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Curtis Richardson: Rihanna’s multi-platinum music producer chats with Charles Myambo


Happy Saturday, everyone. In this post, you will meet the multiplatinum music producer Curtis Richardson, who has written songs with Jennifer Lopez, produced music for Rihanna, and worked with David Guetta, Tiësto and John Legend. He is speaking with the fabulous celebrity interviewer, Charles Myambo.

How was it working with Jennifer Lopez?

Well, I first started working with Jennifer Lopez before she was mainstream. She came at a time where the world was itching for a breakout Latina star. At the time, its safe to say that Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer, not only in the US, but also around the world. To date, she is one of the biggest stars worldwide, but it was not always this way. Jennifer was extremely hardworking and determined when I first started working with her. She had a day job and needed to balance that with recording music. Combine all that with the pressure of being a Latina entertainer during a time where not many like her were global superstars, and you can see how Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer. To this day, she is one of my favourite artists to work with. 

Curtis Richardson

What are your thoughts on musicians becoming huge without the help of a record label?

You have to understand that record labels are like machines when it comes to artist promotion. The top tier record labels are exceptional at branding artists and giving them exposure to a global audience. If your question is whether artists can be filthy rich without record labels, then the answer is definitely yes. ChanceThaRapper for instance, is independent and extremely well-off. However, if your question is whether an artist can become as big as Nicki Minaj or Drake without a record label, then I have to say no. Not impossible but it is extremely difficult.

The room on Clubhouse

What tough-love advice would you have for aspiring musicians today?

It’s not easy. The music industry is very much cutthroat. You can gain or lose relevance so quickly. The volatility of music fans is simply astonishing and without careful planning and strategy, almost any artist can start becoming irrelevent very quickly. Obviously, you have your Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, and JLo, who are household names globally and they are unlikely to ever become irrelevant. However, that’s part of the issue.

Fight about it

We have young artists who try and mimic exactly what these huge stars are doing while failing to understand that it took years for those superstars to be able to produce one album without promoting it on Instagram and it becomes a hit. Today’s artists need to understand that the music game costs money, requires time and effort, demands creativity, and also social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook to promote upcoming tracks. Artists also have to be willing to adapt to trend changes in order to become relevant and perhaps even one day become the trendsetters.

If you don’t feel like quitting, your dream isn’t big enough

Do you feel like a celebrity?

No not really. Never feel too comfortable. You can always achieve more. Pride is the enemy of progress.

What was the most difficult part about the pandemic for you?

I love travelling, and I couldn’t travel as much as I really wanted.

It’s not that deep, baby

What is one major thing still left on your checkbox?

I’d love to travel more. I’d like to explore more of the world than I have already. Gain more new perspectives through learning about different cultures, music, ethnicities and heritage. 

👀

Thank you for reading this interview, which was provided by Charles Myambo. Follow him on Instagram. Charles is an actuarial scientist by day. And by night, he is founder of the celebrity networking community, Team Smooth. Since 2019, he has worked with hundreds of celebrities from all over the world. Team Smooth has a vision of presenting the community outreach of celebrities and some of the world’s most notable names and brands. Their mission is to spark positive change in the world by bringing awareness to worthy causes and communities.

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NFT Marketplaces: A Competitive Megathread

Creative photography entitled Burning Issues. And NFT collection by Raecreateart.
From the collection Burning Issues by Raecreateart


Hello everyone. I hope you’ve had a great start to 2022. To start my year on a productive note, I have done lots of reading and talked with prominent players in blockchain technology investments. No two investors agree on the best investment approach, so my solution has been to try and understand their mindset. In my opinion, it is really important to grow a strategy play based on your own knowledge, connections, and risk tolerance.

Why is this important for creators? We should be thinking about investing some of our income to fund creative projects or startups and to build a nest egg for retirement. Eventually, I will be publishing informative posts on NFTs (digital assets stored in smart contracts on a blockchain), blockchain infrastructure, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies. Each of these topics exists in its own ecosystem. The main ideas here are registration of ownership, a decentralised protocol for validating transactions, and platforms for creating and trading tokens. At the end of this megathread, you will see links for further reading.

None of the views expressed here are financial advice. Please do your own research, as always.

January 7, 2022 recorded conversation on passive income via Twitter Spaces

Intro
One of the first questions I am asked after “What are NFTs?” is “Where should I sell them?” Today’s post will give you some guidance through a discussion of NFT marketplaces. This presentation was first published on October 13, 2021 by Mide, an angel investor and crypto trading expert I met on Twitter Spaces. He published a megathread on his Twitter timeline to discuss his outlook on marketplaces for non-fungible tokens. So far, players with real world skills are entering the community. And they are bringing marketing expertise, professional teams, and networking skills to a market that is saturated with art. These newcomers will be competitive if they can offer tangible value to collectors. Marketplaces will then compete to provide a platform for the most popular project owners, and depending on the outcome of the negotiations, primary market collectors will benefit.

The original thread by Mide published on Twitter

Megathread
NFTs. They are everywhere these days. And if you’ve ever bought or sold one, you probably did it on Open Sea. The world’s largest NFT marketplace has handled a whopping $8 billion worth of transactions since the start of 2021.

The success of NFTs is no longer a point of discussion. Rather, it makes sense to think about the continued success of Open Sea as a marketplace. In the latter months of 2021, there was a surge in rival NFT marketplaces, many aiming for the top spot. So, is Open Sea under threat? That is what I want to explore today.

In the summer of 2021, the earliest sign of an Open Sea competitor came from one of the largest decentralized exchanges, SushiSwap. Sushi has announced its own NFT platform called Shoyu (meaning soy sauce in Japanese). The platform is currently in the final stages of development. Shoyu’s main advantages are integration with existing Sushi Swap protocols and the distribution of transaction fees to SUSHI token holders.

However, from the SHOYU NFT teasers released so far, the marketplace looks more like a competitor to Super Rare than OpenSea. This is because it targets individual artists and art collectors rather than NFT flippers (people who buy NFTs and resell them for a bigger profit).

The next marketplace that caught my eye is the newly launched Infinity. Entering the scene in October, 2021, Infinity has been trying to lure Open Sea users to its platform with the promise of a token airdrop (free tokens sent directly to wallets visible on the Open Sea platform).

Anyone who has spent more than 0.02 ETH ($US 62) on OpenSea can claim a bag of Infinity tokens if they spend an equal amount of ETH on the Infinity marketplace. Additionally, Infinity aims to be community-driven and completely decentralized, with user governance coming from holders of the airdropped tokens. Infinity even admits that it uses the same smart contracts as Open Sea. The Infinity developers are transparent about trying to lure users away from Open Sea in a so-called “vampire attack.”

On the centralised exchange side, there is a new offering from FTX US. The exchange’s latest marketplace launched in October. It offers a much-needed improvement to NFT trading on Solana. It also provides a safer and more intuitive way to discover NFTs. At present, FTX only supports Solana NFTs but has said it intends to add support for Ethereum-based NFTs soon. FTX already runs an NFT marketplace and users can bid on experiences like a match in the popular League of Legends game.

Finally, we have Coinbase NFTs. Nasdaq’s first cryptocurrency exchange says that it will help creators to flourish on the exchange. In the announcement of its waitlist, it said that “by fostering connections, Coinbase NFT will help creators, collectors, and fans build community.” However, despite the optimism of this presentation, it is newcomer FTX that has the biggest chance of dethroning Open Sea, in my opinion. The platform has proven that it will get what it wants. It has also spent millions on marketing and promotional partnerships. It has already made a name for itself as a provider of cryptocurrency derivates, and I believe that it will be able to achieve the same level of success with NFTs.

Fin

Further reading

Ethereum Whitepaper
Ethereum Foundation

The Year in Ethereum 2020
Josh Stark and Evan Van Ness via Medium

Why I’m bearish on Ethereum
Tascha Labs

Solana: A new architecture for a high performance blockchain v 0.8.13
Solana Project

$LUNA Investment strategy discussion on Twitter Spaces (recorded)

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art Earth entrepreneurs men

Street Spirit: Photographer Sreeranj Sreedhar

Janma Ashtami Festival

Best wishes for All Souls’ Day, everyone, and welcome to a special photography showcase. In this post, I will introduce award-winning photographer, Street Spirit, Sreeranj Sreedhar. We became acquainted during a space (Twitter Spaces) and enjoyed some pleasant conversations. Then, after I asked 3D artists to hang out here, one of Sreeranj’s followers told me I had to create a feature here for him. I knew he was an esteemed photographer, so I sent him a message and held my breath.

Holi Festival is featured in Color Splash, an NFT listed on Foundation

I was relieved when he agreed to be featured. And then, we took our time and worked out the details. One of the things they never teach you about social audio is that a good host needs situational awareness. Social spaces tend to flatten hierarchies. Which means that if you are present, you are equal to everyone. But your authority as a host is defined by your ability to pick out the jewels from among the crowd. And you do that by listening.

Janma Ashtami Festival

Reading the atmosphere surrounding people is important because some of the most special ones have humble spirits. This skill will bring opportunities to meet and learn from the best and brightest. This was how I came to know about Sreeranj. He has a gift for capturing the colorful sights of his hometown, Kerala, India.

Aranmula Snake Boat Race

For the past three years, Sreeranj has worked as a full-time photographer. During this time, he has documented the culture and traditions in his hometown. Before that, for twenty-eight years, he held a corporate position in Dubai.

Departing Souls: Cattle Market

Sreeranj became interested in photography in 2011, when he became fascinated by unusual moments of daily life, including festivals all over the world. He has attended masterclasses by Magnum Photos and other respected photographers in order to fine-tune his skills.

Aranmula Snake Boat Race

He now gives photo tours in addition to hosting workshops and being a mentor for aspiring photographers. If you are interested, you can register for them via his website. He is the administrator and curator for various photography groups from India and Dubai. Sreeranj is one of the eight members of the Indian street photography group, ‘In-Street Collective’.

Guruvayoor Edatharikathu Kavu Talapoli

Presently, he is working to document all the major festivals and cultural events of Kerala. He wants to help promote some of the dying art forms in the region as well as to encourage artists to continue celebrating them. Through his activism, he hopes to encourage people to engage in responsible tourism.

Outtake from Puli Kali (Dance of Tigers)

His photography has been exhibited all over the world. In print, he has been published in National Geographic, NatGeo Traveller India, Lonely Planet Traveler Magazine, Digital Photo Magazine USA and Wanderlust Travel Magazine UK, among others. He has also received many photography awards in this short span of time. His portfolio can also be seen at his website, sreeranj.com, where you can purchase photos. On socials, you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Notes: Today is Tuesday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, and this post is dedicated to the late father of our guest. Sreeranj lost his father right after agreeing to be introduced to you here, and because of that, he was not able to connect with me until this past weekend. To readers who have lost loved ones in recent years, this post is also dedicated to you.

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Greetings from the Metaverse + Twitter (Spaces) update

Happy Monday, creators.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Does anyone remember that time last year, when I was crying into my phone about Twitter? Well, I took my own advice and it seems to have worked. I was miserable because I felt I had to change myself to fit into what I thought would gain traction. However, with this new account, I started out with the intention of doing what I wanted to do.

A musician I met on Saturday had this to say this morning.

Being a person with broad interests and unquenchable curiosity might have helped. After deciding to focus on non fungible tokens as a subject, I had no idea that all of my favourite topics would collide under that niche.

Unlike my previous post, in which I showed how you can get Instagram’s smart tech to work for you, Twitter is tricky. I can only give you generic advice with the caveat that everything depends on your specific subject matter. As you read, remember that I am using Twitter to promote sales of my creative projects, including fiction writing and fine art.

Social audio, specifically Twitter Spaces, allows me to hear from machine learning specialists, Buddhist and Hindu philosophers, philanthropists, musicians, authors, poets, programmers, game developers, actors, singers, tech venture capitalists, marketers, attorneys, architects, publicists, and blockchain specialists.

My work has been to use Twitter Spaces to create one large thought bubble, wherein everyone discusses a topic from the perspective of their areas of expertise. Reaching for a cognitively rich experience has made my time on Twitter stimulating instead of exhausting.

An example of a good bio tweet

In the list below, I will share some general ideas for working within your own niche with the help of Twitter Spaces. The most important principle to remember when marketing or promoting your work on any platform is simply, “Do what works, not what you like to do.”

  1. Spend time on Twitter. Can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me they had no time but wanted to know the one tweet they could post so they could gain 10,000 fans overnight.
  2. Curate your feed. Do not scroll. Stop and engage with tweets for about ten minutes. Like it, share it, or toss it. Use the “Not interested in this tweet” option and add specific reasons. This helps the smart tech to learn more about you.
  3. Tweet a bio tweet like the one in Sreeran’s example above. Thereafter, when you enter a space, say your account name and your personal tagline and the smart tech will index your account under the correct topics of interest.
  4. Join Twitter Spaces and listen in as a priority, even if invited to speak.
  5. Use your time on a speaker panel to give a voice to your engagement. You may want to say that you have commented, liked, or retweeted a speaker’s tweet.
  6. Support other accounts more than you tweet about yourself. We use the word “shill” to mean “self promote”. Shill for others because as a rule, do for others and they will do for you. If you receive no support from an account, focus on other accounts until you find your group.
  7. Take your time and work consistently. Results will multiply over time, because your diligent effort will earn you trust within your network.
  8. Keep the hashtags to a minimum (2 – 4 maximum) until you meet your ideal threshold of engagement in terms of tweets, retweets, comments and likes. Thereafter, use them rarely.
  9. Avoid negativity. Rephrase your words positively (for the smart tech). Do not follow accounts that are antagonistic towards your principles.
  10. If you must be outspoken, discuss and debate in spaces where your ideas will be heard, even if others disagree. Same rules go for all audio spaces. Keep rants super short.
  11. Quote tweet. Own the conversation by bringing it to your timeline. Bring it up later in spaces and ask for feedback, shares or other engagement on your tweet.
  12. Tag accounts and mention them in tweets with requests for answers. This raises your engagement by putting you on their timeline. It is also a great way to start a conversation.
  13. Consciously disengage. When you disagree in a comment, etc., the person with whom you disagree gets a boost by the algorithm because the smart tech will read your engagement as POSITIVE interest.
  14. Avoid engaging with inactive accounts. Twitter’s smart tech loves fresh content, so keep within a view/comment/share threshold of about 17 hours.
  15. Follow accounts that you genuinely like and want to support. As a rule, I avoid following popular accounts and add them to lists instead.
  16. Any support you receive must be reciprocated. And focus on supporting accounts that give you support in return.
  17. Analyse, rinse and repeat. If you start gaining support from your activities, try them again and see what happens. If a thing is working, keep doing it, regardless of whatever “advice” you receive, including mine.

Remember to try many things. Do what works and not what you like to do (for example, staying off Twitter or only tweeting about yourself). After joining Twitter with a fresh new account on June 19, 2021, my account now has 3107 followers today, September 27, 2021. The final push to 3000 happened last night (Sunday) when the count was at 2992. Thankfully, when I asked for some help getting over the line, my friends were there to offer their support. And that is how it should be. That’s all for now, and thank you for reading. See you in the metaverse.

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A reel turnaround

Hello everyone. I am sending happy weekend vibes to you. As you might guess from the title, I’m back on Instagram. Does anyone remember last year how I spent three days on Instagram and then spent another four trying to deactivate my account because they kept burning hashtags and deleting my posts?

On Wednesday, I downloaded the app again and created a fresh new business account. My experience is much more pleasant because I’m not using captions or hashtags. Instead, my method for increasing my engagement has been to make demands and threats. This has worked so far.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I get asked daily why I am not on Instagram, so I created this business account to connect with professionals I meet through social audio.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to make friends with someone who works with Google to train business owners to use Instagram for marketing. Thus, I have a strong incentive to not toss my phone out the window.

Instagram’s smart tech is impressive, something Marvin Stone would have approved of. I’ve only been on there for three days, not scrolling or searching for anything, and it showed me my favourite dish: charcoal grilled eel on sticky rice. The person who posted the image also has his headquarters at Starbucks and like me, he has the same drink every time he goes there. I had better behave or that thing is going to publish all of my secrets.

So in one of the scenes for my upcoming novel, I wrote about a social media application that shows only one post at a time. One of the characters, Mimi Hollingsbrook, is preparing for her work day. Because she works in the Royal Household as Baby Pudding’s nanny, she has agreed to keep a low profile on social media. Against her better judgement, she decides to look at her feed, and notices something in a caption from a famous influencer. She has a meltdown after reading it. Within a few minutes, her response, which is full of expletives, gains 5 million likes. This prompts her to permanently archive her account. In a later scene, Mimi is given a taste of power when a quarter percenter asks her to decide about that influencer’s future.

When writing notes about the social media applications I would be using in the story, I thought about reactions from readers. I was convinced that this feature would never be adopted in the real world. However, at the moment, the trend is to be super minimalist on Instagram, with as few posts as possible. At this rate, if I don’t hurry up and finish drafting, I will be publishing historical fiction.

In further news, I have been sucked into the vortex and I am now managing my social audio apps on two phones. One for Clubhouse, Discord and Twitter, and the other one for Greenroom and Instagram. That’s because one of the apps keeps crashing if I’m in audio spaces on two others. (Don’t ask). Juggling two phones might look cool on TV but I’m an introvert, so it does not feel right.

Why, oh why couldn’t I have found a marketing firm that was good at their job? I could’ve been friendlessly redrafting my new book right now.

Please send prayers. Thank you.

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Scrum Mastered

Scrum for creative focus

Are your goals clearly defined? Your next step is to collaborate with likeminded individuals. Work with practical, updated information. Record results and refine your process as you go. To master the practice of scrum, recognise when it is necessary to regroup and realign. Then do it.

Screen caps from the desktop version

The first iteration of this installation was a mass of crawling text that broke WordPress. Yay! But after it broke my phone’s browser, I decided to update this post with a collage of screen caps from Reader and the main site.

Glitched text on main page and in Reader.

Thankfully, I had saved the screen caps for the tweet design below, so it was easy to make another pass with the two typography posters. I hope you enjoy them.

It’s art and it is business
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Keep on trying (Dior GIF bag flex)

Glitched photo of Dior gift bag with a gift, inside a cardboard box with a paper hand
Glitched Dior gift bags with gift

The dry paper hand is back with two small GIFs I made for you today. I am very happy because I welcomed my nephew over the weekend. It was also my birthday so the gif(t) bags are not random.

I find the TV scroll below oddly relaxing. It is also a great throwback to the good old days when people sat in front of square boxes. I hope you enjoy playing on Photo Mosh. I really enjoyed creating this installation.

Glitch television effect with Dior gift bag inside a cardboard box
Glitched TV

On Sunday, I was experimenting with some design ideas and on Monday, I wondered what would happen if I glitched out some images. The software is stable but the file sizes are about 20MB for the GIFs. It’s necessary to compress them. The “Glitched TV” above is 7MB and “Warped thinking”, below, was shrunk to 10MB.

Glitch screen effect with Dior gift bag inside a cardboard box.
Warped thinking

You will not get uniform results for every single kind of image. And though the video files are super heavy, the software I used doesn’t render jpg images large enough to print on a 16″ x 24″ poster. I need a workaround.

Dior gift bag moshed
Moshed on fleek

Hope you enjoyed the bursts of colour and the weird lines as much as I do.

Updated and edited: 2021.04.08. Thank you for viewing.

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A few rough drafts

Dominate every space
Rough draft one: An app created these effects.

Happy Sunday to everyone reading this. (You might want to grab some popcorn.)

A few weeks ago, I started what should have been a wonderful collaboration with a marketing specialist. I asked a lot of questions to minimise errors. But when the invoice arrived, it seemed someone had used their elbow on the “zero” on a keyboard.

They were asking for the equivalent of 1/3 of my annual salary to do niche research, marketing, and advertising. No samples had been produced, no dry runs executed, nor analytics presented. Which means that in exchange for absolutely nothing, I would be working to keep them in Burberry and Dolce. 

One more test cover and two T-shirt designs

To end the negotiations, I sacrificed my catalog of designs. I told them to sell it all themselves. If they are good as they claim, they should be raking in the cash right now.

If you were me for the past month, you would have discovered some startling truths about advertising firms. Traffic, views and clicks can be purchased, and “stats” can be spun out of whole cloth. I now make sure that I negotiate for “my best outcomes” and ignore their “best efforts”.

Image for web store and Facebook fan page cover graphic
One’s office for social media/fan page cover

If effort alone were enough, each person reading this would be worth billions. Based on effort alone, it might be easy for all of us to set up shop as advertisers. Simply collect fee$ and promise to show your clients’ work to everyone. Then, pack yourself a nice sandwich, a smoothie, a bottle of water, and a muffin. Drive yourself down to the bay and have a picnic. Then, when clients complain that they have no traffic or sales, gaslight them and say they need to spend more money.

I guarantee that with this work ethic, you too will become a successful advertising executive in no time at all. 

Here’s hoping that you have a productive week ahead.

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In defence of “dressing”

mark-zuckerberg.jpg
Mark Zuckerberg. Courtesy: Getty Images

That awful person, CEO and Grim Reaper of Privacy, whose name I will not inscribe (or link to) on this sacred space, has gone super-nomcore. Given his net worth, it’s hard to imagine that people will dismiss his utterances as tarry horsefeathers. Someone quoted him as saying he wears the same t-shirt every day because dressing up is “silly.” I wasn’t sure if he meant that the rest of us are silly or just himself.

I’m sceptical about the awful person’s “I only wear t-shirts”proclamation. Sean Parker, the former CEO of that cursed enterprise, is super well-groomed. He probably consults with a stylist. You sometimes need to take advice from people who have a better sense of a thing that is intimidating to you.

Now to be fair, part of me understands the message he is trying to convey. If you have to be “on” 24/7, you try not to vary your look too much. When she was editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld saved time by wearing no foundation or lipstick, messy hair and tons of eyeliner. Her successor, Emmanuelle Alt, has been photographed on numerous occasions in the same black leather or denim trousers. Karl Lagerfeld wears only black and white.

Uniforms are an important armour for corporate battle, but surely a sacrificial offering must be made to the fashion gods? Perhaps he could build a clothing factory in China and employ one hundred people. Offer them a livelihood. It’s an effective public relations strategy because it incorporates money and political heft while promoting international relationships and community service. Such a gesture might acknowledge that the rest of us have an innate and unquenchable desire to express ourselves through silk, leather and lace.