The Startup Guide to Hollywood

Photo by Milo Baumgartner

Photo by Milo Baumgartner

I wrote a guest post on startups working with the entertainment industry for the 500 Startups Blog. The piece has now been shared hundreds of times, featured in newsletters such as MediaREDEF, Mattermark, and StartupDigest, and voted up to the front page on GrowthHackers and Inbound.org. 

YOU CAN READ “THE STARTUP GUIDE TO HOLLYWOOD” HERE.

Thanks to Emily Parris Sandler, Andrew Skotzko, Sam Teller, Patrick Vlaskovits, Joey Flores, Casey Armstrong, Steve Manuel, Rob Ellis, Susan Su, Keyvan Peymani, Matthew Joseph, Kelley McKinney, Nate Redmond, Adam Lilling, and Eric Galen for reading drafts of the piece. Very much appreciated!

Playing the Saxophone – Time to Get Over My BS

Damn, I’ve been really nervous about posting this.

I can publish articles all day. I don’t consider myself a writer. But I find it effing terrifying to post a YouTube video of me playing my horn. Because at one time, I thought I was a “real” musician. Whatever that means.

I spend more time helping musicians these days (which is awesome!), than actually playing. It’s been years since I was able to get in enough practice hours or jam with friends regularly. Now I’m remembering the old days.

But playing the sax is still so fun. Probably moreso than ever.

I was with my buddy Andrew Skotzko a couple years ago, talking about playing the sax. He egged me on to start posting covers to a YouTube channel. I was too chicken then, but it’s about time I got over my BS.

So, to try to knock off some rust, here are my first two posts to YouTube — one’s a Joshua Redman transcription of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and the other’s from the Chromatik Tune of the Day Collection, “Magic” by Coldplay.

I’ll continue posting tunes here via YouTube. Nothing crazy, but hopefully it’ll help keeping me going!

Hope you dig ‘em.

A Driving Range for Skipping Stones and 35 Other Product Ideas for the Taking

Skipping Stones

“What do you think about building a driving range for skipping stones in LA?”

A text I sent to my brothers, Jason and Eric, a few months ago.

James Altucher cranks out posts, talks, and books about “How to Become an Idea Machine.” I love the concept. Being creative requires you to come up with lots and lots of ideas. Many will stink. A few will be great.

So I started putting James’ concept into practice. Every morning, I pick a topic to develop 10 ideas for in under 20 minutes. Sounds silly, but it’s an exercise to get my mind a’moving. I come up with ideas for albums, Chromatik marketing campaigns, products, blog posts, books, movies, and more. It makes my brain sweat.

Ideas are the easy part. Execution is where things get much more difficult.

I put together a few of my favorite product concepts from the last weeks below. My goal here was idea exercise, not company building. Some of the ideas stink. A few have potential. Feel free to grab any of these as your own. Or laugh at them. Whatever you’d like.

1. Nest for Sprinkler Systems

California and many areas around the world experience regular water shortages. Similar to Nest’s energy conservation goals, homeowners would be more conscious about water usage if they saw data around water usage for their lawn or shower. Not to mention, my sprinkler system is a nightmare. Would love to see an elegant solution here. (Influenced by Greg Brandeau)

2. Handyman Lessons

I didn’t ever learn how to build or fix things around my house. Growing up, I was more interested in music, sports, and girls. But I’d love to take handyman lessons now, similar to what you see with music lessons. $40-60/hour to come to my house and spend an hour teaching me how to repair things, build something, use power tools, etc. There’s only so much I can learn from YouTube.

3. Pandora for Alcohol

Like that beer? Cool, here are three others to try. Like that Speyside scotch? Great, here are five others you’d like in a $25-50 price range. The Alcohol Genome Project. I hate depending on the folks at Total Wine or online reviewers.

4. Driving Range for Skipping Stones

A place to skip rocks would be incredible in major cities. Relaxing, peaceful, and lush. $5 for a small bag of perfect skipping stones. Concession stand. Perhaps a yoga studio. Please, someone make this happen.

5. Music Publishing Transparency

Music publishing is a black box. Want to license a track for TV or film? Want to pay out royalties from an online music radio program? Good luck. Publishing catalog ownership data is a nightmare. It’s wildly difficult to access, and it changes regularly. A few companies — MRI, Harry Fox, MediaNet, CrunchDigital — track and hold this information tightly to their chest (for sometimes north of $10k/month). Or you can try to track down rights yourself by calling major music publishers (it’s as fun as it sounds!). Someone will break down these walls.

6. Disconnect Software

There are some interesting products out there already for desktop (SelfControl being my choice), but nothing that crosses desktop and mobile. We need one disconnect app to rule them all.

7. Investments in Individuals

Most venture capitalists say they invest in people. But they actually invest in companies, where the people are replaceable.

Well, a different approach would be investing in a person. Literally. We’re already seeing public investment in athletes (see Fantex), and it’s only a matter of time before the model expands to movie stars, musicians, entrepreneurs, financial experts, and more.

8. Caffeinated Water Filter

Not sure this is possible, but imagine getting your morning pick-me-up from a glass of water.

9. QA as a Service

Anyone developing software hires testers. Some are great, some stink. It takes certain technical/communication skills and diligence to be a great tester. What if you could hire a firm to be that “fresh set of eyes” to provide full-cycle testing? Could work on nightly builds, bi-weekly releases, or one-off major pushes.

10. AlwaysOn Microphone

Imagine a FitBit-like device that was an HD microphone, always recording. At any moment, you could tap the device, send the last 60 seconds of audio to an app on your phone to save, edit, or share to social. Perhaps some invasion of privacy issues. Perhaps some creepiness. But it would be incredible for songwriters, authors, people with long commutes, entrepreneurs, people in fights, and more. Could you imagine Kanye with this? It’d be huge.

11. Uber for IT Support

The next generation Geek Squad. You could even roll up in a VW Beetle, if you’d like.

12. Food Sensitivity Brand

Gluten is today’s hot topic, but more and more people are learning about food sensitivities. It’s becoming mainstream. There’s still an opportunity for a person/brand to take the helm in this space. YouTube Channel. Blog. Recipes. Book. Food Network show. And more. (Influenced by Patrick Vlaskovits, Eric Sandler, and Lisa Sandler)

13. Personalized Job Search Service

There are just too many places to look for jobs. Job boards, individual company websites, and more. Pay a monthly fee for personalized, aggregated job listings. Upsell for resume writing/review, interview practice, and more.

14. Smart Toilet

Go to the restroom, and the toilet analyzes your urine/fecal matter. This can be for simple data gathering. Or could be a first-detection system that identifies potential issues. If possible, this could actually be a game-changer. (Influenced by James Altucher or Tim Ferriss, I forget)

15. Deli Delivery Service

You can get anything you need from the grocery store delivered nowadays. Except for deli counter items. The logistics of this business are key, but people would love to have turkey, cheese, ham, or chicken salad delivered to their door regularly.

16. Tru-Fit Tshirt

It seems like everyone has issues finding tshirts they love. Different brands, different sizes, different cuts, different materials. It’d be great to get to try a selection of tshirts, delivered by mail. And once I select my brand of choice, I’d get 10-20 tshirts in a range of colors, prints, etc.

17. Woodwind Reeds Subscription Service

Niche, but woodwind musicians need reeds regularly. We always forget to buy more, and when we do, they’re expensive. Just send me a pack of my reeds of choice, monthly. I’ll pre-order for a year.

18. Mailer

Have all mail sent to a PO Box. The company securely picks up all physical mail, scans in each item, and sends you all mail via email. Anything that needs to be physically passed along (think checks, bank cards) does so automagically.

19. Daily Video Newsletter

Folks get dozens of daily newsletters. Some are great, and others they’ve just forgotten to unsubscribe to. None feature the best videos of the day, sent to your inbox based on interests. News, sports, comedy, etc. Would be great. Calling Pluto.tv!

20. Columbia House for LPs

Nobody buys CDs anymore. But cool kids with record players still buy LPs. Would love the mail-order record club offering now.

21. Passover Food Line

2013 US matzo sales were $86mm alone. Just saying.

22. The Holodeck

Oculus Rift is just the first step. Someone’s going to crack to code to build a Stark Trek-like holodeck. We want.

23. Audio for Articles

Audiobooks are a $1.2B business. Podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity. This would be a B2B business — work with a content company (The Economist, Rolling Stone, etc), identify top content per week, contract engaging vocal talent, produce the podcast, and distribute/track accordingly. The end result would be “The Economist Podcast,” which features audio readings of the previous week’s top articles.

24. #Cover

Check out #6secondcover on Vine or #15secondcover on Instagram. Wildly entertaining, with some fantastic talents. Something to do here.

25. Hello Music for Sports Gear

Daily deals for sports gear.

26. Musicians’ Music Podcast

I love Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, The Nerdist, and more. They do incredible interviews with comedians and entertainers. But there doesn’t seem to be a podcast that hosts major music acts with any regularity. A podcast would be an incredible format to chat with musicians about the recording process, how they make music, and more. This could end up being Nerdist for music. (Influenced by Corey Richardson)

27. Reliable Wireless Internet for Airplanes

For eff’s sake, I’m tired of paying $25 for 3 hours of airplane internet access that’s worse than my 1999 AOL dial-up connection. Someone please fix this.

28. IMDB for Music

Pretty straightforward model. It would be a data gathering nightmare (tracking session musicians, band members, etc), but would be an incredible resource to the music community.

29. Connected Black Box

There could be a way to securely sync an airplane’s black box data to the cloud. It would require a hardware and software solution, sold directly to airlines and/or airline manufacturers. There are incredible complexities here, without a doubt, but this could prevent worst-case scenarios.

30. App Marketing Consulting

There are hundreds of thousands of app developers, producing millions of apps across iOS and Android. Mobile distribution is a very different beast than web or desktop software. There seems to be a niche for an app distribution consultancy that mixes marketing, growth hacking, and PR for apps. Similar to 500 Startups’ Distribution Team, but for any app developer.

31. On-Demand Mental Health Assistance

Digital mental health practice, connecting patients with US licensed therapists and/or psychologists via video. Available via web or your mobile device.

32. Safe Religious Community

There should be a safe place online where people can ask religious questions. A respectful community, where you can feel free to ask questions and have faith-based conversations with community members and experts alike.

33. SMB Insurance

Make buying business insurance not suck for SMBs. Please.

34. Creator Analytics

Go ask anyone under 18, they’re not using Facebook or Twitter. It’s Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and others. While creators continue to build out distribution on those channels, it’s still early days for multi-channel business intelligence.

35. Coin for Loyalty Cards

The tech industry went gaga for Coin last year. Cool, sure. But I’d much rather hang on to my credit cards, and have a Coin for all my loyalty cards (Costco, Ralphs, etc). Those take up much more space, and I wouldn’t really have any security concerns.

36. Noise-Cancelling Perimeter

Make a silence bubble around me, without having to put on noise-cancelling headphones. It would be a modern miracle for anyone working in an office, coffee shop, or even library. (Influenced by Andrew Skotzko)

The Basics of Sales vs. Business Development

Sales and Business Development

Too many folks use the terms “sales” and “business development” interchangeably. BD and sales are different beasts, so I thought it would be helpful to lay out the basics…

SALES

Convincing a potential customer to purchase your product.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Creating long-term value for your company via partners and relationships.

SALES

Focused on customers.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Focused on channels.

SALES

Numbers-driven 24/7.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Sacrifices short-term bumps for long-term value creation.

SALES

Measured by sales quotas, with expected quarter-by-quarter growth.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Measured by business objectives, whether that be distribution, marketing, or otherwise.

SALES

A scalable business function to drive revenue.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Regularly testing non-scalable things to drive exponential growth.

SALES

Cold calls are the lifeblood of success.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Cold calling means you’re not connected enough.

SALES

Measure, measure, measure. How many calls can you do in a day? What’s your sales conversion rate? What communication method converts best to a sale? How do we drive customer acquisition prices lower?

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Calculate value constantly. Where can we get our biggest bang-for-buck in a partnership? What value do we create for our partner? What value does the partner bring to us?

SALES

Make a sale, hand it off to customer onboarding and support.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Manage a partnership through its lifecycle.

SALES

Sales team training, onboarding, and growth is expected with company growth.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

BD teams are amorphous and rarely look the same from business-to-business.

SALES

Always be closing.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Always be hustling.

SALES

The best salespeople come from the school of hard knocks, rigorous on-the-job sales training, can think big picture, and have exceptional strategic quantitative skills.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

The best business development people are well-connected, know how to navigate partner organizations, can craft a story, and have an exceptional eye for value potential.

SALES

A dirty word in Silicon Valley.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

A catch-all title for every MBA grad coming to a startup.

SALES

Glengarry Glenn Ross. The Wolf of Wall Street. Tommy Boy. Mad Men.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Moneyball. Jerry Maguire. Entourage. Risky Business.

Sure, there are plenty of similarities. But sales and business development fundamentally aim for different goals. They take different people and approaches. Get it right, or pay the price.

Creatives No.5 – The Superstar Effect

Creatives is a weekly newsletter covering the best in music, art, and entertainment. Delivered to your inbox, weekly. SUBSCRIBE HERE.

This week, I’m adding a Featured Artists section to call out breaking musicians, filmmakers, and more that you should check out. Let me know if you dig it.

Would love to hear what you think in the comments below!

My Posts
streaming

Spotify vs. Beats – Making Sense of The Echo Nest and Topspin Acquisitions

Examining recent moves by Spotify and Beats Music to own the streaming music space. Om Malik called it one of “10 Must-Read Stories.”

Artists of the Week
mark kroos

Mark Kroos – Playing Dueling Banjos by Himself

Mark Kroos won Guitar Player Magazine’s International Guitar Superstar Competition in 2011, and has been touring the US and Canada ever since. In the class of Andy McKee and Jon Butler - young artists making the guitar/banjo do unimaginably beautiful things.

Tatia Pilieva – First Kiss

Gorgeous piece of filmmaking where 20 strangers pair off to share first kisses. Lots of controversy surrounding the video though – Are they models? Yes. Will it be used for an advertisement? Probably. Doesn’t change the impact of Tatia’s work for me, at least.

Creatives Posts
lucian grainge

1. From CEOs to Opera Singers – How to Harness the “Superstar Effect” (Tim Ferriss)

Cal Newport and Tim Ferriss explain why it’s not enough to be better, you need to be different. Being the best is only part of the success story.

2. Can This Man Save the Music Business? (Los Angeles Times)

“Even though many may have written off the recording industry as a casualty of the digital age, Universal Music Group’s Lucian Grainge is determined to reinvent it.”

3. Business Rules (The Lefsetz Letter)

Great business rules to live by, across any industry.

4. Pono Music – Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music (Kickstarter)

Neil Young and team made a promise to deliver the best possible listening experience for your digital music. They’ve built an HD audio player and are making high-resolution digital albums available for purchase from $14.99-$24.99.

Think it’s bogus or too niche? They’ve already raised $4mm on Kickstarter and have 29 days to go. Worth checking out.

5. The Future of the News Business (Marc Andreessen)

Marc Andreessen, one of the godfathers of the Internet, explains where he believes the news business is headed.

Spotify vs. Beats – Making Sense of The Echo Nest and Topspin Acquisitions

streaming

Two acquisitions in one week by the major players in music streaming. Beats v. Spotify. And interestingly, they characterize the different strategies each company is taking.

“Beats Music Acquires Topspin.”

“Spotify Acquires The Echo Nest.”

Beats is your artist-friendly, human-curated music service. Super Bowl ads with Ellen. Artist endorsements. AT&T family pricing.

Spotify is your all-encompassing music platform, with great recommendations and social connectivity. Biggest catalog. Free options. Current market leader.

The paths make sense.

Beats has a competitive advantage with artists. It was a gaping void in the market left by Spotify, Rdio, and others.

Spotify was first-to-market and is scaling towards their IPO and beyond.

Similarly, the acquisitions make sense.

Beats acquired direct-to-fan platform Topspin to increase their offerings to artists. They’re aiming to be the artist-friendly music streaming service. The hope is that as more artists love Beats, more music listeners will follow.

Spotify is trying to scale. They have free options for music consumers, they’re available across any device, and they have the most robust catalog. The Echo Nest developed best-of-class music intelligence APIs, used for curation to drive music discovery. If Spotify can make a huge leap forward in music curation/discovery and broaden its’ developer community tools, it’s a game-changer.

But don’t be naive. Both acquisitions were a shot across the bow.

Spotify integrated Topspin’s ArtistLink less than a year ago. Now that Beats owns Topspin, will that continue?

The Echo Nest powered Rdio, iHeartRadio, XBOX Music, VEVO, and more. Do you think Spotify will allow direct competitors full access to APIs that they spent $100mm+ on?

Who knows? But things are heating up.

Spotify. Beats. Pandora. Rdio. Songza. Deezer. Grooveshark. Slacker. Earbits. Plug.dj. The list goes on and on.

Is this a winner-take-all market? Or is there room for more than one?

Acquisitions. Consolidation. Mobile carriers. And more. Coming soon to a music streaming service near you.

Creatives No. 4 – The Real Story

Creatives is a weekly newsletter covering the best in music, art, and entertainment. Delivered to your inbox, weekly.

If you dig it, please consider signing up and sharing the newsletter with your friends on Twitter (click to share) or Facebook (click to share).

Would love to hear what you think in the comments below!

My Posts
Tebow Music

What Tim Tebow Taught Me About Playing Music

We’re all working towards goals. But what happens when things go wrong? What happens when you zig instead of zag? Perhaps surprisingly, I think there’s a lot to learn from Tim Tebow.

Hypebot: 8 Steps to A Million YouTube Channel Views

My guest post for Hypebot last week. Hopefully the first of many.

Creatives Posts
blind_and_def_tape

1. The Legend of the Blind MC (Ben Horowitz)

I’m admittedly a Ben Horowitz fanboy. He’s a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, successful entrepreneur, rap enthusiast, and genuinely good dude (from the very few interactions I’ve had with him).

Ben typically writes about the real stories behind building companies. the good, the bad, and the ugly. But this post is a little different. He shares an incredible story about the power of music.

2. Zoe Keating Shares Digital Music Revenue Report (Hypebot)

3. How I’m Marketing My Self-Published Book (Charlie Hoehn)

4. Book Launch Breakdown: Play It Away’s First Month of Sales (Charlie Hoehn)

Few creatives ever reveal real numbers that drive their career. We all talk in generalities about revenue, strategies, and benchmarks. That’s why I really dug these posts from Zoe and Charlie.

Zoe is an indie musician, popular for her work mixing cello and electronic music. Charlie is a writer and marketing strategist for best-selling authors such as Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, Tucker Max, and Seth Godin. And they both released fantastic posts on how they’re building their business.

If you’re not a writer, still read Charlie’s posts. If you’re not a musician, still look through Zoe’s breakdown. There’s gold for creatives of any kind.

Three common themes emerged from reading these posts:

- As an independent creative, you need to make your own opportunities. You cannot wait for others to come to you with dollars. Usually that means diversifying your distribution and revenue paths until you find what really works.

- Free is an option, but understand what free gets you. Is it an email address? Promotion? Social cred?

- When looking at distribution, broad social paths are usually too busy to make a difference to your bottom line. Look for smaller, engaged communities – blogs, email lists, etc – they’ll pay bigger dividends.

5. 48 Hours Offline (Hong Quan)

“Family first” is a great motto, but sometimes we forget to live it.

6. Spotify’s Artist-In-Residence Explains His Vision (Digital Music News)

The man, the myth, the legend DA Wallach talks about artist perception and longer-term vision of Spotify. This piece provides additional context to Zoe Keating’s figures above and more.

7. How I Get Ideas (Steven Pressfield)

Ideas are the first step. But don’t fool yourself – it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.

8. Jam of the Week (Facebook)

Jam of the week is a budding Facebook community for musicians. Great examples of simple, weekly videos made by musicians like you. Similarly, Chromatik is pretty cool too.

9. Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel, and The Roots Sing “Let It Go” with Classroom Instruments (YouTube)

I’m a sucker for any video that Jimmy Fallon and The Roots put out with classroom instruments. Especially when it features Adele Dazeem singing “Let It Go.”

What Tim Tebow Taught Me About Playing Music

Tebow Music

I should not be thinking about Tim Tebow anymore. We are a couple years removed from Tebowmania, his late game heroics, and that ridiculous Tebow touchdown stance.

He joined the New York Jets last year and got cut. Then the New England Patriots. Cut again.

Heck, I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. I should be worrying about Tony Romo this offseason.

But when I saw Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl commercial last month, it reminded me why he is still part of the conversation today — he smiles through the struggle.

Seriously. Think about it. Though winning a few games with the Denver Broncos, he has all but failed as a starting NFL quarterback. No team will sign him. But he is still working hard, struggling, and smiling for the cameras.

I’m sure Tim Tebow would love to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Maybe he will be some day, who knows?

But his journey highlights important lessons that any musician or creative can relate to.

BIG FISH, SMALL POND

Tim Tebow was a high school football star. He led Florida to two NCAA national championships and won college football’s biggest award, the Heisman Trophy. And though scouts questioned his ability to play at the highest levels, the Denver Broncos selected Tebow in the first round of the NFL draft.

Big fish, small pond.

I can relate. Growing up, I was the best saxophone player around. I won national awards, got all the solos in jazz band, and gigged around LA. I then went to UCLA on a saxophone scholarship, thinking that I was going to be a professional musician.

Big fish, small pond.

You may already know Tim’s story. He won the starting gig with the Denver Broncos. Struggled. Squeaked out a few fourth quarter wins and limped into the playoffs. Pulled of a miraculous win in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Crumbled against the Patriots in the next game. Soon thereafter, the Broncos cut Tebow. And he hasn’t started an NFL game since. He is currently unsigned.

My story is less exciting. I was fortunate enough to go on the road with some incredible musicians, playing the US’ biggest venues. But I rarely got the solos or accolades. I got a taste of being a gigging musician, fighting for work, and struggling to make money. It became much less sexy. I didn’t love the life. So I left and found another path.

Being a big fish in a small pond can feed you false signals. Awards, beating local competition, and praise make you feel great. Sure. But you need to put it in perspective.

There is always someone bigger, better, stronger, faster, better-looking, or more skilled than you.

Entertainment has never been more accessible. Everything is global.

If you want to perform professionally, you have to figure out how you stack up against the best. How do you stand out? What unique skills can you acquire? What competitive advantages do you have? How are you going to develop an audience?

TRUE FANS MATTER

People love Tim Tebow. I mean, really love him. He developed a sports following only rivaled recently by Jeremy Lin. His fans idolize him on and off the field.

If he hadn’t cultivated that audience, would we still be talking about him? I’m honestly not sure. Some folks say that his fans are a liability. Some say that his fans are the reason a team should sign him (i.e. Jacksonville, to fill those empty seats!).

The reality is, he has not proven himself a reliable NFL starting quarterback. But his fans support him tirelessly. Perhaps there is a religious undertone, yes. But more than that, he spent years building his fan base. Meeting them off the field. Doing charity work. Speaking engagements. Interacting on social media. Shaking hands and kissing babies.

Tebow Baby

Apply this to music. Do you have 10 people Tebow-excited about your music? 100? 1,000?

Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1,000 true fans rings true across any entertainment medium. If you have a following, you can make a business. If you have a following, you will get opportunities. If you have a following, they will support your through the good times and bad.

COMFORT WITH NO

After being cut by the Denver Broncos, Tebow and his agent had conversations with nearly every NFL team.

He was comfortable with getting NOs from almost everyone, so that he could find at least one YES.

Willingness to get 30 NOs for every YES is daunting. But that willingness also landed him a gig with the New York Jets.

Did you call thirty venues to land a showcase spot? What about thirty music schools for a teaching position? Thirty managers? Thirty agents? Thirty lawyers? Thirty investors?

Truth is, most people do not put themselves in the position to get a YES. It takes persistence and a willingness to hear many NOs.

“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.” Chris Dixon

HUMILITY

Moral of the story, don’t take yourself too seriously.

PERSONAL OVER PROFESSIONAL

I purposefully neglected religion thus far.

The truth is though, Tim Tebow is deeply religious. He talks about it regularly. But more interesting to me, he seems to have his priorities in order.

He balances personal with professional obligations. He seems to keep himself grounded, amidst 24/7 news coverage and more publicity than anyone could ask for. People close to him heap kudos on his character, integrity, and outlook.

I have made a lot of mistakes professionally and personally. I am still learning and growing. But when things get difficult, I lean on my family and friends for support. Nothing is more important to me.

For some people it’s family. For others it’s faith. It doesn’t matter what it is. You need something.

As demonstrated by Tebow and others, you cannot build self-worth solely on your career. Professional stumbles should not crumble your self-worth.

There’s more to life than your job. There’s more to life than music. There’s more to life than being creative. Everything in balance.

Tim Tebow obviously isn’t struggling for money, exposure, or opportunities. I know. The guy has millions of dollars and fans that could fill stadiums.

But he is unemployed. He is still struggling to make it back to the peak of his profession.

And Tebow’s struggle has been very public. Maybe it will have a happy ending. Maybe it won’t. But I do know that it has taught many of us lessons about “the journey.”

Folks always talk about achieving your goals. But goals are lofty. It may take thirty years. Or change along the way. Or never even happen.

Are you supposed to just put your head down for thirty years, hoping that one day you’ll achieve your goal and supreme happiness?

No. That’s ridiculous.

Smile through the struggle. Enjoy the journey.

Creatives No. 3 – Art or Business?

Creatives is a weekly newsletter covering the best in music, art, and entertainment. Delivered to your inbox, weekly.

If you dig it, please consider signing up and sharing the newsletter with your friends on Twitter (click to share) or Facebook (click to share).

Would love to hear what you think in the comments below!

1. Art, Not Business (The Lefsetz Letter)

Art and business are conflicting concepts. And at times, it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Read this piece by music industry analyst Bob Lefstez a few times. It’s worth it, I promise.

2. Warner Music’s Shazam Deal: What It Means for Music (Billboard Biz)

3. Lyor Cohen’s 300 To Use Big Data as A&R Early Alert System with Twitter Deal (Hypebot)

What happened to artist development and A&R? Can social media and big data now predict hitmakers? Doubtful. But it can tell you who has a potential platform for distribution.

Major entertainment companies — record labels, book publishers, movie studios — do not invest in artist development anymore. They do not have to. Gatekeepers look for creatives with an existing audience and platform.

In years past, these same gatekeepers prided themselves on finding and developing talent early. But with social media and direct-to-fan platforms at our fingertips, gatekeepers now expect artists to do the work themselves before signing. They are not in the business of artistic risk, they are in the business of financing artistic expansion and distribution.

Success on Twitter and Shazam are simply early indicators of an artist’s platform. Every competent entertainment company now has weekly social media recaps, both for their properties and potential signings. Lyor Cohen and Warner Music are now institutionalizing and marketing that process.

4. The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People (Zen Habits)

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude.” Rollo May

5. What’s It Like to Earn a Living Through Poker? (Salon)

Michael Shinzaki takes us through his life as a professional poker player. The roller coaster of success/failure will resonate with any artist or entrepreneur. And after reading this, I realized that I likely played poker with Michael in college.

6. Publishing 3.0 (The Altucher Confidential)

James Altucher outlines his newly-developed thesis to writing, marketing, and distributing books today. He includes benchmark figures, names, and strategies helpful to any author.

7. Life is a game. This is your strategy guide. (Oliver Emberton)

Real life is the game that – literally – everyone is playing. But it can be tough. So Oliver Emberton gives you a guide, from the perspective of playing a strategy game. Big thanks to Andrew for sending me to Oliver’s blog.

8. Why Actors Act Out (New York Times)

James Franco on Shai LaBeouf and a public professional reclaiming his public persona.

9. Ira Glass on the Creative Process (Get Out the Box)

“This American Life” host Ira Glass has some words of wisdom for those struggling to be exceptional at something. Brilliant and real.

Chromatik Releases New “Tune of the Day” Apps for iOS

What a launch day.

I am so excited to introduce Chromatik’s new applications for iPad and iPhone.

Apple’s featured Chromatik as a Best New App, with category features in music and education. We could not ask for a better start.

Chromatik App Store

Chromatik featured as #4 best new app, #1 music, and #2 education!

Making music is easier now than ever.

Take out your phone. You will find an app to record, mix sound samples, or auto-tune your rap. Making music is not limited to the recording studio or classroom anymore. It happens all around us, every day. We are all musicians, in our own way.

But what if you want to play with tunes atop the Billboard charts? Or learn your favorite Katy Perry song? Or jam on a Stevie Wonder classic?

Enter Chromatik.

Chromatik with Guitar

The new Chromatik apps cycle around a rotating catalog, so you can play a new, free tune every day. With music for every major instrument and genre, you can practice charts, record practice sessions, and show off by sharing your performances.

Here’s the quick rundown…

TUNE OF THE DAY:

Access a new Tune of the Day, every day.  As part of our rotating catalog, the sheet music is yours to play for 7 days. Recent Tune of the Day titles include pop hits such as Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Lorde’s “Royals,” alongside classics like “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder.

Tune of the Day

PLAY THE TUNES:

Each tune features the best sheet music, tablature, videos, and lyrics for over 20 instruments. Learn the chart with a reference track that automagically turns pages for you. Mark up your score with Chromatik’s annotation tools on iPad. And share what you’re practicing with friends!

Totd Playing

RECORD YOURSELF:

Record your own video or audio sessions right from Chromatik. Save the full recordings to track your progress. Or share a 15 second highlight with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Recordings

From Chromatik’s early days, we looked to reshape the way musicians learn, practice, and perform.

So we developed “Chromatik for Schools and Groups.” Bands, orchestras, choirs, religious organizations, professionals and more all play music powered by Chromatik daily. Utilitarian and powerful. It fits the needs of music groups nicely.

Heck, even folks like American Idol, Bruno Mars, and more of your favorite musicians love Chromatik for Groups. Pretty great.

But we wanted to create more magic around your personal jams. Learning a new tune on guitar. Belting along with Adele on the piano. Nailing the Macklemore saxophone riff. Having fun, playing more music.

Sure, there are video sites available. Some guitar tablature applications. And Spotify or Beats Music to listen to the tracks.

But there isn’t a de facto platform you can play, record, and share your favorite tunes. There isn’t a community of like-minded musicians who collaborate around those experiences.

Chromatik hopes to be all that and more.

We think you will love this new version. The Chromatik team is ridiculously proud of it. And it’s a great stop on our path to realizing the bigger vision of Chromatik.

On a personal note — I am humbled to be working alongside the Chromatik team. We’ve had our highs and lows, and it certainly has not always been easy. It has truly been a team effort to bring you Chromatik.

So thanks to Steve Lawson, Jim McEvoy, Kelley McKinney, Corey Richardson, Gustavo Souza, Aaron Botello, Giorgio Galante, Oliver Brown, Bruce Donley, Gabriel Steiner, Alex Wand, Matthew Karnstedt, Sam Crittenden, the Chromatik Board of Directors, our investors, advisors, Chromatik musicians, and everyone else that helped us along the way.

I cannot say enough about the job everyone has done. The congrats all go to them.

Go download the new apps and tell us what you think! We would love to hear from you. Any ideas or questions are always welcome. Feel free to shoot me a note personally – matt at chromatik dot com – or hit me on Twitter @mattdsandler.

Life is short. Play more music.

And thank you for all the support.