Let’s not forget that she and hubby own the lion’s share of Tidal. She also had the option of selling it on Beyonce.com or on Tidal’s direct competitor, iTunes.

Well now it seems that the exclusive sales of Lemonade on Tidal is open to all not just Tidal subscribers. Tidal announced the record and the HBO film are now available for download worldwide for $17.99. Those who pick up the album also get 90 days of free streaming from Tidal.  This deal should appeal to Beyonce fans who are understandably hesitant about signing up for Tidal.

However,  according to a  New York Times reports  the album quickly became available on iTunes just 24 hours later. Tidal’s exclusive rights quickly expired but only for the sale of the album. Tidal is still the only place to stream the album. So, back to that question, is Tidal powerful enough to distribute the music of Beyonce exclusively? It does not seem so and Beyonce knows it.

Lets face it; Beyonce is as much a businesswoman as a performer. Tidal’s brief exclusive deal is a direct reflection of the complex, fragmented, tumultuous and generally disliked digital music business.   Beyonce’s power and presence in the music industry is the guide for many in the business. Her decision to offer the release to Tidal makes it possible to satisfy her business interests there and then quickly expand her reach to other fans in the market. It was delicate balancing act but she pulled it off beautifully.

Things are not so smooth at Tidal nor have they ever been. Since Jay-Z acquired the service it has seen numerous departures of top executives, bad business decisions and even lawsuits.  Right now Kanye West, one of Tidal’s biggest stars, is facing a class action lawsuit. A fan launched the suit claiming that a Kanye  tweet deceived millions into buying subscriptions to Tidal.

The rapper and part owner of Tidal tweeted “My album will never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale … You can only get it on Tidal.” The announcement doubled subscriptions to Tidal. But it appears West flipped the script and “The Life Of Pablo” became available on Spotify and Apple Music.

According to the lawsuit West’s tweet tricked millions of users into signing up for Tidal. By signing up for the service users surrendered important personal information including email addresses and credit card details. In addition others paid the $9.99 per month subscription fee to access the album. The lawsuit charges that Tidal unfairly benefited to the tune of  $84 million dollars as a result of the deceptive tweet.

Celebrity Cyber Report – It was Prince vs. The Internet

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Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7th 1958-     April 21st, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson departed our realm on April 21st, 2016. Departed, yes. Dead, never! We lost something more than an artist. We lost the sound, the theme song, of a generation. He was a relentless artist and warrior for freedom of expression, his expression, which so many embraced but could never copy. Prince was unlike any other and to him I say; “Nothing Compares 2 U!”

But the Prince we loved enjoyed was not one we knew very well. That was his choice and his right. Prince was a business man and he understood the music industry and he hated it.

Prince fought an epic battle with his recording company whom he labeled “slave masters.” His anger was so deep that he wrote the word “Slave” on his face and refused to use the name Prince. He became simply, “The Artist.”

And along came the Internet and the fight was on! Prince did not go to war with Warner Bros., and win, to become a slave to the Internet. It was his music, he owned it and he was not about to give it away to anybody.

“I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,”  said Prince. “They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

When it came to his music and the Internet Prince was all business. He once sued 22 fans for $22 million dollars for sharing his music and recordings of his live performances online. The Purple One was not playing around.

Prince’s aggressiveness and penchant for take-down notices earned him a “Lifetime Aggrievement Award” from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for his efforts in “silencing speech.”

But Prince was not the enemy of free speech or technology. Instead he was the protector of his name, his music and his legal ownership of it. He, like many musicians, felt the technology, the Internet in particular, was robbing them of their rightful income and royalties for the music they created. It was the reason that rap mogul Jay-Z founded Tidal music streaming service. Jay-Z re-launched Tidal this year and offers artists a greater slice of the pie for the use of their music. Tidal is only music streaming service that can offer Prince’s music legally.  Prince praised Jay Z for creating Tidal, telling a group of journalists, “We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”

In a 2010 interview Prince boldly declared “the Internet is over!”  But that does not mean he was against technology. His relationship with technology was misunderstood. Prince embraced digital distribution.

Prince set recording industry precedent in 1994 by releasing Interactive, a CD-ROM that contained unreleased music, interviews, a video game, and a virtual tour.  In 1997, Prince released Crystal Ball, a five-CD box set of outtakes and rare cuts exclusively through a website or by calling 1-800-NEW-FUNK. In 2001 Prince unveiled NPG Music Club, a monthly subscription service by which fans could get exclusive Prince content. NPG won Prince a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Prince was about his music. Many people believed he hated the Internet. That is not completely true. What he hated was the fact that his work, his artistry, was being stolen and the Internet was the tool used to do it. Prince went after bootleggers,  bloggers, YouTube and anyone who dared to use his artwork without fair compensation. It was not a war against technology. It was about getting paid fairly. And he was not alone. There are hundreds of other artists who feel the same and are still fighting to keep their work under their control.

Prince was great beyond music. He understood what technology was doing to musicians and he fought like hell to change things. For himself he won the battle. But the war wages on.

See also – Celebrity Cyber Report, Prince

Tidal Music Continues to Struggle

tidal-share.239a2bdcTidal music streaming service is still struggling to find its place in the music streaming game. Jay-Z’s baby is taking some serious body blows and its days could be numbered. Tidal has again had to shake up its leadership in the hopes surviving in this hyper competitive market. To make matters worse the company is currently fighting a lawsuit over royalties.

According Norwegian Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv  two of Tidal’s top executives, Chief Operating Officer Nils Juell and Chief Financial Officer Chris Hart have been shown the door.

Jay Z spent $56 million in 2015 to acquire Tidal. Since that time it has seen three CEOs and a host of high-level executives jump ship. After only two months Senior Vice President of Label Relations Zena Burns departed. Then former Chief Investment Officer Vania Schlogel also took a walk.

Inside the company things are getting pretty ugly. Tidal’s was once valued at $250 million. Now that number is about $100 million and Tidal is looking ripe for the picking as some companies are looking to purchase it.

Samsung, the Korean tech giant, has been eyeing Tidal for over a year.  Tidal and Samsung have been been rumored before to be ready to conclude a deal but nothing has happened. According to the New York Post the company is in negotiations to purchase the company again. Samsung has ongoing relationships with several of Tidal’s artists including Rihanna. Samsung spent $28 million to sponsor Rihanna’s new album and tour.

But Samsung is not the only player in the game. Google and Spotify are also eyeing the struggling music service. Tidal, for all its struggles, does have a nice artist collection and potential buyers see them as nice additions to their streaming offerings.

Current CEO Jeff Toig, who came over from struggling Sound Cloud,  has begun laying off staff and consolidating operations in the New York office. Tidal is also facing accusations that it failed to pay out royalties on time resulting in a class action lawsuit. Yesh Music hit Tidal with a $5 million lawsuit claiming the company stiffed them and John Emanuele​, a member of The American Dollar.

Tidal responded in a statement denying any knowledge of Yesh’s complaint. “Tidal is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them.”

Tidal has also fumbled the release new music. Critics blasted the company over the botched release of Rihanna’s latest album Anti, and Kanye West’s exclusive launch of his latest release “The Life of Pablo”  on Tidal. The criticism has been so harsh that some say this may go down as the worst release effort in the history of recorded music.

Jay-Z may have bitten off more than he can chew with Tidal. Music streaming is a highly competitive business and Tidal needs to get some traction quick. But that’s not to say the game is over. Jay-Z only paid $56 million for a company now worth $100 million. If he sells it for that much he still comes out a winner.

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kendrick Lamar

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Untitled Unmastered

Surprise! Kendrick Lamar’s just released his follow up to the runaway hit album “To Pimp a Butterfly” entitled “Untitled Unmastered. The new release is available now on Apple Music iTunesSpotifyand Tidal. By now I mean you’re already late! 

Spotify music streaming service leaked  the word about the rapper’s record earlier today with details like its track listing and album art.  Jay-Z’s Tidal service  jumped in the game by tweeting the album’s solid green cover, the first official acknowledgement that Kendrick’s next record had dropped.

Lamar has called the new record a “project” rather than an album. Cuts on the new “project” contain recordings originally made in 2013 and 2014 in preparation for “To Pimp A Butterfly”. Untitled Unmastered is an cryptic eight-song release that features the word “untitled” alongside a series of dates and nothing else. 

Lamar cleaned up at the Grammy’s with five awards last month. To further cement his presence on the music scene he put down a legendary performance of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright”at the awards show .  No question Lamar is the new cutting edge of modern hip-hop. 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kanye West

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Kanye West

Rapper, entrepreneur, magazine publisher and husband to Kim Khardasian, Kanye West is working as hard as ever. West will take over Madison Square Garden to stage a show celebrating the launch both his Yeezy Season 3 clothing line and his new album entitled T.L.O.P. The name was a mystery until E0nline.com revealed that it means “The Life of Pablo.” Now the only question is; who is Pablo?

West will live stream the event on Jay-Z’s  Tidal music service starting at 4:00PM EST Thursday afternoon. The show will be available to both subscribers and non-subscribers. The announcement caught many by surprise since it was believed that the only way to see the show would be to buy a ticket or see the show in a theater.

Tidal music service, an artists owned streaming media company simply refuses to die. It is a testament to Jay-Z’s determination as a business man. Kanye’s  streaming concert, exclusive to Tidal, is the latest success for the struggling company. These recent splashes have been a direct result of the artists who co-own the service.  Sultry  Rihanna launched her new album ANTI on the service two weeks ago, and Beyoncé, Mrs. Shawn Carter, released her new single“Formation” on Tidal just a day before her stunning Super Bowl performance. All this was provided for free to anyone.

Back to Kanye, like many of the brother’s in the hip hop game West is exercising his entrepreneurial interests by also kicking off a magazine or “Zine“as he has labeled it.  West threw a party at a Manhattan parking garage, (that was last night and you missed it!) to celebrate the Zine and his previous fashion collection Yeezy Season 2. After all this the rapper is scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live on February 13th for his first post-album performance.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Prince

 

Prince

It’s rare for Prince to have anything to do with the Internet. The artist has forbade streaming of his music or concert videos. And he’s got some nasty lawyers backing him up. But lately Prince has been showing up online and giving some serious backing to Jay-Z’s Tidal music streaming website.

Prince has released two new albums this year on Tidal. First to hit cyberspace was the surprise release Hit N Run: Phase Two. Of course Prince, being the Prolific One, the record was the follow up to Phase One released in September on Tidal. Both albums can be purchased as bundle on the Tidal website.

In the music industry Prince is power. His signing with Tidal this past summer signals that he is backing Jay-Z’s  effort to make Tidal work for artists. In a statement Prince said,  “After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay-Z and the team he has assembled at Tidal recognize and applaud the effort that real musicians put into their craft to achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry.”

In a September press release Jay-z said,  “Prince has always been a visionary, a free-thinker.  We’re honored to offer his breadth of work, “1999,” “Purple Rain,” etc., music that has inspired so many, on Tidal.  We’re also excited to be the home for his new upcoming album, HITNRUN.  Both Prince and Tidal share the belief that all creatives should have the opportunity to speak directly to those that love and support them.  This partnership with Prince represents Tidal’s philosophy in its truest form, a 1 to 1 connection and direct delivery of artistry to the world.”

This move is not the only thing  indicating that his Royal Purpleness has soften his attitude toward cyberspace.  Prince has permitted his legendary Coachella 2008 rendition of Radiohead’s Creep to finally enter the cyber realm. Prince is not normally open to having his work on the Internet and has sued those who have posted his work online.  The performance dates back to 1992 and the Royal Rocker has blocked it from being seen online until now.

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Jay-Z, Dave Chappelle, LeBron James

LeBron James Uninterrupted & Unstoppable

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LeBron James

Pro athletes will tell you nothing is more frustrating than seeing snippets of an answer to a question in the newspapers that end up being misleading or out of context . Its a major issued between athletes and sport reporters.

That’s all about to change thanks to NBA star LeBron James. James is launching a new social media platform named LeBron James’ Uninterrupted.  The platform will allow sports stars to speak out unfiltered and uninterrupted.

Sports stars have transcended beyond just athletes to become celebrities with commercials, endorsement deals and even television and movie roles. Warner Bros. and Turner Sports have seen this transition and decided to invest $15.8 million in James’ platform. According to the Hollywood Reporter the idea was originally financed by James himself along with his manager Maverick Carter. The new money from Turner and Warner Bros. help will expand content, focus on big names in sports and expand to mobile, web, and social media platforms, and even to TV and film.

LeBron told the Hollywood Reporter “It’s giving athletes an opportunity to have a platform where they can speak about any issue. They don’t have to wait to be in front of a camera.”

Already Uninterrupted has been used by athletes to speak out. New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski updated his fans about his recent injury. Other athletes that have used the platform include Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams.

James has an already impressive entertainment presence. He has appeared in Amy Schumer’s summer hit Trainwreck and he and Carter have a partnership with Warner Bros. through their company Spring Hill Entertainment.

The partnership with Warner Bros. is impressive. Together the two companies are slated to create content across multiple platforms including the web, documentary and feature films and scripted and reality television. LeBron’s entertainment venture has an expanding project portfolio besides the Uninterrupted platform. This includes Disney XD’s inspirational series Becoming, the Starz’ breakout scripted comedy Survivor’s Remorse and an upcoming prime-time game show for NBC.

Another young black man without an advanced education making big business moves.

Jay-Z & Tidal Music

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Jay-Z

Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z has announced the hiring of a new CEO for his Tidal music streaming service. Starting in January Jeff Toig, a streaming music veteran will take over the reins of Tidal Music. Toig’s resume includes positions as chief business officer at Soundcloud and a founding role in Cricket Wireless’ streaming app Muve Music.

Jay-Z refuses to give in to the constant rumors and so-called expert analysis that predict that Tidal is dead or dying. Among the rumors is hints of a partnership with Samsung but nothing has been confirmed.  This is the third CEO in just over six months at Tidal. With a new CEO Jay-Z is hoping the veteran executive can spark new life in the artist owned venture.

What Jay-Z is doing is trying to do is compete in a highly competitive space with Apple Music, Spotify and other more established music streaming services. 

But the real interesting fact of this story is that a young black man educated on the streets of Brooklyn just hired a Harvard Business School graduate  to run one of his many business ventures! The world is changing.

Dave Chappelle & Yondr

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Dave Chappelle

Comedian Dave Chappelle, like many performers, have become fed up with the presence of cell phones at their performances. Because of the steady advancements in technology many performances are being recorded and shared on YouTube and other websites. Performers are also fed up with the distraction of phones ringing during performances.

 Chappelle has joined forced with the tech start-up Yondr to shut down cellphone users during his performances. Yondr makes cellphone cases that prevents people from using their cellphones inside the venue where he will be performing. The phone case locks once it enters a defined area. If the user wishes to use the phone they must leave the area causing the case to unlock.

Chappelle is booked to perform 13 sold-out shows at Thalia Hall in Chicago beginning on December 3rd. People attending the show will have to place their phones inside of Yondr’s smartphone sleeves before entering the venue.