Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Miz

I have been so looking forward to the movie. Les Miz is easily my all time favourite musical ever, beating out the grander Sound of Music, West Side Story and King & I. However, not everything works when you try to translate musicals to films, Sweeney Todd is one, Phantom was the other, because expectations were so high and the key is in the director and framing of the film.

It is easier for success for stage to go to film, it usually fails when its film to musical stage, e.g. Grease or Legally Blonde and even Lion King. I have watched the musical 4x in various places and owns the 10th and 25th cd dvd collection as well, so I am a die hard fan. 

Alfie Boe, one of the best ever Jean Valjean next to Colm Wilkinson. You should listen to them before you go hear Hugh Jackman's version.

First the casting, not many realise Hugh Jackman was an established musical stage performer before he became an action actor on film, so this choice was a guaranteed success. Owing to the proximity of film, one really must know how to act and not just sing. The worst casting ever was Russell Crowe as Javert, OMG his voice is so weak and unappealing. I cringed and cringed everytime he opens his mouth. When he only has to act, he is good.

When I heard Anne Hathaway was cast as Fantine, I had doubts. After the movie, she should win an Oscar, she is very very good. Eddie Redmayne was excellent as Marius, as was Samantha Barks as Eponine. Sacha Baron Cohen was a smart casting job in the funny role of Thenardier. As was Helena Bonham Carter as his raunchy wife. Everything was near perfect except Russell Crowe, can we reshoot the film without him.

The ever exquisite lea Salonga's brilliant turn as Eponine, after a few years she came back to Les Miz and played the role of Fantine as well.

The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on Les Misérables, the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The film is directed by Tom Hooper, scripted by William Nicholson, Boublil, Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who becomes mayor of a town in France. Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of Fantine, and must avoid being captured again by Javert, a police inspector.

Being written in French, it was all the more spectacular when you consider the lyrics being translated into English, extremely well translated I must say by Herbert Kretzmer. Though over the years, the musical has already been sung in 20 other languages worldwide.

Finally, more people can view the splendour of Les Miz. The songs are beautiful. Its a sad and depressing storyline though wonderful no doubt. Thankfully it had the Thernardiers for a bit of fun and jokes.

Hear Phillip Quast as Javert then you will appreciate how bad Russell Crowe's singing voice was.

The filming had a better effect in that actors were made to sing their lines live with a mic on their lapels (airbrushed out post production) with just minimal piano backing, the instrumentation came in post production and that added a lot of realism in the way the actors conveyed the songs. Its very different from the past where they engaged good actors but their voices dubbed with real singers, e.g. Audrey Hepburn and Deborah Kerr.

Be prepared to bring loads of tissues, you will cry buckets and then rush out to buy the CD collection no doubt.

Hugh Jackman was unrecognisable in the first 15 minutes of the movie. You will love Anne Hathaway no end, her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream was stupendous, and I have seen some great ones on the musical stage. Strangely enough, Hathaway's mum used to play the role of Fantine on stage before giving the role up to have her baby (Anne).

Why is the musical so great, the music is incredible but the story was everlasting and relevant. Oppression, injustice, search for God and religion, redemption, sacrifice, fighting for a higher cause, the greatness of the individual in the grander scheme of things. 

In the beginning to adap Victor Hugo's book was not going to be easy, some of the memorable quotes from the book:

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.

Anger may be foolish and absurd, and one may be wrongly irritated, but a man never feels outraged unless in some respect he is fundamentally right. 

If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.

Superstitions, bigotries, hypocrisies, prejudices, these phantoms, phantoms though they be, cling to life; they have teeth and nails in their shadowy substance, and we must grapple with them individually and make war on them without truce; for it is one of humanity's inevitabilities to be condemned to eternal struggle with phantoms.

Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.

I do not understand how God, the father of men, can torture his children and his grandchildren, and hear them cry without being tortured himself.

Love almost replaces thought. Love is a burning forgetfulness of everything else.

There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philo-sophy there must be action.

Hence all things considered, the musical managed to captured most of the elements and philosophy in Hugo's book entwined with a wonderful story and score.

The great thing is that in the musical/film, they have crafted wonderful lines as well, very memorable:

Do you Hear the People sing? Singing the songs of angry men.

When our ranks begin to form...will you take your place with me? 
Let others rise to take our place, until the Earth is free! 

Damn their warnings, damn their lies! They will see the people rise! 

"i am reaching, but i fall. and the night is closing in. as i stare into the void, to the whirlpool of my sin"

"tomorrow is the judgment day, tomorrow we'll discover what our God in heaven has in store. one more dawn! one more day! one day more!!!!!!"

"He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?

"Without me, his world will go on turning- a world that's full of happiness that I have never known!" 

"red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past! Red, a world about to dawn. Black, the night that ends at last!" 

To Love another person is to see the face of god.

I'll sleep in your embrace at last!

Final Verdict: Very Good 9/10 (would have been 10/10 without Russell Crowe)

This song or rather the anthem Do You Hear The People Sing always make me reflect on our struggles as Malaysians in trying to advance for a fairer and more equal destiny. I hope to hear many of us sing this song leading up to the upcoming election ...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

China - Politics, Power, Corruption, Capitalism, Disenchantment

Sigh ... it happens everywhere, China is no different. The exception being, documentary reporting such as this do not excite or move most Malaysians anymore, we have tons of our own tales to tell. Btw, Bloomberg's website has been banned because of this story, which Bloomberg later expanded into a research project of enormous depth. Troubling for Beijing for sure. Now, the economic disparity is still not so great but its getting worse by the day in China. If people starts to suffer unemployment, you can bet your last dollar there is enough disenchantment for dislocation everywhere in China. Beijing has been extra careful and was vigilant in taking out Bo Xilai, but for every Bo there are another 100 princelings abusing their power. Certainly a recipe to be played out in the future, more transparency, less power?? ... if that is unlikely, then there will be blood and tears.


Lying in a Beijing military hospital in 1990, General Wang Zhen told a visitor he felt betrayed. Decades after he risked his life fighting for an egalitarian utopia, the ideals he held as one of Communist China’s founding fathers were being undermined by the capitalist ways of his children -- business leaders in finance, aviation and computers.

“Turtle eggs,” he said to the visiting well-wisher, using a slang term for bastards. “I don’t acknowledge them as my sons.”

Two of the sons now are planning to turn a valley in northwestern China where their father once saved Mao Zedong’s army from starvation into a $1.6 billion tourist attraction. The resort in Nanniwan would have a revolution-era theme and tourist-friendly versions of the cave homes in which cadres once sheltered from the cold.

One son behind the project, Wang Jun, helped build two of the country’s biggest state-owned empires: Citic (6030) Group Corp., the state-run investment behemoth that was the first company to sell bonds abroad since the revolution; and China Poly Group Corp., once an arm of the military, that sold weapons and drilled for oil in Africa.

Today, the 71-year-old Wang Jun is considered the godfather of golf in China. He’s also chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company that jointly controls a pawnshop operator and of a firm providing back-office technology services to Chinese police, customs and banks.

His Australia-educated daughter, Jingjing, gives her home address in business filings as a $7 million Hong Kong apartment partly owned by Citic. Her daughter, 21-year-old Clare, details her life on social media, from the Swiss boarding school she attended to business-class airport lounges. Her “look of the day” posted on Aug. 24 featured pictures of a Lady Dior (CDI) handbag, gold-studded Valentino shoes and an Alexander McQueen bracelet. Those accessories would cost about $5,000, more than half a year’s wages for the average Beijing worker.

The family’s wealth traces back to a gamble taken by General Wang and a group of battle-hardened revolutionaries, who are revered in China as the “Eight Immortals.” Backing Deng Xiaoping two years after Mao’s death in 1976, they wagered that opening China to the outside world would raise living standards, while avoiding social upheaval that would threaten the Communist Party’s grip on power.

New Class
In three decades, they and their successors lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty and created a home-owning middle class as China rose to become the world’s second-biggest economy. Chinese on average now eat six times more meat than they did in 1976, and 100 million people have traded in their bicycles for automobiles.

The Immortals also sowed the seeds of one of the biggest challenges to the Party’s authority. They entrusted some of the key assets of the state to their children, many of whom became wealthy. It was the beginning of a new elite class, now known as princelings. This is fueling public anger over unequal accumulation of wealth, unfair access to opportunity and exploitation of privilege -- all at odds with the original aims of the communist revolution.

Bloomberg's Full Special Report: Revolution to Riches
To reveal the scale and origins of this red aristocracy, Bloomberg News traced the fortunes of 103 people, the Immortals’ direct descendants and their spouses. The result is a detailed look at one part of China’s elite and how its members reaped benefits from the country’s boom.

State Control
In the 1980s, they were chosen to run the new state conglomerates. In the 1990s, they tapped into real estate and the nation’s growing hunger for coal and steel. Today the Immortals’ grandchildren are players in private equity amid China’s integration into the global economy.

Twenty-six of the heirs ran or held top positions in state- owned companies that dominate the economy, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. Three children alone -- General Wang’s son, Wang Jun; Deng’s son-in-law, He Ping; and Chen Yuan, the son of Mao’s economic tsar -- headed or still run state-owned companies with combined assets of about $1.6 trillion in 2011. That is equivalent to more than a fifth of China’s annual economic output.
The families benefited from their control of state companies, amassing private wealth as they embraced the market economy. Forty-three of the 103 ran their own business or became executives in private firms, according to Bloomberg data.

Wall Street
He Ping, who was chairman of Poly Group until 2010, held 22.9 million shares in the group’s Hong Kong-listed real estate unit, Poly Property Group Co. (119), as of April 29, 2008. Wang Xiaochao, the son-in-law of former President Yang Shangkun, another Immortal, owned about $32 million worth of shares in another property unit listed in Shanghai, Poly Real Estate Group Co. (600048), as of the end of June. Wang Jun owns 20 percent of a golf venture that counts Citic, the company he previously ran, as one of its main clients.

The third generation -- grandchildren of the Eight Immortals and their spouses, many of whom are in their 30s and 40s -- have parlayed family connections and overseas education into jobs in the private sector. At least 11 of the 31 members of that generation tracked by Bloomberg News ran their own businesses or held executive posts, most commonly in finance and technology.

Some were hired by Wall Street banks, including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Morgan Stanley. (MS) At least six worked for private equity and venture capital firms, which sometimes recruit princelings with the intention of using their connections for winning business.

Resentment Rises
“The Chinese Communist Party, pretty much led by these eight people, established their legitimacy as rulers of China because they were stronger and tougher than the other guys,” said Barry Naughton, a professor of Chinese economy at the University of California, San Diego. “And now they’re losing it, because they haven’t been able to control their own greed and selfishness.”
China’s rich-poor divide is one of the widest in the world -- 50 percent above a level analysts use to predict potential unrest, according to a Chinese central bank-backed survey published this month. Protests, riots and other disturbances, often linked to local corruption and environmental degradation, doubled in five years to almost 500 a day in 2010.

“Ordinary people in China are very aware of these princelings, and when they think about changing the country, they feel a sense of despair because of the power of such entrenched interest groups,” Naughton said.

Robber Barons
The lives of many of China’s 1.3 billion people have improved under state-controlled capitalism. Princelings such as Wang Jun have also played a central role in building the institutions that have underpinned these gains.

And some of China’s richest people didn’t need a famous bloodline to become wealthy. That includes self-made billionaires such as Liu Yonghao, chairman of animal-feed company New Hope Group Co., and Cheung Yan, one of China’s richest women as chairwoman of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. (2689)
Also, it isn’t unusual for rapid economic change to be shared unequally. The robber barons of the 19th-century U.S. and the rise of Russia’s post-communist oligarchs are two other cases. In China, however, where leaders still espouse the ideals of Marx and Mao, there is resentment over unequal opportunity and the privilege of the elite.

China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, 59, is himself a princeling, as a descendant of a revolutionary fighter and vice premier. So are three other members of the newly installed seven-member ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

Princeling Peers
Xi’s extended family amassed a fortune, including investments in companies with total assets of $376 million and Hong Kong real estate worth $55.6 million, Bloomberg News reported June 29. Bloomberg’s website has been blocked in China since the publication of the story.

Even some of the Immortals’ descendants say they are concerned about what they call the greed of their princeling peers.

“My generation and the next generation made no contribution to China’s revolution, independence and liberation,” said Song Kehuang, 67, a businessman whose Immortal father, Song Renqiong, oversaw China’s northeastern provinces after the revolution in 1949. “Now, some people use their parents’ positions to scoop up hundreds of millions of yuan. Of course the public is angry. Their anger is justified.”

Bo’s Downfall
In addition, people are angry about corruption among public officials, who are seen as taking advantage of their positions. At least 10 local government officials “have fallen” in corruption and sex scandals since Xi took office last month, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Dec. 13.

High-level corruption snapped into focus this year when Bo Xilai -- son of Immortal Bo Yibo and a member of China’s ruling Politburo -- was ousted from the Communist Party and accused of taking bribes, after his wife was found guilty of murdering a British businessman. Unless corruption is stamped out, “it will ultimately and inevitably lead the party and the nation to perish!” Xi said last month, according to the People’s Daily, a Communist Party newspaper.

The foreign ministry in Beijing didn’t respond to questions sent by fax asking how the government plans to deal with the influence of the princelings and whether their actions are fueling public resentment.

“When the top is corrupt, this is how it will be all the way down,” said Dai Qing, an environmentalist who grew up with many of the princelings in Beijing after being adopted by a famous general. “We don’t have a free press. There’s no independent supervision to prevent it.”

Offshore Havens
State controls over the media and Internet limit what is written about the families, cloaking their business dealings from the view of ordinary Chinese. What can be found in public documents often remains obscured by the use of multiple names in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

To document these identities and business interests, Bloomberg News scoured thousands of pages of corporate documents, property records and official websites, and conducted dozens of interviews -- from a golf course in southern China to the Deng family compound in Beijing to a suburban home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

At least 18 of the Immortals’ descendants own or run entities linked to companies registered offshore, including the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, as well as Liberia and other jurisdictions that offer secrecy, the reporting showed.

U.S. Attraction
While the Immortals vilified the “bourgeois individualism” of capitalist nations, almost half of their heirs lived, studied or worked abroad, some in Australia, England and France. The princelings were among the first to travel and study overseas, giving them an advantage not available to ordinary Chinese.

The U.S., which established diplomatic ties with Communist China in 1979, was the top destination: At least 23 of the Immortals’ descendants and their spouses studied there, including three at Harvard University and four at Stanford University, according to the Bloomberg data. At least 18 worked for U.S. entities, including American International Group Inc. (AIG) and the law firm White & Case LLP, which hired one of Deng’s grandsons. Twelve owned property in the U.S.

There is no accepted measure for the degree of control the princelings exert on the economy. Academics who study China estimate that wealth and influence is concentrated in the hands of as few as 14 and as many as several hundred families.

Family Control
“There were four families under Chiang Kai-shek; now we have 44,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard historian who studies elite Chinese politics, referring to the Nationalist leader who lost to Mao. “To change the system will demand some traumatic national experience, when people say, ‘enough is enough.’”

The people generally known as the Eight Immortals are now all dead, though all but three lived into their 90s. Their stature in China is on a par with that of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in the U.S. They are:
-- Deng;
-- General Wang, who fed Mao’s troops;
-- Chen Yun, who took charge of the economy when Mao assumed power in 1949;
-- Li Xiannian, who was instrumental in the plot that ended the Cultural Revolution;
-- Peng Zhen, who helped rebuild China’s legal system in the 1980s;
-- Song Renqiong, the Party personnel chief who oversaw the rehabilitation of purged cadres after the Cultural Revolution;
-- President Yang, who backed Deng’s order to carry out the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown;
-- Bo Yibo, a former vice premier and the last of the Immortals to die, at 98, in 2007.

They emerged from the Cultural Revolution after Mao’s death in 1976, during which many of them had been in internal exile, to find an economy in ruins. Gross domestic product in 1978 was $165 a person, compared with $22,462 in the U.S. With Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong booming, the Immortals were surrounded by capitalist success stories.

The victorious Communists had executed landlords after 1949. Farms had become People’s Communes. Factories belonged to the state. The Immortals turned that on its head in the 1980s: Farmers could lease land. Private enterprise -- at first on a small scale, later bigger -- was tolerated, then encouraged. Deng took the gamble that in order to stoke growth, some “flies and mosquitoes” could be tolerated, said Ezra Vogel, an emeritus professor at Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who wrote a 2011 biography of Deng.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Art of Telling A Lie

 Telling a lie is a .......

Sin for a child. 
Fault for an adult. 
An art for a lover. 
A profession for a lawyer. 
A requirement for a politician. 
A Management tool for a Boss. 
An accomplishment for a bachelor. 
An excuse for a subordinate and 
A Matter of Survival for a married man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Japan's Double Barrel Luck

The Japanese markets have been in the doldrums for the longest, no thanks to the silly yen strengthening phase following the financial crisis as investors somehow still think the yen is a safe haven. The Japanese market has two things going for them this time: the Federal Reserve move which basically tells all that rates will be very low and they will keep printing liquidity into the markets, which negates the need for some to still park money in yen as safe haven; the LDP election victory which propels the markets to a "regenerative phase".

Following is the latest strategy report by Bank America Merrill Lynch on Japan:

LDP victory brings our bullish scenario closer   

With the LDP (294 seats) and Komeito (31 seats) combined (325 seats) now 
controlling a more than two-thirds majority (320) of the Lower House, it now 
appears more likely that the new Shinzo Abe administration will be able to 
exercise strong leadership. Though an LDP victory was widely expected, what 
has not been fully priced into the market is the degree to which the new 
government will be able to put through its legislative program relatively 

Consequently, Shinzo Abe will need to act quickly to implement the policies he 
had set out before the election. Those measures we believe that have yet to be fully factored into the market are inflation targeting, and long-term fiscal 
expansionary measures including corporation tax cuts and a raft of spending 
measures included under the broad title of “national strengthening.”  

As the new cabinet is being drawn up, the focus is now on how and in what order of priority the new administration will put through its policy program, including drawing up a supplementary budget, expanding public works spending, reducing the rate of corporation tax and exercising greater influence over the BoJ’s monetary policy. For instance, if the government moves quickly to put pressure on monetary policy, we can expect the yen to continue to weaken, but if this is put off until after the new BoJ Governor assumes his post (April 2013), then in the near term we could see the market looking to lock in profits. However, at least we can say that waiting for weakness to seek buy-in opportunities is unlikely to be a viable strategy for the time being.  

Cut in corporation tax from 40% to 30% would raise ROE  

A reduction in the corporation tax rate from around 40% to 30% would, we 
calculate, raise TOPIX ROE from 7.8% (FY3/14 IBES consensus) to around 8.9%.  


The next BoJ monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 19-20 December, at 
which additional easing is a possibility. At this point, the market is not expecting explicit inflation targeting to be adopted. On 26-27 December, Shinzo Abe should be officially appointed prime minister at a special Diet session, immediately after which the new cabinet will be announced. Abe has expressed his intention to visit the US in January, so we expect significant diplomatic activity including related to China. From end-January to February we expect a supplementary budget to be unveiled comprising a boost to Apr-Jun GDP and confirming a hike in the rate of consumption tax. In March, two new BoJ Deputy Governors will assume their posts, followed in April by the new BoJ Governor. We expect government and BoJ links to become even stronger, and an increasingly dovish bias in central bank policy.  

When previously elected prime minister in 2006, Abe’s first visits were to China and South Korea to patch up relations that had previously worsened, and this time around we again expect him to take similar practical steps to deal with currently stained relations, though there is a risk of provocative statements being made.  

However, if the cabinet line-up is decided in order to balance factional interests, then the policy program implementation may not be as speedy as the market is hoping. If the cabinet includes a large number of younger politicians, as per the current shadow cabinet, it would strengthen the hand of prime minister, and consequently increase the possibility of the policy program proceeding in line with Abe’s intentions as indicated in speeches etc to-date.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Equities' New Bull Run Started

The equity markets had a double boost last week thanks to Federal Reserve's QE3 (quantitative easing part 3). The Fed will start by buying $45bn worth of long term Treasury bonds and up to $40bn worth or mortgage backed securities each month till labour markets improve. The smarter move by the Fed this time is that its a continuous monthly action, and will continue basically till labour markets improve, i.e. drop in unemployment. These actions will go a long way to restarting a new uptrend for global equities. The combined $85bn buying will keep interest rates low for sometime still thus forcing more funds to seek out higher returns, e.g. moving into equities.

An equally important development was the weakening of the yen, which looked like the start of a sustained weakness in the yen. This has started a rush for Japanese exporters by investors. Following the QE3, it appears investors see no more need to hold the yen as a safety haven. That being the case, the Japanese economy badly needs the yen to weaken even more. Hence its a timely boost for Japanese equities as well.

The ringgit opened firmer against the greenback in early trade today following improved sentiment for risk appetite across the region, dealers said. At 9.23 am, the ringgit was quoted at 3.0500/0520 compared with yesterday's close of 3.0520/0540. The increased risk appetite was boosted by the US Federal Reserve, which in turn will benefit globally as the move will see more money being pumped into the world's largest economy. After a two-day meeting which ended yesterday, the central bank announced new stimulus, which, among others, will see interest rate decisions tied to unemployment rate and inflation. It would also keep short-term interest rates close to zero until the unemployment rate, currently at 7.7 per cent, dips to 6.5 per cent. 

Previously, the US Federal Reserve had said that interest rates would hover near zero until at least mid-2015. Besides, the central bank decided to introduce a replacement for Operation Twist, the expiring programme introduced last year of swapping short-term Treasuries for longer-dated ones. Previously, the goal of Operation Twist was to lower long-term interest rates to stimulate the US economy. This new asset purchase programme has been dubbed as quantitative easing four (QE4). With QE3 and QE4 together, the central bank will likely purchase US$85 billion a month of Treasury securities, stacking the Fed's portfolio with government-backed investments for an extended period. 
On the local front, the ringgit was mostly higher against other major currencies. The local currency rose against the Singapore dollar to 2.4980/5012 compared to 2.4984/5010 yesterday and appreciated against the Japanese yen to 3.6571/6612 compared to 3.6810/6856 Wednesday. It gained against the British pound to 4.9190/9229 compared to 4.9214/9256 on Wednesday but declined against the euro to 3.9839/9874 from 3.9713/9749 previously.

 The Starbiz had the headline as "higher risk appetite for ringgit", well, not really, its the start of a huge inflow of foreign funds. Thanks to the above factors, a lot of fresh funds have jumped into mainly indexed local stocks over the last few days. Many indexed stocks have just surged past their 52 weeks high or close to it: UMW, SK Petro, and most of the banks. The buying has been ferocious in local telco stocks. Generally the second liners and speculative stocks will take a backseat when the index stocks are surging. Once the indexed stocks have stabilised, you should see strong rotational plays in second and third liners.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So, How Much Money Did Psy Made From Gangnam Style?

Well, not from CDF sales, thats for sure ... even online music sales were pathetic. People doing music should pay attention. If someone like Psy makes less than $100,000 from CD and online music sales ... are you certain you have aligned yuour music business model properly.------------------------

As Gangnam Style gallops toward 1 billion views on YouTube, the first Asian pop artist to capture a massive global audience has gotten richer click by click. So too has his agent and his grandmother. But the money from music sales isn't flowing in from the rapper's homeland South Korea or elsewhere in Asia.
With one song, 34-year-old Park Jae-sang — better known as PSY — is set to become a millionaire from YouTube ads and iTunes downloads, underlining a shift in how money is being made in the music business. An even bigger dollop of cash will come from TV commercials.
Google detects videos that use copyrighted content. Artists can have the video removed or allow it to stay online and share ad revenue with YouTube. 
From just those sources, PSY and his camp will rake in at least $US7.9 million ($A7.5 million) this year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press of publicly available information and industry estimates. But for online music sales in South Korea, he'll earn less than $US60,000.
Raking it in ... PSY and his camp will earn at least $US7.9 million this year.
Raking it in ... PSY and his camp will earn at least $US7.9 million this year. Photo: AP
Here's how it works.
Gangnam Style, with its catchy tune and much imitated horse-riding dance, is the most-watched video on YouTube ever.
South Korean singer Psy performs his hit Click for more photos

Gangnam Psy-style

South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney. Photo: Reuters
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • South Korean singer Psy performs his hit "Gangnam Style" in Sydney.
  • Korean pop sensation Psy.
The viral video has clocked more than 880 million YouTube views since its July release, beating Justin Bieber's Baby, which racked up more than 808 million views since February 2010. PSY's official channel on YouTube, which curates his songs and videos of his concerts, has nearly 1.3 billion views.
TubeMogul, a video ad buying platform, estimates that PSY and his agent YG Entertainment have raked in about $US870,000 as their share of the revenue from ads that appear with YouTube videos. The Google-owned video service keeps approximately half.
PSY and YG Entertainment also earn money from views of videos that parody his songs.
Google detects videos that use copyrighted content. Artists can have the video removed or allow it to stay online and share ad revenue with YouTube. In the last week of September when Gangnam Style had around 300 million views, more than 33,000 videos were identified by the content identification system as using Gangnam Style.
But since YouTube can be accessed from all over the world, wouldn't Asia be responsible for a significant chunk of the $US870,000? The countries with the second and third-highest views of the video are Thailand and South Korea.
"Ads rates vary depending on which country the video is played. Developed countries have higher ad rates and developing countries lower," said Brian Suh, head of YouTube Partnership in Seoul.
And the country with the most views of Gangnam Style? The United States.
Legal downloads, CDs
Gangnam Style has been downloaded 2.7 million times in the US and has been the No. 1 or No. 2 seller for most weeks since its debut, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The song sells for $US1.29 ($A2.19 in Australia) on Apple's iTunes Store, the market leader in song downloads. Apple generally keeps about 30 per cent of all sales, so the PSY camp could be due more than $US2.4 million.
How much PSY keeps and how much goes to his managers, staff and record label is unclear. South Korean industry insiders said PSY likely gets 70 per cent and YG Entertainment 30 per cent for US downloads.
But earnings from downloads in PSY's homeland are far from an embarrassment of riches.
South Koreans pay less than $US10 a month for a subscription to a music service that allows them to download hundreds of songs or have unlimited access to a music streaming service. That makes the cost of a downloaded song about 10 cents on average. The average price for streaming a song is 0.2 cent.
PSY's cut for downloads is 14 per cent. That falls to 7.5 per cent for streamed songs. Yes, 7.5 per cent of 0.2 cent. And that's before PSY's Gangnam Style co-composer take his share. The biggest cut goes to his agent and online retailers.
According to South Korea's national Gaon Chart, Gangnam Style was downloaded more than 3.6 million times and streamed around 40 million times as of November. That adds up to a little more than $US61,000.
It's likely the fast fading music CD industry generated even smaller revenue. PSY's 9 per cent cut from sales of 102,000 CDs in South Korea would earn him $US50,000 or more, according to an estimate by Kim Dong-hyun, a senior manager at Korea Music Copyright Association.
As for many other parts of Asia, illegal downloads and pirated CDs are so pervasive that only a small minority are willing to pay up for the legal versions.
TV commercials
PSY has been jetting around the world, performing on shows such as The X-Factor Australia and NBC's Today Show in the US, but such programs usually cover travel costs and not much else, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert trade magazine Pollstar.
It is television commercials that are the big money spinner for the most successful of South Korea's K-pop stars. PSY has been popping up in TV commercials in South Korea for top brands such as Samsung and mobile carrier LG Uplus.
Chung Yu-seok, an analyst at Kyobo Securities, estimates PSY's commercial deals would amount to 5 billion won ($A4.4 million) this year.
The money is cool. The products not so much.

PSY is now the face of a new Samsung refrigerator and a major noodle company.
The family
A fact little known outside South Korea is that PSY's father, uncle and grandmother own a combined 30 per cent of DI, a company which makes equipment that semiconductor companies use to make computer chips.
It's a stretch to plausibly explain how the success of Gangnam Style will boost DI's profits but that doesn't matter to the South Korean stock market. Perhaps inspired by the pure power of pop, DI shares surged eightfold from July after PSY's hit reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the UK singles chart.
It was time to cash in for PSY's grandmother, who sold 5378 shares for about $US65,000.
The share price has fallen since then but is still about double what it was before the release of Gangnam Style.
PSY's agent YG Entertainment has also done well. Its share price is up about 30 per cent since mid-July. The value of CEO Yang Hyun-suk's stake has swelled to about $US200 million, making him among the richest in South Korea's entertainment industry.
The future
The question now hanging over PSY is whether he will replicate the blockbuster success of Gangnam Style or end up remembered as a one-hit wonder.
"When this slows down, what comes next for PSY?" said Nielsen analytics vice president David Bakula. "Is it the evolution of a new musical style, something audiences are going to be craving en masse, or is it something that's just a passing fancy?"
Analysts say Gangnam Style alone will not be enough to propel PSY into the ranks of musicians such as Adele and may not even be enough to make him the top-grossing K-pop star. That will depend largely on his upcoming album, which PSY said will be released in March.

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Great Business Stories / Lessons / Jokes

The following will be great fodder for pub talk among friends. Many have been used at motivational classes and seminars as they provide good lessons in character and business.



An old blind man was sitting on a busy street corner in the rush-hour begging for money. On a cardboard sign, next to an empty tin cup, he had written: 'Blind - Please help'.
No-one was giving him any money. A young advertising writer walked past and saw the blind man with his sign and empty cup, and also saw the many people passing by completely unmoved, let alone stopping to give money. The advertising writer took a thick marker-pen from her pocket, turned the cardboard sheet back-to-front, and re-wrote the sign, then went on her way.
Immediately, people began putting money into the tin cup.
After a while, when the cup was overflowing, the blind man asked a stranger to tell him what the sign now said.
"It says," said the stranger, " 'It's a beautiful day. You can see it. I cannot.' "
Is this a lesson on wonders of advertising, which many seem to proclaim. No ... its using words properly. You can convey from your standpoint, or better still convey in a way that ALLOWS people to empathise. Nothing has changed, just the way people look at the message. The power of words used correctly, not to deceive but to enlighten.

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'
 The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.' So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up."
Great business story, don't fuck around unless you can afford to. Get there first.

Many years ago two salesmen were sent by a British shoe manufacturer to Africa to investigate and report back on market potential.
The first salesman reported back, "There is no potential here - nobody wears shoes."
The second salesman reported back, "There is massive potential here - nobody wears shoes."
This simple short story provides one of the best examples of how a single situation may be viewed in two quite different ways - negatively or positively.
We could explain this also in terms of seeing a situation's problems and disadvantages, instead of its opportunities and benefits.

The importance of the story cannot be under estimated. Always surround yourself with energetic positive people. Depressed or pessimistic ones never achieve anything, they just find reasons to give up or resigned to fate.

A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.
"So tell me," says the mechanic, "I've been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me.."
"Yes?.." says the surgeon.
"Well look at this," says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, "I check how it's running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new.. We basically do the same job don't we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am - how do you explain that?"
The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied,"Try it with the engine running.."
I still think medical specialists charge way too much for what they do, but there is an element of truth in the story, know what you are worth. If what you can do, can also be done by a lot of people, you better be great at it to make good money. If what you can do, only a handful can emulate, then you are on your way to premium monetary rewards. Always seek to do what very few people can do well.

Two bulls, one young and full of enthusiasm, and the other older and wiser, see a herd of cows. The young bull says, "Let's charge down this hillside and have our wicked way with a couple of those cows."
The old bull replies, "No, how about we stroll gently down this hillside and have our wicked way with them all."
Always strategise, instead of rushing in head first. There is always a better way that comes from wisdom i.e. experience from making enough mistakes in the first place.

A Sikh, a Muslim, an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman, a Jew, a Buddhist and a Hindu go into a pub.
The barman looks up and says, "Is this some kind of a joke?"
This is so funny because the premise is already a huge joke. Picking out the obvious is already damn funny. Too often we see presentations or business proposals that have glaring holes and gaps, and yet no one dares to state the obvious. Just say it, "this looks like shit". This will force the other side to defend or explain why it is not shit. When you push, you'd be surprised how much better everyone gets.