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Month: February 2009

Understanding the current economic crisis

Understanding the current economic crisis

Do you have a good grasp of what has caused the current economic crisis? If you haven’t here’s a great video to watch:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

It’s an excellent video called The Crisis of Credit Visualized produced by Jonathan Jarvis as his thesis for his Media Design course. The graphic instruments used are great, but I particularly like it because it explains the current problems we have succinctly and elegantly. So if you don’t know a derivative from one of these industrial clamps, check it out, as it will help shed some light.

The future shape of the Music Industry: Engaging with your fans

The future shape of the Music Industry: Engaging with your fans

Josh Freese is a genius. OK, I admit, I didn’t know who Josh Freese was before reading about him on Mashable, but he’s a former drummer of Nine Inch Nails and has played on over 250 albums with some of the most prestigious bands and musicians around. Anyway, his new album is called Since 1972 and here’s the pricing structure courtesy of OC Register:


  • Digital download of Since 1972, including 3 videos


  • CD/DVD double-disc set
  • Digital download


  • CD/DVD double-disc set
  • T-shirt
  • “Thank you” phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked. Ask whatever you want, like “Is Maynard really THAT weird?” or “Which one of Sting’s mansions has the comfiest beds?” or “Are Devo really suburban robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of dads from Ohio?” or “Why don’t the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?” It’s your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.

$250 (limited edition of 25)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Signed drum head and drumsticks
  • Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you’re into)

$500 (limited edition of 15)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Signed cymbal and sticks
  • Meet Josh in Venice, Calif., and go floating together in a sensory-deprivation tank (to be filmed and posted on YouTube)
  • Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 steak and “all you can eat” shrimp on)

$1,000 (limited edition of 10)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Signed cymbal, drum head and drumsticks
  • Josh washes your car OR does your laundry … or you can wash his car
  • Have dinner with Josh aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.
  • Get drunk and cut each other’s hair in the parking lot of the Long Beach courthouse (filmed and posted on YouTube, of course)

$2,500 (limited edition of 5)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • Get a private drum lesson with Josh, or for all you non-drummers, have him give you a back and foot massage (couples welcome)
  • Pick any 1 member of the Vandals or Devo (subject to availability) to accompany you and Josh to either the Hollywood Wax Museum or the lunch buffet at the Spearmint Rhino
  • Signed DW snare drum
  • Take 3 items of your choice out of his closet (first come, first serve)
  • Change diapers and make bottles with him for an afternoon (after hitting the strip club)

$5,000 (limited edition of 3)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Josh writes a song about you and makes it available on iTunes
  • Co-direct a video with him for the song about you and throw it up on the YouTubes
  • Josh gives you and a friend a private tour of Disneyland
  • Get drunk together. If you don’t drink, we can go to my dad’s place and hang out under the “Tuba tree”
  • Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam will send you a letter telling you about his favorite song on Since 1972

$10,000 (limited edition of 1)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Signed DW snare drum from A Perfect Circle’s 2003 tour
  • Josh gives you a private drum lesson OR his and hers foot/back massage (couples welcome, discreet parking)
  • Twiggy from Marilyn Manson’s band and Josh take you and a guest to Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles in Long Beach for dinner
  • Josh takes you and a guest to Club 33 (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above Pirates of the Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterward (preferably the Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror)
  • At the end of the day at Disneyland, drive away in Josh’s Volvo station wagon. It’s all yours … take it. Just drop him off on your way home, though, please.

$20,000 (limited edition of 1)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour
  • Maynard James Keenan, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Josh take you miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on YouTube)
  • Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the coffee shop on 2nd Street where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up tile just weeks before joining Nirvana. See the old Vandals rehearsal spot, the liquor store he got busted at using a Fake ID when he was 17 (it was Dave from the Vandals’ old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg’s high school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt live. For another $25 he’ll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
  • Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the “Ghosts and Legends” tour. (Separate rooms … no spooning.)
  • Josh writes 2 songs about you and both are made available on iTunes and appear on his next record (you can sing back up on ‘em, clap, play the drums, triangle, whatever)
  • Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again … couples welcome and discreet parking available)
  • Pick any 3 items out of Josh’s closet

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)

  • Signed CD/DVD and digital download
  • T-shirt
  • Go on tour with Josh for a few days
  • Have Josh write, record and release a 5-song EP about you and your life story
  • Take home any of his drum sets (only one, but you can choose which one)
  • Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while
  • Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.
  • If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
  • Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)
  • If you don’t live in Southern California (but are a U.S. resident) he’ll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks
  • Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robins place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna

Now, that’s pretty novel, but at the end of the day it is providing real value to the most important people of all, the fans and punters who Josh is producing music for. It’s almost like buying weight loss pills and getting a gym instructor thrown in, it’s not the thing you buy, but the experience and added value that you get with it that will sell the product.

The question is, will other record labels catch on to the fact that merchandising has now become all about experience?

Social Media helps you drill down

Social Media helps you drill down

I was reading an article called A Business Marketer’s Guide to Social Media which has some interesting thoughts. It’s almost a year old, which is a very long time in an emerging market, but it puts forward an interesting point. Social Media helps businesses get more granular in their approach to customer service.

This increased granularity is extremely important in today’s marketplace. There’s no debate that the market has moved from mass markets to mass customisation to personalisation of products and services. Social Media takes marketing down the same route. The article raises 4 questions that marketeers need to ask to any social media site they plan to target:

  • What proportion of the site’s content is community generated versus content generated by the site operator or third parties?
  • Does the community create quality content and how is that quality guaranteed?
  • Will my existing online campaigns work on a social media site?
  • What technologies or services does the site offer to help marketers target specific demographics or sub-groups?

The wholesale adoption of social media without the necessary analysis and introspection can carry a significant risk of failure. These questions need to be addressed and answered before any successful campaign can be launched.

It’s all a matter of context

It’s all a matter of context

Have you noticed how things can be more successful if they are consistent with their surroundings? It could be the simple things that make this succeed, but sometimes people don’t tend to look at the complete picture when they have an idea in their mind. For example, beer sales are going to be higher at a ball game, than they are at the ballet. Or selling vaginal dryness cream is more effective if a woman is doing it rather than a man. It’s all a matter of context.

This advice is usually more valuable if you operate in a niche. Making your surroundings and product offering consistent with one another is the secret to success. The two must complement each other rather than being at odds. People’s purchase behaviour needs to be reinforced rather than questioned and a consistent user experience is the key to this. Sometimes the best way it to step away from what you’re doing and wear a stranger’s shoes. If you look at the big picture, does it all make sense?

5 top business blogs

5 top business blogs

I’ve been asked where to subscribe to some great business blogs, so I thought I’d make a Top 5 list of my own. Here’s some interesting reading:

  • Freakonomics: You’ve read the book, now subscribe to the blog. Educational and entertaining. If you enjoyed the book, you’ll find the blog quite interesting too, as it takes the same tone with a number of different subjects, while managing to keep it quite personal too.
  • The Beehive: A great blog by Steve Bee, the head of Pensions Strategy at Scottish Life. “In a fusion of his two main interests, pensions and cartooning, Steve achieved notoriety some years ago by becoming the only person ever to have submitted a paper in evidence to a Commons Select Committee in cartoon-strip format. However, his main claim to fame lies in the field of pensions where he is acknowledged as one of the leading experts on pension developments in the UK today.”
  • Seth’s Blog: I’ve mentioned Seth Godin a number of times in this blog already, so his blog must also get a mention here. Seth is a marketeer and innovator and his blog posts are always full of insight. If you only check out one blog a day, make this the one you read.
  • Marginal Revolution: As you can imagine from the name, this is an economics blog, written by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, two influential economists and writers. It’s quite whimsical, but informative nonetheless, so it makes it onto my recommended list.
  • Bigger isn’t always better: My final pick is an interesting blog by Bob Tomasko, who always has interesting insight. I find his posts pretty thought provoking, so I’d recommend you check it out.

I’ve tried to pick some top blogs from a category I’m familiar with, but you might want to echo this post with some picks from your niche, whether it’s social media or commercial real estate. Just find 5 blogs you like and recommend them to your readers.

Seth Godin on Tribes

Seth Godin on Tribes

Wired recently had the opportunity to interview Seth Godin about Tribes at TED a couple of days ago. It’s an interesting chat where Seth talks about what a tribe is and what holds it together. Interestingly he explains how ego is irrelevant and the role of charisma and timing in tribe formation. It sounds like TED was a great meetup, as it usually is. I’d love to be able to attend one day, hire one of these luxury hotel rooms and invite everyone over for a party. Unfortunately I’m half a world away, so the logistics of attending would be quite hard.

Seth also did a video interview with Loic Le Meur which you can watch here: