#SXSW via #meerkat and @mazzeo

So I couldn’t get down to Austin, TX this week to partake in South-by-Southwest. I was pretty bummed, but I think maybe I may have caught some of the best conversations despite being in Chicago.

Last week, I saw a post on Product Hunt for Meerkat.  Meerkat is a live video streaming app, mobile-to-mobile. It uses your Twitter login and when you start a stream, a tweet is sent with a link to the live feed.

So, I happened upon a few key players streaming from SXSW like Gary Vaynerchuk, Sarah Evans and someone I’ve been looking to meet, Matt Mazzeo.

Via Meerkat, I caught Matt’s daily “lowercase office hours” in the lobby of a hotel where he does quick interviews/discussions with founders and other influencers during SXSW.

Today’s session was pretty great and he even did a quick discussion with the Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis’ agent.  Very cool impromptu conversation about a movie in the works for Mikhail Gorbachev.

Here’s a quick recap of the startups he put on his “hang”.  Hopefully I’ve captured the correct elevator pitch for each of these:

Homerun – Killer stories about sports players built on their stats

Rex.is – Great stuff curated by interesting people

Class.travel – Worldwide travel rewards program

Snowshoe – Plastic ID that uses smartphone screen for recognition

Humin – Contacts stored in a more human way

Clinton Foundation – not a startup but a mention, none-the-less.

Looking forward to more great stuff from @mazzeo on @meerkat!

How Many Times A Day Do You “Shift Gears?”

As I’ve been working with multiple clients/projects/startups, I’m constantly battling focus challenges. A common misconception about productivity is the ability to multi-task. There’s good and bad multi-tasking.

I believe good multi-tasking comes in the form of activities that are complimentary to a big goal. I’m listening to Spotify while writing this post and not checking email. Many people watch the news on the treadmill. All good.

Bad multi-tasking is switching between tasks that are going after different goals. For example, writing a proposal and answering email about your kids’ sports team.

All afternoon, I’ve been working on Gigable and then tried to read a brief about another startup for which I’m advising.  It didn’t work.  Better to stay in the Gigable headspace as long as possible, then take a good break and reset.

I sometimes call this “spinning plates” and I think human nature forces us to pay attention to something new as it happens. Can someone drop mail on your desk and you don’t open until end of day?  Email is the same distraction.  Do you have your email open all day and anytime the drug-like “Inbox(2)” shows up, you are a pavlovian dog. I am.

However, as I bucket activities and goals into daily sprints, this is all changing. My newest routine is to plan and focus activities based on big goals. So, I’ll only work on Gigable activities on Wednesday until I’ve exhausted the to-do list.

This mindset became apparent to me while songwriting.  Songwriting is the type of activity that needs 100% focus. Any type of creative activity requires a “flow” state which takes a while to achieve (it does for me anyway).  Once you are in flow, you move through it until you reach a point.  This point can be 1 hour later or 4 hours later.

Blocking off full days for focused activity pertaining to a major goal seems like the optimal strategy. However, I think it’s possible to break the day into 2 parts.  3 parts if you are really energized.

Conversely, switching between every possible goal/project daily is sure death. That breeds burnout, stress and adult ADD. This may work for a while, but it will catch up to you.

What works for you (or doesn’t)?

My #7daylaunch Post-Launch

It’s been 2 two weeks since I went live with the stock music service. I’d love to say that there’s been a steady stream of subscribers, but alas, that is just not the case. I’m really not discouraged since I’ve been spending time adding more tracks to the catalog.  Based on a few discussions, part of the MVP is catalog selection. My goal is to have 25-30 unique tracks available and then ramp up more discussions with more video producers.

The “P” in MVP is the catalog, in my case. There are many different styles of music that will need to be presented.  Right now, I have an abundance of acoustic guitar-driven songs and need to diversify.

So, my two main goals at this point are:

  1. A diverse selection of tracks in various musical styles.
  2. Discussions with video producers to understand their needs and get feedback on current state of the service.

Once I have time to absorb the feedback and make adjustments, I will be ramping up on a larger marketing plan.

It’s very clear to me that I will need to talk to 10-20 video producers and understand their world.  Once I can integrate those learnings, I will have proven (or dis-proven) minimum viable product for this stock music service.

My #7daystartup Day Seven (Launch Day!!)

It’s 3:07pm CST and I’m sitting at Starbucks (or should we call it “StartBucks”) in West Dundee, IL.  The staff knows me – now.  I’ve been coming here every afternoon for the past week plowing through the work required to get to launch.

I’m pleased to announce that EchlinMedia Stock Music is online.

I’ll be the first to admit that the hill got steeper the closer I got to launch-ready.  I think I need to caveat what I mean by launch.  Since I was following Dan Norris’ 7-Day Launch blueprint, what has been launched is a MVP stock music service.  The best part of this process has been the awesome people I’ve talked to via Dan’s FB group who have helped shape the MVP.  This is the essence of what he discusses in his book.

“You don’t earn till you learn” – not sure if Dan said that, but I might use it as my own. The feedback has been valuable and interesting.  It’s been interesting because the first lesson is that not all customers want the same thing.  The opinions and ideas that have been discussed have been unique and “one-size-fits-all” does not apply to a stock music service.  Also true for just about every business.  This speaks to the exercise of finding the ideal customer profile or avatar.

I talked to 5 potential customers from different walks and they all want something different.  A couple love the idea of a subscription, while others just want a la cart songs at a competitive price.

I think I’ve come up with a model that is easy to understand and provides a fair solution.  It’s basically a freemium model.

  • One free track per month delivered to email
  • Monthly subscription that provides download codes
  • A la carte store ($14-$99 per track based on license usage)

The licensing model is one concept I’m pretty excited about since it could be a good differentiator – in addition to the awesome music :)

Here are the three license options:

  1. Audio (Podcasts, Radio, Commercials(non-video), Website)
  2. Animated Video (Video Games, Apps, Animated Videos)
  3. Moving Pictures (Theatrical, TV, Cable, YouTube, Video)

Pricing is relative to license option, audio being the least expensive.  It just made sense to offer licenses based on usage type.

I’ve got some other ideas that I will be testing over the next few weeks, such as a creator community. There still is a lot of work to do on the UX and navigation so that signup and store browsing is simple and intuitive.

This is all very exciting, especially since I got my first paid subscriber just this afternoon!

A huge thanks to Dan and his community for a swift kick in the pants to get this going.

My #7daystartup Day 6.5

Okay – juuuust about ready to launch!

I had a great conversation with internet marketer/podcaster Nicola Cairncross and she buys stock music for her podcasts.  We talked about pricing/licensing and it’s clear I need to keep it simple.

So, I’ve come up with two options:

  1. A la carte store – Buy one track at a time and chose the appropriate license.
  2. Monthly Subscription – Discounted tracks with universal licensing.

I think this will allow customers to get the best of both worlds.  If they just need to buy a track here and there, great!  However, if they are an agency or music super, you can get several tracks per month at a steep discount.

The new landing page is completed.  By tomorrow, 1/14/15, I will have the store component ready to go.  The subscriptions will be handled via PayPal.

Then, it’s a matter of fine-tuning a few dozen tracks to populate the store and we’re off! It’s really a ton of work, but I’m very excited to launch this and get more customer feedback.

Thanks to all who have commented and provided moral support!

My #7daystartup Day Six

So here we are day six.  One “day” before the official launch.  As I stated before, I’m considering these “7 days” as steps really, since I’m not doing these steps in sequential days.  I am however, getting through all seven steps rather quickly (less than a month).

Day six was very sobering.  I created a pro-forma, (aka financial model) and quickly realized that I needed at least 500 active paid subscribers to make this a viable business. And when I say active, I mean that they need to be purchasing tracks on a monthly basis.

Then I started to consider how many unique pieces of music I needed to have in inventory to support 500 active subscribers.  Is it hundreds or dozens? Not sure this is a question that I can answer at this point. I do have about 200 song ideas that are usable, however I need to fully produce most of them before I can add them on the stock music site.   Producing these tracks will likely take up to a year to complete, but that should be ok since I can add them to the site as they are completed and they will keep the site freshly stocked with music.

I’m still stalled a bit on the landing pages and think I’m going to need some help.  Since each track (I use “track” and “song” interchangeably) will be available with an exclusive and non-exclusive license, I need to setup EDD with variable pricing.

This is the point where I start to glaze over and consider hiring someone to handle all the technology and WordPress work since I need to be in the studio creating music.

My #7daystartup Day Five

So, I’m getting excited to launch this venture and it’s so cool to have feedback from Dan’s group on Facebook!

Day Five is all about the marketing plan.  Dan provides an excellent list of marketing channels in the book.  I’ve experimented with most of these channels on past projects/startups.  Here are the tactics I’m starting with for the stock music project:

  1. Personal Outreach – I’ve made a list of 50 people in my network to whom I will reach out personally and introduce this business.
  2. Podcast – I started a podcast a few years ago and will resurrect to achieve a few things.  A) Show off the music within the actual podcast for intro/outro and interstitials. B) Interview people in the video/music space and connect with their audience.
  3. Guest Blogging – Make a list of 10-20 blogs where I can submit long-form articles that contribute to the new media industry.

Those are the main tactics I’m starting with and have a list of a few others that are on the back burner until I can measure some results and talk to a few more customers. Online forums being one in particular that I’m gathering more intel.

Also, as an aside I’m considering these “7 days” more like 7 steps since it’s taking me longer than one day to strategize and execute (still have lots of other work to do to pay the bills!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My #7daystartup Day Four

Day four is filled with a lot of heavy lifting. In fact, I’m still working on day four tasks after several days.

I’m using the Divi theme by Elegant Themes to run my site. The landing page for the stock music business will be located at echlinmedia.com/stock-music

The landing page is up now, however I’m a little stuck on formatting the CTA blocks. I can’t seem to get access at all to the top block. Also need to figure out how to drop in song samples without distracting from the CTAs.

In addition to the layout issues, I’m also trying to decide on pricing and licensing.

Here are the pricing options:

  • Free Access: 2 songs per month with email (non-exclusive license)
  • Premium Access: $19/mo. + $.99 or $49 discounted downloads (non-exclusive or exclusive license)

Discounted song pricing for exclusive songs only good while premium subscription is active.  If canceled prior to one year, a pro-rated fee is charged. *Need to test this with actual customers.

An “exclusive” license means that the buyer has sole rights to use the song for a period of one year.

A “non-exclusive” license means that an unlimited number of buyers can use the song for a period of one year.

At this point, I have no idea how I would track the expiration of these licenses.

Still unsure if I will offer downloads without a subscription?