Feb 22, 2011

Music Maven: How Melissa Darby is Changing Business as Usual

Darby and other hip-hop enthusiasts (such as Marc Matsui and both members of Blue Scholars, a highly-touted local group) formed the Student Hip-hop Organziation of Washington (SHOW) to make live hip-hop performances accessible for the under-21 crowd

Hip-hop has traditionally been a Boys Club. Generally speaking, there are a lack of notable female musicians making headlines. Even concert promotion is a male-dominated game, a tough and often ruthless business where the weak are exploited and tossed aside whenever “the next big thing” comes along.

However, one Seattle woman is holding her own. Melissa Darby has become the go-to girl for booking hip-hop shows of all sizes in the city. Better known as the ubiquitous “Meli,” Darby is a true power-player in the hip-hop scene. Her motivation lies more in shaping hip-hop culture than pocketing a quick buck. As head of Reign City (formerly Obese Productions), Meli produces a substantial percentage of all the hip-hop shows that come through Seattle. In addition, she is the talent buyer for the Nectar Lounge, a Fremont venue that has quickly established itself as one of the city's premiere clubs, in large part due to the national and locally recognized acts Meli brings in.

Darby's business ventures stem from a love of music she developed at a young age. She was involved with the Old Fire House, an underage Redmond venue famous for debuting some of the Northwest's most notable musicians including Modest Mouse and Elliot Smith. In Seattle, underage shows were few and far between because of the ‘90s Teen Dance Ordinance, which greatly restricted the availability of all ages shows. Meli and other like-minded individuals felt that the ordinace unfairly targeted hip-hop shows in particular, greatly stifling the growth of the burgeoning culture.

Darby and other hip-hop enthusiasts (such as Marc Matsui and both members of Blue Scholars, a highly-touted local group) formed the Student Hip-hop Organziation of Washington (SHOW) to make live hip-hop performances accessible for the under-21 crowd. Over a span of five years, SHOW put on many successful underground hip-hop shows, every single one of them all-ages.

Eventually, members of the group disbanded to pursue their own respective interests, and Darby started Obese Productions, whose signature logo could be found on the promotional flyers for almost all the notable shows in Seattle until very recently. Booking gigs for nationally-touring groups gave Obese the opportunity to showcase local acts as openers, helping to foster the burgeoning local scene that would eventually draw the eye of mainstream media moguls. Obese did all the shows, big and small, with Meli occasionally booking shows she knew would lose money—just to give deserving artists the spotlight and a shot at an attracting an audience.

This kind of grassroots promotion is Darby's mission; helping artists grow and reach new fans, by teaching them how to promote themselves and become well-rounded entrepreneurs. Darby's business values should inspire businesswoman in all industries, big and small. With plenty of heart, hustle and authenticity, she has risen to the top ranks in a male-dominated scene. She remains untarnished in a music culture prone to artifice and greed, putting hip-hop culture first and her own financial success second.

Edward Stern is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on electrician school for the Guide to Career Education.

Who Else Hates Eric the Midget?

Eric the Midget’s problems are self-inflicted, whether he wants to admit it or not. I’m not talking about his dwarfism, Ehler-Danos syndrome, club foot and Nevus flammeus nuchae. He was born with those afflictions and that’s certainly not his fault.

I’m not going to waste your time with a bunch of background info on Eric the Midget. I’ll assume you listen to the Howard Stern Show and know who he is. If you want his bio, go read his WikiPedia page. This is just my take on the ongoing Eric the Midget saga, for what it’s worth.

I’m talking about his constant complaints about his treatment at the hands of Howard Stern as a member of the “Wack Pack”.

One thing about Eric the Midget: either you simply hate him or you love to hate him. He was once booed by an audience at an Artie Lange stand-up performance in San Francisco for ten minutes straight. San Francisco is not Philadelphia, it takes a lot to get booed there.

He is also obviously somewhat delusional and has a ton of time on his hands. Why else would he stay on hold for hours at a time for a chance to speak on the show if he hates it so much? He’s completely oblivious to the fact that he owes whatever fame and success he’s had to Howard Stern.

Where would he be without all Howard’s done for him? Would he have been given a guest appearance on the TV show Fringe? Would he have gotten the offer from penny auction site Beezid.com to wear their Bee Suit and be the show’s Red Carpet Reporter? Would Jimmy Kimmel have taken interest in Eric and pushed people to buy him stuff from Eric’s Amazon list?

Remember the “Hottest Stripper Alive” contest? The winner would get a contract with EMA, Eric’s new modelling agency and a term of their seven year contract was that they had to live with him. Not surprisingly, as of today, there has been no winner or even entries, for that matter. The contest launched almost three years ago, in March 2008.

One of my favorite ETM moments happened in November when after refusing to participate in the IQ contest and being his annoying self for a while agreed to be a part of the contest and scored a 90. The latest “Eric the Actor” fiasco and his death hoaxes are just making things worse.

It doesn’t help that he seems to have zero sense of humour and takes it seriously when posters on the Stern Fan Network website do the “RIP Eric The Actor” thing.

Worst of all, he refuses to help himself. His quality of life would definitely be better if he had just let up and agreed to wear that Bee suit and done the Beezid.com promotion deal that the Penny Auction site offered to him. That also would have been downright hilarious and who knows what events he might be hosting now or what type of exposure he might have gotten from it? Maybe he could have lined up other sponsors, like maybe MoMo mags could have made him special wheels for his motorized wheelchair!

His empty threats to stop calling into the Stern show have gotten old as well. He always eventually calls back and makes an ass out of himself time after time. Doesn’t he realize Howard has a “Wack Pack” and not just one wack job?

It’s time to stop the tired act and move on to something new. Maybe get a job as an extra in the next Austin Powers movie or just fade away and work on his memoirs. I wouldn’t buy them but I know there are people out there that would. Either way, he’ll need Howard to promote the book and maybe even write the foreword!

Todd Janowski is a guest blogger who has been actively involved in doing product reviews and guest posts. He loves travelling, good food, movies and spending time with his family.

Most Expensive Celebrity Divorces

Rumors were rife throughout 2010 regarding the divorce settlement between scandal-plagued golfer Tiger Woods and former Swedish model Elin Nordegren. Various sources quoted $110 million, which ranks highly amongst high-profile divorce settlements, but is far from the most expensive.

Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy: $103 million

Tiger Woods does not appear to be the only golfer whose tournament cheques become alimony payments. Australian Greg Norman reportedly settled with first wife Laura Andrassy for $103 million.

Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphy: $150 million

Neil Diamond's easy listening style has seen him enjoy a career spanning 4 decades, with record sales exceeding 100 million copies. He wed high school sweetheart, Jayne Posner in 1963. Apparently, in November 1969, Diamond went to buy cigarettes and never returned. By December, the couple were divorced and Diamond had married production assistant, Marcia Murphy, with whom he had 2 sons. Amidst rumours of Diamond's "extramarital activities," the marriage ended in 1995. The divorce settlement was ½ of Diamond's fortune, amounting to $150 million, although he claimed Murphy was "worth every penny."

Michael and Juanita Jordan: $168 million

Former NBA star, Michael Jordan married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989. They filed for a mutual and amicable divorce in December 2006. The settlement of £168 million was, according to forbes.com, the biggest celebrity divorce settlement on public record at that time.

Roman and Irina Abramovich: $300 million

Russia billionaire and Chelsea FC chairman, Roman Abramovich, married Irina, an Aeroflot flight attendant, in 1990. Following 17 years of marriage, Roman filed for divorce, having fallen for 20 year-old socialite Daria Zhukova. Roman had a lucky escape, managing to negotiate Irina's original claim for $7 billion to a far smaller figure, but still got stung for $300 million.

Rupert and Anna Murdoch: $1.7 billion

Australian media magnate, Rupert Murdoch began developing his "empire" with the 1952 inheritance of his father's newspaper business. He married Scottish-born Anna Torv in 1967 and they remained together until 1998. The split was relatively amicable until Murdoch forced Anna off the board of News Corporation. The divorce was finalised in June 1999 with a settlement of $110 million cash, plus other assets totalling a massive $1.7 billion.

Although divorce seems very common place according to UK government statistics divorce is falling year on year as In 2008 in England and Wales the number of divorces fell by 5.0 per cent to 121,779, in Scotland they fell by 10 per cent from 12,810 in 2007 to 11,474 in 2008 and in Northern Ireland they fell by 4.8 per cent from 2,913 in 2007 to 2,773 in 2008.

One in five men and women divorcing in 2008 had a previous marriage ending in divorce. This proportion has almost doubled since 1981 when 11 per cent of men and women divorcing had a previous marriage ending in divorce. Sixty-nine per cent of divorces in 2008 were to couples where the marriage was the first for both parties, make sure if you are going to make the mistake again, it doesn't cost you as much as the people above

Garry Hudson writes about all thing financial and currently works for Baines and Ernst

Brand Profile: Timberland

Few brands conjure up images of the great outdoors as much as Timberland, with the brand producing some of the most easily recognizable outdoor boots on the market. Timberland is famed for its rugged style and hard wearing designs, which are equally at home on trails and mountains as they are for kicking around town. The yellow hiking boots for which the brand is best known are still some of the best loved outdoor footwear, chosen for the high level of comfort, excellent protection and weatherproofing and the attractive outdoor styling. The footwear offers excellent underfoot support, a highly comfortable fit, and are designed to last for years of heavy use.

Company founder Nathan Swartz may have honed his cobbling skills back in 1918, but it was not until 1973 that the Timberland brand was introduced. The original Timberland waterproof leather boots proved to be an instant hit, thanks to the injection moulded construction process which the company pioneered. The boots were made from high quality waterproof leather, with a seam sealed design without the need for stitching the upper to the sole, a weak point in many outdoor boot designs. The boots were adaptable to both warm and cold climates, used a design robust enough to serve as a work boot, and were smart and stylish enough for everyday wear. It’s no surprise that with such an advanced design and string construction that the original Timberland boots were such a success, so much so in fact that Swartz re-launched his Abington Shoe Company as Timberland. There has been no looking back ever since.

The American footwear company is world renowned for its high quality construction, and only uses premium grade leathers for its range of robust boots. Waterproof leather is used for the uppers, which Timberland impregnate with further waterproofing treatments during tanning to ensure that the finished product is certain to keep the feet dry, even in torrential downpours. When the ground becomes a torrent, the water doesn’t get in through in, with the seam sealed design creating a fully waterproof seal. Breathable membranes allows the feet to breathe, and prevents overheating, whilst in the cold weather boots Thermolite® insulation keeps the warmth in. Add corrosion resistant hardware for a long life of great looks, highly durable laces, and a robust sole, and you have a boot which will give many years of use in all weather conditions.

Whilst the boots are highly versatile, the range has since been expanded to provide that great Timberland look, but one better suited to more urban adventures. An extensive range of smart leather shoes and boots is now produced, with the emphasis on urban style rather than out and out hiking performance. The deck shoes look great with jeans and chinos or for more sophisticated urban style their oxford and dress shoes are the perfect choice for more formal wear. What the footwear offers in style is matched by performance in the hiking and walking shoe range, with robust and highly supportive hiking boots for tough terrain and lightweight hiking trainers designed for taking on the trail at speed. If it can be done in the great outdoors, you can be sure that Timberland has a wide selection of footwear to suit.

Being an outdoor brand, the shoes are highly popular for the workplace, with the original boots developed into solid work boots with steel toe caps for greater protection. However since not everyone needs such a high degree of protection, the steel toe caps feature in a range of Oxford shoes and trainers, for protection in the workplace without having to make a compromise on style. The brand has become one of the most popular high quality brands of boots and shoes for fashionable everyday footwear and for serious off-road action there are few better choices. If you want outdoor ruggedness, with plenty of urban style, even after some 37 years in production, Timberland remains the number one choice.

Steve is a freelance blogger working for www.priceculture.com, and can be found kicking around in an old pair of Timberland Euro Sprints.