Category Archives: Multimedia

Sexual assault scandals in the #MeToo era

Sexual assault scandals have been invading the headlines, even more since the Harvey Weinstein case was brought to light by the New York Times and The New Yorker last October.

This case inspired the #MeToo movement where sexual assault victims from all over the world have come forward with their experiences, thus uncovering more cases, specially related to institutions with a high reputation, just like Weinstein’s film production company. The list below illustrates some of the ones that have faced consequences, ranging from all aspects of public life.

1. The Weinstein Company

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Harvey Weinstein, Chairman, The Weinstein Company. Image: Thomas Hawk on Flickr

The company filed for bankruptcy on 19 March following dozens of allegations against Harvey Weinstein accusing him of sexual harassment, assault and rape. He is currently under investigation in both the US and the UK.

2. Oxfam

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An Oxfam member of staff helps to carry one family’s newly received non-food items home in UN House, Juba. Credit: Anita Kattakuzhy/Oxfam (from Wikimedia Commons)

The British charity is assumed to have hidden sexual abuse allegations against staff from victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The scandal highlighted the fact that big charities are increasingly more worried about branding and earnings than their actual mission.

3. Swedish Academy/Nobel Foundation

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Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius announces the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Swedish Academy will not be awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, who has close ties with the Academy. It is the first time since World War II that the price is being withheld.

4. US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 

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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, along with Mr. Weinstein (last year). Cosby was convicted of sexual assault last month and Polanski has admitted statutory rape of a 13-year old girl in 1977.

5. Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival

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Seconds before the beginning of the San Fermín Festival in Pamplona (Spain). Town hall Square. Everybody holds his red handkerchief above his head until a firework is exploded at 12 pm; they then put it around the neck. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A Spanish court cleared five men, known as the ‘wolf pack’, of the gang rape of a teenager at the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. They were convicted on 26 April of sexual abuse, a much lesser crime. Protests have taken over the country following the decision.

6. Vatican

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Catechesis at the Palacio De Deportes with The Mass given by Cardinal George Pell Archbishop of Sydney for English speaking pilgrims.
 © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk on Flickr

Cardinal George Pell is facing sexual assault charges in Australia. This is part of the long-established sex abuse scandal in the church, making Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged.

 

Cycling in London: how is it going?

Cover photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” is a common phrase used to say that, well, something is easy. But just how easy is it to do it in London, one of the most congested cities in the world? Transport for London’s 2017 Analysis estimated that 730,000 journeys are made daily with bicycles in the capital.

The Mayor of London recently announced a commitment of an average of £169m per year over the next five years to improve London’s cycling conditions, contributing to its target of 70 per cent of Londoners living within 400m of the cycle network by 2041.

Cyclists and campaign groups, however, want more than that. Yes, appropriate infrastructure is needed, but that also requires a transition of established societal and institutional ways. A study done by the Portland State University showed that changing cycling infrastructure won’t change culture.

Having blue lanes segregated from cars and other motorised vehicles won’t do anything if people don’t know how to use them. Bruce Lynn, from the London Cycling Campaign, says the infrastructure is there but people won’t use it.

There are bigger issues TfL and the Mayor of London have to consider to make cycling a possibility for every Londoner. Today, there is a common idea of the typical cyclist in London: young white men, environmentally-friendly and mostly liberal. This is supported by various studies that argue people who don’t identify as any of the above, feel less inclined to try cycling.

Who is cycling today

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Graphics by author

In TfL’s 2016 report, the fact that people are highly against changing their routines was assumed to be one of the main reasons they don’t try it. Their 2015 Attitudes towards cycling report also showed that safety concerns, fear of collisions, too much traffic, bad weather, lack of time, health reasons and lack of confidence and accessibility are some of the most common deterrents that put Londoners off using bikes.

Just last Saturday, around 4,000 riders took the streets of London for the #BikesUpKnivesDown demonstration led by the #BikeStormz movement to raise awareness to the rise of knife crime and murder rates in the city. They rode from London Bridge to Oxford Street in one of the biggest youth-led rides against knife crime, showing that the use of bikes has turned their lives around.

Current cycling network

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Central London’s cycling paths mapped by Route Plan Roll.

The current cycling network is made up of quietways and cycle superhighways for the most part. TfL defines them as “cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work.”

Existing ones go from the City to Tottenham, Stratford to Aldgate, Barking to Tower Gateway, Oval to Pimlico, Merton to the City, and Wandsworth to Westminster. The east-west and north-south ones are the newest additions with proposed ones to go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, Kensington Olympia to Brentford, and Swiss Cottage to the West End.

 

 

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Graphic by author

 

Safety

Safety concerns is probably what discourages people from riding the most. A study done recently by Cambridge academics found that changes in behaviour and policies is what is needed to keep the system moving, and tackle these concerns. A change in work hours, in the number of cycleways and docking stations, and in how people cycle together are factors that will contribute to that.

Another study done by Injury Prevention found that the more number of cyclists and pedestrians, the less likely motorists are to collide with them. This is partly because they are more visible, but also because the so called “safety in numbers” makes riders feel more comfortable.

14.6 per cent of casualties in Greater London while travelling were of cyclists in 2016, according to TfL. However, only eight, out of 4,424, were fatal, a decrease of 11 per cent from the year before. It certainly shows how, compared to the car, the transport mode responsible for 39.3 per cent of the casualties, cycling is less likely to get people injured. The study by Cambridge academics, however, also points out that an increase in cycling traffic also means an increased risk for cycle coalitions.

Not every rider has the same experience levels, specially in urban area conditions. ‘Bikeability’ is something most of the campaign groups advocate for, because they know that is where it starts. The London Cycling Campaign offers free ‘bikeability’ training to anyone interested and the have regular group sessions. Everyone, not only cyclists, should know how to share a public road.

How is London doing compared to the rest of the world?

 

Not good. It isn’t even on the top 20 of bike-friendly cities in the world. Infrastructure, safety and diversity (or lack of) are some of the reasons why the British capital is not considered in the 2017 Copenhagenize Design Company Index.

Tokyo, Munich, Helsinki and Oslo are new to the list because they have worked to fix issues that didn’t allow their cycling levels to grow. Closing the center to private cars, bike sharing systems, growth of network, parking facilities, and the creation of the Cycling Embassy (Tokio) and the Cycling Federation (Helsinki) are some of the things that are on place in this cities to improve the levels of cycling urbanism.

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As much as it is common thinking that more and better infrastructure will make London a top bike-friendly city, if Londoners don’t learn (or don’t want to learn) about ‘bikeability’ and cycling urbanism, the city won’t see any major changes in the years to come. The Mayor of London is committed to increase the use of bicycles in the city as it has been demonstrated that not only will it help with air pollution, but will also provide better quality public spaces.

 

Does a perfect success formula exist for Music Industry?

What do Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik and Adele have in common? They are what every musician dreams to be like one day. Fame, success, power, money and music, they are the complete golden package.

Every year the Music industry sees many new artists flock from all over the world in hope to score their one sweet chance to be the next musical sensation. Some of them grow up listening music and dream of becoming like their idols, some wish to live the life of fame and have their moment in limelight, some feel it is their calling because music is the way they want to express their life’s story. They spend most of their life training for music, learning their instruments, performing, some even pursue music in their college degrees in hopes of improving their success chances. Seven in every 10 children (69%) in the UK say that they currently play a musical instrument with adults at 74%.

And these people come in all shapes and sizes with vast diversity in their ideologies. Yet the one thing they profess that unites them is their passion, inclination and inherent talent for music.

But then why is it that when we observe the working lives of these people, only a very few manage to break big in the industry? What is the difference between the artists who become famous and those who don’t? Are they more talented? Or did they have any special connections that most don’t? Or were they just plain-and-simple lucky?

The answer is as simple as it is frustrating, for all of the above reasons are true, but one. For people who do manage to climb their way to the top of the pyramid, being talented is a given thing. Because really without talent why would they even consider pursuing this career. This super competitive industry with more supply than demand for new musicians. It’s not like the musicians have the ‘fake it till they make it’ kind of liberties. Nowadays big record labels mostly want those artists who already have established themselves up to a certain level, who have their fan base, have already performed many gigs, and even better if they can write their own songs too. They practically want people who already have their plans figured out down to the last detail and are halfway done in executing it.

Now imagine the kind of distress a newbie but a wannabe feels when he first decides to go down this path. All the planning, making the right connections, discovering their ‘unique’ style and finding a way to sell it as ‘new and original’ to their audience, putting themselves out in the open and creating a fan base, finding the right people to help in the PR and production of their music and connecting with other artists to get a chance to perform in big gigs. So much work to do in so little time, because if we are being real, the music industry is notoriously ageist when it comes to accepting new artists. And unless you are an already established celebrity or a super-rich individual trying your hand at music, there is not much room for entry in the music industry at a ‘late’ age.

But still every year the music industry sees more and more artists coming into it. It is a huge business, with it contributing £4.4 billion to the UK’s economy as recorded in the UK Music “Measuring Music 2017” report with about 142,208 jobs sustained by the music industry. And now with the growth in the online streaming platforms, the industry is experiencing a resurgence in its profits.

And one such newbie artist, looking to make it big in this industry, is Leonard Nedelcu. There are many things that he shares with other talented musicians, like his love for romantic songs, playing the piano, penning his own songs, and being born with the looks of a superstar. But the things that make him stand out in the crowd are his deep appreciation of music by John Legend, Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith, his approach to music as his way to include the LGBTQ+ communities and share his story in a way that is relatable to all.

In this interview of his confessional musings, he shares his story, aims, and the beginning of his musical journey. He talks about how a person, a child of two economist parents gets into music, his struggles. And how despite them all he managed to create and release his first single, “Start with you”, while working on an extended playlist which he hopes to release by end of this years’ summer. All the while being a student at the University of Westminster, pursuing a Commercial Music bachelors’ degree.

Here’s a snippet of ‘Start with you’

He seems to have tapped into the ‘success formula’ of pursuing formal musical education to work on his talents, learn to create his music, find and make industry contacts and finally get discovered. It’s almost like he is trying to pull an Adele (success story) here.

You see, even though every artists’ success story is different, the basic formula of approach to things remains the same. And the six main success formulas are:

  1. Using YouTube to break big
  2. Performing at the biggest, most popular music clubs to get discovered
  3. Participating in Musical Contest show, and with any luck, winning it
  4. Becoming a part of a band, and when/if it goes big, using that exposure and experience to fuel solo act
  5. Formally studying music and training to be the best through schools
  6. Self-releasing music until discovered by big record labels or celebs to endorse music deals

Some of the very well-known celebs got their starts using these very formulas.

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Justin Bieber – the YouTube star before becoming the Global star

Like most things relating to him, even his start in music has a story. Even from a young age, Bieber had an affinity for music, and he narrates himself that when his mom gifted him his first set of drums he was “basically banging on everything I could get my hands on.” But it was an obscure talent contest in his hometown, in which the 12-year-old Bieber finished second that put him on the road to superstardom. Although, his YouTube journey did not begin with the purpose of becoming the next pop sensation. As a way to share his singing with family, Justin and his mom began posting clips of Bieber performing covers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo on YouTube. And the next thing you know, Justin was an Internet sensation, with a large following of fans and an eager manager arranging for the teenager to fly to Atlanta to consider a record deal. There, Bieber had a chance meeting with Usher, who eventually signed the young singer to a contract.

Taylor Swift – from performing small gigs at the Country music capital to performing globally at her sold-out concerts

Inspired by her grandmother, a professional opera singer, Taylor Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Taylor was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Philadelphia (where she lived at the time) 76ers basketball game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old. And to further pursue her music career, Taylor often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Taylor and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Taylor’s career. Then a stellar performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville helped Swift score a contract with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. She released her first single, “Tim McGraw,” in 2006, and the song went on to become one of the Top 10 hits on the country charts. It also appeared on her self-titled debut album in October in 2006, which went on to sell more than 5 million copies. With that, more popular singles soon followed, including “Our Song,” a No. 1 country music hit. “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Picture to Burn” and “Should’ve Said No” were also successful tracks. And once she firmly established her roots in the music industry, the sky became her limit.

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Zayn Malik – gone from contest show to being part of famous boy-band to finally becoming the solo music star

A triple threat of music in terms of utilizing the success formulas if you say so, he began as a teen taking performing arts courses and appearing in school productions. Then in year 2010, he auditioned for the seventh season of the reality TV music contest show The X Factor. He sang “Let Me Love You” by rhythm-and-blues vocalist Mario as his audition song and was accepted into the next round. Then he was eliminated before the final round of the competition, but judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell grouped him with fellow competitors Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to form a new act for the remainder of the show. And thus, the global sensational boy-band One Direction was born. They finished the competition in third place and they were immediately signed to Cowell’s Syco music label. Then came the One Direction with their first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which topped the pop music charts with when it was released in September 2011 in the United Kingdom. And their debut album, Up All Night, proved a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012. After that Malik toured extensively with One Direction, meeting the band’s young female fans around the world. But in March 2015, Malik surprised fans by dropping out of the group’s world tour. On March 25 then, Malik announced that he was leaving One Direction for good. And soon after leaving One Direction, Malik launched his solo music career with a demo version of “I Don’t Mind,” which was leaked online by producer Naughty Boy. Then official singles followed, including “Pillowtalk” and “It’s You.”  And both of these tracks were featured on his first album, Mind of Mine, which debuted in March 2016.

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Auckland / Mt Smart Stadium / Mar 25

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Adele – the modern-day champion of classical and old-school-style music

“There was no musical heritage in our family,” Adele told The Telegraph in a 2008 interview. “Chart music was all I ever knew. So, when I listened to the Ettas and the Ellas, it sounds so cheesy, but it was like an awakening. I was like, oh, right, some people have proper longevity and are legends. I was so inspired that as a 15-year-old I was listening to music that had been made in the ’40s.” And it soon became apparent that while clearly bright, Adele wasn’t oriented towards traditional classroom settings. So, her mother enrolled her in the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology, which has the likes of Amy Winehouse as its alum. Then while she was at school, Adele cut a three-track demo for a class project that was eventually posted on her MySpace page. And when executives at XL Recordings heard the tracks, they contacted the singer and, in November 2006, just four months after Adele had graduated school, signed her to a record deal.

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Thank god for factor 50 sunscreen – photo by Nic Minns

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Ed Sheeran – from street-smart artist to king of the global music charts

Even from a very young age, Ed had been as quick and smart at learning things as he had been active at working on his dreams. He studied at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. Then he also studied music with the help of ‘Access to Music’, a UK-based independent training provider. And he also joined the National Youth Theatre when he was a teenager. So, it was no surprise when he had started recording CDs and selling them from his teenage days. At the age of 14, he released songs ‘The Orange Room’ and also ‘Spinning Man’, both he regarded as important works of his early years. And it wasn’t long before Sheeran was recording CDs and selling them, and he soon put together his first official EP, The Orange Room. With that accomplishment and his abiding ambition driving him, at only 14 years of age, Sheeran headed to London for the summer. Thinking he could find gigs in the big city, Sheeran left home with his guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and his musical career took flight. And once in London, Sheeran got busy recording and playing the local singer/songwriter circuit and quickly released two albums: a self-titled record in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He also began opening for more established acts, such as Nizlopi, the Noisettes and Jay Sean and released another EP, You Need Me, in 2009, a year that found Sheeran playing more than 300 live shows. Then in 2010 Sheeran posted a video online that got the attention of Example, a rapper, and Sheeran was asked to go on the road with him as his opening act. This led to establishing an even larger online fan base and gaining inspiration for many more songs, which later ended up filling three new EPs, all in 2010. Next Sheeran headed to the U.S. that year and found a new fan in Jamie Foxx, who asked Sheeran to appear on his Sirius radio show. Soon after, in January 2011, Sheeran released yet another EP, his last as an independent artist. Without any promotion, the record reached No. 2 on the iTunes chart, and he signed on with Atlantic Records. With Atlantic, Sheeran released his major debut studio album, + (called Plus) which became an instant hit, and the album sold more than a million copies in the U.K. in the first six months alone. Then Sheeran began co-writing songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift and supported Swift on her 2013 arena tour. And quickly and steadily he became the huge global star that he is today.

 

Still out of all the artists who pursue music as their career, 95% of them fail to make a proper living out of it, let alone become huge successes (results from a survery of 200 musicians in UK). The artists we celebrate as our champions, as the main faces of the music industry are only a handful of people out of the millions that get into this industry with dreams of making it big.

And every person wanting to make a career in music looks for a success formula, but life doesn’t work that way, especially in music. For every successful artist following a set mould to enter music industry, there are thousands who failed at it. That is the harsh truth about this industry. And no amount of wishing, dreaming or googling for tips and tricks can change that. The only thing sure about a success formula is that it only works for a few people. At the end of the day, the only way one can make progress towards becoming a musical success is through genuine talent, unending hard work and determination, and with loads of luck and good timing.

Streaming: The saviour of the music industry?

The US music revenue has risen for the second consecutive year – marking the first two times that there has been a substantial increase since 1999, according to an annual report by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

This dramatic change has occurred in recent years mostly due to the arrival of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. It was only a few years ago that music executives and artists were claiming that streaming would be the final nail in the coffin for the dying music industry. And while there are still claims that artists are under-compensated for their contributions to the services, it is clear they have brought a new lease of life to the industry. The report showed that there was a rise of 16.5% to $8.7 billion in 2017, the highest it has been since 2008. Music streaming subscriptions have played a role in this growth, with figures more than tripling in the last four years.

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Statistics: Medium.com/Graphics: Christian Onions

While streaming numbers are on the up, the report claims digital sales saw a significant 25% decrease for the year – illustrating how the use of streaming services is leading to a decline in the purchasing of digital and physical songs and albums. In 2016, the RIAA announced they were including audio and video streams as part of their gold and platinum certifications. Despite the radical move this was considered at the time, the industry has come to embrace the format, as it more accurately reflects the way that people are consuming music today.

Video credit: youtube.com/complexmagazine

Despite the growth in revenue, artists and streaming services are still not adequately compensated for the volume of listeners that enjoy the music. According to RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman, this has resulted in a ‘value gap’: “the gulf between the amount of music being consumed and the compensation that platforms return to music creators for exploiting music.”

Of the nearly $9 billion in revenue from 2017, $5.7 billion came directly from streaming services, representing the largest recorded music format in terms of value. The steady rise is certainly worth celebrating, but it is important to note that the figures are still only at 60% of the music industry’s peak level.

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Statistics: Medium.com/Graphics: Christian Onions

Spotify has been making headlines on its own recently, after debuting on the New York Stock Exchange to the value of $26.5 billion, a figure higher than predicted. In fact, Spotify is now worth more than Twitter, Snapchat and Dropbox. With more than 70 million listeners worldwide, it is by far the most popular music streaming service. Apple music trails behind in second place, with just over half that amount.

In order to understand their streaming habits, I spoke with a few students – the generation considered responsible for the rise of music streaming. This is what they had to say:

Interview Findings:

Q1: What music streaming service do you use?

Results show all participants use a streaming service of some sort. Spotify proved to be most popular, with 40% claiming to be active users. 20% admitted to using Soundcloud, 20% use YouTube and 20% Apple Music.

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Graphics: Christian Onions

Q2: How much do you pay? Is this reasonable?

While all participants thought the price they paid for streaming services is reasonable, there was very little range in the amounts – 60% paid £5.00 and the remaining 40% took advantage of free services such as Soundcloud and YouTube.

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Graphics: Christian Onions

Q3: Since using streaming, have you found that you listen to music more often?

I was curious to know whether having streaming subscriptions encouraged users to listen to music more often than before they began streaming. The results show the participants unanimously answered ‘yes‘ – citing the variety of choice as the main reason.

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Graphics: Christian Onions

Q4: Do you like the service you use? If so, what is it you like most?

There was another unanimous result among the participants when asked whether they like the service they use, they all answered ‘yes‘. When stating what it is they like most about the service they use, there were a few key words that stood out: ‘easy‘, ‘cheap‘, ‘recommendations‘ of music, ‘variety‘/’choices‘ and ‘simple‘.

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Graphics: Christian Onions

Q5: Have you discovered any new artists from the streaming service?

Most participants mentioned they often discover new artists on their choice of streaming service – crediting playlists for introducing new talent or recommendations of new music. One interviewee had experience with both Apple Music and Spotify, and stated that Spotify was superior when it comes to discovering new artists:Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 19.08.58While there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the world of music streaming, it seems like the ‘trend’ brought about by the millennial generation is likely to stick around for a while. It is difficult to predict exactly what impact it will have in the long run, but for now at least, streaming is the saviour the music industry has been crying out for.

 

 

 

MEET KARENA EVANS, THE WOMAN REVOLUTIONISING THE ART OF MAKING MUSIC VIDEOS

Karena Evans

Cover picture: Imbd

As good as lyrics of a song can be, the best thing is sometimes the music video bringing them to life. It is an added value and huge part of our consumption of music, art and in general entertainment, possibly one of the reasons why we spend so many hours on Youtube.

As if we could not love more Drake, he is now due to promote his new album and decided to release “Nice for What” as anticipation and the best feature about it is the music video woman director.
We are pleased to introduce you to Karena Evans, who at only 22 is the most sought-after video director in the music industry.
She is a triple threat. Started as an intern at DirectorX, Karena is a talented director, writer and actress and has previously collaborated with Nike and another Drakes’ hit, “God’s Plan”.

Since “Nice for What” has been release on Saturday morning,it has accumulated already over eight million views, and we know the brilliance of the video is due to the fact that the multifaceted Karena has wisely chosen some of the most beautiful  women to star in the video, from top model Jourdan Dunn, to Issa Rae, Rashida Jones and many others.
The women in the video are not being sexualised or idealised, as it often happens, but are shown in their true independent, inspiring nature.

 

 

 

Listen down below to find out more about Karena!

The reactions to the “Nice for What” video have been epic online from Taylyn Washington-Harmon, social media editor at Selfmagazine, to Drake’s fans and women appreciating the impact the song will have on women celebration.

 

 

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By the look of it, we expect big things from Mrs. Evans and we hope to see her involved with the up and coming artists of the moment SZA, Cardi B and why not the Pop queen Beyoncé!

 

Music Credit
Drake-Nice for What (2018)

What do you love about yourself?

Imagine what life would be like if you stood in front of a mirror and focused on what you love about yourself rather than what you could change?

Unfortunately, many give attention to their so-called flaws. And as we’re fed images of beautiful celebrities and models on social media, in magazines, on billboards and the television, unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, dress like, and act like are set.

New figures from the Be Real Campaign for body confidence, founded by youth charity YMCA and Dove, have revealed that two in three (69%) young people are worried about parts of their appearance. According to the charity’s data, body image anxieties increase into adulthood; with 20% of young people aged 11 to 12 years old worry about their appearance, and by the age of 16 that figure rises to 32%.

The effect of poor body image can be profound. Studies show that people with low self-esteem have a higher risk of developing anxiety, an eating disorder and problems in their relationships. In 2008, researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign found that having low self-esteem at ages 15 and 18 was a risk factor for developing depression by age 21.

Building your self-esteem takes work, and doesn’t happen overnight. But here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Recognise that nobody’s perfect

No one is 100% flawless. The images you see on Instagram, in magazines and on billboards are often manipulated and altered. By comparing yourself to those images, you’re only letting yourself down.

Appreciate your own beauty

Focus on the positives. What do you love about yourself? What do your friends and family love about you? Make a list of all your positive attributes, and every time you have ‘bad’ day refer to that. Sometimes we just need a reminder of why we are great.

Curate your social feeds

The average person spends 2 hours and 15 minutes on social media every day. The images on your social media feed can subconsciously affect your self-esteem. If you find yourself making comparisons with those you follow, or feeling ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’; curate your feed. Follow accounts that empower and inspire you. Doing this can really boost your self-esteem and change your perception of beauty.

 

Are Kolpak contracts taking English cricket a step back?

In recent weeks the scrutiny of a lacklustre England side on their travel’s has ramped up the pressure on the teams hierarchy, with calls for change being considered.

The first place to look would seemingly be the county game, but there appears to be a big stumbling block.

A severe lack of English talent coming through county ranks has cause for concern. Only Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone and a developing Mason Crane are in line to replace failures in the batting line-up and spin departments, with no real exciting fast-paced bowlers waiting in the wings to take the reigns of James Anderson when he eventually retires.

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Mason Crane bowling in his first test against Australia in the final game of the 2017/18 Ashes series in Sydney.

Why is this?

Well, a number of county sides have taken advantage of Kolpak contracts, allowing them to sign seasoned professionals of the world game, instead of looking towards their academies.

WNOL’s Lee Pearson investigates why this is happening and the affects it has on all parties involved.

What are Kolpak contracts and how did they come about?

In 2000 Slovakian professional handball player Maros Kolpak was ejected from second division side TSV Ostringen because they had more than two non-EU players in their squad. Kolpak had been residing in Germany and working legally due to the Association Agreement between Slovakia and the EU.

But under the Bosman ruling, the German Handball Association said he was not under Rule 15, and had no rights. The case was referred to the European Court of Justice who ruled in favour of Kolpak, as it restricted his rights for freedom of movement to work under the Association Agreement.

This ruling, in 2003, allowed sportsmen and women, whose country had this agreement in place, to work legally in EU countries without having to count towards the overseas quota. Sports such as cricket and rugby, who have caps on foreign players, are most affected by this rule.

How do non-EU players obtain such contracts?

Former South African cricketer Alan Wilkins explains to Cricbuzz why non-EU players are allowed to sign such contracts and the reason behind the increase.

Why do players go down this route? 

Security. Players like David Weise (Sussex), the aforementioned Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbot (Hampshire) along with Hardus Viljoen (Derbyshire) all chose Kolpak’s instead of continuing their international careers because of the quota system in South Africa limits their selection.

“I don’t want to regret sitting here in 12 months time where everyone is fit again and i’m wearing a bib and I’m 30,”

Having a long-term contract, receiving a consistent salary, keeps them stable for life away from cricket. Kyle Abbot in his press conference last year said; “If you want to buy me groceries in ten years time you’re more than welcome to . I have bills to pay and groceries.”

“Ever since I started playing professional cricket at 19, there has been a quota system. I have grown-up with it. I’ve never used it as an excuse and will not now.”

But the quota system does have some part to play. The rules state that six players have to be of non-white dissent, two of which have to be black, limiting opportunity to use his talents for the Proteas.

“I don’t want to regret sitting here in 12 months time where everyone is fit again and i’m wearing a bib and I’m 30,” Abbot continued, “I want to show loyalty now, to Hampshire, to hopefully have future beyond playing cricket.”

No one can blame them for turning their backs on their country for future security, but this leaves others with less secure futures in the game.

a slice of history

The impact on the county game?

The counties that utilise the Kolpak rule seem to haven forgotten the players in their academies.

“I was given one game to show what I could do. Can you call that a chance?”

“I was falling out of love with the game. The demands, lack of stability and stress all took its toll” Jake Goodwin, 20, former Hampshire academy player told WNOL.

“I was given false hope that I would be getting games in the first team, whilst they knew Kolpak’s were going to be placed in front of me. I was given one game to show what I could do. Can you call that a chance?”

Jake scored 32 off 29 balls opening the batting in his one and only chance to impress against Somerset in the 2016 Natwest Blast, “I could have scored more, should have. But trying to the up the anti, I got stumped. We won the game, I didn’t feel out of place, I was expecting more game time in 2017.”

jake-goodwin

Jake playing in a Hampshire 2’s T20 game against Northamptonshire 2’s at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton

But that never came, instead Rilee Rossouw walked through the door demoting Jake further down the pecking order, “I knew that dented my chances, Tom (Allsop) had scored heavily and Rilee is world class, I was resigned to playing second team cricket. I felt a bit down and my scores suffered.”

“I guess it was a question of timing, if it was one year earlier I think I would have had a proper chance. I know I’m not the only one, we can’t sit and wait 3-4 years to not have a career, I thought it was best to leave.”

Even Jake’s former coach at Swindon Cricket Club, Chris Mabberley, thinks Kolpak contracts have gone too far, “The state of the game overall – including Kolpak’s- played a big part in my decision (to stop coaching).”

“You can see what I think on twitter, Kolpaks suffocate the game in this country, you don’t see Australia or South Africa allowing our has beens to play in their leagues.”

And it remains a wonder how many more talents are being shunned by counties? Is the increase of Kolpak cricketers actually improving county cricket for the long run? Will Brexit intervene or will it remain a problem long-term, shutting down the conveyor belt for young, talented English players that could potentially be mainstays for the national side?

 

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