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Frankie’s Awesome Hot Chocolate Recipe

Frankie’s Awesome Super Great Hot Chocolate Recipe

Awesome Hot Chocolate Recipe

Photo from www.RadishesAndRhubarb.com

This has nothing do with anything …except maybe comfort …which I suppose is similar to enjoying music.

I came up with “Frankie’s Super Great Hot Chocolate Recipe” a few years ago.  It was a wintery day and I was jonsen for some hot cocoa.  Dang, we ran out of the typical powdery instant packaged crap.  But, I had a bag of my favorite Dove Dark Chocolate candies on the counter.  So I thought I’d throw some of the chocolate pieces in warm milk and see what happens.  What’s the worst that could happen, I make a mess?  Not like I’ve never done that before.

Eureka!

It was amazing.  I couldn’t believe it, the little chocolate squares all melted without a problem and made the milk creamy smooth and delightfully chocolatey.  (Do I have you craving for some, yet?)  I experimented a little with the amount of chocolate squares, and came up with the recipe below:

Dove Promises Dark ChocolateDove Promises Milk Chocolate

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Dove Promises squares – Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate
  • 2 Dove Promises squares – Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate
  • Warm the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat with the 4 Dove chocolate squares (unwrapped – foil tastes weird).  Stir continuously until all is melted.  You’re heating up milk, so be careful not to boil it over and make an ungodly mess.  Makes one serving.

For my taste, I think the key is mixing the flavors of Dark and Milk Chocolate.  If you don’t have both in the house, just one flavor works, too.  To make more than one serving, add more chocolate.  4 chocolate squares per cup of milk is actually quite rich, so adjust according to taste.  Using 6 squares (3 dark, 3 milk) works great for two servings.

That’s it, enjoy!

Newfie Sing-a-longs

Image69 Merv and Family

My business friends can all relate to the statements from our marketing departments: tell a story when promoting your business.  I certainly have the gift of gab, thanks Mom, so telling a story is never a problem.  But actually trying to pull out a compelling story from the day to day drudgery of business is not that easy.  I mean really, in my world of software development and data analysis, I beg that even the greatest bullshitter can’t consistently spin up interesting yarns every week.

Along comes StreetJelly, the streaming live music website I founded. (Dang, he plugged the site and hasn’t even started his story yet.)  I have already witnessed numerous great moments of live broadcasting: wonderful music, passionate singing, hilarious out takes (I’m looking at you, Maestro, lol), and so on.  All of which are moments you can never see again because we don’t record anything on the site.  Crazy, I know!

Last week I was watching ImageAndFamily on StreetJelly.  This is a family from Toronto who loves to perform sing-a-long tunes, Newfoundland fishing chanties, and singer/songwriter classics.  I’ve only met Merv and Amanda online through StreetJelly.  If I got it straight, Merv is from Trinidad and Amanda is from Newfoundland.  She’s the Newfie!  Their son, Robert, performs on keyboard and vocals with them.

Robert is 13 and autistic.  I would have known this if I read their profile, but Merv was telling me his story in a chat conversation.  You see, Robert didn’t talk or communicate much with the world before the age of 7.  That’s when Merv introduced him to music.  Something clicked!  Robert responded to music like he was a virtuoso of 75 years.  I’ve seen him on keyboards and singing on StreetJelly.  There’s great talent there.  The amazing thing is how music rescued Robert from his quiet world.  While playing keyboards with his family, he sings chorus and melodies in a sweet innocent voice.  Precious!  And Robert follows along with the chat window, says hello, and suggest songs himself.

I don’t know what else makes a more amazing story than being let into the living room of Merv and Amanda and sharing in with their family sing-a-long.  Try that with a digital download mp3 site!

Giving Songwriters their Fair Credit

At StreetJelly.com we love songwriters as much as we love musicians.  And we also love live, spontaneous music.  Actually, that’s whole point of StreetJelly!  Our musicians play whatever they like, whenever they like, from wherever they like.  StreetJelly has licensing agreements with various songwriter associations, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, that allow us to stream music from the songwriters they represent on our website.  We pay licensing fees through various calculations based on our revenue.  And we always take these fees away from our budget, not from the tip money earned by StreetJelly musicians.

The songwriter associations then take our fees, along with the 1,000s of other music websites out there, and distribute royalties to the original songwriters.  But with StreetJelly, we don’t quite fit the mold.  Because we are live and unscripted, we never know what our musicians are going to play.  They can be originals or covers.  Most other music websites are streaming saved content from mp3s or videos.  It’s easy for them to know exactly what they play.  The songwriter associations can really only take our lump fees and distribute among their artists through their own magic formulas.  That’s not really fair to the songwriters whose songs are actually played on StreetJelly.

To better approach a world of music fairness (I know, don’t start), we at StreetJelly are asking our artists to self-report what they play.  We made it as simple as we could and created a “Enter Play List” section on the StreetJelly broadcast screen.  In between songs, we encourage our musicians to enter what they have played.  It’s not hard, just takes a few clicks.

But there’s more to it than just self-reporting songs to outside songwriters associations.  Our playlist section is useful for the musician to keep track of what they have played.  It takes a little planning to put together a set play list.  Every musician can totally relate to the, “what should I play next” feeling.  We hope this helps a little.

Covers or Originals?  Both!

We take the data entered in the playlist and send it off to the licensing agencies.  They can then better distribute royalties more accurately with our song lists.  But that list is inclusive for both cover tunes AND originals from StreetJelly musicians.  Assuming our musicians are registered with the above groups (and we encourage you all to do so), our musicians can collect royalties on their original material through these agencies in addition to the tip money made on StreetJelly.

We know we’re not solving all the musical industry’s problems, but ever little bit helps.  And being a good steward of honesty and fairness is probably the most important thing we can do.  Courtesy is contagious!

StreetJelly in Two or Three Paragraphs

Often businesses are asked to describe themselves in two or three paragraphs.  I guess this length is about the size of text that someone is willing to read.  Usually, the descriptions come out sounding like typical corporate drivel and you end up counting all the horrendous buzzwords: best-in-class, customer-driven, paradigm-shift, … oh the insanity!  So here it goes, sit back and be dazzled.

StreetJelly.com is online busking: video streaming LIVE musicians performing by webcam for tips.  That’s it, that’s all it is.  …Dang, 2.8 paragraphs left to fill.

Ok, here are the nitty gritty details.  Musicians, singer / songwriters, vocalists, and all types perform in their living rooms, basements, where ever with a computer and webcam.  Music Lovers watch and chat with the artists, much like in a chat room.  The viewers can purchase virtual tokens which they use as currency to tip the musicians.  Viewers can also use their tokens towards awards, Rocker Pins, to give to the artists.  The musicians then cash out their tokens for real money, sent via PayPal.

That was a tedious paragraph, now for the good stuff.  StreetJelly is about people, musicians actually. Take LanaEve, for instance, who performs often on StreetJelly.  She’s a teenage prodigy from Nashville.  Despite this sounding like a cliche, she really has the voice of an angel.  Want to see the most genuine happy smile?  Say “hello” to her and drop her a token.  Then there’s Maestro from Seattle, an accomplished musician and music teacher from School of Rock.  Maestro will draw you in with his soothing piano and guitar originals.  Before you know it, time has flown by and your day is much better.  There’s also folk music duo Rick and Denise called Amaranth. They put on weekly shows from their home for friends and family around the country.  You will feel like you are with them eating warm milk and cookies when witnessing their “house concerts.”

There are so many more stories, but no room left in our paragraph rule.  But you get the idea, StreetJelly brings you in touch with real people, in real time, in all its raw musical goodness.  Try that with a digital download!

No, You Can’t Upload a Video

Can I upload videos and mp3s to my profile?
No, you may not!

Did we just break the cardinal rule and say “no” to our customers?  I guess so.  But I’m not really the type to do what everyone tells me to do, anyway.

We’ve been asked a few times at Street Jelly if an artist can upload their videos and mp3s to their profile.  When an artist is not performing live, understandably, they would like their repertoire of songs and videos to be easily accessible.  We can totally agree with this.

But at the same time, Street Jelly is about LIVE performances.  We don’t allow musicians to broadcast recordings, presumably over and over, to put up some kind of tip jar filling machine.  There is a craft to entertaining the public for tips.  The great performers do it for the love, and the tips come naturally.

We thought long and hard about adding the ability to upload files to a Street Jelly profile.  Our decision was to stick to our guns about LIVE music and not allow uploads.  After all, there are plenty of websites out there for uploading videos and songs.  The last thing we want to be is yet another place on the web where musicians feel obligated to put up their “store front.”

We also believe that the delivery of music will fundamentally change again in the near future.  Digital downloading, piracy, copyright infringement, etc. has made one big unsustainable mess of things.  But one fact hasn’t changed – we humans love our silly love songs.  And we will be seeking that love by any means practical.  (Note I said “practical,” not free.)  It’s our guess that people will seek live music more and more for its true entertainment value.

So Street Jelly is not a digital uploading / downloading site.  Hurray!  We do what we can, however, to help promote our artists.  We made it easy for them to place links to their YouTube channel, ReverbNation, etc. right on their Street Jelly profile.  In fact, we encourage it.  This week, we released a feature that now embeds YouTube videos directly in the artist’s profile page.  Now music lovers can watch artist videos on Street Jelly without having to pop over to another browser window.  This should make life easier for musicians.

Humbled by Recent Endorsement

Bashful PuppyA few days ago, a musician and StreetJelly fan posted this testimonial on our Facebook page.

StreetJelly you are awesome and I LOVE you! ♥♥♥
Let me just say I have been a part of a few “upcoming” music things, and you are the first to be so incredibly supportive and active! I’ve got $16 in my tip jar and I can’t wait to schedule more shows- so fans if you haven’t signed up it’s FREE and musicians you can get in on it too (also free), go listen to music from around the world online LIVE, no more youtube videos!

We’re makin’ history y’all!
– Amelia Y.

What a delight, and we are so humbled by Amelia’s kind words.  Without getting all mushy, it should be known that our goal is to be in this adventure together, with all the artist and fans.  That’s kind of the point of live music anyway – making a connection, face to face.

I’ve chatted with Amelia a few times, she is definitely a cool chick – and an awesome musician.  Don’t forget get to add her, MeiaMusic, to your StreetJelly favorites and catch her next performance.  Let’s fill up her tip jar some more!

Don’t Miss a Performance on StreetJelly

Musician Dressing Room

Image courtesy of TheRadioCafe.com

Our artists spoke, and we listened!

StreetJelly has added a scheduling feature on the website.  Artists can now set a date and time for their next live performance on StreetJelly.  While spontaneous jams are the bread and butter of live entertainment, many of our artists like to prepare ahead of time for their fans.  They need to get their equipment set up, write down a playlist, spread the word to their community, and put on a polished show.  They are effen awesome!!!  And we are happy to obligue their request.

We’ve added a calendar system to the site.  It’s pretty simple, click on the calendar icon Schedule Live Performance Calendar in the upper right hand menu, or click on the “Edit My Schedule” link on the My Account page.  That will take an artist to an easy to use page to fill out a date and time, and a headline message for their show.  The scheduled performance will now appear on the site’s homepage, as well as the artist’s profile page.  Also, we’ll send out an e-mail notification to all the fans listed under the artist’s “favorites” list.

Hope you all enjoy the update.  Keep the ideas coming.  StreetJelly is a site for the musicians and music lovers out there.  Anything we can do to make it better is our goal.

The First 20 Days on StreetJelly

Grand Opening

StreetJelly.com went live on August 15th, 2012!  Here is a run down how the first twenty days have gone, which have been nothing short of amazing.  First though, we are grateful for all the new artists and viewers on the site.  We really appreciate everyone for helping spread the word, “liking” us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter.

My favorite moment so far?  That has to be LanaEve performing and trying to scroll down her music with her foot.  Lana sings and plays guitar while reading the lyrics and chords she pulls up from Google (incredible!).  So as she’s playing a song, she needs to scroll down the sheet music on her computer to continue – it’s the modern version of the age old page-turning dilemma.  So bless her heart, one night she tried to scroll down the music with her toes while still singing AND playing the guitar.  She almost fell out of her chair!  But she picked right up and kept on performing.  It was so adorable.  You all should add her to your favorites and catch her when she’s back on. www.StreetJelly.com/LanaEve  She has the most beautiful, angelic voice!

We launched the site without much fan fare in August.  It’s what we call a “soft launch” in the business.  We like to make sure everything works well, clean up the bugs, and get feedback from the initial users before we blast our name out to the whole world.  However, we are totally blown away by the fans that have already flocked to the site.  Here are some of the amazing numbers in the first few weeks.

  • 128 performances so far by 25 different artists
  • 2701 minutes of streaming video (45 hours)
  • 889 tokens giving to the artists (worth $142)
  • 785 unique people visited the site (1768 visits total)

We are very pleased, but our work has only begun.  Can we make StreetJelly go viral?  Yes we can!  And we’ll need your help.  So please keep spreading the word, and keep performing, and keep visiting the site.

And again, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for making the launch of StreetJelly.com so successful, exciting, and fun!

Tips for Performing by Webcam

Webcam ManPerforming online in front of a webcam is something probably new to most musicians.  It’s certainly new for us, too.  We noticed some things that will help your performance be visually more appealing.

  1. Sit or Step Back away from your webcam. This is probably the best advice.  Most performers are sitting too close to their webcam and basically it’s just their head filling up the screen.  Being at least 6 to 10 feet away from the cam frames a nice image of the artist, especially when playing an instrument.  Which leads to tip #2.
  2. Show us that you are playing an instrument.  Don’t worry about your fancy finger work, when we can visually see you playing the guitar or whatever – it adds to the experience.  So if you are in tight quarters and can not sit too far back, point your cam down at your instrument.
  3. Don’t over power your computer’s microphone.  If you are performing through your pc’s or laptop’s built in mic, chances are your voice and music will over power the mic at some point causing distortion.  Again, sitting further back will help even out the sound.  Just remember to speak loudly in between songs so the mic can pick up your normal voice.  For a better sound, you can make huge improvements with a just a simple sound-leveling, noise-cancelling pc mic.  These are basically called USB “conference call” mics you find in computer stores (not music stores).  For around $60-$75, these mics make a big difference.
  4. Last, don’t forget the room around you.  You don’t need to be performing on a stage, but make sure the background is not distracting to the performance, i.e. messy, cluttered, dirty laundry, etc.  Remember, you are performing for tips, make every bit count.

Do you have any more ideas?  We’d love to hear them.