Maker of Auto-Tune Machine Responds to Jay-Z’s death of Auto-Tune Song



jay-z-folded-225Jay-Z has been making his rounds to speak on the demise of Auto-Tune, from his point of view. KRS has been doing the same. With alleged come-back tracks on the way from other artists, Jay had to recently explain what originally made him take a closer look at how Auto-Tune was changing the way people viewed the culture.

I just think in Hip Hop, when a trend becomes a gimmick, it’s time to move on,” Jigga told Chicago radio station WGCI earlier this week, echoing statements we reported on yesterday. “I saw a Wendy’s commercial and they’re using Auto-Tune. They’re joking on it. It’s like, OK, enough of that. … It was a trend. It was cool in the beginning. Some people made great music with it. Now it’s time to move on.”

Marco Alpert, VP-marketing for Antares Audio Technologies spoke on his product, telling that their will always be a need for his product in music. He also said that their company had no problem with what is being said about its product or how it is used in the Wendy’s ad.

We’re thrilled to have our brand out in the general world of pop culture. When it’s made it into Wendy’s commercials, we know that we’ve definitely moved beyond the rather rarified boundaries of the professional audio-technology world. Controversy is good for the Auto-Tune brand, and kind of fun to boot.”


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Clear Channel is Done In the next 6 Months-But Will Radio Survive



Radio After Clear Channel

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clear Channel is done.

The next six to nine months will constitute what I believe will be their swan song as a consolidated radio company. None of us can take any joy in this.

The economy isn’t helping.

It’s killing over-leveraged radio owners on their debt repayment. Some stations are actually making money, but not enough to pay down huge corporate debt – the debt that was purchased when they put together their radio clusters.

This piece is about what radio will be like after Clear Channel is broken up.

But first, the reason why we’re having this discussion in the first place.

The investment companies of Lee Capital Partners and Bain Media made a mistake when they went through with the acquisition of Clear Channel (radio and outdoor) to the tune of about $20 billion. The banks gave them an out. Lee & Bain refused to take it.

They knowingly walked down a dangerous path acquiring a company in a declining industry with a recession bearing down.

I’ve asked financial analysts to try and explain to me how smart investors could do such a thing and the answer I received was – for the fees.

Lee & Bain profited by closing the deal. Perhaps they didn’t think things would get this bad, but they have.

Recent attempts to bully their lenders into a more favorable debt arrangement seems to be failing. Clear Channel could be in bankruptcy by the end of the year or the first quarter of 2010.

The company appears to be battening down the hatches for the inevitable.

Wall Street buyout companies are used to winning and losing. They have done plenty of both. It comes with the game. But the one constant – fees – is what drives the buyout market.

I believe that Lee & Bain will be uprooted from this situation if and when the company seeks bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy is a slippery slope to say the least.

The fate of the company is in the hands of a bankruptcy judge. Other interests, including those of the investors and creditors seeking to avoid a full haircut are also a factor, but…

It is more likely in my view that much or all of Clear Channel will eventually be broken up – sold off to raise as much revenue as possible.

The present management may also be kicked aside – again, a bankruptcy judge has a lot of influence here.

Clear Channel is already acting like there is no tomorrow.

What do you call gutting the stations, cutting every possible expense and using repeater radio content from national syndicators and their network to fill up the airwaves? Even Clear Channel Radio President John Slogan Hogan isn’t that dumb. He’s taking orders. I don’t believe he would do this without a gun to his head.

What employees are left when the end comes will not exactly be in a strong position. And former employees with severance agreements or retirees could have their futures jeopardized.

Again, the court makes the call.

It should also be noted that Clear Channel isn’t the only large radio group to face bankruptcy. I believe Cumulus and Citadel are goners as well. They may be lucky enough (or unlucky enough as the case may be) to turn more of their equity into debt repayment but eventually they will have to pay the piper.

And, there doesn’t seem to be a huge interest among debt holders to own more of these mismanaged, over-leveraged radio companies.

As an aside, I want to remind you that you and I didn’t cause this problem so when we discuss it — as depressing as it is — do not forget how radio got to this juncture. You could look the other way, believe the happy talk that radio associations and others try to peddle or you could deal with the inevitable.

Because ultimately, the decline of three of the biggest radio consolidators will affect many of you.

If Citadel goes down before Clear Channel, it would be less devastating than the number one consolidator going bankrupt. As we have learned from the past in strategic financial management, programming or sales, when Clear Channel gets a cold, the radio industry gets pneumonia.

Having said that, there is an interesting scenario I see ahead – not all bad or all good and certainly with many risks.

Let me take you through radio after Clear Channel, in my opinion, step by step:

1. There is unlikely to be a buyer for the entire Clear Channel radio chain.

2. There may be a buyer for the outdoor division – maybe.

3. Clear Channel’s radio stations will eventually be sold off to offset the massive losses incurred in advance of the bankruptcy filing.

4. Multiples for radio stations – please sit down here – will be for the best price offered in some markets and no higher than 4x cash flow on average in the largest markets. Radio is a damaged business thanks to consolidation and it will be reflected in the painful process of selling off stations that were once overpriced for a lot less.

5. Many stations will be returned to the marketplace where eager buyers – those who have radio in their blood – will be ready to put together a group to operate. This is a good thing for the audience and not necessarily a good thing for the buyers. Turning radio around will be tough.

6. As in the past, any new buyer who picks up stations in the Clear Channel bankruptcy will have a hard time making it work if they do not buy the station with debt they can handle in a recession and in a world where the next generation will not be their audience – ever.

7. Thus, good radio people who have been waiting for this moment may be the unwitting victims of consolidation one more time – the inability to build a growth franchise on only two generations – X and Baby Boomers, both aging.

8. There is an unintended consequence from Clear Channel’s eventual demise and that is the detonation of terrestrial radio in the eyes of advertisers and agencies. The way back is to build local stations with a local presence – and the next successful radio owners will probably know how to do this.

9. Then there is the legacy factor – Clear Channel will be leaving systems in place that new owners may end up embracing including voice tracking (hey, it’s okay on the all-night show and some weekend dayparts, right?) and no traffic directors. In other words, once an owner, some of these good-hearted radio operators may find it hard to undo less is more.

Radio after Clear Channel will not be radio as if Clear Channel never existed.

Reread that line because you can take it to the bank.

Our fantasy is that once rid of these evil consolidators, radio can return to its former position of prominence.

But it will be hard to simply go back 15 or 20 years before duopoly and consolidation.

It will take a Steve Jobs-type to say, “Mr. Hogan, tear down this wall”.

Some cost efficiencies will be retained in spite of the “unpeople-friendly” or anti-audience effects they may have.

And there is always the possibility that some “little” Clear Channel’s will emerge from the rubble and make you wish for the day the Mays boys were back in charge (let’s hope not, but it is possible).

So, the net effect is that many stations are about ready to come home to radio people in an industry drastically hurt by consolidators.

Some of them may buy the stations and over-leverage themselves and you know what will happen to them.

Others will find local niches and return to a model similar to but not exactly like local radio of the past and rebuild or grow good franchises in the short term.

Only owners who also know how to build new media businesses – podcasting franchises, new non-terrestrial radio streams, mobile content, capitalize on social networking and new media – will really be set for the future.

For the rest, the last insult may not be the demise of the Evil Empire but the lure of purchasing radio stations at long last for favorable prices at a time in history when an entire generation is not available to be a growth engine.

I would buy a radio station not because it makes money or could make money again, but because it has a brand — a real strong brand – that could lead into a digital media platform. A digital media platform is not defined as streaming the station on the web or having your morning personality do a podcast.

Without the strong brand, well meaning and good intentioned radio operators may wind up eventually being the victims of radio consolidators one more time – with the Clear Channel, Citadel and Cumulus groups out of harms way and new owners directly in it.

The best advice: buyer beware.


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We’re Outraged About Voter Fraud in Iran-But Are We Outraged Enough to Fix Voter Fraud Here at Home?



daveyd-raider2This weekend’s election results from Iran are back in. It looks like some glaring, real super shady stuff went down and folks are now rioting in the streets. They’re rioting not unlike the way we are in the aftermath of the LA Lakers winning the NBA championship. They’re rioting because they saw their freedom and votes snatched away. They’re rioting in spite of the fact they have a repressive government that has outlawed demonstrating. They’re rioting in spite of the fact that the government has placed a former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi who was the main candidate in the opposition party under house arrest. Can you imagine if we had placed Senators Al Gore or John Kerry under arrest after the 2001 and 2004 elections?

Yes they are rioting in the streets of Tehran. They’re rioting the way we should’ve when we saw elections stolen from us here in this country. They’re rioting the way we should’ve after the coup that took place last week in New York where some outrageous shenanigans occured and two Democrats were taken into a backroom, some things were said to them by a rich GOP backer and the next thing you know they came out and aligned themselves with the Republicans. The end result was  NY’s first African American speaker of the house, Malcolm Smith  being  ousted from his position and the GOP suddenly controlling the Senate.

Yes, they are rioting in the streets of Tehran and when I say riot, I don’t mean they went down to the police station, paid some money and got a permit to protest. They didn’t wait around to get a grant or funding for the demonstration. Folks were not distracted by petty rap beefs, Hollywood spats or Jay-Z announcing he’s bringing death to the autotunes. The riots in Tehran where dust is being kicked up is because people feel like wrong is wrong and right is right. It’s wrong that Iran’s current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who is repressive to women, says that Gays don’t exist in Iran and believes the Holocaust never happened suddenly beat a guy who is being depicted as a Barack Obama like challenger, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who awoke and inspired all these voters under 30 (1/3rd Iran’s voting population) to go to the polls in record numbers by the millions. It’s interesting to note that Mir Hossein Mousavi has been described as moderate but according to Iranian progressives he’s actually quite conservative, but nevertheless the news narrative we been treated to is that he’s gonna bring about change.

Going into the election it looked like Mousavi was gonna win and when the results came out and it was reported that Ahmadinejad beat him by a landslide, people were stunned. When Ahmadinejad took to the airwaves, declared victory and started announcing that Democracy is beautiful thing  and that we’ve seen it work, people yelled ‘fraud’ and have been going off ever since.

They’re rioting in Tehran the way they did this in Kenya last year when the elections were stolen. They did this in Mexico when the elections were stolen. Although I will admit, we seem to be getting more news coverage to the election uprisings in Iran then we did in neighboring Mexico. Maybe it’s because at the time our government ala George Bush was supporting the man and the party that stole accussed of stealing Mexico’s elections-Felipe Calderón. In fact US news coverage was so scare in spite of the massive demonstrations and riots in Mexico City the news blackout  made Project Censored Top Censored stories for 2006. Thank God for twitter and other forms of modern technology we are able to keep abreast the riots in Tehran

Vice Presisdent Joe Biden is speaking out about voter fraud in Iran, yet he didn't vote to investigate voter fraud here in the US after the 2001 elections

Vice Presisdent Joe Biden is speaking out about voter fraud in Iran, yet he didn't vote to investigate voter fraud here in the US after the 2001 elections

What I find most interesting and a bit ironic is the critical reaction and anger being expressed by folks sitting in our government who roam the halls of power. We have our own government officials crying foul. They wanna know how could such a thing like this happen? They are outraged and expressing disbelief.  How could Iran be so blatant in stealing an election?  All sorts of criticisms and insults are being tossed at a Ahmadinejad, a guy who Vice President Joe Biden once described as a ‘wacko’ and a ‘madman’. But sadly with each pointed remark and as more and more fingers are wagged at Iran and its fraudulent elections a mirror is raised up. It’s the proverbial mirror that forces us here in the US to look at ourselves. It’s the proverbial mirror that calls us into question. Lemme sums things up with this tweet I got the other day from popular Bay Area DJ Sake 1.

“Dear USA, u have no fucking right to question tha legality of other countries’ elections, nor to say they’re ruled by “religious fanatics” …u lost that right at inception BTW. But if u need a more recent reference point you got GW Bush”.

Yep, that about says it all. Remember we allowed not one, but two elections to be stolen from us. Sure people were angry for a quick minute, but after things died down sort of we went back to business as usual. By the time the next election cycle came around we went and re-elected people back into office people who didn’t lead a charge to correct the theft of our Democracy. For example, I find it ironic that Vice President Joe Biden who called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a ‘wacko’ is the same Joe Biden who didn’t raise his hand and demand that the votes be recounted and an investigation take place during the 2001 fiasco that led to George Bush being ‘selected’. He remained silent with all the other Senators even as member after member of the Congressional Black Caucus came before the them demanding rand begging for redress for the stealing of votes.

I find it ironic that Biden and others who are so vocal about what took place in Iran were dismissive when allegations of voter suppression emerged in the 2004 elections in Ohio. You didn’t see too many people in Congress or the Senate running around bringing attention and promoting documentaries like American Blackout which offered up some keen insight to the egregious flaws we have in our voting process.

Its ironic to hear some of our esteemed politicians yelling voting fraud in Iran while they never addressed the voter suppression that took place even when Barack Obama was running against Hillary Clinton. Yes, he eventually made it into the White House, but I haven’t forgotten the disturbing stories and all the madness that went down during the primaries. I have friends who are still paying a price for scandalous things that took place in in states like Texas, Nevada and even in California. The bottom line here is as we talk bad about Iran we need to get the shadiness out of our own elections.

Its great we are supporting the outrage going on in Tehran for elections being stolen, how supportive were we when Black folks in the US had their votes stolen in Florida and then Ohio in '01 and  in '04?

Its great we are supporting the outrage going on in Tehran for elections being stolen, how supportive were we when Black folks in the US had their votes stolen in Florida and then Ohio in '01 and in '04?

I’ll add one other thing,  I certainly hope those who are not in office who crying about the disenfranchisement in Iran were crying about the disenfranchisement of millions of Black folks in Florida. Again this comes down to what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. I realize there are some people who are new to politics and thus they weren’t up to speed back in ’01 and ’04, but there are a lot of folks who don’t fall into this category who were. up to speed.  Y’all know who you are. You’re the ones sending me emails and links to articles, getting all excited about riots in the streets and insisting that we go out and be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tehran but couldn’t do the same when similar things were happening here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m down for that-100%  especially if its young people making noise and yelling something is wrong.  To me, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems crazy even though some of us backed him when he has stood defiant to the US and asserted that Iran has a right to develop its own nuclear weapons.  He’s disconcerting even when some of us backed him when he stood defiant to Zionist backed Isreal and gave money to Lebanon to rebuild after Isreal bombed her a couple of years ago. There are many who backed him when he asserted that Iran should be a major player in the Middle East and not just the countries we in the US are backing. 

So if we can back Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for standing up to imperialist US policies and  interests and we can back the students who are rioting in the streets because  they are standing up to the repressive policies of  Ahmadinejad can we at the very least stand in solidarity those communities of color who got votes stolen here in the US?

I mean it was just this year after Barack Obama got elected that the great state of Texas which has a long sordid history of thwarting votes attempted to pass a controversial Republican backed Voter ID bill which was gonna have all these stringent requirements for pictures and documentation that people would need to vote. Basically it was designed to intimidate voters in  Black and Brown communities and low income areas. With Texas’ voter population changing and the state on the verge of eradicating its super red state status, many had been working overtime to not let that power shift happen.  Passing a Voter ID was the Texas GOP’s number one priority over the economy, health concerns and a host of other issues.  This was their baby that they pulled out all the stops for. They wanted to hold on to power at all costs.

As this was happening we’re we in solidarity with those communities of color opposing this measure? Did we even know about it or care? It was voter suppression being legalized right before our very eyes without much fan fare being made by the Joe Bidens of the world as well as the folks sending me emails to be in solidarity with Tehran.  In any case lets keep our eyes on Tehran and see how things unfold and let’s keep our eyes on voter problems at home. Many of the concerns raised in American Blackout have not been resolved even with the election of a popular president. So lets strive to get rid our own flaws so we won’t appear to be hypocritical when we step to a country we allowed our own fraudulently selected ex-President George Bush call one of the Axis of Evil in our name.

That’s some thing to ponder…

 Davey D