How To Record Music

Over the weekend I found just enough time to put together a new website called HowToRecordMusic.com that will be dedicated towards my love of teaching the art of recording music. I have been recording music for over 20 years and while it's been a wonderful journey of giving my music away, I've never had the ability or desire to give my tricks of the trade away. Well, all of this will change now. I am going to focus in on what works and what doesn't in the modern world of recording music in every genre.

Music Is My Therapy

To me, music is my therapy, my inhale, my exhale, my way of capturing and releasing my emotions, my way of communication. Music has always been there for me when times became overwhelming.

My Personal Goal

HowToRecordMusic.com is going to keep me inspired, honest, dedicated, hungry, and educated. I can only hope that it treat you the same.

Get Social

Today is the first post. I setup the YouTube Channel: @howtorecordmusic and I plan on uploading at least 1-3 videos per week. I'm still re-learning how to use final cut pro (it's been awhile) so bare with me while I crawl through the learning curve and find a nice content creation rhythm.

Additionally, you can stay connected to more content on Twitter: @howtorecordnyc, Instagram: @howtorecordmusic, Facebook: @howtorecord, and Google+: @howtorecordmusic account to help you stay connected to the content.

Contact

As always, please feel free to reach out to me personally at @erictherobot or checkout my blog at erictherobot.com

Over the weekend I found just enough time to put together a new website called HowToRecordMusic.com that will be dedicated towards my love of teaching the art of recording music. I have been recording music for over 20 years and while it's been a wonderful journey of giving my…

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8 Steps to Launch an Idea, in Just a Few Hours

Thanks to the spread of "lean" startup techniques, today's innovators are smarter than ever. But in the race to launch that first prototype, some of them might be moving too fast.

Now that "lean" methodology has taken hold of startup culture, many founders and internal innovation teams grasp the virtue of creating a "minimum viable product" or MVP: An initial prototype they can show to potential customers and investors, in the interest of collecting feedback and making subsequent improvements. 

Here's the problem: In their haste to develop MVPs and "fail fast" and "iterate," many creators are not doing enough homework in advance of their initial prototyping.

The good news? You can do a lot of necessary homework in just a few hours.  

In his forthcoming book (due out May 6) The First Mile, innovation guru Scott D. Anthony, a managing partner at Clayton Christensen's vaunted Innosight consultancy, outlines eight crucial steps you can take in less than a day's work. 

1. Conduct desk research. Your ego wants to tell you that no one has considered your idea before. But it's a likely reality that a public company is considering it--and has already declared something about it. To find out, Anthony recommends scouring both the S-1 and 10-K filings of companies that might be players in your space. You'll find them at www.sec.gov. Likewise, you can dig into the analyst calls that public companies hold. You can find transcripts of these at seekingalpha.com

Going one step deeper, you can look into the patent filings of large companies in your space. "For example, analysts had a pretty good sense as to what Apple's iPad product would look like years before its release due to the patent filings Apple had made around critical design and usability elements," writes Anthony. 

Remember, with all of this desk research, you're not just looking for competitive intelligence--you're also looking for potential partners. In a recent phone interview, Anthony told me about a startup Innosight had funded called YFind. Using the above research techniques to build a list of possible partners, YFind happened to find a company called Ruckus Wireless. Innosight brokered a connection to Ruckus. Ultimately, Ruckus ended up acquiring YFind. "We did the desk research to get smarter about the space, and it led to a liquidity event," says Anthony.

Obviously, a result like that won't happen every time out. But in this case, it all began with homework. 

2. Run a thought experiment. What would it look like if your idea succeeded? This hypothetical question--if you ask it to outsiders who'll be objective about your prospects--can help you envision your strategy, unforeseen competitors, possible exits, and possible road blocks. For example: Right now, your supplies might have a certain cost. How would that cost change, if a large competitor began to buy the same supplies at astronomical volumes? You also might have a genius programmer who's doing the brunt of your brilliant work. What happens if she gets sick or gets a job offer she can't refuse?

3. Build a back-of-the-envelope 4P model. The 4 Ps are the target population of your product or service; your planned pricing points; your expected purchasing frequency (i.e., how often will this target population pay for the product); and the required market penetration you'll need to achieve plausible revenue goals. With this five-minute exercise, you can quickly create an easy reference sheet of talking points about your idea's potential monetization. 

4. Make a phone call. Chances are, the success of your idea depends on several key assumptions. With one phone call, you can turn one of those key assumptions into a definite notion. In his book, Anthony tells the tale of a company targeting the universities market with a beverage dispenser. Traditionally, this company had sold through mass-market retailers. It had no experience "cracking" the university market. The sales team assumed it would take about three months. 

Had they operated on that three-month assumption, they would've been left high and dry. Luckily for them, one member of the team picked up the phone and called a friend who sold security solutions to universities. The friend revealed that sales cycles for schools sometimes last as long as three years

A finding like that would obviously influence your revenue projections, or perhaps even whether you want to pursue the business at all. Imagine what you'll learn about your own idea, if you pick up the phone to research just one of your assumptions.

5. Walk through a transaction. Anthony provides a list of five essential questions you should answer: 

  • How will the customers obtain the product or service?
  • When will they pay for it?
  • Where will the customers obtain it?
  • How will the product or service get to the customer? 
  • Is there anyone else who'll get a piece of the transaction (e.g. licensing fee, inventor royalty)?

6. Build a MacGyver prototype. Note: This is not your MVP. This is homemade and inexpensive. You are not creating an actual prototype. All you are creating is a physical representation of your idea--something that can be damaged and quickly remade. This isn't a guitar; it's nails, wood, and rubber bands. It's a layperson's sketch, rather than an artist's rendering. "The idea is to focus on speed rather than aesthetics," writes Anthony. You just want to create an in-the-flesh illustration, so you can more easily explain your idea to others--and so it does not only exist in your head. 

7. Talk to customers. It's incredible how many innovators go forward with their ideas without talking to potential customers. But it actually happens quite a bit. Anthony's advice on this front is consistent with what Tina Weber, who runs Boston's annual Lean Startup Challenge, told me not long ago about the importance of testing a concept before building a prototype. Whether you're surveying customers with online tools or simply building a landing page for your product or service, the bottom line is, you need some evidence that your idea has been vetted by prospective customers. 

8. Build a reverse income statement. This one might sound like it takes more than a few hours, but it's actually not that difficult, if you've done a thorough job with your 4 Ps. For the reverse income statement, you want to start with your ideal annual profit level--and work backward, step by step. The first step, naturally, is parsing that annual profit into two big buckets: your revenues and your costs. From there, you keep going. For a full explanation, Anthony suggests reading "Discovery-Driven Planning," a classic Harvard Business Review article by Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan from July, 1995.

Source: http://www.inc.com by Ilan Mochari

Thanks to the spread of "lean" startup techniques, today's innovators are smarter than ever. But in the race to launch that first prototype, some of them might be moving too fast. Now that "lean" methodology has taken hold of startup culture, many founders and internal innovation teams grasp the…

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57 Startup Lessons

There are already very good lists of startup lessons written by really talented, experienced people (here and here). I’d like to add another one. I learned these lessons the hard way in the past four years. If you’re starting a company, I hope you have an easier path.

People

  • If you can’t get to ramen profitability with a team of 2 – 4 within six months to a year, something’s wrong. (You can choose not to be profitable, but it must be your choice, not something forced on you by the market).
  • Split the stock between the founding team evenly.
  • Always have a vesting schedule.
  • Make most decisions by consensus, but have a single CEO whose decisions are final. Make it clear from day one.
  • Your authority as CEO is earned. You start with a non-zero baseline. It grows if you have victories and dwindles if you don’t. Don’t try to use authority you didn’t earn.
  • Morale is very real and self-perpetuating. If you work too long without victories, your investors, employees, family, and you yourself will lose faith. Work like hell not to get yourself into this position.
  • Pick the initial team very carefully. Everyone should be pleasant to work with, have at least one skill relevant to the business they’re spectacular at, be extremely effective and pragmatic.
  • Everyone should have product sense and a shared vision for the product and the company.
  • The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Pick a small set of non-negotiable rules that matter to you most and enforce them ruthlessly.
  • Fire people that are difficult, unproductive, unreliable, have no product sense, or aren’t pragmatic. Do it quickly. Some friction is good. Too much friction is deadly.
  • Fire people that cause too much friction. Good job + bad behavior == you’re fired.

Fundraising

  • If you have to give away more than 15% of the company at any given fundraising round, your company didn’t germinate correctly. It’s salvageable but not ideal.
  • If you haven’t earned people’s respect yet, fundraising on traction is an order of magnitude easier than fundraising on a story. If you have to raise on a story but don’t have the reputation, something’s wrong.
  • Treat your fundraising pitch as a minimum viable product. Get it out, then iterate after every meeting.
  • Most investor advice is very good for optimizing and scaling a working business. Listen to it.
  • Most investor advice isn’t very good for building a magical product. Nobody can help you build a magical product — that’s your job.
  • Don’t fall in love with the fundraising process. Get it done and move on.

Markets

  • The best products don’t get built in a vacuum. They win because they reach the top of a field over all other products designed to fill the same niche. Find your field and be the best. If there is no field, something’s wrong.
  • Work on a problem that has an immediately useful solution, but has enormous potential for growth. If it doesn’t augment the human condition for a huge number of people in a meaningful way, it’s not worth doing. For example, Google touches billions of lives by filling a very concrete space in people’s daily routine. It changes the way people behave and perceive their immediate physical surroundings. Shoot for building a product of this magnitude.
  • Starting with the right idea matters. Empirically, you can only pivot so far.
  • Assume the market is efficient and valuable ideas will be discovered by multiple teams nearly instantaneously.
  • Pick new ideas because they’ve been made possible by other social or technological change. Get on the train as early as possible, but make sure the technology is there to make the product be enough better that it matters.
  • If there is an old idea that didn’t work before and there is no social or technological change that can plausibly make it work now, assume it will fail. (That’s the efficient market hypothesis again. If an idea could have been brought to fruition, it would have been. It’s only worth trying again if something changed.)
  • Educating a market that doesn’t want your product is a losing battle. Stick to your ideals and vision, but respect trends. If you believe the world needs iambic pentameter poetry, sell hip hop, not sonnets.

Products

  • Product sense is everything. Learn it as quickly as you can. Being good at engineering has nothing to do with being good at product management.
  • Don’t build something that already exists. Customers won’t buy it just because it’s yours.
  • Make sure you know why users will have no choice but to switch to your product, and why they won’t be able to switch back. Don’t trust yourself — test your assumptions as much as possible.
  • Ask two questions for every product feature. Will people buy because of this feature? Will people not buy because of lack of this feature? No amount of the latter will make up for lack of the former. - Don’t build features if the answer to both questions is “no”.
  • Build a product people want to buy in spite of rough edges, not because there are no rough edges. The former is pleasant and highly paid, the latter is unpleasant and takes forever.
  • Beware of chicken and egg products. Make sure your product provides immediate utility.
  • Learn the difference between people who might buy your product and people who are just commenting. Pay obsessive attention to the former. Ignore the latter.

Marketing

  • Product comes first. If people love your product, the tiniest announcements will get attention. If people don’t love your product, no amount of marketing effort will help.
  • Try to have marketing built into the product. If possible, have the YouTube effect (your users can frequently send people a link to something interesting on your platform), and Facebook effect (if your users are on the product, their friends will need to get on the product too).
  • Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, then do marketing that way. Pick a small set of tasks, do them consistently, and get better every day.
  • Reevaluate effectiveness on a regular basis. Cut things that don’t work, double down on things that do.
  • Don’t guess. Measure.
  • Market to your users. Getting attention from people who won’t buy your product is a waste of time and money.
  • Don’t say things if your competitors can’t say the opposite. For example, your competitors can’t say their product is slow, so saying yours is fast is sloppy marketing. On the other hand, your competitors can say their software is for Python programmers, so saying yours is for Ruby programmers is good marketing. Apple can get away with breaking this rule, you can’t.
  • Don’t use supercilious tone towards your users or competitors. It won’t help sell the product and will destroy good will.
  • Don’t be dismissive of criticism. Instead, use it to improve your product. Your most vocal critics will often turn into your biggest champions if you take their criticism seriously.

Sales

  • Sales fix everything. You can screw up everything else and get through it if your product sells well.
  • Product comes first. Selling a product everyone wants is easy and rewarding. Selling a product no one wants is an unpleasant game of numbers.
  • Be relentless about working the game of numbers while the product is between the two extremes above. Even if you don’t sell anything, you’ll learn invaluable lessons.
  • Qualify ruthlessly. Spending time with a user who’s unlikely to buy is equivalent to doing no work at all.
  • Inbound is easier than outbound. If possible, build the product in a way where customers reach out to you and ask to pay.

Development

  • Development speed is everything.
  • Minimize complexity. The simpler the product, the more likely you are to actually ship it, and the more likely you are to fix problems quickly.
  • Pick implementations that give 80% of the benefit with 20% of the work.
  • Use off the shelf components whenever possible.
  • Use development sprints. Make sure your sprints aren’t longer than one or two weeks.
  • Beware of long projects. If you can’t fit it into a sprint, don’t build it.
  • Beware of long rewrites. If you can’t fit it into a sprint, don’t do it.
  • If you must do something that doesn’t fit into a sprint, put as much structure and peer review around it as possible.

Company administration

  • Don’t waste time picking office buildings, accountants, bookkeepers, janitors, furniture, hosted tools, payroll companies, etc. Make sure it’s good enough and move on.
  • Take the time to find a good, inexpensive lawyer. It will make a difference.

Personal well-being

  • Do everything you can not to attach your self esteem to your startup (you’ll fail, but try anyway). Do the best you can every day, then step back. Work in such a way that when the dust settles you can be proud of the choices you’ve made, regardless of the outcome.
  • Every once in a while, get away. Go hiking, visit family in another city, go dancing, play chess, tennis, anything. It will make you more effective and make the people around you happier.

Source: defmacro.org

There are already very good lists of startup lessons written by really talented, experienced people (here and here). I’d like to add another one. I learned these lessons the hard way in the past four years. If you’re starting a company, I hope you have an easier path.…

Read More