Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Happy Wednesday! I’ve been hearing Bob Dylan’s music since I was in my mom’s womb — my parents loved his provocative lyrics and croaky voice. So when Dylan sold his songs this week, it set me thinking: What on earth’s going on with the music industry? A lot, it turns out. Dive deep today into why labels and singers are racing to mint money before January; meet Brazil’s most dangerous woman and Indonesia’s latest pinup sports star; and try a West African courting ritual with a twist. Start with OZY’s Hump Day playlist.
The Food and Drug Administration’s initial review has found Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective, ahead of possible emergency authorization this week. And since 2020 refuses to follow any script, it turns out the second British citizen to receive the vaccine yesterday was an 81-year-old called William Shakespeare. Meanwhile, Mexico plans to launch inoculations this month. (Sources: USA Today, CBS, ABC)
2. Last Shot
It could be the Trump administration’s parting gift — but Democrats have called the GOP’s $916 billion stimulus proposal unacceptable as it would cut unemployment benefits in exchange for a one-time $600 check. Across the Pacific Ocean, Japan announced a $708 billion stimulus package. Should Democrats accept the White House stimulus proposal? Vote on Twitter.(Sources: Business Insider, Reuters)
3. Courting Crisis
The Supreme Court has rejected a Republican plea to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results. Over in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Félix Tshisekedi is also gambling on his political future as he tries to free his government of the influence of former President Joseph Kabila by breaking their ruling coalition. (Sources: NPR, DW)
4. Dash to the Door
To get in, that is. Investors are racing to bet on food delivery firm DoorDash, which launches its IPO today. And in China, JD Health, a pharma spinoff of the country’s second-largest online retailer JD.com, is showing that health is indeed wealth. Its stocks jumped 34 percent on its Hong Kong IPO launch yesterday. (Sources: FT, BBC)
He helped overthrow the Central African Republic’s previous president. Now Darassa’s rebel group is locked in a bloody battle with other militias for control of the Texas-sized nation. Yet his influence is such that the country’s current president flies him on charter planes and fires ministers whom Darassa doesn’t like. Read more on OZY.
His hairline is thin, his skin thick. The Sri Lankan politician has been convicted of murder after he opened fire at an opposition campaign event, and yet was sworn in as a member of parliament in September. At a time when Sri Lanka’s president has pardoned a military officer convicted of killing eight Tamil civilians, Jayasekara’s record is probably a highlight on his CV.
What about shady economic dealings? Which two current heads of state were implicated in the Panama Papers of stashing away secret offshore wealth? Tell us.
Unlike Dylan, most artists don’t own the original records of their songs. Their labels do. And those labels are increasingly selling those without consulting creatives. Case in point: Taylor Swift, who has been battling Scooter Braun, a music manager who bought her catalog last year and then sold it for $300 million this year to a private equity firm.
2. Forced to Sell
But there’s more to this upheaval. David Crosby, another Dylan-like legend, has just revealed that he’s also selling his catalog, driven to that decision by the fact that streaming — not touring — increasingly appears to be the future of music consumption.
Music labels are also racing to raise money from the stock market. Warner Music Group’s June IPO earned it a valuation of nearly $15 billion. South Korean label Big Hit’s dramatic IPO in October took its value to $7.6 billion and earned superhit boy band BTS — managed by Big Hit — $108 million in a day. Universal Music Group could go public in 2022.
Yesterday was John Lennon’s 40th death anniversary. Listen to season one of OZY’s chart-topping podcast The Thread, and learn about the jaw-dropping link between Lennon’s murder and Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
This bill-ionaire needs no introduction. Bill Gates talks to Carlos about the pandemic, the future of public health, his take on Black Lives Matter and the most innovative tech companies today. Want to know which celebrity is the most interesting person he’s met? Tune in today.
Of course we mean Cariuma, the crazy-comfy stylish sneakers that sell out in a flash. But specially for our readers, Cariuma’s IBI shoes are available again in their awaited fall colors (navy, stone black, stone grey, and mineral blue).
Make this the Cariuma conversation that gets you in a pair of IBIs, because if history tells us anything, their 16k person waitlist will be back.
Like California and Australia, Indonesia suffers from devastating forest fires annually. But a peatland restoration program, steep fines for those responsible for fires, a deforestation moratorium and more resources for firefighters have together helped the country dramatically cut down its hotspots. Read more on OZY.
2. Shuttle Star
An Asian Games badminton gold medal should have been enough of an introduction. But Jonatan Christie announced his arrival by ripping off his shirt to celebrate that 2018 win, instantly emerging as a pinup boy in a conservative country. In that 23-year-old chiselled body lies serious talent though — and Christie is now a leading contender for the Olympic gold medal whenever the Tokyo Games will be held.
3. Hidden Getaway
Leave Bali to the tourist crowd. When you finally travel again, be sure to hop across to the tiny island of Gili Air. There are no cars or motorbikes. And with pristine white sand beaches, fresh pineapple juice and tempeh curry on offer, who needs to move around? Read more on OZY.
How’s your dating game? Ready to try these bold rituals?
The annual Gerewolfertility festival of the Wodaabe community culminates in a fiercely contested beauty pageant in Niger and Chad. And it’s the men who dress to impress female judges who get to sleep with the winners they pick — even if either or both of them are married.
2. Dirty Dancing
This one’s more subtle. Marinera, Peru’s national dance,is a courting ritual, where the woman, wearing a long dress, and the man, spotless white clothes and a hat, dance while waving handkerchiefs. The man’s often on a horse and the couple stay tantalizingly out of reach of each other.
3. Get a Room
The Kreung Tribe in Cambodia instils female sexual empowerment — and male respect for women — early. They build separate huts for their girls once they reach puberty. They can invite boys there, experiment sexually or just chat. The girls are in charge and the boys must behave.