05
Dec
09

Updates – W/E – 12-05-09 (From Hiatus)

It’s been about 6 months since my last blog post. Amazing how time flies when it comes to these posts!

Well, let’s see… Since my last post, I decided to go on hiatus from the music business. There were many reasons for this. I’d have to say the main reason I decided to leave the music business alone is simply the economics of my personal situation.
Bottom line – the music biz just wasn’t bringing in the money that it used to. The downturn in the economy meant that shows and events we were throwing that used to turn us a healthy profit suddenly were just barely breaking even for us. People that used to pack our venues started staying home more and more. Totally understandable!

Same thing with music sales, at least as far as hard-copy CDs went. As far as that goes, the economy is lousy, and people are much more reluctant to spend their hard-earned dollars on entertainment. There’s also the fact that CD sales have been in decline in general, while MP3 sales (and P2P sharing) have been on the rise.

The team I was most recently working with had a ton of good ideas, but very limited capital. Even with limited resources, we still may have been able to make things work, but unfortunately, we were all focused on different things.

We all had different ideas on how to achieve financial success in the music industry, and we couldn’t come to a clear consensus on how to best utilize our available capital.

Some of us felt that we should invest our time and money into shooting episodic videos for sites like YouTube. Some of us thought that we should invest money in bringing in national acts to revive our live event earnings. Some of us suggested investing money in outside (non music-related) ventures.

So, lack of consensus (which caused a lack of focus), and declining revenues. This is the environment I found myself in. Faced with these challenges, I felt the best move for me personally was to step back from the music biz for a little while to get my focus back.

It’s definitely been interesting to say the least. I’m a guy who has been earning a living solely on my music for the last 4-5 years. So it’s been very sobering to dust off my resume and hit the job market!

Let me just say, it’s really bad out there.

One thing I’ve learned is that in a bad economy a good resume isn’t enough. The competition is crazy for jobs when the unemployment rate is over 10 percent! Jobs that I normally would have been able to get with ease I now had to compete with many others for.

I read somewhere recently that employers are getting hundreds of resumes for positions that they used to get only 10-20 applicants for.

I’ve been lucky enough to grab some part time work at a national retailer. A job I would have previously turned my nose up at, I now feel pretty lucky to have.

Of course, if things don’t improve soon, this economy is going to bring down a lot of retailers like the one I’m now working for. Holiday sales to this point have not been better, even when you factor in “Black Friday”

To cut expenses, a lot of retailers are closing their brick and mortar locations and moving their operations online. My employer is already doing more than half their business online, which is a lot more than what they were doing online just a year ago.

Unfortunately, this could end up costing even more jobs, my own included.

The upside to businesses relying more and more on online commerce is that they save a lot of money on overhead (staffing, rent, insurance, etc). These companies can then pass their savings on to the consumer.

This does make it even harder to find jobs, though. Because if live retail sales people aren’t needed, and commerce moves further toward online business models, it may mean that a lot of American jobs will be gone for good.

We’ve all made calls to customer service departments and reached someone in India somewhere, haven’t we?

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Things have DEFINITELY changed in America, and yes, a lot of jobs ARE gone for good. But there are signs that other jobs are popping up to take the place of the lost ones. We’ve all just got to be open minded to change, and we’ve got to learn to adapt. And to be resourceful.

Small businesses account for 80 percent of the jobs created every year. And small businesses are where all of the innovation and best business practices usually come from. The spirit of the entrepreneur made America great, and that same spirit will get us out of this mess!

I believe that this economic crisis will cause a lot of smart people to give up looking for steady paychecks and start new businesses of their own instead. That’s the way out of this mess!

Our politicians just have to stop with the taxing and spending, so that we can keep more of the money we earn. Then businesses would be able to afford to hire even more people.

That $787 billion in stimulus money could have done a lot more good if it had been lent to small businesses instead of poured into wasteful state governments and supposedly “too big to fail” institutions.

Like a lot of Americans, the last few years have stripped away any sense of entitlement I may have had. The tough economy has taught me to be a lot more resourceful. It’s also teaching me to be grateful for what I have, and to not take anything for granted.

It’s also taught me to keep a much closer watch on what our elected officials are up to!

Anyway…

Six months on hiatus and I’ve already learned some pretty valuable lessons. Now I’m at the point where I’m ready to start thinking about how to regain the ground I lost in the music industry.

I honestly feel I’m in a good position, because my mind is clear. I’m starting again from zero, so I don’t have the pressure of maintaining a business. I have the freedom now to start a business that is based on the reality of the “facts on the ground”.

I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate P2P sharing and piracy, rather than fight against them. That’s a losing battle (just ask the RIAA). You can’t sue pirates out of business! That old school way of thinking is one of the main reasons sales in the music industry have been decimated.

Free is the new expectation of the customer. People still love music and entertainment, but they’ve have gotten used to free, and there’s no going back. Suing our customers is NOT going to help things, that’s for sure. There are still ways to make money, but the day of the major label with the $17 CD is done.

I’ve also been thinking of ways to properly capitalize my own projects, so that I don’t have to rely on partners to finance my moves.

One thing I’ve learned from working with a bunch of partners is that if someone is investing it gives them a say in the decision making process. If no consensus can be made, then no forward momentum can be made.

I’ve got to become completely self-reliant so that I can put my own ideas into motion!

I’m very positive about the future, and in my ability to reinvent my approach to this industry. I will be sharing all my thoughts and progress in this blog, and I hope my experiences help any aspiring new business people to achieve their goals as well!

Holla at ya boi.
– Iceman Streetz

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