Record industry trumpets its sales figures By Bob Lefstez

Every week the antiquated record industry trumpets its sales figures and the even more ancient media industry repeats them. And to say they’re unimpressive is to say you took the family goat to prom.

Let’s look at Imagine Dragons.

They’re a top ten act selling 25,000 records a week.

25k a week? That’s positively anemic in a country of 300 million. That’s like asking us to be impressed that you made $2.50 at the lemonade stand. In a county where movies debut in the double digit millions every week, it appears the music industry is a joke.

But it’s not.

Oh, you can point to the 1.25 million records Imagine Dragons has sold in nearly a year, but how impressive is that? When there used to be a diamond award given for ten million sales on a regular basis at the tail end of the last century…

Have people just given up listening to music?

NO! It’s just that the industry keeps pointing people to lame metrics.

On Spotify, the supposedly rip-off system with no traction, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has been spun 122,988,750 times. Put that number in the paper, it’ll wow people! It’s almost unfathomable, it’s got too many commas for most people to be able to interpret. And the band has another track at over 50 million and two in the 30 million play range.

These numbers are SPECTACULAR!

This is not your daddy’s record business. Only it is. Everyone’s pointing to the wrong number and the acts are complicit.

The press has declared Kanye West’s new album a stiff, but on Spotify the tracks have 2.5 to 5 million plays. Now compared to “Blurred Lines,” with 64 million, that’s not much, but it certainly indicates traction. As for the other song of the summer? The radio edit of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has got 74,122,609 spins and the album version has got another 26,335,533.

It’s not whether someone buys it, but whether they play it. While “Billboard” keeps reformulating its chart, factoring in social media and a bunch of other crap, why not look to streaming services, which truly indicate popularity?

Same deal with YouTube, where “Radioactive” has 65 million plays. And that’s impressive, but people conflate those numbers with television, with the MTV of yore, and they just don’t register that much anymore, especially with a new viral video on a regular basis, which may have nothing to do with music.

And you don’t see Calvin Harris’s name on a regular basis in mainstream media, but he’s got numerous tracks with double digit million spins on Spotify. “I Need Your Love” has got 56,435,679, “Sweet Nothing” has got 73,831,099. Maybe some insiders are gloating over his income, wherein he was rated as the number one earning deejay in “Forbes,” but to think that’s gotten mainstream penetration is to believe “Forbes”‘s site has got the same following as TMZ. Then again, it was linkbait, they just did that report to garner virality.

But that’s all about manipulation. Right now, these Spotify numbers are real. And important. And as soon as we stop vilifying these streaming services and start trumpeting their metrics, the sooner the rest of the world will take music seriously, the sooner artists will realize that there’s a ton of money in music and it’s worth it to take the risk as opposed to play the game because you can go straight to your audience and people are hungry for something new and different.

P.S. Don’t denigrate Spotify, sign up! Get everybody you know to sign up! Then these numbers keep going up, up, up! And more money rains down on those who make the music, and isn’t that your main complaint, that you just can’t make enough cash? This is your salvation!

P.P.S. Yes, these are global play counts on Spotify, but it is a global business and the more we tear down the artificial national barriers and embrace the true reality of music dissemination, the better it will be for everybody, especially the artists.

P.P.P.S. “Radioactive” had 1,127,465 plays in the U.S. last week. You can see how many weekly U.S. plays a track had on Spotify here:

P.P.P.P.S. You can add a Spotify Top Tracks widget to your site here:

P.P.P.P.P.S. Right now Spotify is the leader, only one service will win, whether it be Spotify, Deezer or MOG/Daisy/Beats. Everyone will gravitate to one, to share. The same way BlackBerry can’t exist in a world of Android and iPhone, which are battling it out for supremacy themselves. You see you want to be where your friends are, BBM kept people on BlackBerry, iMessage is helping keep people on the iPhone and you build the platform and keep improving it, you grow or you die, that’s Amazon’s mantra, that’s what’s hobbled Apple’s stock, that’s what hurts musical acts. You think by repeating the formula you’re sustaining, but the truth is you’re dying.

Martin Myers interviewed Greg Secker the founder and CEO of Europe’s leading trader coaching company

Greg Secker and Katherine Scott, Knowledge To Action

Greg Secker and Katherine Scott, Knowledge To Action

Greg Secker is the founder and CEO of Europe’s leading trader coaching company,
Former Vice President of Mellon Financial Corporation, Secker is a world renowned Forex trader with trading floors in London, Sydney and Johannesburg.
An experienced speaker, Greg has shared the stage with the likes of Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Anthony Robbins and Alan Sugar.
In 2010, Greg and his partner Katherine Scott established the Knowledge to Action Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged children. Katherine is a long term supporter of children’s charities, and she and Greg live in London with their son Zac.
Greg, Katherine & Ubuntu

Greg, Katherine & Ubuntu

SA music quotas – who needs it?

From Channel 24

Many artists maintain that broadcast – particularly radio – doesn’t do enough to represent and promote South African music. But is that all there is to it?
The Moshito Music Conference– billed as “Africa’s premier music industry event” – happens in September, and as usual it aims to carry forth the plight of music and its industry here in Africa.One planned session in particular topic caught my eye:

“Day Two’s programme features what promises to be one of the most heated debates of Moshito 2011 – an examination of ‘Local broadcast content and compliance with the UN Convention on Cultural Diversity’ by a panel that includes Christa Rautenbach (Northwest University), and Anel du Plessis (Northwest University).”

It’s an old, cold war in South Africa; that broadcast – particularly radio – doesn’t do enough to represent and promote South African music. Ask any South African musician or band bar the Parlotones, and they’ll lament the lack of our own music on our commercial stations. For my own part, I don’t pretend to have solutions or even practical suggestions. But there are thousands of people who are passionate about what they believe is fair in the face of a monolithic, label-dominated music industry.


Some believe that it’s also an oversimplified debate.  Music activist and industry veteran Martin Myers (now with Tuned In Publicity) maintains that the discussion around this issue can’t be meaningful unless we’re willing to include the broader structures of the music business.

“Things like a sustainable touring circuit are key to developing a market,” he says. “An artist like Robin Auld – who is a veteran of SA music – can sell more CDs touring than he can placing his discs in national retail. That shouldn’t be the case, but that it is should tell you where the opportunities for expansion lie.”

Speaking of which, history tells us that national music retail has not come to the party, and has largely sidestepped the accusatory glances whenever the issue has arisen. It costs the same for both an independent South African artist and a major label to place CDs on a shelf in a music store (not counting additional bulk discounting for the mass producer), despite an independent South African having a minimal budget to produce and promote the product in question.

Reality vs monopoly

You could say this is a reality of economics, but it’s also unsatisfactory to have this situation in a market of monopolies, which SA music retail has largely been up until now.

“Nobody has, for example, successfully explored the idea of in-store digital kiosks where consumers can buy singles from the SA artists, saving them production costs for full CDs,” says Myers. “Artists themselves could even think outside the box for marketing their music and their shows. Promotional tickets and giveaways via local vendors like restaurants is one idea.”

Online music stores like Rhythm Online have started making a mark, and plenty of online audio streams or “radio stations” have sprung up over the past few years; evidence of the demand for diversified interests, tastes and markets. But they remain constrained by access and bandwidth issues at least for the time-being.

It doesn’t seem like commercial radio intends to offer any olive branches in the near future. The most vociferous critics accuse them of hiding behind loopholes like “graveyard-hour play” and “repeat broadcasts” in filling the quota.

The business structures may argue that they’re simply meeting the demands of their “market”. Which seems to be the same market for all of them.

In any event, the idea of hearing a steady influx of new, independent SOUTH AFRICAN music on these channels is still a pipe-dream. And at least for the thousands of young musicians out in the clubs and pubs or in their garages, getting their voices heard may be as hard as… well, getting their voices heard.

Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition takes place from August 31st to September 2nd at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg.

– Channel24

Rugby Writings

Rugby WritingsRugby Writings

Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans was coaching co-ordinator for the 2003 All Blacks who, in beating South Africa 52-16 at Loftus, inflicted the heaviest ever home defeat on the Springboks.

This is a great press release and read

I have a feeling Australia will win

The return of Quade Cooper to the flyhalf position represents the only change to the Qantas Wallabies starting XV for Saturday night’s Bundaberg Red Tri Nations Series match against South Africa in Pretoria, from that which appeared against New Zealand earlier in the month.

Cooper, who has missed the last two Test matches due to suspension, replaces his Queensland Reds team-mate Anthony Faingaa in the run on combination, with Matt Giteau moving out one position in the backline to inside centre.

Faingaa has been included among the run on reserves.

The 22-year-old Cooper’s most recent Test appearance came during last month’s 30-13 win over South Africa at Brisbane which opened the three-game Mandela Trophy series.

Australia’s starting XV for this weekend features just one change from the formation which ran on that night, with Adam Ashley-Cooper now occupying the centre position in place of the injured Rob Horne, while Kurtley Beale has come into the team at fullback.

The bench for this weekend’s Test match is notable for the inclusion of both the uncapped Queensland Reds loose forward Scott Higginbotham and the lightly tried Western Force utility forward Ben McCalman.

Higginbotham, who will become the 847th player to represent Australia in Test matches should he be required to take the field, takes the place of the injured Matt Hodgson.

He would become the 27th player to have been introduced to Test ranks since Robbie Deans took over as Qantas Wallabies coach in 2008.

The versatile McCalman, who made his sole Test appearance to date off the bench during the earlier win over South Africa, takes over from the Queensland Reds second rower Rob Simmons.

A win on Saturday would reclaim for the Wallabies the Mandela Trophy after Australia won the opening Tri Nations international between the two teams.

Australia last held the trophy in 2008, the year it last won a Test in South Africa.

Skipper Rocky Elsom, prop Benn Robinson, Giteau and winger Drew Mitchell are the sole starting line-up survivors from the 27-15 win in Durban two years ago, although both Giteau and Mitchell will on the weekend appear in different positions.

The Qantas Wallabies team to play South Africa in the Bundaberg Red Tri Nations Series and Mandela Trophy Test at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria on Saturday 28 August at 5pm (1am, Sun 29 August, AEST) is:

15. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)

14. James O’Connor (Western Force)

13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies)

12. Matt Giteau (Brumbies)

11. Drew Mitchell (NSW Waratahs)

10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)

9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)

8. Richard Brown (Western Force)

7. David Pocock (Western Force)

6. Rocky Elsom (Brumbies, captain)

5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force)

4. Dean Mumm (NSW Waratahs)

3. Salesi Ma’afu (Brumbies)

2. Saia Faingaa (Queensland Reds)

1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)

Run on reserves:

16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)

17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)

18. Ben McCalman (Western Force)

19. Scott Higginbotham (Queensland Reds)

20. Luke Burgess (NSW Waratahs)

21. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs)

22. Anthony Faingaa (Queensland Reds)

Australia v South Africa in South Africa – Historical Notes

  • This will be the 73rd meeting between Australia and South Africa at all venues. Australia has won 28, including the two most recent meetings, and South Africa 43, while one match has been drawn.
  • Just eight of Australia’s previous wins have been attained on South African soil, with the Springboks taking the other 29 matches that have been played.
  • Australia has won just twice previously at high veldt venues – in 1933 at Bloemfontein and 1963 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Wallabies have been beaten on all four previous visits to Loftus Versfeld in 1963, 1997, 2001 and 2005.
  • Australia’s most recent win on South African soil was a 27-15 win at Durban in 2008 which secured the Mandela Trophy. That success was the first achieved by the Wallabies in the Republic for eight years.
  • Prior to South Africa’s readmission to international sport in 1992, Australia had won just seven of the 31 matches played.
  • The scoreboard stands at 21 wins to Australia and 19 to South Africa, with one drawn, for the period since then.
  • Loftus Versfeld, which is home to the Super 14 champion Bulls, has hosted 29 previous Tests featuring the Springboks, from which the home side has won 21 and lost eight.
  • The ground, which houses 50,000 seats, hosted the 2009 Super 14 final where the Bulls beat the Chiefs.
  • It was also used for six matches in the recent 2010 FIFA football World Cup which was held in South Africa.
  • The ground was zoned for sport in 1914, with the first grandstand accommodating 2000 people built in 1923, and changing rooms and toilet facilities added in 1928, largely paid for out of the profits of that year’s All Black tour of South Africa.
  • Known as the Eastern sports grounds until 1932, the grounds were re-named Loftus Versfeld to honour the memory of the founder of organised sport in Pretoria, who died that year.
  • The Northern Transvaal Rugby Football Union (now Blue Bulls RFU) was established in 1938 after breaking away from the Johannesburg-based Transvaal RFU.
  • Northern Transvaal won its first Currie Cup in 1946. That team included the immortal Springbok, (Dr) Danie Craven. Last year, when the team beat the Cheetahs in the final, the Blue Bulls clinched South African domestic supremacy for the 20th time.
  • The 1997 Tri Nations Test at the ground saw Australia concede its highest ever score against South Africa.
  • South Africa has lost just two of its last 10 Tests at the ground since 2000, with both of those being won by the All Blacks, in 2003 and 2006. Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans was coaching co-ordinator for the 2003 All Blacks who, in beating South Africa 52-16 at Loftus, inflicted the heaviest ever home defeat on the Springboks.

Matt McILraith

Qantas Wallabies Media Manager


My great mate Mike Greenaway who writes for the Independent Group does not mess about with this piece that appeared in the Natal Mercury last week



As a rule of thumb, when an incoming coach takes over an established team, Year Three is when his pedigree is confirmed or, alternatively, he is found out to be an imposter.

So it is with Peter de Villiers and his coaching staff now that the impetus of the 2007 Rugby World Cup victory has finally run out and the intellectual capital of those in charge of a just about unbeatable team has been found out to be seriously deficient.

I recall former Wallabies coach (and Springbok technical assistant) Eddie Jones postulating some time ago that a new coach coming into a professional team can do little in his first year in charge, when at most he can change roughly 20 percent of what is going on – including changes in personnel; in his second year he can do the same again (now adding up to about a 40 percent shift), but the third year is when the “new” coach is supposed to accelerate the team to a new level.

Well dear old Eddie has had his yarns over the years, many to suit his situation at any given time, but in this case I reckon he has it just about spot on.

Peter de Villier is in his third year and the Boks have gone horribly backwards.

The Springboks, sadly, were completely out-witted by the All Blacks and then the Wallabies in a regression to the bad old days of the post-isolation era when the ill-disciplined, dinosaur Boks were laughingly out-thought and outplayed by the Antipodeans.

At the cutting edge of Test match rugby, the bottom line is this: you cannot afford to have a coaching staff that is reactive as opposed to pro-active.

Graham Henry and his annoying assistants, as well as Wallabies boss Robbie Deans, early in the Super 14 foresaw how the Tri-Nations game would pan out, did their homework and their teams hit the ground running. The hi-octane game of both teams left the Boks floundering and, going forward, not learning any lessons as the imbalanced selection of the loose trio for the Brisbane game proved.

What were our Springbok coaches doing from February through to May?! Dick Muir was coaching the Lions to the worst ever showing in the history of Super rugby, but what about De Villiers and Gary Gold?

Worryingly, it has been undoubtedly proved that the Springboks were ill-prepared for the Tri-Nations, and the happy-go-lucky, wise-cracking conspiracy theorist of a coach has been found out.

It is well known that De Villiers has invested in “coaching by committee”, whereby the senior players and the three coaches meet early each week and democratically choose on a way forward for the particular match in front of them, and that is fine when the team is winning and the senior players are all in form, but what do you do when the team starts losing and those calling the shots are not performing?

The reality is that participative management can only go so far in professional team sport. For one thing, rugby evolves at such a hectic pace these days that the players at the coal face cannot be held responsible for seeing the wider perspective from a planning and coaching perspective – they have enough on their plate – and the coaching staff should have the intuition to see how the game is unfolding and accordingly plot a strategy.

Peter de Villiers has been shown up to be out of his depth in that he could not foresee how the professional game has evolved. Henry did, so did Deans, but our bloke headed for the Dunces’ Corner.

So where to from here? Very simply put, the likes of John Smit, Victor Matfield and company have to step out of their players’ jumpers, put on coaches caps and do the intellectual hard yards that their coaches proved unable to do.


the greatest sporting weekend of my life

Warm greetings once more.

The truth is that this newsletter could have been called whatever you want it to be as there is not one singular superlative that can describe what this past weekend was like.

Speaking of contenders England proved once again that they are not contenders but instead are merely tomatoes and the reality is that this is the world cup, not a soup kitchen.

The first of the big guns were in action on Saturday and I was there. And I arranged a ticket at face value for Manfred and Kanyiso. We watched Argentina carve Nigeria open. It could have been a massacre but thanks to a stupendous display of goalkeeping by Vincent Enyeamba it was only 1-0. It may have been in Johannesburg but we could just as well have been in Buenos Aires. Once more ‘phenomenal’ would be euphemistic.

The opening match was special and so was this one. They were different and for different reasons too but it only made me more determined to attend a Copa America. When Diego Maradona walked onto the field and waved at the Argies, they went ballistic. The only man that is revered as such that I know of is Nelson Mandela himself.

Germany looked very impressive indeed in spite of their very young side. To add to that Argentina impressed me as did South Korea. but let us face the facts, Re England If Robert Green and David James are the best you have then I am afraid you are not going to cover yourselves in glory. As always England’s media promise everything and the team delivers nothing. Of course it is only one game and things could change but I do not foresee that happening. And since I made mention of the UK press now would be a good time to mention that England won the 1966 world cup.

The opening weekend of the world cup turned out to be the greatest sporting weekend of my life. There is no monetary value that can be put on the experience and I am certainly going to cherish the blessing and privilege that it has been forever.

Look after yourself.

World Cup Predictions Part II

Warm greetings once more.

Last week we examined the world cup group stages and in order of group winner and runner-up I concluded that these would be the teams involved in the knockout stages of the tournament.

Group A: France, South Africa Group B: Argentina, Nigeria

Group C: England, USA Group D: Germany, Australia

Group E: Holland, Cameroon Group F: Italy, Paraguay

Group G: Brazil, Ivory Coast Group H: Spain, Chile

Thank you for your opinion last week. I thoroughly enjoyed our debates. I fear some of these may have to change now owing to the injury crisis of the last week but I shall do the honourable thing and stick to my predictions. For example I doubt Ivory Coast will make it now without Drogba but I tipped them last week so I shall hold on to that one. But now it is time to get into the business end of the world’s greatest sporting event. In the Last sixteen I foresee the following fixtures:

France vs Nigeria: Unfortunately the Nigerians have lost the fear factor they possessed in the 1990’s and I think the ocassion will be too big for them.

England vs Australia: The Ashes is now a football match. I think the Aussies will give as good as they get but ultimately the Poms will win this one.

Germany vs USA: Even without Michael Ballack the three-time world champions should win this one. It is a repeat of the 2002 quarterfinal. Germany won then and they will win here too.

Argentina vs South Africa: My heart would love nothing more than an upset win for my beloved Bafana Bafana. But my head asks how will Aaron Mokoena handle Lionel Messi? How will Kagisho Dikgacoi stop Juan Sebastian Veron?

Holland vs Paraguay: The South Americans were supreme in their qualifying campaign but unfortunately the qualifiers actually count for nothing once you are on the biggest stage. The Dutch to triumph.

Brazil vs Chile: If nothing else this will be an entertaining match as South American teams play with flair and passion. The Chileans will do what they can to stop their more illustrious opponents but ultimately it will be in vain.

Italy vs Cameroon: On this day I plan to wear my Samuel Eto’o shirt. Sadly you can wear any shirt you like and sing hymns all day long but it will be to no avail. The Azurri will somehow cheat and pillage their way to victory.

Spain vs Ivory Coast: Would it not be wonderful if Kalou and Toure could win this one? It would be a fairy tale victory for sure. The problem is that this is real and not a Disney movie. Au revoir, Cote D’Ivoire.

From here we move on to the quarterfinals.

Holland vs Brazil: This will be a great match as both teams actually play football. A 3-2 result is hardly out of the question or even a 4-3. Whatever happens the team with the most goals will be Brazil.

France vs England: Raymond Domenech has experienced incredible luck as France manager. That luck will run out here. That said neither of these two sides deserve more than a quarterfinal berth and the good fortune of a quarterfinal meeting means one will be in the final four. I expect the English to win.

Argentina vs Germany: This will be an explosive encounter. The Argies have the better players. The Germans have a better history. In 2006 these two contested an epic quarterfinal in which the Germans won on penalties. This time it is Argentina’s turn.

Italy vs Spain: Corruption and conniving can only get you so far. If the European champions score first it is game over for the Italians. La Roja may score a second and even a third if I have my way. Spain win.

And now the semifinals:

England vs Brazil: Fabio Capello will be seen as a hero for taking England to their best world cup result since Sir Bobby Robson’s class of 1990. Can David James handle what the Selecao bombard him with? I doubt it. Ditto for Rio Ferdinand. The five-time world champions to overwhelm the Three Lions.

Argentina vs Spain: What a memorable encounter this could be. It really is one of those that could go either way. Spain could be without Torres. Veron, in the twilight of his career, would never have been this close to world cup glory. I expect the midfielder to orchestrate a win for Maradona’s men.

This sets up an all-South American final. What a wonderful way to wrap up Africa’s first world cup.

Brazil vs Argentina. They played in the final of the Copa America in 2007 and the five-time world champions hammered the Argies 3-0. In the world cup qualifiers there was more success for the Brazilians. Well in sport success is cyclical and with that in mind I am tipping Javier Mascherano to raise the world cup high on July 11th.

Feel free to argue.

Heal the world

Choose your team wisely – Music Exchange 2010

Guiding principles for successful musicians – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse

An artist in the South African music industry has plenty to contend with, such as: funding, venues, minimum support from media outlets, international counterparts taking centre stage. Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse addressed the delegates on day one, 22 March, of the 2010 Music Exchange conference discussing why SA musicians are not resilient enough in the industry and hardly ever gain recognition and the rewards for their efforts.

Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse

Exceptions to the rule

Two years down the line, new musicians start disappearing from the South African industry according to Mabuse. Exceptions to the generalisation, however, include Prime Circle and The Parlotones which, in absentia, received resounding applause for their efforts. So what makes the circumstances of these bands different to others who certainly encountered the same obstacles in climbing the success ladder?

Postive relationships

One of the obstacles Mabuse faced was when his band, Harari (formerly known as the Beaters), split and with his “youthful zest, passion and perseverance”, he made the choice of sticking it out and going solo. He was momentarily insecure, but managed to establish great relationships with those involved in his career and pulled through this tough patch. “It is the relationships we establish with others that determine whether the music lives longer,” says Mabuse. The moral of the story being to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and your capabilities – people who will stand by you through those rough times when your music career looks bleak. For this, Mabuse says, he is very “grateful to the people from Gallo”.

Burn Out in the bag

During the creation of Burn Out (1985), which he describes as being given to him by his ancestors, Mabuse says the idea arrived in his head and he started playing it on the piano, creating layer after layer. It took him an hour to write, after which he called Peter Gallo, describing Gallo as “the kind of recording executive you love to have”, and said to him: “It’s in the bag.”

Embrace self-management

Artists must trust their inner creativity, but it’s equally important to be self-reliant and independent and invest in oneself: “It is important that we create our own independence in the industry. You have to first self-manage; the talent you have is your own and you share it with others,” says Mabuse. Artists need to, in the beginning stages of their careers, go out there and book their own gigs, and realise that they are running their own business and not rely on promoters – they should embrace self-employment.

Tim Lester, a musician present at day one of the conference, asked how one gets past throwing in the towel when encountering challenges. Mabuse acknowledged that these things happen and determination and the way one handles challenges determines whether one survives or not, and that you can only rely on yourself.

Leadership principles

Mabuse, co-winner of the 2005 SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award, proposed three guiding principles for musicians to adhere to steadfastly: sacrifice, dedication and commitment. The three principles, he noted, freedom fighters for human rights used during their struggle.

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From BizCommunity

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