May 20, 2009

Mexican arts center ‘saves lives’

Mexican Arts Center ‘saves lives’ from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaSocialbrite isn’t just about social tools, it’s about stories — stories of people and organizations that are making a real difference in people’s lives.

One of the best ones I’ve come across in the past year is the story of Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center. Instructors there teach young people — chiefly in the Richmond/San Pablo area east of San Francisco — to connect with their heritage through music, dance, arts and crafts and more.

This six-minute testimonial I put together includes a clip of Los Lobos performing a benefit concert at the center and my interview with Los Lobos lead singer David Hidalgo, who talks passionately about how the center “saves lives” by giving kids an alternative to drugs and violence.

The people connected with the center — founder/executive director Eugene Rodriguez, Claire Bellecci, dance and music instructor Lucina Rodriguez — are an amazing group: dedicated, passionate and fun to hang with. (By the way, it took me a few weeks to learn how to pronounce Los Cenzontles! it’s from the Aztec for the mockingbirds.)

But what’s especially striking is their musicality. Los Cenzontles is not just a 501(c)(3) nonprofit but a kick-ass band that has toured with Los Lobos: Lucina is lead singer and Eugene plays bass guitar. The group’s Songs of Wood and Steel is a masterwork — I’ve worn it out in my car CD player. Love the fact that you can support the group buy buying one of its CDs, DVDs or T-shits at its online store.

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December 1, 2008

Podcasting, music and the law

Bad news for podcasters who want to abide by the law — it’ll cost you

Guest post by Matt May

ASCAP has updated its Internet licensing to reference podcasts — oh, excuse me, pod-casts. The move may have been intended to answer some questions as to the legality of using music in podcasts, but, as with the webcasting era, it left a lot of people scratching their heads. Is this all we need, just a $288 license to this agency, to be covered through the end of the year?

Well, there’s some bad news. The truth is that, no, that’s not everything. In fact, the landscape for music licensing is even more confusing than most people would imagine, and it at times consists of entities who may not even want to sell you a license. Here, I try to break them down. Know that I am not a lawyer, and as such am not going to know much more detail than is absolutely necessary.

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