Egypt & Freedom Online

January 31st, 2011

Cairo Protest

Photo by Muhammad Ghafari — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

You can’t be free if you are not free to connect. Fortunately, sometimes government thuggery can lead to popular creativity.

As events continue to unfold in Egypt, the online community has been been providing more than just on the ground reporting; also circulating is information on how to get around the government’s takedown of internet and mobile access.

Here are some of the more creative and comprehensive resources:

Shervin Pishevar has created OPENMESH as a forum to exchange workarounds to these government communication crackdowns.

ReadWrite’s Hack channel follows the increased use of Tor and other solutions. Tor is a free and open source network that helps users escape from surveillance.

Wired’s How-to-Wiki is collecting recommendations, which ran the gamut from citizens band radio to ad-hoc networking to satellite phones.

We Rebuild Interfax is a community of net activists devoted to internet access for everyone, everywhwere.

Manal and Alaa’s “free speech from the bletches” proposes easy methods using good ol’ dial-up.

And, Global Voices has a special Egypt Protests 2011 section that is collecting a significant amount of on the ground reporting, news stories, global information and online resources.

When will governments realize that silence is no longer an option?

- Bill Reichblum

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On Stage, On Air, On Sale

January 24th, 2011

Lars Ulrich

Photo by Mark Wainwright — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

There is very good news from the recording industry: creativity is back in business.

As posted in KadmusArts’s daily culture and entertainment news feed, two companies, Sony Music and Universal Music Group, announced a new plan that hits the trifecta of the music business: develop careers, defeat piracy, and make money.

It has been just over ten years since Metallica took on Napster. When the demo of their song, “I Disappear”, became available on Napster, Metallica became the first music group to fight piracy on the net. Metallica sued the file-sharing company for copyright infringement.

Back then Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich, perfectly defined the issue: “We take our craft — whether it be the music, the lyrics, or the photos and artwork — very seriously, as do most artists. It is therefore sickening to know that our art is being traded like a commodity rather than the art that it is. From a business standpoint, this is about piracy — a.k.a taking something that doesn’t belong to you; and that is morally and legally wrong. The trading of such information — whether it’s music, videos, photos, or whatever - is, in effect, trafficking in stolen goods.”

In other words, before tenured academics started to lecture us about the benefits of artists relinquishing their copyrights, the music industry relied on Metallica to be the philosopher king of art and business.

Now, Sony and Universal are creating “instant pop”. Traditionally, companies release songs for air play six weeks before the songs become available for purchase. This practice, known as “setting up”, was instituted to build-up audience demand. However, the music industry has realized that the intervening time allowed plenty of opportunity for illegal downloads of the singles without revenue to the company or the artist. So Sony has developed a new approach which it calls “On Air, On Sale”. Universal will release a similar sale plan next month.

As reported by the Guardian, David Joseph, CEO of Universal Music UK, embraces the obvious: “Wait is not a word in the vocabulary of the current generation.” The music business has begun to turn the tide by realizing that instant gratification converts instant fans to instant cash.

This should spark a significant change in music marketing, as well. Previously, the business built their promotion campaigns for the first week of a release to get a high ranking in the Top 40. Now the marketing can go hand-in-hand with sales by being able to watch how well a new song is developing a fan base in real time. This change could create a more organic approach to selling artists. Instead of marketing dollars going all-in, trying to create a pre-determined hit, the dollars can be more judiciously spent by seeing what sells in the marketplace. Music companies can then have more flexibility in helping new artists have a better shot at building a hit, let alone a career.

“On Air, On Sale” is a simple idea. However, it’s one with significant ramifications. The music industry is no longer running away from our technology but embracing both the digital and social media revolutions to spark sales.

For all the festival and live event artists and fans, there’s even better news. As Tech Dirt noted in a post last March, Metallica makes more money from their performances than their album sales. Here’s the next step: On Stage, On Air, On Sale.

The recording biz is getting creative, again. As in the creation of all art, desperation can be an inspiration.

- Bill Reichblum

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Are You Free to Create?

January 17th, 2011

Ai Weiwei - So Sorry

Photo by — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

In a complicated world, there is one simple way to evaluate the integrity of a government: are artists free to create?

This does not mean analyzing how well a government supports the arts and artists, or provides artistic opportunities, or educates audiences. Those are separate and distinct issues. The question is whether one gives legitimacy to a government that views free expression as an illegitimate right.

In the 21st century, how can anyone make an acceptable argument for a government that criminalizes art?

KadmusArts’ Culture News feed tracks the continuing tension between artistic expression and governmental control. Some of the low-lights over the past days include:

- Members of the Belarus Free Theatre were arrested and harassed for participating in peaceful demonstrations. They had to sneak out of their country to be able to perform in New York with one of their signature pieces about the price of freedom.

- The Hungarian government cracked down on a free press and demanded the equivalent of loyalty oaths from arts institutions.

- The Iraqi government fortunately suspended an earlier minister’s decision which had banned the teaching of music and theatre in secondary education.

- Zimbabwe police arrested actors on stage, along with their tour manager and driver, during a performance about “national healing and reconciliation”. The charge? Criminal nuisance.

- The Chinese government razed the studio of Ai Weiwei, who is one of China’s best known visual artists and one of the government’s most outspoken critics.

Why are governments afraid of artists connecting to audiences?

Last week, to protest the Russian justice system (which does not allow defendants to sit during their trial), playwright and director Mikhail Ugarov created a movement: “drop-a-chair-off” at the doorstep of the Tverskoi Court. A simple form of participatory art became a significant political action.

And, in a still developing story, the Tunisian government cut and ran after a perfect storm of blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, and other social nets challenged presidential decisions. Today’s user generated tools shine a light on old methods.

Has a work of art ever created a political revolution? No. But, has a work of art given us insight into crimes committed in the name of politics? Yes.

In today’s world, governments have a more difficult time isolating their population and silencing their artists. That’s not just a good thing; that’s a great thing.

- Bill Reichblum

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KadmusArts 2010 Festival Year in Review!

December 21st, 2010

Are you ready to fall in love, all over again?

To celebrate 2010, sing along with one of the world’s great bands, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, as their song All Over Again creates a perfect soundtrack to the KadmusArts Festival Year in Review:

All of the images highlight only a portion of the 2010 festival producers and promoters, artists and bands, audiences and fans from 154 countries who use to travel, discover, and create.

What a great year: extraordinary live events, amazing artists, astounding audiences!

Our toast for 2011: The world is a better place when we all have the opportunity to live a festive life. Here’s hoping we see you on the road, on the stage, and on

From all of us at KadmusArts,
Happy New Year!

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Artists In Memoriam

December 13th, 2010

In Memoriam

Photo by Roberto Ruiz — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

As a way of honoring our heritage, our inspiration, and our common global culture, here’s a look back at the significant artists and producers who passed away in 2010:

Jill Clayburgh
Tony Curtis
James Gammon
Dennis Hopper
Tanie Kitabayashi
Sotigui Kouyaté
Mick Lally
Steve Landesberg
Patricia Neal
Leslie Nielsen
Kazuo Ohno
Corin Redgrave
Lynne Redgrave
Lorene Yarnell

Jerry Bock
Geoffrey Burgon
David Fanshawe
Henryk Górecki
Jacques Hétu
Benjamin Lees
Paulo Moura
Ariel Ramírez
George David Weiss

Classical Music
Rudolf Barshai
Ernest Fleischmann
Jacob Lateiner
Sergiu Luca
Charles Mackerras
Yvonne Loriod
Earl Wild

Rex Nettleford
Arnold Spohr
Doris E. Travis
Jonathan Wolken

Claude Chabrol
Alain Courneau
Clive Donner
Blake Edwards
Bud Greenspan
Mario Monicelli
Arthur Penn
Eric Rohmer
Christoph Schlingensief
Werner Schroeter
David William

Fred Anderson
Buddy Collette
John Dankworth
Bill Dixon
Martin Drew
Herb Ellis
Hotep Galeta
Noah Howard
Hank Jones
Abbey Lincoln
James Moody
Benny Powell
Billy Taylor

Helen Boatwright
Hugues Cuénod
Frances Ginsberg
Peter Hofmann
Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Philip Langridge
Siphiwo Ntshebe
Laszlo Polgar
Anneliese Rothenberger
Cesare Siepi
Giulietta Simionato
Joan Sutherland
Shirley Verrett

Herman Leonard
Jim Marshall

Bella Akhmadulina
Tuli Kupferberg
Purushottama Lal
Edwin Morgan
Adrian Paunescu
Andrei Voznesensky

Iain Burgess
Bernard Coutaz
Dino De Laurentiis
Hillard Elkins
Richard Griffey
Elaine Kaufman
Ruth Lilly
Mark Malkovich
Malcolm McLaren
Bob Mercer
Roy R. Neuberger
M. Edgar Rosenblum
John Willis


Bill Aucoin
Ron Banks
Solomon Burke
Stuart Cable
Captain Beefheart
Bobby Charles
Hank Cochran
Phelps “Catfish” Collins
Rich Cronin
Ronnie James Dio
Jimmy Dean
Kenny Edwards
Mike Edwards
Bobby Farrell
Doug Fieger
Dave Fisher
Pauly Fuemana
Harvey Fuqua
James Freud
Al Goodman
Paul Gray
Charles Haddon
Tim Hart
Richie Hayward
Dale Hawkins
Marvin Isley
Gregory Isaacs
Jackson Kaujeua
Ben Keith
Mark Linkous
Teena Marie
Kate McGarrigle
Sugar Minott
Remmy Ongala
Teddy Pendergrass
Pete Quaife
Jay Reatard
el Sabalero
Roberto Sánchez
Irwin Silber
Ari Up
Phillip Walker
Bernard Wilson
Robert Wilson
T-Bone Wolk

Eddie Fisher
Olga Guillot
Walter Hawkins
Lena Horne
Mitch Miller
Enrique Morente
Susan Reed
El Shaka

Visual Artists
Louise Bourgeois
Eric Joisel
Ken Noland

Beryl Bainbridge
Helen Chinoy
Bernard Clavel
Cecchi D’Amico
Jacqueline de Romilly
Denis Dutton
Frank Kermode
Heda Kovaly
Jiri Krizan
Harry Mulisch
J.D. Salinger
Jose Saramago
Erich Segal
Mikhail Shatrov
Alan Sillitoe
Joseph Stein
Kohei Tsuka
Tahar Wattar

- Bill Reichblum

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