Being an industry disruptor is not as sexy as it sounds even if headlines everywhere infer otherwise. Forbes, The Guardian, Equities.com, and others talk about the disruption of industries from two points of view. From the disrupted: “Oh, s**t! We’re f***ed! What do we do?” From the disruptor: “Here we come. Watch out, World. Early investors who managed to hang on are so gonna wanna kiss our feet.” In all these instances, disrupted and disruptor are sexy because of having big bucks and making even bigger promises, teams of under-30-somethings roller blading from one fancy office to another as they read their quarterly stock option reports, and planned IPOs or looming layoffs making them beg for government bailout. (Note the cover to the left: I’m surprised the art director didn’t throw on a cowboy hat and snake skin cowboy boots and have him twirl a lasso the graphic designer would have made Continue reading Being an industry disruptor is not as sexy as it sounds.
Here’s a first-world perk for you. Snowball, Mouser, Princess, and Ginger. Brody, Big Boy, Darla Mae, and Clutch. And who can forget dearly departed Fluffy in the urn on the mantle next to her picture? Add a bottle of Fluffy Coke and, O. M. G. The possibilities increase exponentially. Just imagine the boost to the Coca-Cola Company’s bottom line. Why, they would not be able to keep up with demand if pet names were put on their bottles of Coke***. But it would go further. Overwhelming product demand would necessitate the company hire more in every department. Heck, I could see an entire department set up just for the roll-out of the new product line. So that would mean at least four of each at Corporate in Accounting and Order Processing. Then the local store marketing guys who build those awesome displays. Each area would have to employ at least two more of them Continue reading First-World Perk: Job Creation, Capitalist Style.
I’d been noticing an interesting situation that continued to happen, but said nothing to anyone about it. What’s the situation? Building fires but getting no heat. Here’s how that was working: Customers request I prepare a quote for doing Very Important Project A for them. They get excited about my solutions. Love my body of work. Then…nothing. Follow-up after follow-up (me to them, them to me) and they keep talking about the thing. Even making appointments to continue with it, but…cancelling. What was going on? Is it me? Have I lost my credibility? My mojo? Talent? Abilities? Inspiration? Did I get lazy? Forget what customer service is all about? Were they hiring others and just didn’t have the heart to tell me? What? Frustrated, I finally began confessing my sad tale to others I knew. I thought they could tell me what I was doing wrong. You know, give me much-needed Continue reading Building fires. Getting no heat.
Dear Newspaper Media Elite or, as you like to call yourself, Mainstream Media, The editorial pages were invented for a reason. That’s where opinion belongs. In other parts of the paper, give facts and let readers decide for themselves. There’s a reason you are losing readers and, by extension, money and ad revenue, and have been forced to artificially inflate distribution by giving away papers for little or nothing on the side of the road. You lost me in 1994 when inches-thick coupon sections became the main feature, and editorial content pushing a liberal agenda filled the rest along with socially conscious feel-good filler to round it out. In other words, nothing my brain could chew on. Nothing that made me think. But hey, I guess you’re like a gambling addict who borrows money from the loan shark and does the old Double Down Two-Step because you just feel in your bones that this Continue reading Doing the Double-Down Two Step with a loan shark’s money
Or, how to become a citizen journalist and live to tell. You may give a big shout out of thanks to Awesome Cousin Number One (ACNO), who said, “I know you will write about this” when she handed me an advertisement for camo his and hers wedding rings. Being the intrepid and ever-curious yet humorously serious citizen journalist it seems I’ve become, ACNO was absolutely correct in her statement and here I am writing about the subject. Of course, the first thing any intrepid and ever-curious yet humorously serious citizen journalist does when they begin to investigate is go to Google and type in a search phrase to confirm that what a source supplied can be independently verified. I will tell you that ACNO intel was true (see photographic proof below) — and then some. The then some comes from the fact that this intrepid and ever-curious yet humorously serious citizen journalist asked one of the important Continue reading It’s a Camo, Camo, Camo, Camo World!
What do car dealership groups and the music business in the South have in common? Know-it-all carpetbaggers, that’s what. There was a time when “Go west, young man” was the call to opportunity and everybody flocked to Cali. These days the call is heard around the world, “Go to Atlanta!” For quite some many years I was embedded with a small but fast-growing regional car dealership group here in Atlanta. As a vendor, I worked closely with the CEO, management teams, and the front-line employees at corporate and the dealerships. (What I’m going to tell you about this group was and is not unique to them so I will not mention their name.) The dealer group’s department managers and employees were a rather stable bunch. I could count on them being there from one visit to the next. Their emails never bounced. They returned calls. They worked together as a Continue reading A Lesson in Southern Business for Know-it-all Carpetbaggers
But when Intuition is ignored, therein lies the problem. Investors are ignoring Intuition. Read on. I had a Big Idea. I knew I would need Big Money to help roll out the Big Idea as a Solution for this Big Problem in the music business that was effecting everybody. As one does in these situations, one finds information. One talks to those Who Know How It’s Done. But almost from the beginning of those conversations, Intuition was screaming at me again. This time it said, “There’s something major wrong in Investor Land. Tread carefully.” Man, was Intuition right about the Investor Game. The first rule is this: If you don’t understand it, don’t do it. That is quickly followed by the second rule: When the experts cannot explain it so you can understand, then call you the idiot for not understanding, don’t listen to them…and run, run fast and hard. Still, I had Continue reading Oh, Intuition! Thank you.
Gun-toting terrorists and Politically Correct Doms and Dominatrices — both hereinafter referred to as Snowflakes — see incendiary headlines and badly researched articles generated by one of their own, the self-named Media Elite, and assume that what is there reflects the spine of most men and women of the United States and other free countries. That is, Snowflakes believe that when they speak of their feelings that those feelings matter more than the truth and logic we serve. They assume everyone who doesn’t agree with them will think they are brilliant and will roll over and do their bidding. They are wrong. We have feelings. We are not opposed to them. We enjoy them or hate them, in turn. But our feelings are not all-powerful. We know they are temporary and do not allow those feeling to guide us. In other words, feelings matter not when they: — ask truth to be ignored. — take away rights Continue reading Snowflakes of Terrorism
Standing at the top of the slide on the playground, I was contemplating how I could go down it. Should I sit on a piece of wax paper or will a sheet of foil allow me to go faster on the metal? This slide was very tall and steep, and if you levered your body just right, you could fly off the end of the slide and land in the dirt far away from the end. What if we could boost the output and get further in the dirt? Kids behind me were hollering for me to hurry up. I pulled out the wax paper, sat on it, and proceeded to go. With the heat, the wax melted, the paper stuck, and I had to clean it off. Everybody was soooo mad at me. But, foil was next and it was a smooth and fast ride. Next thing you know, everybody was bringing Continue reading Getting Up the Down Slide
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” From the first time I heard that saying, I hated it. It’s a truckload of bull crap. Look, the logic is circular. How can we learn if we cannot be around those smarter than ourselves while those who are smarter than us are being encouraged not to be in the room with those who know less than them? This saying is typical P.C. claptrap as it shuts out and shuts down the free flow of information and the challenge of assumptions. There are those who say, “Oh, no. This saying simply shows how humble these smart people are. Don’t you see they want to be around those with bigger brains than them because they acknowledge they don’t know everything?” Again, claptrap. First of all, how does anyone know they are the smartest in the room? Did everybody Continue reading Politically Correct Circular Logic
WANTED: Someone who has no clue what our company does, but can figure out problems, is willing to challenge the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking, and is able to more quickly identify and discard what doesn’t work so we can get to what does. If a job application read like that, would you apply? I would, but I bet most would not. Why? Because the clearly defined objectives above wouldn’t come with a handbook of do’s and don’ts. Even though no job exists in a vacuum, job applications treat them as if they do. They are more fond of saying they only want to hire someone with a proven record of doing whatever clearly but narrowly delineated job title it is they are hiring for. Those with the proven record often are viewed as experts able to quickly deploy their skill set with the same previous results; you know, hit Continue reading Old Laurels? Bad Advice?
The nascent days of the Internet were a heady time, full of ambitious types deploying Wild West antics such as claim jumping. Google was one of those claim jumpers. As a content creator (book author), I remember the day I heard Google was scanning entire books to make that content freely available to everyone. After all, knowledge is power, they said, and if we share it then won’t the world just be a better place? Whether they knew it or not, at that time Google was the foremost leader in gutting copyright protections, waging battle after battle to stake their claim to sharing content. They said, “It’s an old book. Why should the author care anyway?” However, they learned fast that what they were doing was wrong because content creators such as myself screamed and hollered about them taking away our ability to make money with our intellectual property. Google found out that the words on a page they Continue reading Dear YouTube, thank you for manning up on behalf of content creators
This video clip compilation from Flight of the Navigator shows how I feel about the CAN-SPAM act. Many do comply with all the rules and regs, which entire compliance has done nothing but seriously hamper our ability to find new business. But many do not comply. Supposedly it is against the law to put someone on an email list without their not signing up first. Okay, there’s ways around that with a friendly message that says you aren’t wanting to bug them and hey, see how easy it is to unsubscribe at any time, among other qualifying criteria. Of course, if you’ve done business with them already, then it’s perfectly fine to send since you are communicating with a customer. All that is understood. But here’s the reality and the frustration. Reality One: Companies who are offshore (though you might not know it) do not have to comply with U.S. law, often making make their unsubscribe buttons invisible. Reality Two: People we Continue reading Compliance! Well, excuuuuuse me…
SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI are not music publishers. Neither are any other performing rights organizations (PROs) anywhere else in the world. Historically, PROs are supposed to collect royalties from broadcasters (TV and radio) who use music to attract watchers and listeners. They collect money from stage plays that use music, along with a few other sub-categories like jingles. They pay these royalties to either the songwriter, the publisher, or to both, but not to the artists because publishers pay the artists. In other words, the PROs are service providers for publishers. Again, let me repeat: PROs ARE NOT PUBLISHERS. I hope you heard that screaming sentence above. Why am I screaming this? Let me tell you. It’s because I’ve had too many artists who are writing and performing their original songs ask me, “I know I have to get my songs registered with a publisher. Should I go with SESAC, ASCAP, or BMI as my publisher?” Continue reading Neither SESAC, ASCAP, or BMI are music publishers
This was originally posted on Linkedin, March 14, 2016. Being new to the technology startup world in 2013, I knew I would need funding to bring out my big idea in the big way needed to make a difference to those who bring the world such a huge amount of joy: The creatives called songwriters. I also knew to get that funding I was not willing to sell my soul, max out credit cards and leave those companies hanging, or jump off the stable foundation of my life. After all, I’ve read WSJ, Forbes, and Inc. for decades. I’ve seen all the if-only and woulda-coulda-shoulda stories and cautionary tales of woe about would-be captains of industry in a big, fat, screaming hurry. By the time I was needing funding, unicorns were all the rage, and if you hadn’t ripped your life apart, were able to show a massive user base, had a spreadsheet with projections going out Continue reading Anecdotal and Empirical Agree
The Gee-Whiz Factor has turned you and me into slaves working for social media whose sole job is to sell advertising space for other companies who want to sell us stuff. Let me tell you a story to illustrate what the Facebooks and the Twitters and the Pinterests and so forth are doing — and why it is we are paying (in man hours) through the nose for their free service while we become the new slave class. The actors in our little film are: People Magazine (not for any reason other than it is popular, so please don’t sue me Time, Inc.) Angela (simply because I won’t sue myself for pointing out my stupidity.) Sandwich Board Company (you may infer companies that sell online ad space through social media portals.) “Friend” of Angela’s (a generic person, you may infer gender and other details of choice.) The scene: Angela stands on a street corner in a busy little hamlet. Continue reading The Gee-Whiz Factor, or the Great Internet Tech Algorithm Conspiracy
These days labels want from artist(s)/bands the following things. One: Provable fan interaction based on live-show ticket, merch, and CD/Download sales documented through a third-party payment processor and industry reporting source. Two: Songs with a clear license (which means has not been placement with digital aggregators such as CD Baby, TuneCore, etc.) Three: A solid business structure (signed band agreements and more). Four: Consistent marketing. Therefore, these beg the questions — First, why do you need a label if you are already doing it all anyway? In other words, what do they bring to the table other than their hunger for your profits? Second, if your success is getting big and you need an investor (such as a label), when is it best to bring them on? Furthermore, how can they be held accountable for their end of the deal? I wrote this book for indie artists who are searching for Continue reading This begs the questions
With apologies to Kinky Friedman for changing his brilliant lyrics, but hey… Here’s the original song. On YouTube, of course. Here’s my changes to Kinky’s lyrics (imagine these are sung by the major labels): You uppity artists, we don’t understand Why you gotta go and try to act like you am the same as us labels, yer stirring up a stink so, occupy the basement, and don’t try to think. “Git those songs in the pipeline and splits in the shed,” That’s what we to you songwriters said, “Technology and such is a-going to yer head… “Git those songs in the pipeline and splits in the shed.” You got your teams out on the street Passing out flyers to everyone they meet. “Come hear these songs, you know he’s gonna vent!” And now the front of your house is a big old tent. It’s no use ‘cuz every single Continue reading Biscuits in the oven, buns in the bed
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” Mr. Spock, the Sage of the Ages In the first quarter of 2015 when I wrote this White Paper, I wore kid gloves when I introduced the topic of digital aggregators’ role in the music business. I had my reasons at the time for wearing those gloves. The gloves are now off and Angela is bearding the lion. Digital Aggregators have destroyed the very business upon which they depend to make a living. Yes, digital aggregators are the financial terrorists with a narrow agenda (I want! I want! I want!) who from on high take aim at their eager and unsuspecting customers below killing any hope these have of making a living with their music. These financial terrorists then all jump from the roof in an insane suicide pact. Digital aggregators have destroyed the music business by: One: Promising that which Continue reading Mr. Spock’s opinion about digital aggregators
Fiat, not the car: Definition Here Yes, the powers-that-be in the worldwide music business have been ruling like an imperial king on a throne who is confident in his minions’ abilities to protect him against all comers. “Do this!” he bellows his orders. “Don’t do that!” he wags his fingers with his dictums. “Can’t you read the sign?” he screams as he points to his commands hanging on the wall. “Holy Moley and Mother of Satan — ye shall be accursed if ye little peasant servant dare to question, step out of line, or begin to think for yourself,” his high priests intone in unison. And why does such roll down from his throne? Because he is protecting his business. But the peasants are ignoring the king. So the king sends out his agents to fool the masses with this instruction: “Promise them anything, just don’t let them think for themselves!” But Continue reading Music Biz Ruled by Fiat. DIY/Indies Rebelling!
This is a dark chipmunk-tunnel* subject I won’t go down now in detail. However, I’ve been saying it for over two years: I would gladly pay a reasonable monthly fee to be able to use the Facebooks and Twitters and Meetup.coms in ways that made sense for me without my efforts being punished, and without me having to chase the damn algorithm changes around in the dark. It seems Baratunde Thurston agrees with me. The link is to one of his columns in FastCompany. As anyone who has ever tried to sell something can tell you: The making of a thing is not the hard part. It’s the selling of it that can kill you. The best book. The best song. The best gadget. The best car. Bike. Toothbrush. Perfume. Blanket. Rug. Socks. Movie. It doesn’t matter what it is, if nobody ever finds out about it, then the only customer will be nobody. Click Here Continue reading Finding Eyes and Ears, or the rise of Social Media Titans’ new slave class
Michael Connelly was in town for an author tour for his newest book and, somehow or another, by the time Michael arrived at the restaurant, the only chair left to sit in was across from me. To my immediate left was Jedwin Smith, an internationally known author and prize-winning war correspondent I had only just met the previous year, but had become fast friends with. Two seats to his left was Linda Sands. By all measurable accounts, the luncheon was a success for Decatur, Georgia’s Eagle Eye Book Store owner, Doug Robinson, attendees, and Michael. Jedwin introduced me to Linda, and she and I exchanged emails with “keep in touch” flung to the other. That was in 2010 — and we have stayed in touch. In fact, while we don’t get to see each other very often (schedules are always an issue), we have helped each other through several projects. She hired Continue reading Linda Sands
Looks like popular media has finally caught up with what I’ve been knowing and talking about for several years. (Click HERE for the NY Times story about book publishing — ebook and print books.) You’ll see the music business tie-in at the end. Folks, print has never been dead.Yes, I was laughed at and called naive and, in more than one case, “stupid” as well as told “you better get on the bandwagon — or else!” But why the popular notion that print was dead? Simple: Flackery. You see, ebooks had a bunch of companies behind them with big marketing dollars whose sole purpose was to sell physical devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) as delivery systems. When they saw that sales of ebooks weren’t going anywhere (as in, not double- and triple-digit growth to satisfy stockholders), why they added bells and whistles and began selling reading services that could only Continue reading Books and music: Don’t believe the hype over delivery systems.
“Too many cooks spoil the dish.” Creatives instinctively know the truthfulness of this. Wisely, though lonely, they squirrel themselves away in order to focus on the vision. Sometimes the loneliness can be overwhelming and we cry out, “Where, oh where, is anybody who cares?” Personally? I love working within a team environment. It’s nice to have people with whom to celebrate the successful conclusion to a project. As a DIY/Indie creative, though, I find most of my work begins, continues, and ends alone. For my books and music — sure, of course — editors, musicians, singers, production, and so forth, come into play. But these are usually work for hire whose only interest in the project is to do a thing for this amount of money. In other words, they are not part of the project as a stakeholder. And nothing wrong with that. I do the same thing when I Continue reading Working Alone: A DIY/Indie Creative’s Lot in Life
Followers. Likes. Everybody is chasing them in the assumption that on these sales are based and strong businesses are grown. That is not the case. Gaining followers and racking up likes are simply one method to get eyes on you. To depend on Facebook and Twitter or Instagram or whatever social media platform du jour, is to put your success in the hands of another. Facebook is famous for constantly changing their algorithms that determine who they allow to see your posts and when. They also punish their users by letting their automated application of those algorithms determine real threats. A current case going to that point: I know a 70-year-old woman who posted pictures of her exciting trip. She described each picture in that album as Hell’s Canyon because that’s where she was. Facebook’s response was to shut her down, warning that she was issuing terrorist-type threats. Pictures of trees and rocks surely fit that description, right? Continue reading Chasing Algorithms
Hello. Welcome to the Business of Being a Creative, or BBC for short. Today I will be your tour guide. Essentially, BBC is a canyon. A giant, deep ditch with a raging, muddy river running through it. On one side of the ditch is you, where you stand now. If you will take a look that way — see how helpfully I point? — what you want is on the other side. Now, there are two ways of getting there. Flying is one. See the bird? But you don’t have feathers and the helicopters only look like they are safe, so…flying is out. But, ladies and gentlemen, the BBC isn’t all about the destination, is it? Isn’t the BBC about the journey? See those people riding mules? Mules are slow, but steady. You bones will ache, your muscles will scream. You won’t look glamorous. But taking that mule ride will make your destination all Continue reading Hi, I’ll be your tour guide today.