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  • 0 Audiobook Assembly Anecdotes To Learn From

    Plan 'B' might have to be your go to solution if plan 'A' fails! When producing an audiobook, your best made plan might lead you down an alternative highway if a wrong turn is taken. Five voice talents were auditioned for my project. The winner was a guy with FM broadcast experience. Great! He fit the bill. It was the second week in July, 2023. July is a long month. Four weeks later when the project was not delivered as promised, my voice talent asked for a two week extension. No problem. The middle of August had just arrived. I gave the talent a second two-week extension to record this nearly 40,000 word book as he had only completed: Opening credits Preface Chapter One Professionals have to meet deadlines. Since the Labor Day holiday had just arrived, and my talent could not meet deadlines, he had to go. Dude was released and fired. I received a full refund for a large deposit that was put into escrow.  When your intuition tells you something is not right, you implement plan 'B,' your backup plan. Plan 'B' action came early On the day the first extension was granted to the talent at the end of 30 days, an alternative reader began to record the audiobook simultaneously. This was not  disclosed to the first talent. The second voice talent took eight weeks working part-time to finish the read. Not bad! Once the audio level matching, editing, and fine tuning was complete, audio files had to be converted to ACX, Audible, iTunes and Amazon requirements. Powerhouse Radio: Rough Roads, Radiance and Rebirth; My True AM - FM -Satellite - And Audio Streaming Survival Story audiobook was finally submitted to those gatekeepers in early December, 2023 and approved on December 8. It is available right now. That's good, because the promised audiobook release date was January 3, 2024. A six month pre-promotion period was a perfect buffer zone for unexpected issues. The paperback version of the book was submitted to the publisher BookBaby on June 1, 2023. I hope you enjoy my story. If you didn't guess, the second voice talent who made the cut to tell my story was me. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 When do you and ChatGPT cross the Milli Vanilli Line?

    • Commentary
    • by Mark Schaefer - guest author
    • 08/15/2023

    I recently engaged in an energized LinkedIn discussion with Frank Prendergast and Jason Ranalli. We were trying to discern the "Milli Vanilli Line" when it comes to personal disclosure and AI. Never heard of it? It's probably going to impact you soon, so let's dive into it ... How much authenticity can we lose? The debate began with Frank's comment on my recent blog post (Where humans thrive in the hierarchy of AI content): "If I read a blog post from someone on the assumption it's written by them, and I find out it was actually AI, I'll feel cheated," Frank said, "like I've been a victim of the old bait-and-switch. "But where's my line? Is 20% AI OK? 40%? 60? I have no idea. And how would it even be measured? "Will that question be a thing of the past when AI is ubiquitous?" How much authenticity are we willing to lose? ChatGPT makes everyone a competent writer, just like the calculator made everyone competent at math in the 1980s. We don’t feel compelled to declare to the world that we use a calculator to do our taxes or run a business. When does AI simply become … life? The Milli Vanilli Line Now let's get to the Milli Vanilli part. In 1989, Milli Vanilli rose from obscurity to superstardom almost overnight. Their debut album sold over 8 million copies and spawned three Number One singles. All of that was swept into the dustbin of pop history by disgrace. By the time Milli Vanilli accepted their Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1990, many in the music business had suspected something was wrong with this duo. It was soon revealed the two singers -- Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan -- never sang on any of their recordings and lip-synced live performances. The ruse torpedoed the act – radio stations stopped playing their songs, fans destroyed their records, and the Grammys rescinded their award for the only time in history. Milli Vanilli became cultural shorthand for hubris and deceit. Jason Ranalli provided his observation: "Anyone remember Milli Vanilli back in the 80s? BIG scandal because we all felt cheated that they didn't actually sing the songs themselves -- they had zero part in the production other than lip-syncing and dancing. "How did the world react? We rejected them entirely and stripped them of their Grammy. "What are we doing now with AI content? Well, the line is somewhere between singing yourself and a TON of auto-tune/effects. "Perhaps AI ends up drawing the same muddy lines of authenticity." The fellas in Milli Vanilli were clear-cut cheats. An absolute. But how do we interpret "cheating" in a world where everyone can get an AI-assist on their writing, their voice, their music, and even a LinkedIn headshot? Let's look at a couple of scenarios. Crossing the Milli Vanilli Line Weeks after ChatGPT entered the scene, a friend asked me to help promote his new book, which I discovered was entirely written by ChatGPT. Literally, he had just cut and pasted responses to prompts into a manuscript. There was no human commentary, editing, or insight whatsoever. Although he was transparent about the AI assist, he put his name on the book as the author. I told him I would not promote the book and observed that this was the very worst use of ChatGPT imaginable. In essence, he was lip-synching his book. He crossed the Milli Vanilli Line. Example two: I have a friend who, by her own admission, is a terrible writer. Once she discovered ChatGPT, she told me that she could put her ideas into this machine and create serviceable content for the first time in her life. "I can blog every day," she exclaimed, "I could even write a book!" This is the beauty of AI -- unleashing a new creative power in a person with a creative deficit. She's not lip-synching. She's the author of her work with a little auto-tune to keep her on key! In between these two extremes, we face nuanced ethical decisions about ownership, authorship, and authenticity. We face these decisions now Today, or in the near future, every one of us will have an opportunity to cross the Milli Vanilli Line. What percent of AI work can we still claim as ours, as "authentic?" I haven't used AI in any of my writing. My blog posts are my stories and observations and insights about our marketing world. It's faster and easier just to be "me" than try to prompt a bot into it! Could AI have written this post? No, at least not as effortlessly as me pecking on a keyboard for an hour. I am uniquely connecting dots, creating something unique, insightful, and connected to my own life experience. But what about my next book? Could I edge towards the Milli Vanilli Line? My last book, Belonging to the Brand was finished about a month before ChatGPT was unleashed. One of my first AI experiments was to ask ChatGPT to write an essay based on an idea from the book, in the voice of Mark Schaefer, with academic references. It did it. It did it well ... and in five seconds. It would have taken me a day to write that essay. So in the future, I'd feel stupid not to use AI to some degree and save days, or even weeks, of my life! But another choice might be ... to be stupid and keep doing it the hard way. Or, maybe it's the right way -- to just always be me. Perhaps my reward is in the toil that comes with authenticity. I never want to explain to somebody how close I am to the Milli Vanilli Line.     Kingsley's thoughts (Kingsley H. Smith): Mark Schaefer is a speaker, author and marketing expert. His Milli Vanilli analogy is spot on! This picture was posted on my personal Facebook page in 2019 with me and the four Schaefer books in my library that I've read. Mark's article, originally written on August 8, 2023 is reproduced here with permission. From my perspective, I like his quote "I haven't used AI in any of my writing." My position is the same, as I haven't used AI in ANY of my writing either. I do have audio software that generates scores of AI voices from a text script that I have to write. I've used it less than an handful of times to add a few spoken words to a couple of my YouTube video voice tracks that I or a paid voice actor reads. I also own a license to use AI software that creates real-life-like-looking humans who appear on screen and speak in videos, but I haven't used it yet. My first book, Powerhouse Radio: Rough Roads, Radiance and Rebirth will begin shipping in January, 2024. You can trust that I wrote it myself, word by word! If you've never heard Milli Vanilli, here's a quick sample of "Baby Don't Forget my Number," from my personal song collection. Milli Vanilli is Turkish for 'positive energy.' Fabricators Rob Pilatus (from Germany) on the left, and Fabrice Morvan (from France) had 4 R&B hits in 1989. The real singers in the recording studio were Charles Shaw, John Davis, and Brad Howe, according to Joel Whitburn in his 2006 book The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. Your browser does not support the audio element. Milli Vanilli's 1989 hits ranked in order of popularity according to Joel Whitburn: "Girl You Know It's True" "Baby Don't Forget my Number" "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" "Blame It On the Rain" Read more of my thoughts about AI on my software blog... Will AI Create Your Next App?  Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Mary J. Blige: Swings, Hits and Misses

    • Commentary
    • by Kingsley H. Smith and guest
    • 12/22/2021

    What's your favorite Mary J. Blige song? It might be: "Be Without You" "Real Love" "Family Affair" "My Life" There are scores more to choose from. Other than her own, Mary J. has a thing for Elton John songs. She's featured on "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" live with Elton at Madison Square Garden in New York City (2000). Mary J. also sang the Elton song "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" from the 2004 movie Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. She does a wonderful duet "Being With You" on Smokey Robinson's 2014 CD Smokey & Friends. There's a lot of authentic gravity in Mary's live rendition of the traditional "Hard Times (Come Again No More)" as featured with the Roots on the multiple artist fundraiser collection album "Hope For Haiti Now." "Mary J.," has come a long way. From combat boot dilettante to co-headliner in the halftime show at the Super Bowl. The question remains, what lyric remembrance from her songbook had the largest impact? Antwane Folk takes an in-depth look back at this music icon's biggest single in the story "A Breakthrough: Mary J. Blige's 'Be Without You'" https://ratedrnb.com/2020/12/a-breakthrough-mary-j-blige-be-without-you/ Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Prince, The Time, and Jesse Johnson

    We were lucky enough to be there for Celebration 2019 at Paisley Park (Prince's recording complex) in Minnesota last week and enjoyed Jesse Johnson's live performance. Shown above in our promotional copy of The Time album on the right is Jesse Johnson. In the past there was tension between Jesse and Prince. Jesse talked about trying to find peace with that relationship now that Prince is no longer with us. This was Johnson's first return to Paisley Park since Prince's passing. Here's more about Time guitarist Jesse Johnson airing his Prince grievances on the Celebration 2019 stage at Paisley Park. Read all about it. https://www.twincities.com/2019/04/25/time-guitarist-jesse-johnson-airs-his-prince-grievances-on-celebration-2019-stage-at-paisley-park Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Live365 - Powerhouse Radio Shutdown

    Thank you, our thousands of listeners in the USA and around the world for your support of Powerhouse Radio. You made us the number one classic soul R&B streaming channel during most of our Live365 run. "Radio revolution" pioneer Live365 will pull the plug on all of their channels effective January 31, 2016. You can blame The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and very high online music streaming licensing fees for this surprise shutdown.   We began our Powerhouse Radio journey on Live365 in 2001. For a couple of years (2004 - 2006) we also streamed the award winning Live365 Fabfoursoul channel playing all Beatles music by R&B, soul, and jazz performers. Read additional information on Kurt Hanson's Radio and Internet News service about the Live365 shutdown. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Teena Marie Lady T

    Hot irons in the fire! Fiery classic soul. Lady T., Teena Marie didn't have to take a backseat to anyone. I was lucky enough to see her perform live one time. It was in a large Philadelphia arena. The size of the crowd did not distract from the intimate punch Lady T. hammered home that night. Teena Marie, March 5, 1956 - December 26, 2010. R.I.P. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Grammy Boots Soul to the Curb

    In a move designed to downsize the density of awards, the Grammys are streamlining their portfolio of potential winners for 2012. Categories are being sliced, diced, and reduced to 78 from 109. Some separate male and female awards will be combined into new categories. The R&B area was hammered pretty hard. 8 awards have been cut to 4. A review of the awards category restructuring page at Grammy.org reveals that "Best R&B Performance" will take the place of these 4 eliminated classifications: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (dropped) Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (dropped) Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals (dropped) Best Urban/Alternative Performance (dropped) As a result of discontinuing the "Best Female R&B vocal performance" and "Best Male R&B vocal performance," "The Best R&B Performance" now becomes highly competitive. Hip hop lost only one category dropping from 5 to 4. A date for the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012 has not been announced. Look for the show in February. Hopefully it will be shorter, and more entertaining. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Can Record Store Day Save a Sinking Ship?

    Album sales are down 6.1 percent in the first 3 month of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan. They add that for the first time, iTunes and CD sales online have passed the traditional big box retailers. Amazon and their digital brethren now make up the largest distribution channel for music, and for good reason. Big boxers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have dropped the ball when challenged with stocking a satisfactory variety of the newest music being released. You'll always find the A-list performers in their racks, but you are hard pressed to find a deep selection of new music representing a variety of artists from different niche genres. Jazz, soul, and R&B are frequent victims of this trend. Bookstores including Encore and Barnes and Noble do a better job stocking tunes, but as with the big box stores, music sales no longer represent a growth area. The digital music download world is hurting too. Nielsen SoundScan says that downloads experienced their first year-to-year quarterly sales decline ever, falling about 1 percent between January 1 and April 4. In the same period in 2009, digital download sales were up 13 percent over 2008. CD's will eventually go the way of the horse and buggy, just as electric vehicles will slowly take market share from gas engine cars. Computers inevitably crash, and unless you back everything up, there's still a better element of permanency when investing in compact discs. The CD for many is still an important part of their music collection. Once upon a time, the best place in town to salivate over new releases and bountiful catalogs was the record store. I worked in an independent record store for 3 years part-time as a teenager. Today, only the bigger cities can still support the few independent record emporiums that are left. In Philadelphia, my favorite is Sound of Market Street, surviving in 2010 with an awesome collection of CD's (and vinyl discs). ----- 2022 Update: Sound of Market Street finally closed in 2014 after 30 years in business. ----- A worldwide event has been created to spotlight stores just like Sound of Market (JazSound). Saturday, April 17 will mark the 3rd annual Record Store Day. RecordStoreDay.com says that the original idea for this promotion was "conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally." The website further amplifies the concept explaining "this is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music." "Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances." Record Store Day is now celebrated on the 3rd Saturday every April. At RecordStoreDay.com, I did a random 'search by state' to see what was happening in Texas. Over 50 independent record stores came up in the Lone Star State, so there still is a heartbeat left in this disappearing institution that's now on life-support. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Smokey Robinson Writes the Mighty Classics

    You know you're a great song writer when your catalog of melodies includes hundreds of compositions. At last count, Smokey Robinson had over 460 songs registered in the official online song databases as author (or co-author). Without Smokey, how would Motown have had all of those early hits? Let's not even mention the scores of artists who have covered his songs. "Ain't That Peculiar," Marvin Gaye and George Clinton. "My Girl," the Temptations and the Whispers. "Tears of A Clown," the Miracles and Shalamar. One of your all-time favorites might just be a Smokey Robinson song. When it comes to love and romance, the pen of 'Bill' William 'Smokey' Robinson is number one. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Sharon Jones takes the Long Road to SXSW in Austin

    The annual Austin, Texas music extravaganza, SXSW, (South by Southwest), will draw dynamic acts from all over the globe for the March 17 - 21 (music week), 2010 showcase. 1987 was the first SXSW in Austin, a unique music city that mixes jazz, blues, rock, country, & folk. This Texas town claims to have "more original music nightclubs in a concentrated area than any other city in the world." One group getting a lot of attention this year is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who will perform Wednesday evening, March 17. Within some music circles, the R&B authenticity of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings is hotly debated. Without question, Sharon's soulful delivery is genuine. Are the Dap-Kings the second coming of original instrumental virtuosity on par with Booker T. & the MG's (Memphis), The Funk Brothers (Motown), or MFSB (Philadelphia)? No, if that's what you're looking for. I'd argue that Jones & company have fused these influences to produce a contemporary neo classic soul sound that doesn't necessarily mimic the expectations of past legacy styles. When you have a diverse ethnic mix of musicians in a group, fresh sounds are often invented. People who have seen Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings rave about their intense live show. It's also rare for a performer to jump into the music game after the age of 40, and achieve the success Sharon has earned. You've heard the sound of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings in these movies: Soul Men (sound track), Up in the Air, American Gangster and The Great Debaters. If you won't be in Austin for SXSW, here's the current international tour schedule for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Friday, March 26, Snoe.down Festival - Rutland, VT Saturday, April 10, Astra - Berlin, Germany Tuesday, April 13, Trabendo - Paris, France Wednesday, April 14, Koko - London, UK Thursday, April 15, Paradiso - Amsterdam, Netherlands Saturday, April 17, Wanee Festival - Live Oak, FL Thursday, April 22, Festival Internationale de Louisiane - Lafayette, LA Friday, April 23, The Howling Wolf - New Orleans, LA Saturday, April 24, Double Decker Festival - Oxford, MS Friday, April 30, Apollo Theater - New York City, NY Saturday, May 1, Apollo Theater - New York City, NY Thursday, May 6, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, VA Friday, May 7, Ram's Head Onstage - Annapolis, MD Saturday, May 8, Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, VA Sunday, May 9, The NorVa - Norfolk, VA Tuesday, May 11, Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC Wednesday, May 12, Orange Peel - Ashesville, NC Thursday, May 13, Center Stage - Atlanta Atlanta, GA Friday, May 14, Cannery Ballroom - Nashville, TN Saturday, May 15, Nelsonville Music Festival - Nelsonville, OH Monday, May 17, The Southgate House - Newport, KY Tuesday, May 18, Majestic Theatre - Detroit, MI Look for the new Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings collection, I Learned the Hard Way, their 4th album, scheduled for release on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010. Previous Post | Next Post

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