Via Scoop.it – Monetizing The Customer Experience
Terrestrial radio is often taken for granted as a free thing that is always around and always will be, and even though most of it… (RT @EW: Clear Channel cutting more on-air talent across the country — is this the end of local radio?
Join us on October 25th at 2pm Et/11am PT for this exclusive, live webinar on The Socialization of Breast Cancer brought to you by HealthWorksCollective.
Register here to join this important conversation
The Socialization of Breast Cancer
On the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invite you to join HealthworksCollective for an exclusive webinar about the growing role of social media in educating breast cancer patients and connecting them with the treatment resources that they need. Thousands of websites and social media channels now provide fast information to women seeking information about breast cancer. Has this deluge of data helped or hindered? How can women and their families feel confident that what they are reading on the Internet is fact and not fiction? How can medical professionals use social media to optimize treatment and build stronger relationships with patients?
Our distinguished panelists will address the following issues, and yours:
- How to engage with breast cancer support groups online.
- Best online resources for breast cancer patients and treatment providers.
- Learning from breast cancer: Best practices for medical education and communication.
- How has the conversation between doctor and patient changed?
Lillie Shockney is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center. She is an RN, with a BS in healthcare administration, and a Masters in Administrative Science of the Johns Hopkins University. She is also a 2 time breast cancer survivor. She was appointed to a distinguished service faculty chair in the School of Medicine in 2008 by the Medical Board and Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, within the depts. of surgery, gynecology and oncology. She has written 14 books and more than 200 published articles on breast cancer. She is the editor in chief of a new medical peer review journal on oncology navigation and survivorship. Over the past 14 years she has received 35 national awards and 4 state awards for her work in the breast cancer field.
Elyse Spatz Caplan, a 20-year breast cancer survivor, joined the non-profit organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer in 2000. In her current role of Director of Programs and Partnerships, she oversees LBBC’s educational programming for breast cancer information and awareness, including large-scale national conferences and teleconferences, the toll-free Survivors’ Helpline, written and online publications, networking programs, workshops, and trainings for healthcare professionals. She also works with other organizations to form partnerships that will extend the reach and depth of LBBC’s services. Since joining LBBC, Elyse has helped expand the educational programming in both size and breadth. She is responsible for structuring and organizing new educational initiatives, including programs for women with metastatic breast cancer.
Andrew Schorr has been a medical journalist for 30 years. In that time he has interviewed hundreds of breast cancer patients – even men – and medical specialists. Along the way Andrew became a cancer patient too – treated successfully for leukemia 11 years ago. Andrew has been a pioneer in online discussions about serious health issues having founded HealthTalk.com and more recently, PatientPower.info. Andrew is the author of the new book, “The Web-Savvy Patient,” covered in a recent report by Jane Brody in her New York Times personal health column.
Our moderator, Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA is an award-winning journalist, medical blogger, freelance writer, media broadcaster, speaker, consultant, health educator and registered nurse. She is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Healthin30.com. Barbara is a featured writer at The Huffington Post and she is on the Editorial Advisory Board and consumer health educator for ShareCare. Barbara is a consultant for Numera Health | Numera Social as Senior Director Clinical Affairs. Barbara is on the front lines of health care. She is an Administrative Head Nurse (Administrative Supervisor) at a large university medical center and covers multiple medical and surgical units, critical care and women’s and children’s services. She is multifaceted in her clinical experience, ranging from oncology to general medicine and surgery.
Real Quick what makes this a Must Read is because at the end you will find a business model that makes a great deal of sense for the Media Industry. Called Transmedia Brandcasting, the model monetizes streaming video without commercial interruption and share revenue with the entire Entertainment Supply Chain including the Customers. http://inteveo.com/demos/WCN/ Play with the Demo then reach out for us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The digital world demands a new business model. Information is meant to be free to all. Knowledge, which is what changes us and expands our universe, should not be a commodity. But then how will the creative community live?
This issue is one which is still searching for an answer. Media empires that ruled America and Europe for hundreds of years are crumbling. They must change to survive. This change will destroy some of them and place on the long list of former corporate monoliths that are now only found in history books, while the others will change and evolve in such a radical fashion that they will unrecognizable fifty years from now.
The Advent Of A New Age
What most do not understand about the Information Age we have entered is that for it to prosper and expand, information must be made freely available to all. The Internet, by its nature, shares. Once this essential quality is taken from it, the Internet loses all its appeal. But even more, no matter how much business interests wish it, or, work for it, there is no turning back to the old days. Newspapers are the first victims to this change. In 2006, Kevin Kelly, wrote an article in the New York Times titled, Scan This Book. This article was in our opinion prophetic. It dealt with the new ways in which the world of print is being affected. Print and words not synonymous.
As long as man has a mouth, words will have power. Print served as a medium by which could increase their influence on society, even more than it had when it was merely spoken. Spoken words were lost; print served as way to memorialize them. With the advent of video and film, print is no longer necessary, but words will always remain. Kelly eloquently explains,
Authors and publishers (including publishers of music and film) have relied for years on cheap mass-produced copies protected from counterfeits and pirates by a strong law based on the dominance of copies and on a public educated to respect the sanctity of a copy. This model has, in the last century or so, produced the greatest flowering of human achievement the world has ever seen, a magnificent golden age of creative works. Protected physical copies have enabled millions of people to earn a living directly from the sale of their art to the audience, without the weird dynamics of patronage. Not only did authors and artists benefit from this model, but the audience did, too. For the first time, billions of ordinary people were able to come in regular contact with a great work. In Mozart’s day, few people ever heard one of his symphonies more than once. With the advent of cheap audio recordings, a barber in Java could listen to them all day long.
Kelly goes on to explain the present situation,
But a new regime of digital technology has now disrupted all business models based on mass-produced copies, including individual livelihoods of artists. The contours of the electronic economy are still emerging, but while they do, the wealth derived from the old business model is being spent to try to protect that old model, through legislation and enforcement. Laws based on the mass-produced copy artifact are being taken to the extreme, while desperate measures to outlaw new technologies in the marketplace “for our protection” are introduced in misguided righteousness. (This is to be expected. The fact is, entire industries and the fortunes of those working in them are threatened with demise. Newspapers and magazines, Hollywood, record labels, broadcasters and many hard-working and wonderful creative people in those fields have to change the model of how they earn money. Not all will make it.)
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Distribution, which had for many centuries, been the area of specialists (who gained power from it), is available to all. Indeed, this article which you read now, is being read by people all around the earth of many different cultures, languages and views. It is always available. It can be copied endless number of times without loss of quality. Indeed, we encourage it. We wanted copied endlessly. We do not want to be the distributors of it. We want mankind to distribute it. We echo Kelly’s words.
The new model, of course, is based on the intangible assets of digital bits, where copies are no longer cheap but free. They freely flow everywhere. As computers retrieve images from the Web or display texts from a server, they make temporary internal copies of those works. In fact, every action you take on the Net or invoke on your computer requires a copy of something to be made. This peculiar superconductivity of copies spills out of the guts of computers into the culture of computers. Many methods have been employed to try to stop the indiscriminate spread of copies, including copy-protection schemes, hardware-crippling devices, education programs, even legislation, but all have proved ineffectual. The remedies are rejected by consumers and ignored by pirates.
We are writers, but really, and essentially, all people are writers. They all have story to tell. We may have creative gifts, but indeed all have such gifts. Not the same extent, but the day of people being spectators is over. The Internet invites us, seduces us to involvement in ways which the world has yet to fully understand.
As copies have been dethroned, the economic model built on them is collapsing. In a regime of superabundant free copies, copies lose value. They are no longer the basis of wealth. Now relationships, links, connection and sharing are. Value has shifted away from a copy toward the many ways to recall, annotate, personalize, edit, authenticate, display, mark, transfer and engage a work. Authors and artists can make (and have made) their livings selling aspects of their works other than inexpensive copies of them. They can sell performances, access to the creator, personalization, add-on information, the scarcity of attention (via ads), sponsorship, periodic subscriptions — in short, all the many values that cannot be copied. The cheap copy becomes the “discovery tool” that markets these other intangible valuables. But selling things-that-cannot-be-copied is far from ideal for many creative people. The new model is rife with problems (or opportunities). For one thing, the laws governing creating and rewarding creators still revolve around the now-fragile model of valuable copies.1
Battle Between The Book & The Screen
The screen, no matter in what form, whether it be e-ink technology, LED, etc., will triumph over the paper book. This age is one of the eyes, those who do not have the gift of sight, will have to adapt (perhaps the onset of this screen dominance, will spur breakthroughs in cures for blindness). No single medium will be dominant. They will all merge into one digital soup to be consumed by all. This is not intended to be an Orwellian dictatorship, quite the opposite. All the media will have opportunity to fight for our attention. In fact, our attention and focus will be the ultimate prize, in a world where so many voices compete for it.
…copies don’t count any more. Copies of isolated books, bound between inert covers, soon won’t mean much. Copies of their texts, however, will gain in meaning as they multiply by the millions and are flung around the world, indexed and copied again. What counts are the ways in which these common copies of a creative work can be linked, manipulated, annotated, tagged, highlighted, bookmarked, translated, enlivened by other media and sewn together into the universal library. Soon a book outside the library will be like a Web page outside the Web, gasping for air. Indeed, the only way for books to retain their waning authority in our culture is to wire their texts into the universal library.2
If we are entering this brave new world of the Freemium, how can businesses, content creators and artists survive?
We have shown in our previous post in this series that the trend toward free digital duplication is unstoppable. Ultimately, copyright laws which were designed to protect people’s thoughts and inventions worked well in an older age, but are obstacles to innovation in this Internet age.See These Pages: FUTURISM TECH TRENDS SINGULARITY SCIENCE CENSORSHIP SOCIAL NETWORKS eREADERS MOBILE DEVICES
But as we began to speak about in the earlier post, the digital screen has arisen as the portal of digital communications. Everywhere we look at screens in all kinds of different situations. In 2008, Kevin Kelly wrote an article in the New York Times entitled, Becoming Screen Literate. In it he states,
Once, long ago, culture revolved around the spoken word. The oral skills of memorization, recitation and rhetoric instilled in societies a reverence for the past, the ambiguous, the ornate and the subjective. Then, about 500 years ago, orality was overthrown by technology. Gutenberg’s invention of metallic movable type elevated writing into a central position in the culture. By the means of cheap and perfect copies, text became the engine of change and the foundation of stability. From printing came journalism, science and the mathematics of libraries and law. The distribution-and-display device that we call printing instilled in society a reverence for precision (of black ink on white paper), an appreciation for linear logic (in a sentence), a passion for objectivity (of printed fact) and an allegiance to authority (via authors), whose truth was as fixed and final as a book. In the West, we became people of the book.
This era has changed. Not that the book will disappear as a communication technology, but it will not longer play the dominant role it once did. Kelly further elucidates,
A new distribution-and-display technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images, and especially moving images, to the center of the culture. We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective. The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift — from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.
Chris Anderson points out in his book, The Future Of A Radical Price, that George Gilder in book Microcosm was the first to observe this idea that every revolution produces something that beforehand was very expensive and made it very cheap. Gilder gave the example of the Industrial Revolution,
In every industrial revolution, some key factor of production is drastically reduced in cost. Relative to the previous cost to achieve that function, the new factor is virtually free. [Thanks to steam,] physical force in the Industrial Revolution became virtually free compared to getting it from animal muscle power or human muscle power. Suddenly you cold do things that could not afford to do before. You could make a factory work 24 hours a day churning our products in a way that was just incomprehensible before.1
In essence, digital technology is deflationary as Anderson states,
In the atoms economy, which is to say most of the stuff around us, things tend to get more expensive over time. But in the bits economy, which is the online world, things get cheaper. The atoms economy is inflationary, while the bits economy is deflationary.
Possible Business Models In The Internet Age
In this new world where digital duplication costs close to nothing and the copy loses no quality from the original. Business models which are based on charging for copies of a document, film or other kind of media are doomed.
There are according to Anderson four kinds of the free models.
…four broad kinds of free, two that are old but evolving and two that are emerging with the digital economy…let’s pull back and observe that all forms of free boil down to variations of the same thing: shifting money around from product to product, person to person, between now and later of into non-monetary markets and back out again. Economists call these cross-subsidies.
- Free 1: Direct Cross-Subsidies- This is a product that is given away for free that in turn is used to influence you to purchase another product.
- Free 2: The Three-Party Market – a third party pays to participate in a market created by a free exchange between the first two parties. This model may be more confusing. The classic example is newspapers and magazines which sell [at a very reduced cost] or give away their products in exchange for advertisers being able to present ads to the consumers. The advertisers are the third party in this model.
- Free 3: Freemium – This term was invented by venture capitalist Fred Wilson. This is the most common model used by most websites like Flickr, Endnote, etc. As Anderson puts it, “…freemium can take different forms: varying tiers of content from free to expensive, or a premium “pro” version of some site or software with more features than the free version.”
- Free 4: Non-Monetary – Anything people choose to give away with no expectation of payment. A perfect example of this model would be wikipedia. A great example of this model is Google, which in exchange for their services which are free, use the consumers of these free services to perfect their search engines, their translation service and other programs as well as perfecting their ability to more precisely target the proper ads to the consumers.
In our next and last installment, we shall examine how successful these models have been and might be.
1. Anderson, Chris (2009). Free: The Future of a Radical Price (p. 13). Hyperion e-books. Kindle Edition.
In an information world information is abundant, nearing the point of zero cost.Nicholas Carr in his book The Big Switch, stated, “Google wants information to be free because as the cost of information falls it makes more money.” Anderson explains the pain in this transition in society towards “de-monetization” of society.
From the coal miners of Wales to the automotive workers of Detroit, this race to the cheapest, most efficient models has a real human toll. As Jeff Zucker, the head of NBC Universal, put it, the TV industry is terrified of “trading analog dollars for digital pennies.” Yet there seems little he or anyone can do to stop it: TV is a scarcity business (there are only so many channels), but the Web is not.
Like any other changing market, new winners are created and yesterday’s leaders (if they do not change) will slip to obscurity. The money has not been lost, it has been redistributed. As Chris Anderson said, “Just because products are free doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, isn’t making lots of money, or that lots of people aren’t making a little money each.” Anderson continues,
The point is that the Internet, by giving everybody free access to a market of hundreds of millions of people globally, is a liquidity machine. Because it reaches so many people, it can work at participation rates that would be a disaster in the traditional world of non-zero marginal costs. YouTube works with just one in a thousand users uploading their own videos. Spammers can make a fortune with response rates of one in a million.
Using the free to to shrink one industry while opening another one was called by Fred Wilson a “zero billion dollar business.” Past empires like Britannica are examples of this. They were dramatically shrunk before encarta or wikipedia came along in 1993.
There is a paradox with this model of the free. There are short -term negative consequences of de-monetization. Companies like Google could destroy the very content makers that it uses to make its money from ads place in the web searches. Anderson continues about Google,
…it needs those other companies to create information that it can then index, organize, and otherwise package to create its own business. If digital free-demonetizes industries before new business models can re-monetize them, then everyone loses.Pay What You Want
This “network effect” can work very well if one has the numbers to offer a free model where the user can contribute what he thinks the product is worth. Radiohead did this with their famous event in 2007 where they offered for free with the announcement that their album “In Rainbows” would be available for just the credit card fee. The results were spectacular. Radiohead. They sold 1.2million copies. They made more money from this album since they had no middleman, no record company to share the income with. Radiohead was not the first artist to do this. Prince offered his album 3121 for free in the UK. It sold 73,000 copies this way. Some movie theaters have offered this on selected movies. Panera Breadtried this in 2010 with selected restaurants where people were asked to pay what they wished for the food and put the rest of the money in a box to feed the needy and poor.Is there a magic business model for the new digital age? Not yet. There may never be just one. But that such business models are necessary and will be invented is for certain. Maybe you will be the one who will discover one.
Introducing Inteveo DIVE™ (DIVE™ (Dynamic Interactive Video Experience) Turning Content into Cash the First T-Commerce Platform for Streaming Video Monetization
Ralph Lauren Takes Over The Times iPad App, Reminds Us What A ‘Sponsor‘ Does
by Steve Smith, 8 hours ago
If you haven’t yet caved to the New York Times paywall restrictions and ponied up the subscription fee, then you may have let your iPad app for the brand lie unused in recent months. Ralph Lauren gives you a reason to revisit the app with a program that gives users full article access to select sections of the Times and fills many of its ad spaces with lush Lauren creative.
When I clicked into my first article this morning a full screen video invited me to click through to the digital magazine that forms the core of this promotion, which includes almost a dozen text, image and video features. It is probably the most ambitious attempt at brand advertising yet on the iPad, or at least branding that is embedded within a content app.
Medialets has outlined some of the pieces in a blog post this morning. Following the current trend toward emphasizing the e-commerce strengths of the iPad, CEO Eric Litman highlights the fact that the ad unit incorporates seamless ordering.
Many of the large-scale images in the Lauren magazine have links to an embedded shopping cart. No call-outs to a separate embedded browser or (worse) the Safari browser and a tablet-unfriendly Web site. Now you can order those $500 leather jeans as soon as you see them and be back at the op-ed page without missing a beat. This should make life in the Hamptons just a tad better this weekend. Seriously, it is a good example of leveraging this technology to move a reader from content to sponsor message to shopping inspiration to actual purchase in just a few swipes.
Meet Steve Smith at OMMA Global NYC!
Steve Smith will be there moderating a panel on “Making the Case for Tablet ROI: An iPad Publisher and Media Buyer Show Their Metrics for Success” on September 26 at 4:00 PM. Top executives will be there. Will you?
Register Now – FREE for MediaPost Members!
For my money (which cannot afford $500 jeans), the more interesting aspect of the Lauren/Times project is its overall level of sponsorship integration. Among the many things that Ralph Lauren does well here is pull the reader toward the advertorial with large content-filled ad placements throughout the app. The integration of the Lauren content into the Times reading experience overcomes one of the key weaknesses of the Apple iAd formula — a banner pull that is incongruous with the richness of the landing experience.
This is a good illustration of how the digital app format can improve on traditional custom publishing. Superficially, the Lauren project in the Times app is a classic bundled advertorial. In print this magazine would come separately bound but packed in the same shrink wrap. In the Sunday magazine it might be an extended insert. In either case, the experience of the custom publishing project is separate from the main editorial, simply piggybacking on the magazine or newspaper that functions as a delivery vehicle.
In the embedded form that we see in this in-app execution, the advertorial content can be more fully integrated with the reading experience and ever-present. The alignment of luxury sponsor with high-end content brand is nigh-perfect, of course.
For all the years I covered online digital media, every few years or so I would find myself writing another story about the revival of the true sponsorship format on the Web. Every once in a while you would find major brands truly host and underwrite entire sections of a site. The advantages of the sponsorship model are so obvious I always wondered why we didn’t see more digital budgets go this way. In some ways it promises to fix what is so clearly frustrating and broken about online advertising. The model aligns the product and brand with a trusted media source, getting much more contextual benefit than merely swapping in frequency capped banners via ad networks. It allows for a full share of voice that battles the staggering, ad-blinding clutter of the Web. It allows for much greater creative freedom to dazzle, inform and impress the reader. And it makes explicit and rewarding the fundamental exchange of value in ad-supported media: the sponsor is underwriting a valued content experience.
Somehow the technology-driven models of Web advertising wrenched us away from a sponsorship model that in many ways makes even more sense in a digital realm than even in an analogue world. When aligned neatly with the right content and integrated sensibly with the entire editorial experience, a sponsorship like this gets much more than a halo effect. It puts the reader at ease with the advertiser and ready to extend the attention one pays to the editorial into the advertising.
How well this advertorial holds up over the course of the month’s sponsorship remains to be seen. One risk of even the cleverest sponsorship is that it gets stale after one use. But the entire project is aiming toward a live stream of the Sept. 15 Lauren runway presentation of its spring 2012 collection. Surely you can’t get much fresher advertorial content than that. /p>
Marshall McLuhan was noted for suggesting that every new medium draws upon elements not only of its immediate predecessor but even formerly dormant models. In the case of apps, perhaps this is an opportunity to revisit the true sponsorship model, where the interests of publisher, advertiser and reader worked together to everyone’s benefit.
The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling
Jul 25 2011, 10:58 AM ET
It’s this one, from yesterday’s New York Times. Click for a more detailed view, though it’s pretty clear as is.
It’s based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who’s “to blame” for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.
An additional significance of the chart: it identifies policy changes, the things over which Congress and Administration have some control, as opposed to largely external shocks — like the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks or the deep worldwide recession following the 2008 financial crisis. Those external events make a big difference in the deficit, and they are the major reason why deficits have increased faster in absolute terms during Obama’s first two years that during the last two under Bush. (In a recession, tax revenues plunge, and government spending goes up – partly because of automatic programs like unemployment insurance, and partly in a deliberate attempt to keep the recession from getting worse.) If you want, you could even put the spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in this category: those were policy choices, but right or wrong they came in response to an external shock.
The point is that governments can respond to but not control external shocks. That’s why we call them “shocks.” Governments can control their policies. And the policy that did the most to magnify future deficits is the Bush-era tax cuts. You could argue that the stimulative effect of those cuts is worth it (“deficits don’t matter” etc). But you cannot logically argue that we absolutely must reduce deficits, but that we absolutely must also preserve every penny of those tax cuts. Which I believe precisely describes the House Republican position.
After the jump, from a previous “The Chart That Should…” positing, an illustration of the respective roles of external shock and deliberate policy change in creating the deficit.
UPDATE: Many people have written to ask how the impact of the “Bush-era tax cuts,” enacted under George W. Bush and extended under Barack Obama (with the help, as you will recall, of huge pressure from Senate Republicans), is divided between the two presidents. I don’t know and have written the creators of the chart to ask. (They have responded to say: it indicates the legacy effects of the changes made by each Administration. For instance, neither Bush nor Obama is credited with the entire cost of Pentagon spending or entitlements, but only the changes his Administration made, up or down. By this logic the long-run effect of tax cuts initiated by Bush is assigned to him, as any long-run effect of savings he initiated would be too.)
But to me it doesn’t matter. As I said above, the point of the chart really isn’t partisan responsibility. It is the central role of those tax cuts in creating the deficit that is now the focus of such political attention. Call them the “Obama-Extended Tax Cuts” if you’d like: either way, a deficit plan that ignores them fails a basic logic, math, and coherence test.
From this item three months ago:
Celebrating her sound her beauty and her message of self-esteem for little girls growing up, India Arie is helping to shape lives. I Am not my Hair, Because I am a Queen, Brown Skin are all-powerful songs that speak to the natural beauty of all Black Women. Recently Psychology Today published an article questioning the attractiveness of Black Women and a post that I did asking if whomever approved such an article had lost their Damn Minds. I saw India Arie at the recent Incognito Concert in Atlanta and my friends she looked more than Amazing. She is indeed a Queen and what really turned me on was the excitement in my 13-year-old daughters eyes as it was a complete surprise that she was there. Today as we prepared this post together she began telling me about how Queen was her favorite song. Knowing all the words to the song certainly gave me much to smile about. Thank you India, we need you to continue to lift up our little girls. Your contribution is more than huge.
India Arie is known and cherished by fans and fellow musicians as a poet, a songwriter, a daughter, a producer, a musician, a sister, a singer, an advocate, a friend and a philanthropist –– but she is possibly best known for the love in her music that has inspired and motivated people worldwide. From the moment that her very first single “Video,” and her multi–platinum debut album Acoustic Soul were released in 2001, India’s music established an extraordinary bond of trust, affection and communication with her followers. Her sophomore release the platinum selling Voyage to India in 2002 was hailed worldwide by critics.
The New York Times called it “music that only further enhances her reputation as an artist of substance; centering on her acoustic guitar and confident but restrained vocals, it recalls such soul masters as Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack.” In 2006 she released her No. 1 charting album Testimony: Vol.1, Love & Relationship, a beautiful collection of songs treasured by fans for its intimate, heart–tugging portrait of a lover’s parting and its after–ache. Although they’ve been understated, the politics of India.Arie’s Grammy–honored music have also been on open display ever since Oprah Winfrey pointedly thanked her for writing the sentiment “I may not be built like a supermodel/But I’ve learned to love myself unconditionally” – a declaration of independence from a set agenda that, eight years later, remains as politically definitive as any protest song ever written.
Winfrey also singled out the Testimony: Vol. 1 track “There’s Hope” as “music that really stimulates and revives the soul,” and India’s music was known to be heard on campaign buses and planes, rallies and fundraisers during the historic Presidential run of Barack Obama. “I want people to hear my music for a long time,” says India, “for this generation to say decades from now: ‘This still says what I think’ and girls who are 11 now, who were 1 when I wrote ‘Video,’ can say, ‘That’s how I feel.’” A broadening awareness of her own calling and of our collective worldwide dialogue is central to Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (Soulbird Music/Universal Republic), the fourth studio album by India.Arie. Years after completing her first multi–platinum album, “I feel my music is even more in accordance with where people are. Everybody’s looking for ways to feel better –– the world is so unpredictable, people are looking inside themselves to ask what’s meaningful in life.
My music has always addressed this, and now it’s so much in vibrational accordance with what people are thinking.” India.Arie has stood often with her peers in the top echelon of entertainment as an activist for global health and human dignity. As a U.S. Ambassador for UNICEF, she traveled to Africa several times to address the AIDS crisis, and filmed the VH–1 documentary Tracking the Monster: Ashley Judd & India.Arie Confront Aids in Africa. “I Am Not My Hair” was central to Lifetime Television’s recent “Stop Breast Cancer for Life” public awareness campaign, “Beautiful Flower” was used for fund–raising for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, “She Is” was created for the documentary on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf entitled Iron Ladies of Liberia, and “What About the Child” has been used in conjunction with various UNICEF events. Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics is, as always, a searching, insightful, honest and creatively accomplished expression of inner emotions, and the interconnectedness of all of us. India adds that it’s a reflection of changes – hers and ours, too.
“There’s nothing you can do or say that’s separate from other people any more,” she observes. “Now you can have the whole world in your laptop, you are a part of the world instantaneously. laying things on the table for conversation, that’s politics. Politics is what happens when a group of people get together, and section themselves off. A lot of my album is about how we define and separate ourselves. I know from traveling around the world that people are now talking about all these different things. That’s what the album is about.” Two tracks from the album were released digitally in advance of its full release: the jazz–flavored melodic bubbler “Chocolate High,” featuring longtime friend Musiq Soulchild, and the romantic, exuberant “Therapy,” featuring Jamaican roots artist Gramps Morgan, co–written and co–produced by emerging artist Novel, who previously collaborated with India on “Purify Me.” India.Arie doesn’t hesitate to point out that the lush, diverse and tasty album arrangements and clarity of its sound reflect a new breakthrough in her craft as a producer: “This is the first album that really represents me vocally, lyrically, sonically. In my last album, my goal was to express the emotion and the vision musically, along with the words. I accomplished that on this album.
It’s an unhindered expression.” Based on rhythm tracks cut live with her band over a month of sessions, India’s love of performance also shines through every song, and she gives album co–producer Dru Castro credit for a smooth creative process that extended through a solid year of post–production on the individual songs. “Collaboration, manifesting what I heard in my head really quickly, doing it all exactly and fully –– that was fun, and my best studio experience ever.” The second volume of Testimony, she notes, was originally planned with songs that hadn’t fit conceptually into Love & Relationship – but a chance meeting with Turkish icon Sezan Aksu in New York “changed the vision of what I can do. It made me just say: Do what I want to do, no matter the consequences. I went to Hawaii the next month, visualized the album, started writing songs.”
The album’s spiritual and emotional core can be found in the romantic and compassionate songs “He Heals Me,” “River Rise,” “The Cure,” featuring Sezen Aksu’s vocal, and “Better Way,” featuring roots–music superstar Keb Mo, India says. “Exactly a year later, I look at those songs and know they came out of that travel. I wrote ten songs in ten days in Hawaii, and when I came back, that inspiration was still so alive, I wrote five more.” She adds: “‘Ghetto’ and ‘Yellow’ I started with Shannon Sanders while we were touring Acoustic Soul, and I was surprised at how much new life was breathed into them. I love these songs, and I love ‘Pearls,’ (India’s revival of the Sade fan favorite, featuring the brilliant Ivory Coast multi–talent Dobet GnahorÃ©). “These songs symbolize being more empowered, honoring feelings more. Not fitting in anyone’s box anymore. This album sounds like me, now, not trying to live something or capture something.
It’s just now. A sonic representation of who I am.” Other album collaborators include hip–hop pioneer M.C. Lyte on “Psalms 23,” acclaimed jazz original Rachelle Ferrell, co–writer of “Better Way,” and India’s mother, stylist and all–around inspiration Simpson, co–writer of “Long Goodbye” and “A Beautiful Day,” a track originally composed on the spot during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, with GMA co–host Robin Roberts. The creative strength and satisfaction underlying Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics also reflects India’s experience of a world that’s becoming closer to us all. ”I always looked at myself as a world music artist –– even when I was playing coffee houses in college,” she reflects. “I was always unsatisfied to be filed under urban, only. This is the first world music album that I’ve made. It addresses politics in a way that people don’t expect. One of the biggest political statements it makes is that there’s a new definition of what it means to be part of the world –– to have an album that involves Musiq, Dobet, Sezen, Keb Mo, Lyte, Gramps, doing things together without being in the same place with them, and what it means for all these people to sing songs together.”
India.Arie has sold over 8 million albums worldwide, including the double–platinum Acoustic Soul, the platinum Voyage to India and her number one album Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship. Her honors include 17 Grammy nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 NAACP Image Awards, and various awards from BET, Billboard, MTV, VH–1, Vogue, Essence, and others. Her songs have appeared in such films as Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, A Soldier’s Story, Radio, A Shark’s Tale and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Arie launched her own label, Soulbird Music, in June 2008 through Universal Republic, with the release of singer–songwriter Anthony David’s album Acey Deucy and the Grammy–nominated single “Words,” a duet with Arie.
Published: May 12, 2011
Far from the New York City towers that bear his name, in cities like Tampa, Fla., and Philadelphia, house hunters clamor to buy into his developments, sometimes exhausting credit lines and wiping out savings for a chance to own a piece of his gilded empire.
But as Mr. Trump, who is weighing a bid for the White House, has zealously sought to cash in on his name, he has entered into arrangements that home buyers describe as deliberately deceptive — designed, they said, to exploit the very thing that drew them to his buildings: their faith in him.
Over the last few years, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of court documents, the real estate mogul has aggressively marketed several luxury high-rises as “Trump properties” or “signature Trump” buildings, with names like Trump Tower and Trump International — even making appearances at the properties to woo buyers. The strong indication of his involvement as a developer generated waves of media attention and commanded premium prices.
But when three of the planned buildings encountered financial trouble, it became clear that Mr. Trump had essentially rented his name to the developments and had no responsibility for their outcomes, according to buyers. In each case, he yanked his name off the projects, which were never completed. The buyers lost millions of dollars in deposits even as Mr. Trump pocketed hefty license fees.
Those who bought the apartments in part because of the Trump name were livid, saying they felt a profound sense of betrayal, and more than 300 of them are now suing Mr. Trump or his company.
“The last thing you ever expect is that somebody you revere will mislead you,” said Alex Davis, 38, who bought a $500,000 unit in Trump International Hotel and Tower Fort Lauderdale, a waterfront property that Mr. Trump described in marketing materials as “my latest development” and compared to the Trump tower on Central Park in Manhattan.
“There was no disclaimer that he was not the developer,” Mr. Davis said. The building, where construction was halted when a major lender ran out of money in 2009, sits empty and unfinished, the outlines of a giant Trump sign, removed long ago, still faintly visible.
Mr. Davis is unable to recover any of his $100,000 deposit — half of which the developer used for construction costs.
Another casualty: his admiration for Mr. Trump, whose books and television show Mr. Davis had devoured. “I bought into an idea of him,” he said, “and it wasn’t what I thought it was.”
Alan Garten, a lawyer for Mr. Trump’s company, said that, regardless of what Mr. Trump himself or any marketing materials had suggested, his role was disclosed in lengthy purchasing documents that buyers should have carefully scrutinized. But in an interview, Mr. Garten acknowledged that, “without a lawyer, it can be difficult” to understand such documents. He suggested that the housing market collapse, not Mr. Trump, was the cause of their troubles.
“They are people who lost money and are looking for somebody to blame,” Mr. Garten said.
Mr. Trump’s Midas touch as a businessman, sometimes real, other times perceived, is central to his presidential aspirations, which have become increasingly hard for Republicans to ignore, even as some of them cringe at his blunt remarks and boastfulness. In the next month, he is scheduled to visit two key primary-season states, South Carolina and Iowa, as he further tests the waters. “I have made myself very rich,” he said recently, sitting in his palatial suite at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. “And I would make this country very rich.”
But regardless of whether Mr. Trump ultimately seeks the presidency, his attempt to promote himself as a savvy financial manager who can lead America out of its economic rut is bringing new scrutiny to his own business practices.
Despite high-profile stumbles, like the bankruptcy of Atlantic City casinos bearing his name, Mr. Trump has nurtured plenty of successful projects, in real estate and beyond: memberships to his golfclubs sell briskly, his men’s suits are a hit at Macy’s, and his NBC series, “The Apprentice,” is a ratings smash. Mr. Trump, in an interview, said the show had earned him well over $100 million.
Donald J. Trump spoke to Republican women’s groups in Las Vegas in April. He has been exploring a White House run.
Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times
Donald Isbell is among the Baja buyers suing Mr. Trump. He lost a deposit of $147,000.
Yet in recent years, as his brand has experienced an “Apprentice”-fueled resurgence, it appears that Mr. Trump, 64, has taken an expansive approach to putting his name on products big and small. There are Trump mattresses, Trump ties, Trump video games, Trump bottled water and Trump chocolates (designed to resemble bars of gold, silver and copper.)
But it is Mr. Trump’s real estate and education products that have enticed many Americans to invest life savings and dreams of quick riches. And it is with these products, according to a string of lawsuits and complaints filed around the country, that Mr. Trump has disappointed his fans most deeply.
Opening a ‘University’
As the American housing market climbed toward its peak, in 2005, Mr. Trump opened a for-profit school, called Trump University, to impart his wisdom about real estate and moneymaking to the general public.
In marketing materials, he promised students that his handpicked team of instructors would “teach you better than the best business school,” according to the transcript of a Web video. The same year, Mr. Trump licensed his name to an affiliated program, called the Trump Institute, which offered similar classes.
Dozens of complaints about both schools have rolled into the offices of attorneys general in Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois, officials said. And last year, the Better Business Bureau gave Trump University a D-minus, the second-lowest grade on its scale, after it fielded 23 complaints.
A lawsuit filed in 2010 by four dissatisfied former students, who are seeking class-action status, accuses Trump University of offering classes that amounted to extended “infomercials,” “selling nonaccredited products,” and “taking advantage of these troubled economic times to prey on consumers’ fears.”
According to the court papers, the university used high-pressure sales tactics to enroll students in classes that cost up to $35,000, at times encouraging them to raise their credit card limits to pay for them. It promised intensive one-on-one instruction that often failed to materialize. And its mentors recommended investments from which they stood to profit.
“It was almost completely worthless,” said Jeffrey Tufenkian, 49, who along with his wife, Sona, enrolled in a $35,000 “Gold Elite” class at Trump University to jump-start a career in real estate.
Mr. Tufenkian, who lives in Portland, Ore., was especially drawn to what Trump University described as a year-long mentorship. But he said that it amounted to a real estate expert from California taking him on a tour of homes in Portland that he could have seen on his own, for free.
At one point, he said, the mentor suggested an educational trip to Home Depot, an idea he found comical; at another, he said, the mentor recommended a sales technique (selling the option to buy a house), that several lawyers later told Mr. Tufenkian he was ineligible to perform because he lacked a real estate license. He recalled how, during a much cheaper Trump class on foreclosure, he and his wife were encouraged by instructors to raise their credit card limits, ostensibly in anticipation of investing in real estate, only to have the accounts maxed out with the purchase of the next $35,000 class, a charge mirrored in the lawsuit. The fee, and the resulting credit card interest payments, have wiped out much of the couple’s savings. Mr. Tufenkian’s requests for a refund have been rejected.
“You can understand how a business makes mistakes,” he said, “but a proper business will do what it takes to make it right. Trump University has no interest in taking care of its customers.”
George Sorial, a managing director and lawyer at the Trump Organization, the company that oversees Mr. Trump’s various businesses, said that the school had a “very generous” refund policy — and that less than two percent of students ask for their money back.
Mr. Sorial called claims that instructors took students on tours of Home Depot and asked students to raise their credit limits “ridiculous” and “unsubstantiated.” He said mentors were prohibited from profiting from their advice. According to student evaluations, he said, Trump University has a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate with its 11,000 paying students around the country.
“I guarantee that if you went out and surveyed Harvard grads, you would find some who are not happy. It’s inevitable,” he said. “You cannot look at the exception to the rule.”
Students said the evaluations must be put into context: they were told to fill them out using their names, often in the presence of the instructors they were assessing. Mr. Tufenkian, for example, said he gave high marks to the program after his mentor told him he would not leave until Mr. Tufenkian did so. “I had to fill it out right in front of him,” Mr. Tufenkian said.
The school has repeatedly sought to use such evaluations to raise questions about the credibility of unhappy former students. After Tarla Makaeff, who spent about $37,000 on Trump classes, joined the lawsuit against the school, the company released raw footage of a Trump University videographer approaching her in a hotel conference room, asking her to assess the program and her mentors. On the video, her mentors can be seen standing beside her, clearly within earshot. While warning that “we just got started,” Ms. Makaeff, 37, calls the mentors “great” and “awesome.”
In retrospect, Ms. Makaeff said, university employees “were trying to cover themselves,” by putting her on tape. Trump University is now suing her for defamation, seeking at least $1 million in damages for her public criticism of the school in letters, e-mail and online. “That just shows you how low they will go to silence people,” Ms. Makaeff said.
The school’s troubles are intensifying. Last year, the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, opened a civil investigation into Trump University’s practices. Since then, the company has agreed not to operate in Texas indefinitely, said Thomas Kelley, a spokesman for the attorney general. (Mr. Sorial said there was no formal agreement.)
And last March, New York state officials demanded that Trump University change its name, saying its use of the word university “is misleading and violates New York education law,” joining Maryland, which issued a similar warning in 2008.
The school has since changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, but has not held a new class in seven months as it reworks its curriculum. “It’s on hiatus,” Mr. Trump said in an interview.
The Trump Institute, meanwhile, shut down in 2009. “It doesn’t meet our standards,” Mr. Sorial said. “Our standards are very high.”
Selling the Name
Even as his empire has expanded into reality television and the clothing aisle, Mr. Trump remains, at least in the public imagination, primarily a real estate developer.
But to a remarkable degree over the last five years, Mr. Trump has retreated from that role, becoming, instead, a highly-paid licensor, who leases his five-letter brand name to other developers in Toronto, Honolulu, Dubai and even his own backyard, New York City.
The arrangements allowed Mr. Trump, who is notoriously competitive, to remain a player in the world of big-city builders without risking his own money — a prospect that seemed especially appealing as the economy began to crater.
“When things got over-inflated in the world,” Mr. Trump’s son Donald Jr., said in an interview, “we removed ourselves from the ground-up development world, where we are risking a lot more.”
“We switched more to a license model,” he said, describing several of the projects, including the Honolulu building, as “big successes.”
However it was that kind of license deal — in places like Baja California, Mexico, and in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — that led to disappointment and anger among those seeking to buy a home carrying the Trump name, according to the lawsuits.
John Robbins, 62, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army who is among those suing Mr. Trump, recalled being dazzled by the amenities available in the nearly 2,000-square-foot apartment that he and his wife, Rosanna, bought six years ago at the Trump Tower Tampa: granite countertops, sweeping views of the Tampa Bay, and room service from a high-end ground-floor restaurant.
The most important amenity of all, though, was the name on the side of the building. “With the Trump name,” Mr. Robbins said of his $756,000 unit, “we thought it would be a quality building and address.”
The marketing materials left little doubt that Mr. Trump was a driving force behind the 52-story tower: “We are developing a signature landmark property,” Mr. Trump declared in a news release unveiling it, which described him as a partner. In a marketing video, Mr. Trump called it “my first project on the Gulf of Mexico,” and even showed up to mingle with potential buyers at a lavish, catered event. “I love to build buildings,” Mr. Robbins recalled Mr. Trump telling the audience.
A confidential agreement, later made public in court filings, told a different story: Mr. Trump was not one of the developers or builders. For $4 million, plus a share of any profits, he had licensed his name. As for the mingling with buyers? He was required to do it, up to two times, in the agreement, which spelled out that the appearances last “for no more than six (6) working hours each.”
According to the document, the very existence of the license agreement was to be kept confidential. And it remained that way, buyers said, long after they bought their units. “If at any point I had known this, I would have walked away,” said Mr. Robbins, who put down a deposit of about $150,000 — half of which, under Florida law, the developer could use for construction costs.
A similar situation unfolded in Baja, where Mr. Trump licensed his name to another glamorous-sounding waterfront property: the Trump Ocean Resort Baja.
As financing for the building froze in 2008 and the developer missed key deadlines, Mr. Trump exercised his right to terminate the license agreement and remove his name. According to a lawsuit, the partners behind the deal burned through $32 million worth of buyer deposits, even though little, if any, construction was done.
One of the buyers suing Mr. Trump, Donald Isbell, said he has lain awake countless nights trying to figure out how he erred. He has lost his entire deposit of $147,000. “I have come to the conclusion,” he said, “that what I did wrong was to trust Donald Trump.”
Mr. Trump and his advisers seem unapologetic about how they handled the three deals. Asked, in a deposition with lawyers for the Tampa buyers, if he would be responsible for any shoddy construction, Mr. Trump replied that he had “no liability,” and said that he was unsure whether his licensing arrangements were disclosed to buyers. Pressed during the deposition as to why he did not return his license fee after the development fell apart, Mr. Trump replied: “Well, because I had no obligation to the people that signed me to give it back.”
But what has most galled people like Mr. Robbins, who sank much of their life savings into their dream homes, was Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the collapse of the project was a blessing — because it had allowed buyers to avoid the housing crash and the resulting plunge in home values.
“They were better off losing their deposit,” Mr. Trump said.
“Better off?” asked Mr. Robbins, who lost $75,600, the half of his deposit spent on construction. “No. I would be better off if he had been truthful and honest with us from the beginning. I would be better off if he returned my deposit.
“But he will never do that. He is looking out for Donald Trump and the dollar.”