NYC Nightlife, Nightclubs, Restaurants, Bars - Our Guide To New York City Entertainment

Despite the city becoming bigger and building its nightlife more for tourists, New York is still packed to the brim with plenty of nightlife for locals and travelers. NYC is known as the HUB of the Jazz world since all the greats made their names here and up and comers know this is the place to make it. New York also has some of the hottest and most exclusive dance clubs in the world. There are a lot of lounges so there are plenty of places in New York for you to find a nice comfy place to sit, drink, and listen to music. NYC caters to all ages of partiers, hosts the broadest range of huge concerts by world renowned musicians, and is world famous for the comedy clubs that the most famous comedians globally call home.

We went on a friday night looking for a nightclub with a cool atmosphere and someone recommended Ace of Clubs Nightclub so we hopped in a cab and $40 later we arrived at Ace of Clubs. When we walked in the door things just didn't seem our style. It was a little loud and the drinks were kind of pricey. So we went back to our hotel in search of something better.

On the way into the hotel we asked the woman at the desk to recommend a nightclub and she told us to check ploose which I guess is some new nightlife directory that was super easy. We typed in New York City, chose nightclub, and it showed a bunch right on the map. So we picked the closest one that said it had drink specials going on, since we had spent so much on cabs already, we went down and cabbed over to it. When we got there it was EXACTLY like it showed on that ploose site (we had watched a couple video tours so we knew what to expect). We walked in and got a table and bought a bottle of grey goose and had a great time. It was called "The Pink Elephant" (name of the nightclub). We had a great time and went back to our hotel to pass out.

We spent the next day doing touristy stuff, checking out 5th avenue, walking all around Manhattan, stopping at a couple restaurants randomly for lunch and by the time night rolled around we were exhausted. We decided we needed something a bit more low-key so we checked ploose again and found a cool little lounge nearby and decided to check it out. It was called the Sapphire Lounge. It had a really classic decor, kind of like a party in your living room. The red curtains were great! There was this hip DJ there playing some house music and the prices were very reasonable. We highly recommend it.

Sunday came around and we wanted to watch the Football game so we ploosed a nearby sports bar. We found Proof NYC and let me tell you, I was REALLY glad we went there. It had a HUGE TV and I'm talking like 8 feet long -- this TV was no joke. The bar had hardwood floors and scarlet walls. They had some great beer specials that day as well so we had lucked out. We ordered some food and sipped our drinks enjoying the last day in New York City.

Before we left town for good we had time to stop by a jazz bar called the "Blue Note". It was one of the best jazz bars I've been to in the world and to any jazz fans, I recommend it highly. It was at about half or more capacity but not too crowded, decorated beautifully and the featured musicians blew our minds!

In summary, New York City has a VERY wide selection of entertainment selections to offer. Next time we go we will check on the Opera and Broadway and give you our recommendations there.

Work hard, party harder, and get home safe.

Video Marketing to a Pop Culture

More and more websites are using video marketing techniques to reach out to consumers. They may develop a professional and informational video that includes visual links to their website and market them through places like YouTube and other similar video distribution sites.

For instance you may find there are sites that deal with entertainment news that will develop dozens of videos that consumers discover searching for information on their favorite personality. Those videos will work to direct that consumer to their primary website.

Some businesses will find that news organizations or even customers have created a video discussing or using their product. Those existing videos can be placed on the company website for consumers to view in an effort to show the value of the product or service you are offering.

If you have a video produced for online viewing you can use music and visual tone to provide the atmosphere customers might gravitate to in determining a willingness to not only buy, but to extend trust.

You should never minimize the emotional impact of the tools you use. For instance if your site deals in nostalgia then you might want to accentuate elements of nostalgia for your customers. Provide visual clues to the history of the era you are discussing. Talk about the 'good old days' and what made them good. Invite consumers to grab their own slice of memory in the form of your product line. After all, this trend is seen in restaurants across America. It is found in the family rooms of homes throughout all fifty states. Jukeboxes, pinball machines, tin signs and collectible memorabilia are some of the more common nostalgic elements. There is a market for these things so why not use visual media to market that sense of connection with a personally memorable past.

On the other hand if you were to talk about homemade pine bough furniture you might find an earthy, rootsy approach to sharing your marketing information. If you are seeking to connect with teens you would obviously look for a video that appeals to the vital need for electronic connection and individual taste.

Face it; virtually every customer has been inundated with pop culture. Consumers have a connection to the presence of video and audio. You may actually find that they intentionally seek out video on sales sites. They want to see the product or service in action. They want to visualize what life would be like with what you have to offer. They want to imagine the possibilities associated with the product.

Many will gravitate toward this type of presentation to the exclusion of reading a well-written synopsis of the product. They would rather see and hear than read. This may speak to a fundamental change in our culture, but consumers really have changed the way they want to be approached with a broad range of subjects. When it comes to consumption they often prefer visual cues first. Create something new, use existing video tools, develop visual guides and allow the use of video to enhance the user experience as well as your profit margin.

Licensing Your Music

Licensing is a great way to make money by placing your songs in film, TV, commercials and video games. This article explains what licensing is and how it works so that you can join the legions of music artists who are enjoying additional income from having their music licensed.

What is licensing?

Licensing means granting permission for the use of one's music to which you own the copyright.

Certainly the goal of an artist who writes their own music (a la the copyright owner) is to maximize the revenues generated by the musical composition.

When you license the use of your song, say in a TV show, you not only get a fee for the use of the license, but it gives the song and the artist greater exposure to the listening public, which can increase one's fame and fortune. The use of music in the TV program, "The OC," has launched the careers of several previously unknown independent artists, Rooney, in particular.

Before we dive into how to get your music licensed, we need to go over some terms that are commonly used with licensing.


Be sure to file a completed copyright form along with a copy of the music with the US Copyright office before attempting to license your songs.

You can find the forms and instructions at There are two copyrights for a song; a copyright for the sound recording (Form SR) and a copyright for the underlying song (Form PA). For our purposes here, let's clarify that we are talking about licensing original music of an Independent Artist who is not signed to a label or a publishing company and who owns both these copyrights.


Publishing is one of the most complex parts of the music business and yet it can be the most lucrative area of income for musicians. Music publishing is the owning and exploiting of musical copyrights. A song is made up of two equal shares: the writer's share and the publisher's share. Songwriters affiliate with Publishers because their main job is to commercially exploit (increase use and value of) songs. Most independent artists/musicians are their own publisher, and therefore own 100% share of the song. If that is you, then this is why you want to get educated on how to pursue licensing for your music.


The license for use of the sound recording is called theMaster Use License. The license for the underlying song is called the Synchronization License (aka synch license), used when a musical work is synchronized in time with visual images, either background, theme or feature use in TV shows and Film.

Now we know the basic terms...time to learn what to do next.

Do your research by watching existing TV programs and write down every show you think your songs would fit into. From TV programs including reality TV, types of scenes in movies, video games, and commercials. Learn to think and listen visually; everything visual has a potential sound accompaniment.

Music & Presentation

What you will send will be a CD of your music with the track listing and contact information on both the CD case and the CD label, and a great cover letter indicating the genre, maybe who you sound similar to and which production would fit the music. Do not send a bio, reviews, photo or any extraneous paper because the music is what is being considered, so the rest will just be thrown away and not strengthen your case.

Research & Relationships (DIY licensing)

This side of the business is like all the others, driven by relationships. Start networking and reaching out with purposeful letters, calls or emails to those in the film and TV industry.

A really good start for the Independent Artist is to work with college students who are working on independent films. Although there will most likely be too low of a budget to pay you, you can begin building your resume/reel of having your music placed.

Next, begin researching who the music supervisors are on the programs you seek. Check credits in TV shows and movies. Go to film festivals and conventions such as The Film & TV Music Conference that music supervisors attend and meet them. Other sources to locate them are "The Film & Television Music Guide" ( where you can find contact information for Music Supervisors and Music Publishers specializing in film and TV placement. You can also get leads by reading trade magazines like "Hollywood Reporter" and "Variety."

The Music Supervisor

Music Supervisors are constantly looking for music of independent artists who release their own CDs. Independent artists are willing to negotiate for a lesser amount (with the risk that a TV show may not even survive the season, music supervisors try to keep costs down) and can create new music without having to get permission from a label or have a label delay the time sensitive process.

If you are a fan of a particular show and your music seems to you that it would be perfect, send a letter to the musical supervisor and let them know you are a fan and you have a song that you believe will work for the show & tell them which situation/ mood it would be best for.

The better you know the business of licensing and the terms used, the more likelihood for establishing a relationship with a music supervisor who finds you easy to work with and that, along with your obvious talent, can build a lasting alliance. An insider tip from a music supervisor told me if you
write "all sync & master controlled" or "pre-cleared" on the CD label and CD case, that they will know immediately your music is ready for use which is invaluable to them when time is an issue and that alone can help your song beat out another's.

Negotiation & Getting paid

They want your song! Now what? A good idea when first licensing your music is to have a manager or attorney or someone who really understands licensing to help you evaluate the deal for use of your music. Things to be considered are intent of use, scope, and fee. Once there is a verbal agreement, make sure to get it in writing as well.

It is important not to devalue the song by licensing it for whatever a user offers. But also be aware that music supervisors may let you know their budget constraints give them no room for negotiation; that's when you determine if the exposure is going to make the deal worthwhile. Think of unknown group, A3, placing their song "Got Yourself a Gun" in the then un-known HBO pilot, "The Sopranos."

Walk away from any deal that asks for 1. your publishing 2. exclusive rights to your songs 3. your music in any way they want and for any length they want.

Good Songs in the Right place

There will always be a demand for good songs and music is used in every visual platform, so you, the artist/musician/ songwriter, have a great opportunity to make money in this business through licensing. Continue to educate yourself about publishing & licensing, continue to nurture relationships with people who place music, and continue to write and record fantastic songs.

Streaming Video Tips And Tricks For Video Producers - Taming The Video Compression Monster

This article is specifically aimed at video producers who are interested in getting the most out of their streaming video productions in terms of video and audio quality. It mainly involves the best working practices for ensuring that your streaming video wrestles well with that dastardly beast, the "compression monster", which wants to turn all your pristine video to digital mush.

I came from a background in professional video and media production in Perth, Western Australia, shooting TV commercials, independent film, corporate video, and much much more. With the advent of the internet, I became excited about the possibility of using it as a way of delivering quality streaming video advertising for businesses both in Perth and around the world. So I founded my current business, ONLINE AURA, and went into developing video specifically tailored for streaming. The problem was, although I was familiar with the theory of video compression, the most I'd ever come up against this beast was at the level of VHS or DVD production, where it occasionally wrangled but never inflicted serious damage upon me. The reality of video streaming compression was a huge adjustment however, as I watched pin sharp images shredded into digital mud before my eyes, and heard glorious soaring music turned into a horrific sequence of farts and dying bumblebees.

Over the course of time, through experience of testing and producing many streaming videos for local clients, I learnt the best practices and techniques for shooting and editing streaming video. I won't say I've tamed the compression monster, because he still lurks over my shoulder on every shoot, but I will say that I've learnt how to keep him under control and make it through the video compression process with just a few scratches here and there. So this articles includes a number of tips and guides to help you battle this beast in your next streaming video production.


1. Let there be Light - I'll start with the most obvious and what can be considered as one of the most crucial aspects in producing quality video streaming. I know there's a lot of things written about this recommending strongly-lit flat lighting (i.e - no shadows). The theory being that reducing contrast in your image means that it will compress more efficiently and you'll end up with a higher quality streaming image. This isn't quite right, as the human perception of "sharpness" relies on contrast differences, and even though a higher contrast image may in mathematical terms be less well compressed at a pixel by pixel level, it will create the illusion of being sharper to the viewer. Basically the rule for best quality is to provide a smooth ratio of contrast, and to favor large soft sources that don't over light what you're trying to shoot. Blasting light directly from your camera position over the entire scene is not going to produce favorable results in terms of streaming video quality. The best results come from soft directional sources, but there's also room for backlighting and other creative approaches.

You have to make allowances for the eventual compression, but that generally means keeping your image contrast within an acceptable ratio. Low light is obviously a problem, and night shooting can be difficult. Any grain is going to play havoc and awake the old compression monster, who will hungrily eat up every little vibrating pixel. You can use grain removing plug-ins, but they can have the effect of softening your image and will compress sometimes even worse. Crushing your black levels entirely can sometimes help, and de-saturating your image and adjusting midtones can also be useful. If you have to shoot in low-light on the street, try not too using the gain controls on your camera, and instead go for a low shutter (if your camera has it). Lower shutter speeds will generally compress better. For interview subjects in the studio, I generally use a soft key and a bit of a kicker or backlight, with just a little bit of frontal fill. For video compression I make sure the background is relatively static and defocused. Using green screen and replacing the background with a blurred still image or slowly moving blurred background works well, and keeping background colors muted helps compression.

2. Camera movement - Obviously a lot of fast camera movement is going to require higher rates of compression for streaming video. But different types of movement also have different effects. A smooth dolly shot will actually compress reasonably well but, interestingly enough, the same move-in or out using a zoom instead will not compress well, and generally zooms are to be avoided if possible. Hand-held images will tend to suffer greatly, unless they are stabilized later using a software plug-in such as Steadymove. Steadicam shots can work reasonably well if done well. Unfortunately most steadicam shots contain a bit of 'float' which, although barely perceptible to the average viewer, will not compress as well as a genuine dolly or track shot. Locked off shots will obviously compress best, though it is dependent on what's in front of the camera!

3. Motion in front - Certain things compress well, while certain other things compress poorly. Water and waves look beautiful and crystalline on DVD, but in the streaming video world they fall to pieces. They carry took much randomly moving fine detail. The same with leaves blowing on a tree in the wind. If you're shooting an interview or spot with someone in front of a tree with fine leaves on a windy day, you should consider moving them to take in a background with less motion. Obviously you want to have things moving in your camera frame to provide interest (that's the whole point of having video over a slide show), but think about how much of the frame is moving. If you can isolate your moving subject with a longer lens and have the background blur out, that will compress better and also appear sharper to your viewer. Because of the small screen size, when shooting people move in a bit tighter. Close ups can be most effective.

4. VBR and the art of "compression accounting" - You should know that using Variable Bit Rate for your video will provide a significant quality boost for most videos over standard CBR (constant bit rate). But to maximize the quality of your streaming video you may need to take advantage of this variable bit rate capacity by doing what I refer to as compression accounting.

What's that? Imagine I have a budget of $250 per day for a month to buy whatever goodies I want. In a strict CBR world I get $250 at the start of the first day, and, regardless of whether I spent the whole lot or not, it would go back to zero at the end. The second day I'd get $250 again and so on. So, in CBR world, I may as well spend all of my $250, because there's no saving for the next day. If I see a $800 guitar in the window, I can't buy it, because I'll never have that much money, and I have to settle for a poorer quality $200 one instead. In VBR world however, there is saving. If I don't spend my $250 on the first day, and instead spend $150, that means I can spend the $100 I saved some other time. In effect, I can restrict my spending in the present so I can buy that $800 guitar in the future with the money I saved. If you've uncovered the meaning in my torturous analogy, what this means is this - when shooting in VBR mode I've got an idea of how many data bits I've got to play with and I can spread them out accordingly. Knowing that I want to shoot something with a lot of camera movement, like a dynamic steadicam shot through a crowd of moving people, I know that I should balance that out with a couple of locked off shots with little or no movement. It's the equivalent of spending $800 on that guitar (the steadicam shot), by scrimping on other days (i.e. shooting the lock-offs). When it comes to encoding, the encoder will look at the video on the first pass, note the amount of movement in each shot and work out an average level of compression for each shot given the total average it has to play with. The steadicam shot might take 800kbps while the lock-off shots only take 80-100kbps. So the trick is balancing out the number of complex and simple shots to take best advantage of VBR compression. With any luck you'll have a good balance and end up with much better use of compression to give you a better quality streaming video.

5. Shoot progressive - Shooting for streaming video means that you're producing for a computer screen, which is typically an LCD. The way computer process moving images is fundamentally different from your typical TV. I could write three thousand words about the technical differences, but basically the conclusion is that progressive scanned or de-interlaced video perfectly fits the way a computer monitor displays these images. Interlaced video (which contains fields) displays motion perfectly well on televisions, but will traditionally not encode motion well with streaming video, creating motion artifacts and occasional streaking effects. The best option is to shoot with a camera that delivers images in progressive scan mode. While there are high-end professional cameras, most consumer models won't. However the prosumer models produced by Canon, namely the XL-1, XL-2 and XM2, all feature a 'frame' mode that make these cameras adapt well to streaming video. Failing that, videos should be de-interlaced either at the editing stage using software (e.g Premiere Pro, Avid), or at the encoding stage. Quality encoders such as Canopus procoder typically offer de-interlaced delivery.


1. Classical cuts - The compression factor of streaming video means that a classical shooting style produces better results than MTV style camerawork. And the same thing applies to editing. Although editing still has to be pretty snappy to fit within the time format, there aren't the fancy flash frames and transitions you would normally favor when shooting for TV or DVD delivery. One of the great sacrifices I actually felt in the early days of producing streaming video advertisements was when I had to lose the simple cross-dissolve. Cross-dissolves are one of the most commonly used transitions between shots and before I started to produce streaming video for the web I used them frequently. Unfortunately cross-dissolves don't compress well, and if you watch streaming videos carefully you will notice during the dissolve from one shot to the next there are a lot of artifacts - a sure sign that the transition effect is gobbling up valuable compression dollars! A straight cut is simply the most efficient way to go, and if you take a look at almost all the streaming video examples featured on my website, you'll see that every single transition is a straight cut. That might seem limiting, but after a while of doing videos like that, you'll learn to use that method of editing, and strangely enough it'll also help you construct sequences better. It may seem strange to some with high-end video editing software with literally hundreds of available transitions, but you'll actually begin to appreciate the art of editing more when you're able to create a rhythm and flow from straight cutting.

2. Grade your image for LCD and compression - Another difference between standard TVs and computer LCDs are the way they process colour. When grading for streaming video delivery you have quite a bit of latitude for "souping-up" the colour, as they will typically display more colour saturation that most televisions. Grading images is another key to making sure your final streaming video looks its best online. Beefing up contrast using levels filters or unsharp mask filters is another way of creating the perception of a sharper video image, and counteracts both the softening effect of LCD displays as well as the somewhat washed out effect produced by some encoders during the video compression process. Remember there are trade-offs to overdoing it with the colour though - it takes more compression to process those saturated colours. If you're after maximium sharpness at low bit-rates, you should actually consider de-saturating the colour or going all the way and having it in B&W or monochrome.

3. Different aspects - One thing you may actually take advantage of creatively as a producer of streaming videos is that you can create streaming videos with virtually any aspect ratio you desire. From ultra-widescreen to vertical skyscraper formats, you're not limited by the aspect ratio of your TV or camera. This has partly to do with the fact that, when you're producing video streaming ads, your screen size or dimensions are smaller that your originally captured image. So all kinds of cropping effects can take place. This can be useful also when producing videos that are part of banners, alongside other graphics. If your editing software supports different aspect ratios, experiment with this, or if it doesn't, you can always crop later in an encoding program. You may even choose to edit in a compositing program like Adobe After Effects, which permits you any screen size and aspect ratio you desire.

4. Different speeds - One thing that can compress well is slow motion. The difference between successive frames is usually small and so it compresses reasonably well. I use a special frame-blender to produce very smooth slow motion video effects and reduce the choppiness of video slow motion. Another thing I end up doing sometimes in regard to motion is using quick short ramps (fast motion) within shots. This can eat up data, as you end of with a lot of difference between successive frames, but it does give videos plenty of energy, and if the ramp is quick the damage can be minimal. Adding a keyframed blur within the ramp can work to minimize this if you're doing a whip-pan move as well.

4. Audio - Audio quality is just as important as video. If you skimp on audio, it'll bring down the whole level of your production. If you're employing voice-over, make sure your talent speaks clearly and try and EQ them tight, which sometimes means backing off bass frequencies and creating a punchy middle. Music is also very important. For those who have to use generic or stock music, try and favor simple arrangements and back off the cheese factor. Arrangements with short punchy sounds, like percussive instruments, compress better than long dense sounds, like a string orchestra. It all depends on how you encode this of course. In the early days, in order to maximize the video bit rate, I'd use very low audio rates. Using windows media encoding, I'd use their "voice codec" at 20kbps mono. If your mix of voice and music is sharp and punchy, it'd hold up reasonably well, as long as the music didn't feature a lot of dense sustained notes. As more people have gotten faster connections, I've upped the bit rate and now tend to use 32kbps stereo (albeit at a lower sample rate) or sometimes higher. A good mono sound is preferable to a stereo sound that's breaking up due to compression, so be careful. The one great thing about using Windows media, as opposed to Flash, is that you can produce good quality audio at very low bit-rates, because the windows audio codec is remarkably good and far superior to mp3. If you have to encode in Flash, try and see what codec is being used for your audio. The best mp3 codec widely in use is the LAME codec.

5. Delivery Formats - When I started, there were really 3 major formats for streaming that I felt were an option: Windows media, Realplayer and Quicktime. A lot of testing went into it, and basically it came down between Windows media and Realplayer. At the time I felt Realplayer offered slightly better quality and better colour saturation, though because of the widespread use of windows media player (thanks to the monopolizing of Gates' Microsoft), Windows media was my preferred delivery format. For me, Real and Quicktime have basically fallen off the radar in terms of streaming video. Now it's down to two options - Windows media and Flash 8. Flash was never really efficient enough before to offer a true alternative to the others, but with the widespread acceptance of the Flash format for video and the improvement of Flash video with the new On2 codec, it is a real option. The ease in which it is able to integrate into webpages, as well as Flash-created files, makes it very tempting. It still doesn't offer the overall efficiency of Windows, which at a compression level for video and audio still wins out. You'll have to choose yourself what's best for your streaming video delivery format.

Also, when I started, I was doing exclusively real streaming, that is, intelligent multi-bitrate streaming using a Windows streaming server. I released however that, if I wanted to produce very high quality content at reasonable bit rates, then streaming wasn't quite going to do it for me. That's why progressive download, with its 2-pass VBR, basically won me over as a way of delivering short (typically 2minutes or less) video advertisements online. I'll use intelligent streaming for other things which require low bit-rates, such as audio and still sequences, but that's about all.

I hope this has given you a few ideas about best working practices for producing streaming videos, whether they be for online advertising, video blogs or whatever. Video streaming carries with it a particular set of work practices that set it apart from the production demands of other media, like DVD. Having an idea of those factors before you go into a streaming video production will hold you in good stead, and help you to produce a much better end result.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to catch up with you sometime down the track with more articles. You can visit my website at [] or email me with questions.

Developing a Classical Piano Repertoire and Building a Music Library

One need not be a concert pianist to take the time and effort to develop a substantial repertoire. What does "repertoire" mean anyway? In short, repertoire is a body of works or songs that forms the pianist's core or foundation. (Technically, a "song" has lyrics while a "work" or "piece" has no lyrics. The word "song" is often misused.) Many pianists believe that one must keep all pieces "under the fingers" or readily playable at all times and that this constitutes one's repertoire. I believe, however, that repertoire implies something more all-encompassing. Let us now examine the term and explore the most efficient ways to develop, expand, and nurture it:

Five Golden Rules of Building a Substantial Piano Repertoire

1. Practice, practice, practice
2. Micro-cycle works you are currently practicing
3. Macro-cycle works throughout your life
4. Consider that no work is ever "finished"
5. Constantly add books and sheet music to your library

The first rule of practicing hardly needs explaining. To become better and more proficient at anything, one must do it, do it often, and love doing it with all one's heart and soul. Tiger Woods did not become a great golfer by nibbling on snacks and watching TV. The world's best surgeons did not get there by hanging out in bars and drinking beer. Likewise, an aspiring pianist wishing to have fun and success playing hundreds of songs or works will never get there by neglecting to practice on a regular basis. Ideally, one should practice not out of obligation, but rather out of the love of music and heart-burning desire to improve.

The second rule of micro-cycling works constitutes the pianist's short-term plan, which may range anywhere from a few weeks to several months or perhaps a year at the most. This is what most people imply with the word "repertoire", since it is the timeframe in which one could sit down at any time and play (preferably from memory) a set number of works. I have found the best results for micro-cycling by focusing on about five works at a time. For example, I will often spend an entire week practicing exclusively one work (like a Joplin rag), the next week exclusively another work (like a Mozart sonata), and the next week exclusively another work (like a Liszt étude). Then, I may not even touch them at all for two months and, upon returning to one of them, it feels like "meeting an old friend" which accelerates its re-learning phase. What once took a week to accomplish now takes only a couple days. Ideally, the pianist should strive to learn, forget, and then relearn works in monthly, weekly, and daily cycles. This is the eternal and never-ending plan I follow when practicing and preparing for my YouTube videos.

The third rule of macro-cycling works constitutes the pianist's long-term plan, which may range anywhere from one to ten years. A thirteen-year-old just starting out usually does not realize that what is learned in these formative years sets his/her musical foundation for life. Writing this article at the age of 47 and having begun piano at the young age of 6, I am constantly amazed at just how resilient and powerful the human brain really is. For example, I began practicing Mendelssohn's "Rondo Capriccioso" this week after it had lain dormant and totally untouched for 27 years, and I was shocked when it came back to me memorized again in only three days. What took as long as three months to learn well at the age of 20 took me only three days to relearn as well or better at the age of 47. This is one of the intriguingly satisfying aspects about music and piano repertoire. All music ultimately remains in your conscience and forms your "musical identity" until the day you leave this earth. It is never too late to learn piano, develop a repertoire, and tap into the power of one's musical memories. After I work on the "Rondo Capriccioso" for a week and record it for YouTube, I will most likely not touch it again for several years.

The logical successor to the third rule of macro-cycling is the fourth rule of considering a work to never be finished. When I was a freshman music major in college at the young age of 18, I thought works became "finished" after performing them in a recital or concert. My usual plan of action was to work on a set number of pieces for a semester or year, "finish" them, and then move on to the next pieces my professor assigned. Now at 47 I can't help but smirk at my youthful innocence. As demonstrated with my "Rondo Capriccioso" experience, I have learned through time that no work will ever be finished. Never. Micro- and macro-cycling piano repertoire is the bread of the pianist's musical life. These cycles continue until the end just like food and water. I am constantly resurrecting works once thought to be finished, and never have I been more content with my musical evolution and progress.

While the first four rules constitute the mental or immaterial components of developing a large piano repertoire, the fifth rule of constantly adding books and sheet music to one's library constitutes the physical or material component. Just as one cannot wash dishes without first buying or acquiring plates, cups, and utensils, a pianist will never succeed in developing a large repertoire without buying or acquiring printed music. Most people refer to all printed music as "sheet music", however, this is really a misnomer. Technically, "sheet music" refers to single works of up to about four pages at the most. For example, I recently ordered "My Heart Will Go On" from my preferred music company, Sheet Music Plus. (Although I am primarily a classical pianist, I also enjoy practicing pop music from time to time.) Being a single title, it is correctly referred to as sheet music. On the other hand, William Bolcom's "Complete Rags For Piano", which I also ordered from Sheet Music Plus, is not sheet music at all but rather a "music book" or "music volume" because it is thick and contains 21 titles. (Please excuse me for this clarification, but the term "sheet music" is often misused.)

I love my music library and still play from books I have had since the age of 10. I always find new books and sheets to buy, cherish, and add to my library. I am constantly branching out and exploring new repertoire. In the age of the internet, the use of free PDFs has become far too rampant in my opinion. PDF printouts often last only a few weeks at the most because they get lost or torn so easily. I do rely on free PDFs sometimes, however, 98% of my music library consists of sheet music and books I paid for. Although any music published before 1922 is in the public domain, and thus legally free to everyone, one is cheating oneself by relying too heavily on free PDFs. Books last a lifetime and can be used and reused until the end of one's life. Refusing to buy music and trying so desperately to get it all for free is like eating from paper plates and plastic utensils. A pianist will never formidably expand his/her repertoire without acquiring the physical accessories (i.e. books) along the way. Let us conclude with a story.

Once when I taught piano at a college, a student came to his lesson with the first movement of Beethoven's "Appassionata" copied on twelve thin sheets of fax paper. They did not stay on the music rack and constantly fell onto the floor. This went on for a whole semester until I almost ripped out all my hair and suffered a coronary. Forever thereafter, I forbade the use of PDF printouts in my studio and began encouraging students to buy the music from a store like I did when I was in college (pre-internet days, imagine that!). Had my student invested a little money in a volume of Beethoven's sonatas (as much as it costs to go to a movie and order popcorn), he would have had the "Appassionata" as well as thirty more great sonatas for the rest of his life. However, instead of investing in his future he chose the cheap way. The moral of the story is that quality and longevity prevail and that it is in one's own best interest to develop and nurture one's music library throughout the course of one's life. The immaterial and material work in unison. Physical and non-physical. Yin and Yang. (In Chinese philosophy, the "yin" or "feminine" equates to the immaterial or ephemeral aspect of practice and cycling while the "yang" or "masculine" equates to the material accessories like music books and sheets.)

So there it is in a nutshell: practice, micro-cycle, macro-cycle, no work is ever finished, constantly add music to one's library. These are the five golden rules of building a substantial piano repertoire. Thank you for your time, and happy practicing!

Using Participatory GIS to Forge Links Between Local People's Perspectives and Conservation


The mapping of indigenous lands to manage natural resources, and strengthen cultures is a recent phenomenon, having begun in Canada and Alaska in the 1960s and in other regions during the last decade and a half. (Chapin et. al. 2005). Ghana as a signatory to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992 and subsequently ratifying the Convention of Biological Diversity have searched for participatory methods and practices that would help manage and protect their natural resources.

A practice considered significant in mapping these indigenous lands for biodiversity protection is the Participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS). This geomatic tool is a combination of Geographical Information Systems supported by Participatory Rural Appraisal Approach. In recent years, the term PGIS has become more popular and drawn an increasing attention of GIS researchers and practitioners, particularly in its application in the development and biodiversity conservation context in developing countries.

Biodiversity and Conservation Goals

The overall goal of this research is to assess the relevance of PGIS for the conservation of biodiversity at the village and local level by looking at conditions for PGIS and the conservation of the Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. My objective in this project is to apply PGIS spatial tools to help conserve the Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary which is situated in the heart for the Nkoranza district of the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana.

The design of a participatory geographic information system would be developed into an 'intelligent' GIS map depicting the areas cultural diversity using photographs, sound, video, cognitive maps and other audio visuals. The functionality of this approach is to support local cultural relationships and institutions, provide an opportunity for contemporary expression and innovation and ultimately attract tourist to the area to generate cash for the locals. PGIS would be valued for its practical efficiency and effectiveness, low cost, and its responsiveness to goals of empowerment and legitimacy in biodiversity conservation.

Literature Review

Since 1990s, GIS has been claimed as a magic tool in Natural Resource Management as the perfect answer to each and every resource problem. (Heit and Shortreid 1991). In context of areas where multi-ethno linguistic situation exits, it is very easy for people from different groups to communicate on issues related to spatial dimension within the area. Therefore, it is highly useful for negotiation situation in which spatial conflicts are involved (Rambaldi, Bugna et al. 2002). The need for predictive in addition to descriptive natural resource inventory using computer-based methods was argued by Nix and Gillison (1985)

[1] This discussion influenced the choice of PGIS in conserving biodiversity in this report. Geographic information systems however, have the capability to handle several kinds of information that can be related to a location or area. In this case, culture, biodiversity and tourism. Mackay [2] In his discussion on the role of GIS and environmental modeling argue that there is no single ecological unit of analysis, rather a variety of ecological phenomena are the foci of studies, which includes populations, species, communities, habitats and ecosystems. According to his thesis managers require lines on maps saying where things are, and what can or cannot be done with them. Any emphasis to identify valuable biodiversity spots may have to implore the application of GIS technology which besides its contribution in scientific studies, has been accepted as an effective and efficient tool for decision-makers. The incorporation cultural landscapes to promote conservation and tourism are imperative in this case.

The Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary which is the focus for this study is in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana and lies within three villages which are Buabeng, Fiema and Dotobaa in the forest Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. This region forms part of the transitional zone between the country's coastal rainforests and its dry grassland interior. It serves as the habitat protecting the resident black and white (Colobus polykomos), Mona Monkeys (Cercopithecus campbelli) andred colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni)and which are important to the cultural and sacred beliefs of the local people. (Fargey, 1992). The monkeys' lives together with humans and large groups are easily found in the forest and within the villages. There are about 500 Mona monkeys in the sanctuary covering an area of about 4.4 square kilometers. The sanctuary protects Research surveys in Ghana by Oates et. al., (2000) confirmed endangered the Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey (Procolobus badius waldroni), a primate taxon endemic to this forest area of Ghana and enlisted as extinct by IUCN Red List (IUCN Red list 2006).

The monkeys are seen as their 'totem' which are mammalian representations of various tribal/clan groupings of the Akans, a Kwa language spoken ethnic group in Ghana. The term 'totem' comes from a North American Indian language, and it has been widely used to refer especially to objects of the animal and vegetable kingdoms which are held to be in a special relationship with particular groups of people, or individuals in a society. (Beattle, 1964: 219). These totems are based on rules of taboos. Etymologically speaking, 'taboo' is a derivation of the Polynesian term 'tabu'which means forbidden. It is applicable to any sort of prohibition regarding certain times, places, actions, events and people etc. especially, but not exclusively, for religious reasons. Sarpong (1974), a renowned Ghanaian traditional writer suggest that taboos could be adopted to signify a prohibition of any kind. In this case towards the conservation of wildlife. An oral local folklore

[3] has it that: "A hunter who once lived in Buabeng, sometime in 1842 came into contact with a spirit being called 'Daworo'. The spirit led him to the forest one day and saw five monkeys gathered around a pot covered with calico. The hunter was enthralled and could not shoot them. Upon consulting Daworo, he was told to treat monkeys as relatives. 'Dawuro' asked the hunter to take the calico home and when he did that the monkeys followed him home. With time the number of the monkeys increased and the fortunes of the hunter also increased. The hunter attributed his improved material condition to his association with the monkeys and this led to a symbiotic relationship that has persisted to this day. "

Till today any monkey that died was buried and funeral rites held for it just as human Sanctuary to kill any of the monkeys which inhabit the forest and around their villages. The sanctuary is an important example of how traditional values in Ghana have resulted in wildlife conservation. It is however saddening that recent survey conducted by Conservation International (CI, 2000) revealed that about 98% of the over 200 animals represented as totems in Ghana are either extinct, endangered or threatened.

In order for the sanctuary to operate in its potential as a tourist destination there is the need to combine effective and efficient strategies that can be supported by geomatics defined by its comprehensiveness, sustainability and sustainable socio-economic importance. The Global Biodiversity Strategy for successful conservation recognizes this link. For instance, they note that "there must be new contacts and partnerships within communities bringing biologist and resource managers together with social scientists, political leaders, farmers, journalist, artists, planners, teachers and lawyers. There must be a dialogue between central and local governments, industry and citizens groups''. (WRI et. al., 1992:20).

The involvement of citizen groups cannot be overestimated. Hunting and gathering cultures around the world have left carvings and paintings of animals on rocks and in caves, demonstrating the universality of their mystic connections to these animals. Riane Eisler's in her book 'The Chalice & the Blade: Our History, Our Future' (1987) commented that the people of Catal Huyuk and Hacilar (in modern Turkey), drew animal symbols on the walls of their homes and shrines, incised them on pottery, and featured them in sculptures, clay figurines, and bas beliefs. In the case of the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary these totems are still prevalent in the cultural practices of the local people who practically are living with these monkeys. Harnessing this unique feature in conservation by combining the use of participatory GIS geomatics within the cultural landscape would be a win-win situation both for the communities, tourist and nature at large.

Jurisdiction Agencies

District Assembly Authority

Ghana Wildlife Service

Forestry Commission

Ministry of Lands and Forestry

Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Environmental Protection Agency

Ghana Tourist Board

Social Groups

Traditional Authorities

Village Opinion and Leaders

Local hunters Association

Farmers Association

Council of Women Leaders

NGO's and Research Institutions

Conservation International

World Wildlife Federation

Ghana Association of Conservation

Friends of the Earth

Tropenbos - Ghana Program

CARE - Livelihood

University of Science and Technology

UNESCO, Ghana.

Ghana Museums and Monument Board

The Research Design Process:

The design process after identifying the location of project and stakeholders would comprise the following phases; 'before fieldwork', 'during fieldwork' and 'after fieldwork as indicated in the charts below.

Chart 1 indicating the research design process

Before filed work the selection and description of indicators to represent 'good governance of project' would be established. These indicators must be relevant, reliable and valid in describing and assessing the complex PGIS processes. Issues like who are the actors or stakeholders, what activities are involved, what GIS tools are needed, what is our output and finally how would the degree of participation be measured should be of prior concern to the project team.

  • Cognitive map (using PRA) showing landmarks, sacred areas, farms, etc
  • Training on GPS tools for survey
  • Survey and community demarcations with local people
  • GIS produced Mapping/Transect walking to determine the boundaries
  • Participatory Inventory map production and validation
  • Map showing Biodiversity Management Zones with Audio files, Photographs and Art. Audio file would include historical references on the sanctuary backed by traditional drum music.

A final consultative meeting would be conducted and synthesized into a Conservation Management Plan for the area. The most appealing aspect of the map is how the various aspects of information are linked together with its respective spatial features. This hotlink would feature audio descriptions of particular descriptions enhancing the images displayed pictorially and in text.

Functions of PGIS for local Villagers

The need for information systems in the wake of renewed global emphasis on local level planning and participatory decision-making makes PGIS imperative. The various aspects of indigenous knowledge, detailed information and impartial analysis are necessary and critical. This project support local cultural relationships and institutions. A clear understanding of the 'insider and outsiders' of indigenous spatial knowledge is essential. The vernacular technical knowledge, social and detailed spatial knowledge belonging to the people is solicited to help control the overall conservation plan. Traditional methods of resource management and decision making are highlighted whilst traditional records and documents are preserved for future reference. With its potential tourist appeal information gathered through PGIS will expose the investment potential of the area and also provide an advanced platform for marketing the sanctuary to generate cash.

Evaluation and Analysis

Chart 2 indicating the PGIS cycle

Typical in the research area is the issue of poverty. Many attempts were made by governments to improve the situation however, these activities are scattered in time and lack of coordination. There is a need for a common medium of detailed conservation plan which would lead to common understanding between different involved parties. It is anticipated that the spatial information, maps and the necessary practices involved in the preparation of a PGIS through the PGIS cycle would be help them address these needs.

The issue of cost cannot be underestimated in the PGIS process. In the face of scarcity of resources and basic needs, using PGIS for database generation can seem luxuries beyond sensible search for opportunities. The cost of raw data capture, equipments, software, training of human resources and other institutional costs counts as challenge to its implementation. One would not be far from right if the cost for data collection, maintenance and human resource training becomes much greater than the cost for hardware and software.

Who funds these costs, the locals, central governments, NGO's, or private sector? Participatory resource maps are usually spatially confined to the social, cultural and economic domains of those who produce it. Thus, in the case in the case of the Buabeng-Fiema sanctuary where monkey habitat cross over to another administrative jurisdiction the production of a sufficient number of community-specific sketch maps becomes unrealistic from both practical and financial points of view. Then also experience has shown that bureaucracies tend to pay little attention to informal documents, including sketch maps. In this case the translation of these local maps into officially authoritative information may not be enthusiastically available.

It is however expected that an appropriate use of a CODA (Conservation Options and Decision Analysis) digital decision making tool would assist the conflict resolution process. CODA is a relatively affordable DSS software designed to provide a framework and a set of tools to aid in the conservation planning process. Its iterative or minimum set algorithm helps identify the smallest or least costly set of selections that fulfills conservation requirements especially for poor peoples. The CODA system produces a network of areas which meet specified conservation objectives which the user may modify the network produced and "iterate" to an acceptable solution as explained by Bedward in his introduction to CODA [4] It is hoped that CODA could be used to perform successive analyses, using the results of each test as the basis for further research which has been noted as a weakness to PGIS.


The implicit assumptions addressed by this paper are that articulating PGIS at the local level to conserve biodiversity is very essential. It is an effective tool which combines strategic processes and tools to meet local people's needs. However a conscious effort has to be made to reorient the community as well as the technology to demonstrate the linkages of PGIS and its potential in solving the community problems. Simultaneously, a unique and affordable user-technology interface will have to be developed to ensure sustainability of the concept especially in making sure that the needs of the local people are actually met. Moreover, the success of such concepts should not be measured in terms of development of participatory interactive maps or creation of a low cost affordable PGIS maps but should be measured in terms of the evolved consciousness of the people of Buabeng, Fiema and Dotobaa towards the proper use of the Monkey Sanctuary.

Literature Cited:

Beattle John. (1964). Other cultures, Aims, Methods of Achievements of social Anthropology, London.

Conservation International, (2000). 'Assessment of Bushmeat Trade during the annual closed season on hunting in Ghana'. CI & FAO Publication & Collaboration

Chapin M, Lamb Z, Threlkeld B., (2005). ­Mapping Indigenous Lands. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 34: 619-638

Eisler, Riane (1987). The Chalice & the Blade: Our History, Our FutureHarper & Row.Fargey, PJ (1992). Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. An example of traditional conservation in Ghana. Oryx. Vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 151-156. . New York:

Heit, M. and A. Shortreid, Eds. (1991). GIS applications in natural resource. Colorado, GIS World.

IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. >. Checked on 30 March 2006.

McCall, M. K. (2003f). Participation in spatial planning for Environmental planning & Natural resource management. Enschede, the Netherlands, ITC.

Oates, J.F., M. Abedi-Lartey, W.S. McGraw, T.T. Struhsaker, and G.H. Whitesides, 2000, 'Extinction of a West African Red Colobus Monkey', Conservation Biology, Vol.14, No.5.

Preliminary Assessment of a Conflict Resolution Case in the Philippines. ASEAN Biodiversity, Vol. 2 No. 1, 17-26. ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), Los Baños, Philippines. Access date: 5 June 2003.WRI (1992). Global Biodiversity Strategy. World Conservation Union and United Nations Environmental Program. Washington DC.: World Resources institute

Rambaldi, G., S. Bugna, et al. (2002). Bringing the vertical dimension to the negotiating table - Preliminary assessment of a conflict resolution case in the Philippines, Asean Biodiversity, Online [PDF, 803 KB, 10 pages] file;

Sarpong P, (1974). Ghana in Retrospect. Some aspects of culture of Ghanaian culture. Ghana Publishing Corporation.

WTO, (1999) Tourism Marketing Trends Africa 1989-1998. World Tourism Organization & Commission for Africa.

Interactive Media - The New Golden Goose of Branding?

Interacting with your customers in today's business world has become a must.
Does this sound like too much of a strong statement? Well, maybe "must" somehow overplays what is today's reality, but it is indeed true, since all you hear marketers and advertisers talk about lately concerns interactive medias, how these are changing their panorama and how much are they gaining momentum.

In fact, a recent research conducted by WPP's GroupM shows that interactive media's share of worldwide advertising expenditures is likely to reach 15% in 2009, which would be double from four years ago. And apparently, this will remain the main source of growth, as advertising spending in traditional media seems to be on the decline.

So what is this all about?

At Labbrand, we have looked at how interactive medias are changing not only the world of advertising, but also branding practices in general.

Our starting point for this article comes from the core of our own brand vision: the key to every successful brand is continuous innovation. Being on the forefront and differentiating yourself meaningfully once you're there are the most important means brands have to satisfy market needs and ultimately gain customer loyalty.

Naturally, every well-conceived communication strategy needs to be well-balanced to achieve the brand's different communication goals. As for increasing mass brand awareness, traditional media has been and still remains the better performing tool that a brand can use, especially in the short run.

However, when analyzing brand communication from a wider angle, it becomes clear that traditional tools are becoming obsolete. TV and radio commercials, web banners, sponsored links, magazine and newspapers ads, billboards...for decades people have been bombed with a multitude of promotional messages dictating what to buy, and how to do it. Well, now that there are the means to answer, people can and want to have their say on this!

Furthermore, and maybe even more importantly, as the market changes at an ever-increasing speed, it has become more and more difficult for marketers to spot and understand new trends in order to develop products & services relevant to their customers.

In this context, interactive medias give marketers a practical tool to:

1) Conduct interactive advertising campaigns: either by involving consumers in the creation of the ad or by creatively engaging them in the message through interactive medias.

2) Have consumers experience your brand outside purchase-like environments. Interactive medias give people the tools to try, play, and live your brand, which eventually can forge a closer bond between this and its potential or existing users.

3) Conduct research among groups of consumers that are gathered online, in communities, networking sites, groups and industry blogs, or that are linked together through interactive media devices.

4) Empower consumers with the means to co-create and co-develop new products and services.

These four issues are, we believe, the reason why interactive medias are taking, and will take even more into the future, such an important role for advertising and branding.


Companies and professionals have been talking about this for a decade or so already, but it is only in the recent few years that marketers have begun to conceive and launch interactive advertising campaigns. And apparently the initiative has been really successful, as more and more brands are now following pioneers' example.

One of these examples goes back to 2004, when Converse launched one of the first interactive advertising initiatives to date: consumers were asked to create videos showing what the brand meant to them. The result - the Converse Gallery - is a collection of 24 second-videos, made entirely by customers, the best of whom were broadcast on the Converse website, as well as on cable networks. Getting consumers involved in the creation of ads promoted the brand image among target audiences. Also, videos developed by brand fans could quite intelligently address the real meaning of the brand in consumers' minds, in a way likely more meaningfully than traditional promotional messages.

And what about the more recent Nokia project 95 in China? The brand launched a blog-supported N95 road show: Peter Schindler, an experienced traveler, has been called to do a one man road trip across the country and maintain a mobile blog of the whole experience. What a smart way to show and advertise the mobile capabilities and functionalities!

What is really important to note here is that even if brands want to ignore interactive medias, interactive medias are not likely to ignore them!

Online communities, networking sites, industry or users blogs...brand fans and consumers groups are well up and active. Moms talk to each other from one side of the world to the other about diaper brands (very often enabled by the brand itself i.e.: P&G's research section), while sports fans get tuned in on the latest trends and models of their favorite brands through communities. Communities suggest, advise, judge, and complain about brands, creating buzz that can affect the brand both positively and negatively. And they do it regardless of brands themselves.

By ignoring them, brands can be swept up by the noise. However, by using them smartly, brands can participate and somehow lead the conversation inside the community. And if it is true that "buzz advertising" is not easily controllable, it is also true that it can spread virally and it can arouse immediate awareness about new products launches and brand messages in users' circles.


And what can be said about initiatives in interactive brand experiences? These might not be called direct advertising, but they surely end up creating relatively more brand awareness among industry fans, while performing better than any ad in spurring customer loyalty.

Take Nike ID for instance. The sport brand website gives people the instruments to build on-line customized shoes which can then be bought to order. The attractiveness here is not really in selling customized shoes (even if triggering sales can never be discarded - and what is advertising about if not triggering sales?) but rather in letting customers play, experience, and live Nike, eventually feeling unique and irreplaceable.

Exemplary interactive brand experience campaigns in Asia can be found in the Adidas "The Rook" campaign. This ran throughout 2007 across China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the Philippines and was based entirely on an interactive digital web platform that enabled users to "live" a rookie's first season in the NBA. Web users were given access to exclusive footage and 3D video games designed to create a 360-degree experience of the games. Ultimate goal? Naturally, to bond Asian basketball fans to Adidas' brand, but also to create buzz advertising, drive sales of the NBA related products and leverage the sponsorship agreements in the Asian region.


If it is true that the aforementioned uses of interactive medias for advertising and brand experience can be extremely valuable for creating a consistent, multilayered and integrated brand communication strategy, it is equally true that interactive media can be even more advantageous for conducting consumers and trends research.

Especially when identifying lifestyle changes and tracking trends over time, researchers can use interactive media to build or use existing online communities, web and mobile panels and then treat these as a dynamic, real time instrument to tap into targeted respondents' brains and uncover invaluable insights.

However, be aware that that simply data-mining existing blogs cannot bring about meaningful market and consumers insights by itself. Communities need to be nourished and strengthened, participants need to be carefully selected and motivated, and moderators need to have the capability to interact with the community while still allowing it to have its own life.

Look at what P&G has done with Vocalpoint. The company has created an online community centered on products and services that moms care and want to talk about. Community talks range from entertainment to fashion, from music to food and beauty and the insights collected from this community are used not only by P&G: Vocalpoint feedback is also sold to third parties!

Even more interesting are the opportunities offered by mobile phones. Recent surveys inform us that nowadays there are three times as many mobile phone subscriptions as there are internet connection subscriptions: with a 40% global penetration rate, mobile phones represent an incredibly effective tool to conduct carefully targeted, real time, wide reaching interactive research.

If properly managed, mobile research will allow marketers to reach a very vast pool of respondents, t sensibly selecting their target on the basis of very precise characteristics, to use not only text but also pictures and videos as questions and answers, and ultimately do all of this in real time.

The opportunities here are countless. It is up to the researcher, however, to capitalize on them. Successfully managing the tool and the audiences through an emerging methodology can prove quite tricky.


Using interactive medias to give your customers the tools to participate in a product's creation and development process could represent a golden opportunity for boosting brand R&D capabilities. There are, indeed, quite a few companies that have thrown global design or product development contests, but just a few really make the best out of engaging consumers in co-creating the brand.

Again, we cannot avoid mentioning P&G in this section, as external collaborations are reportedly playing a key role in nearly 50 percent of the company's products as of today, and co-creation incorporates everything in the company, from trademarks and packaging, to marketing models and engineering, as well as business services and design.

But someone has moved even further. Ryz, a sneaker brand whose design is created entirely by users, allows people to submit their creations and vote for their favorite design on the Internet. The models receiving the most votes are sent into production.

Are you asking yourself what the benefits are here?

As the users themselves create and choose the best product, there is little doubt that this will be successful. No need to hire design staff (or close to none, depending on how far in co-creation your brand goes) and very low investment needed in sales developments, since the product is already promoted inside the community by designers and voters. Is there any more a brand could wish for?


Interactive medias can offer marketers opportunities in different fields: in advertising to start with, but also in creating customer-centric brand experiences, real time research and co-created innovative products. We do not want to argue that interactivity is the only road a brand should walk in order to innovate and rejuvenate themselves. Actually, depending on the industry and the brand goals, other tools might prove relatively more effective.

But interactive medias are indeed one of the choices marketers should consider in their diverse applications and possibilities. In fact, these are gaining increasing relevance in the consumer's everyday life and therefore represent an effective tool to reach them, speak their language, understand their needs and satisfy their desires.

Free Music For Your iPod

Times are changing. Digital music is accessible music and the industry is changing fast. Here, you'll find extraordinary selection of services and sites where you can explore and find interesting sounds (and video) to pep up your iPod. The message is simple: if you're hungry for music but don't want to break the law, there are numerous legal alternatives to file sharing.


MySpace has emerged as the leading destination for musicians and fans to meet, with 106 million users worldwide and it's free to join, all it requires is that you fill in a registration form and create a profile. Once you've published your own page on MySpace, you can explore other pages and get connected to people and musicians you like by asking to be added to their collection of friends.

If you come across a band that you like, you just need to hit the 'Add' button in the clearly marked 'Contact' box, which is generally situated under the main profile description. When you submit a friend request, the other party receives a message telling them you want to get connected, so they can vet and approve you.

You will also receive the same message when others try to befriend you. You can expand your network quickly by leaving comments on your friends' sites, thanking them for allowing the connection - it's good MySpace etiquette, and what you write may attract new friends to you. As your network grows, you will find it increasingly easy to find new, talented musicians.

MySpace also integrates ways users can recommend artists they like, for example, any page can host background music chosen by the page owner. When you navigate to a website playing music that you'd like to promote, you can choose to have that track play automatically when others visit your page.

You simply need to use the 'Add' button beneath the selected song. You'll then be asked if you want to add the song to your page - answer 'Yes' and the job is done. Personal users can only have one such streamed track on their site, while bands can carry two to four songs. Bands can choose to make their tracks available for free download, or just for streaming.

MySpace alternatives

While MySpace is the clear market leader in terms of users and activity, there are other social sites offering free and legal music downloads that will work with iPods.


Around since 1999, this music website hosts pages for independent bands. You can subscribe to fanlists, contact bands, find out about releases and gig dates, and speak with other fans. Site visitors can review music they find - which can help casual browsers find some sounds they may like. Musicians decide whether to make music available only for streaming, or for free download.


With 3 million members and almost 2 million songs, SoundClick is a free community-based site focused on musicians. It offers tracks and information from thousands of unsigned acts, with music split into categories (Metal, Alternative, Pop, and so on). You can listen to streamed music, and some bands offer tracks in MP3 format for download. Bands can also choose to sell songs through this service.


This social-networking site recently introduced its Bebo Bands service. While you can use the site to find new acts, it doesn't yet offer music for download, but you can add tracks you like to your playlist on your own profile page. These songs only stream when you visit the site.


This streaming service can help you find new artists, but doesn't offer music downloads. It's based on the Music Genome Project, which analyses every detail of songs to accurately recommend and play tracks based on a user's taste. You set up channels - Happy Mondays, for example - and the service will stream tracks it thinks are similar. It's a nice way to find new acts you may like, which you can then look for elsewhere.

Bands websites

Most bands these days have their own dedicated websites, some personally run by the act. Some offer free music downloads for fans, while others offer their own music stores where fans can buy tracks.

Legal music sales at low prices

Newly launched, the web-based eMusic subscription service offers a catalogue of 1.4 million tracks from indie labels. Songs cost as little as 17p. Unlike other subscription-based services, you can download and keep the music you choose. The site trusts its customers.

Songs are sold in MP3 format (encoded at 192k) and are free of any digital rights management technology. You can use your eMusic purchases on any system or any player (naturally including iPods and iTunes). You are allowed to burn your music to as many CDs as you like, and host your collection on as many machines as you want.

There are three subscription packages: Basic, 40 downloads per month for £8.99 per month; Plus, 65 downloads per month for £11.99 per month; and Premium, 90 downloads per month for £14.99 per month.

eMusic's site navigation isn't as slick as iTunes, but it does offer a wealth of information about the music it sells. It also publishes charts based on sales, so you can easily find the hottest new acts. Music is split into genres, such as 'Alternative', 'Jazz' or 'Hip Hop'. Each genre is further divided into the sub-genres that exist.

You are encouraged to create your own playlists, which others can take a look at to help you find a band you might enjoy. You can also rate and review tracks.

Downloading tracks isn't as straightforward as in iTunes as you need to install a software called the 'eMusic Download Manager' for both Mac or Windows (

Once you find a track you want to buy, click on the download link beside it. A file is then downloaded to your desktop. If you've set up your browser to automatically open downloaded files in the correct application, the Download Manager will open the file and begin downloading the track(s) to a folder, 'My eMusic', which the software creates on your desktop.

Once you have the music you can drag and drop it into your iTunes library (iTunes will import it, and file it just like any other track in its collection), or, in iTunes, select 'File---Add To Library' and navigate to the downloaded music in the eMusic folder on your desktop.

Other music services

While eMusic is the cheapest, most smaller music services have begun offering music in MP3 formats. It makes sense for digital services to do this, as Apple's iPod is by far the most popular player and songs sold in other protected formats won't work on iPods. Process tends to be about the same or slightly higher than iTunes. The following services may be worth watching checking out.


One of the oldest UK download services, Wippit offers a broad catalogue of music, though only minority of its catalogue will work with an iPod or iTunes. Tracks cost from 29p. The service also sells video, comedy and ring tones.

7 Digital

This service offers limited selection of music in the iPod-friendly AAC format. Songs are encoded at 192k (better than iTunes) and cost 77p. This service also offers video for iPods. The company also runs websites for bands and offers a service that lets unsigned acts sell their tracks.


Most of TuneTribe's major label catalogue is incompatible with iPods as it's sold in Windows Media format. Some tracks - mainly from indie artists - are available as MP3's. Albums cost £7.99, while singles cost 89p. The site also offers articles written by working music journalists.


This service offers a wide catalogue of dance music tracks at varying prices, approximately £1.49 per track. For that you get the music in MP3 format. Because it's a service for working DJs, songs are encoded at 320k, which is approaching CD quality.

On the Blog

There's a wealth of clued-up music-focused websites that legally distribute music (usually in MP3 format) for free. These are promotional tracks, which are made available to drum up interest in a band. The following sites are recommended to get you started exploring this alternate online music universe.


Epitonic has been around since 1999. Its mission is to switch music lovers onto new sounds and acts. Site features include a streaming radio station, reviews, features and band profiles. You can search the site for particular artists and navigation is easy. Some bands allow Epitonic to offer songs in MP3 format for free download, others just allow the site to stream songs so users can decide if they like the band.

The site also features a helpful recommendation system, listing similar artists on every individual artist page. Sadly, this service seems to be on its last legs - staffs have revealed no future plans to update content, indicating it may be removed at some point. The site is still worth exploring if you are looking to boost your collection of avant-garde and indie music, and has an audience of dedicated users.

The Wire

This venerable international magazine focuses on non-mainstream experimental music across multiple genres. Because of its unique place in the hearts of music-makers, over the years it has gathered a substantial collection of free and legal MP3s, many of which it makes available for download. These include tracks from many top-flight musicians. (


Knobtweakers promotes electronic music. The site offers a regular weekly podcast featuring "the best underground electronic music talent from around the globe". It also hosts or links to tracks in MP3 format that are being made available legitimately with permission from the artists. Occasionally updated, the site also offers in-depth reviews and features covering emerging artists, so it's an invaluable resource for fans of the genre. (

Oddio Overplay

Dedicated to odd, obscure and out-of-print music, this site offers an extensive index of free and legal music downloads being made available across the internet. It also offers an extensive links section, and information that will be useful to independent musicians seeking outlets. The primary purpose of this site is to connect artists and audiences.

EC Brown

Artist Erik Brown hosts his creations on this website, including photographs of work he has made, links to web projects he has been involved with. For iPod users hungry for new music, Erik also hosts a page of MP3 links, which he describes as a "personal log of MP3 links in various genres". You'll find links there to many more sites offering legitimate music downloads. (


This site is a blogger's attempt to let readers know about the latest new MP3s as they reach the web. You should be aware that some of the tracks it suggests aren't being made available legitimately, but many tracks are actually legal to download. The site also offers an extensive list of links to similar blogs, which are available at


This UK-based site acts as a gig listings website for all types of bands (signed and unsigned), DJs and other musical performers. It offers dedicated pages where musicians can tell audiences what they do, and also has a wide selection of free promotional MP3s from a host of independent acts. There's also a forum where users can discuss the music they hear.

Net labels

Net labels distribute music exclusively in MP3 format. They are a little like more traditional labels in that they aim to promote albums or projects and build a profile of artists. However, these shoestring operations are managed by enthusiasts attempting to build careers outside the corporate music industry.

Net labels are particularly supportive of the notion of free downloads, and many of their releases are made available under licenses, such as Creative Commons License, that encourage sharing. Copyright remains with the artists, who tend to be electronic and computer music makers. Net label sites tend to link to others, so it's a nice way to find some avant-garde musical gems.

Net labels releases

This yahoo groups' site is maintained by net labels themselves. Label owners submit details of new releases as they happen, news updates and newsletters. It's not a conversational site, but remains an essential stop for anyone looking to explore new music from the scene. (

This site is a huge index of the world's net label sites. You'll find information on new labels as they appear, the latest releases, and lots of helpful advice for others hoping to start their own online music brand. There are also monthly updated charts detailing the most popular releases.


Another net label portal, Beatpod offers news and information about new releases, and also hosts a forum where music fans can rate and review these new releases. There's also a built-in music player on the site, as well as the ability to download tracks to your Mac or PC. An extensive links section and links to other net labels completes the offering.

Internet Archive: Audio Archive

Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive is a non-profit organisation that collects and maintains a huge historical archive of digital creative products. It's well known for holding a huge collection of website images - you can see Apple's home page in different years, for example.

It also maintains a huge audio collection, in which net labels are well presented. The collection includes alternative news shows, Grateful Dead concerts, old radio shows, book and poetry recordings, and a huge assemblage of original music contributed by users. It's a tremendous historical collection of sounds. (

More than music

Some iPods will play and store video, and can be used to play back your video collection on some TVs. Apple doesn't sell TV shows in the UK yet, but does offer short Pixar movies and music videos. But where else can you go to find and download new and free videos for your iPod? YouTube and Google Video are first stops - you'll find personal movies, bits of TV shows and other delights on these sites.

Google Video

Google's video service offers a range of clips, as well as some material for sale (available only in the US). In some ways, tracking down the best clips is challenging, unless you know exactly what you are looking for. If you are searching for something specific, then it's as effective as any other Google search - if it exists, you'll find it.

Google has made it easy for viewers to download clips they want to keep. To the right-hand side of movies that can be downloaded is a 'Download' button. To the right of that button there's a drop-down menu where you can decide whether to download it for Mac/Windows, iPod or PSP. Once you have downloaded the clip, you simply need to open iTunes and select 'File→Add File to Library' to import the clip to the media browser, after which it will be synced to your video iPod next time you connect it to your Mac.


It's little more complicated with YouTube. While the site has grown astonishingly popular, eclipsing Google and others in terms of the number of users it interacts, it doesn't make it easy t download clips. The most straightforward way to download a YouTube clip for your iPod is to use the excellent KeepVid service (

When you come across a YouTube clip you want, just enter the URL into the green box at the top of the KeepVid page, hit submit and a few moments later you'll be given a download link.

Unfortunately, files are downloaded in the iPod-incompatible Flash video (.flv) format. You need to convert the clip using a conversion utility such as iSquint (, which is free and extremely easy to use. You just need to drag the file into iSquint, select 'Optimize for iPod' and press 'Start'.

BBC Creative Archives

UK users should take a look at the BBc's Creative Archives, a collection of video footage that's free for UK residents to download for use in their own projects, or to rip to a format that's suitable for iPods and iTunes. The library of available material is frequently updated, and now features clips from the BBC, Channel 4, Open University, British Film Institute and Teachers TV.

Once you've downloaded a clip, you can convert it into iTunes/iPod-friendly format using iSquint or directly within iTunes. (

Search Results

Jeep® brand maker of high quality Jeep oxygen sensor is celebrating a Camp Jeep event as its way of allowing its customers to enjoy and experience what the brand has to offer and for this year the event will be taken to New York. The Camp Jeep® New York which is made bigger and more remarkable than ever is going to be held for the first time outdoors during the New York International Auto Show (NYAIS) from April 6 to 15 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

The 45,000 sq. ft. Inner Roadway of the Javits Center will be transformed by Camp Jeep New York into an off-road driving adventure allowing customers to experience the world's most capable 4x4 vehicles as well as the lifestyle that comes with them. The vehicles will be driven by professional drivers to allow customers to simply enjoy the ride.

And that's not all! One very lucky individual who takes a drive test will win an all-expense paid trip with their family to Camp Jeep Virginia, which is an annual three-day mix of off-road driving and other outdoor activities that families will surely enjoy. The winner that will be chosen at the NYIAS will the 500,000th person that will take a ride on a Chrysler Group auto show test drive course since the beginning of the Corporation's auto show test drive program in 2004.

Camp Jeep Virginia is an exclusive event for Jeep vehicle owners only and will be held on July 26 to 28 at the Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson Country, VA, near Charlottesville, where the Country music star Tim McGraw will perform on the same date, July 26.

For this coming April 14, 2007 the Jeep brand will donate $5 to the Wildlife Conservation Society's "Tigers Forever" project for each individual who takes a ride on the Jeep Trail Rated® Test Track at the Camp Jeep. The main objective of the project is to help increase the number of tigers by at least 50 percent in key areas of the world over the next decade.

The main emphasis of the exhibit at the NYIAS is the Jeep Trail rated Test Track which includes water fording, articulation, ground clearance, traction, and maneuverability demonstrations. The track was made into an off-road playground where consumers can experience the capability and comfort that goes with Jeep vehicles such as the 2007 Commander, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Wrangler, and Wrangler Unlimited.

The test track will be comprised of seven different surfaces namely dirt, mulch, gravel, rocks, water, wood, and asphalt plus include an 18-foot vertical climb on a Jeep Mountain. More than 220 yards of dirt and mulch are used to construct the Trail Rated course. All the dirt used for the tracks are going to be recycled and returned to its original source.

Participants to the Camp Jeep will also have the opportunity to scale a 16-foot climbing wall, play video games that feature Tony Hawk and have their pictures taken with a Jeep in the Jeep Photo Zone. The Camp Jeep is for the whole family so kids will also enjoy and get to test drive mini Jeep vehicles on the Mini Jeep Kidz Course.

The organizers of the Camp Jeep New York experience is expecting for at least 35,000 participants. The Camp Jeep that will be held in New York marks its third consecutive year.

Sony Ericsson V640i - A Brand New Musical Mobile

This new mobile, which is an exclusive for Vodafone, gives the user a surreal musical experience.


The new Sony Ericsson's V640I is a 3G device with HSDPA, which is the first of its kind in the entire Ericsson mobile range. It supports standard 3G and the V640i and it has quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE data. Vodafone and Sony Ericsson insist that the V640i's data capabilities are ideal for downloading music and multimedia. It is said to download sound tracks in 14 seconds via HSDPA.

Another attractive feature of V640i is its non fussy navigation. The user can reach the image, video or sound clip in a few neat clicks showing that the navigation is clean and easy.

Other features include a Media Manager through which the user can transfer files and photos from a PC to phone and vice-versa. Push email which ensures users can check their mail the instant it arrives in the inbox. An Integrated camera with a built-in digital camera with screen viewfinder, dedicated menus and direct interaction with in-phone imaging and messaging features and also on screen widgets or icons through which the user can have a one click access to their favorite websites on the mobile phone. Users can also have their own video/online blogs through this mobile itself.

Apart from that once a track is recorded and played, the mobile would return the song name, artist, track length etc. Live video streaming is another additional feature available in Ericsson's V640i.

The Sony Ericsson V640i measures 103 x 47 x 16mm and weighs 97 grams. The battery life is around 3 hours talk time on 3G, 9 hours on GSM and a standby time of 16 days. The V640i will be available in Quick Black and Havana Gold color combinations and has a 2.0" 176x220 pixel display.