Monthly Archives: February 2010

Retail in the Recession – How Ecommerce could Trounce Walmart

This is a response to a great question that I received on one of my posts: 10 Sure as Sun Predictions for the next 20 years in Tech.

I’m posting this for two reasons. One is I think it is a very interesting and important topic for many people, and I feel it could help guide people towards making the right decisions with their businesses in the midst of this recession.

The other reason is I am in Colombia interviewing designers for Beat-Play, but there are so many independent artists out here that we’ve connected with that could benefit from the site, that we decided to host an event to explain the concepts to about 90 bands in the Medellin area..and I am extremely busy!

Reader Question: In your opinion is retail still impacted by recession? January sales looked good, however it seems there is cautious optimism with many retailers in the throes of recession. Wal-Mart has just fired close to 14,000 employees! What is your opinion?

Well I think that ecommerce and online retail will play a huge role in actually leveling out the recession in the future. As organizational tools for consumers get more advanced online, you will see a huge shift in the way retail businesses operate.

Imagine if you want to shop for something, there is one website that you go to. Any and all retail stores can have a page on this site. You go to your profile on that site and it shows you all of your saved stores for your favorite types of products ie: clothes, shoes, computers ect.

If you want to find new stores, new products, or new deals, you type in a couple of keywords. Say in the shoes category, I type in comfortable, running, wide and low cut. Then a page listing all of the stores that sell shoes matching those descriptions will come up. You can sort this page in many different ways, such as the stores closest to you, by price, or consumer ratings. Consumers can leave their own tags, or descriptions of products too, so that other consumers who are looking for similar descriptions can find them more easily.

You can also see where your freinds shop and what products they liked. This site will allow you to compare prices instantly, and also talk to someone in person through video chat, if needed. Consumers would help play a role in marketing. With this system, Walmart would not have as much of an edge in the market.

People very often complain that Walmart’s push little stores out of business, which is very true, because it is a one-stop-shop, and they’re cheaper. With the system I’m talking about, small businesses would not have to pay the overhead for a physical store, just the cost for stock storage. In fact, proximity will have no effect on a person’s store choice anymore, because they are all equally accessable online, plus the local store’s products would deliver to your house that day.

Also, with this system, promotion and advertising would not be necessary. It will exist, but only to distinguish a brand, not to introduce you to one, because with this tag system, if I’m looking for something that you provide, I will find you. These two decreases in cost for a retailer would leave more room for smaller businesses to compete with Walmart on prices. Also customer service will play a larger role in purchase decisions in retail.

The biggest thing people ask me is what about clothes? If I can’t try them on how do I know if they’ll look good? Well there’s some really cool technology out now that uses a customer’s webcam, takes measurements, makes a real 3d model of the person, and then displays the clothes on that person, giving very accurate accounts of how a certain piece of clothing will fit a particular person.

I just wanted to paint this picture for you. The truth is this system is possible, and its’s way more practical than the current one, so I am about 95% certain that it will catch on. This is also an example of how the internet can decrease overhead and increase frequency and reach of a business. I believe that if these effects are spread out across the board, and in many different industries, that it will be enough to stimulate the economy and help jump-start us towards where we want to be. I can see this emerging in the next 5-10 years, and really having an impact within 7-15.

The internet is the solution to 90% of the big problems we face as a society today. The 10% left are caused by people, who just haven’t realized the potential of the internet to really have this positive effect in almost every aspect of our lives. However the internet is young, and I know that there are people like myself developing tools like this right now. People will catch on soon enough. Until then, the most important thing to worry about is quality products, and value to consumers. That’s what will distinguish brands in the future. Hope this helped!

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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How can Musicians get Paid already?

This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked when I talk about my website. It turns out there is not just one answer, which is definitely a good thing.

There are many different ways artists can get paid today. The most common ones are to sell their CD’s, sell their merchandise, and sell shows. But especially with the internet’s explosion, there are more ways to make money than ever. I will get to these in a minute.

First of all, selling CD’s, merch, and shows sounds easy enough, but it all requires effective promotion. This promotion can be an investment in itself. Buying magazine or radio ad space can get pretty expensive, and there’s no guarantees. Also, online promotion is pretty ineffective at allowing you to reach new people everyday. You are almost limited to the people you know.

Promotion is the key to how artists earn money, but right now the promotion available sucks! (unless you sign to a label, spend millions on billboards and tv, and end up a slave to the label for the next 10 years trying to pay everything back, while they keep your rights)

As an artist myself, I designed my website (Beat-Play – in beta this spring) to solve this problem. We utilize a social network system, similar to Twitter, but for music. You will follow others that you share a taste in music with..like friends or favorite bands..and any music that gets saved into a playlist by those people automatically gets sent to your radio player.

You press play, and the music your friends liked enough to save, comes to you. If you like it, you save it too, and it gets sent to anybody following you. It’s a ridiculously viral way to spread the good music. It is an automated word-of-mouth…and best of all, it’s free promotion and distribution!

With this promotion it becomes infinitely easier for people to find your music, thus easier for them to buy. But with this system, CD sales, merch and shows aren’t the only revenue streams available.

With this social network, the more people that listen to your music, share your music, view your profile, videos, and live events, the more money you can make from advertising revenues. In fact, if you opted to give your music away for free, you could avoid people bypassing your payment page for a torrent, and you can actually track all of the fans you get.

This, with a good ad model that is unobtrusive, but effective, and that gives artists 95% of the revenues generated at each level, is enough for artist to gain a good steady income, potentially for something as simple as Youtube views!

So let’s talk about other revenues possible for artists. Along the same lines of the social network, come the opportunities for live streaming concert ticket sales, regular ticket sales, increased booking of shows, paid video music lessons, blogs, musician competitions and battles for money prizes, auctioning off of samples, sound effects, instrumentals, lyrics, sheet music, rights, ect, and even purchasing and selling of instruments and gear, among many other things.

Add this to advertising revenue for all pages with an artist’s content, including videos, music, blogs, merch, fan groups, and anything else, merchandise sales, CD sales, and shows, and the full time independent artist may be more prevalent than ever would have been expected.

The most important thing to remember in order for this to become a reality, is that independent artists need to organize together as a whole, and support one website. The reason for one is simple. Every band or artist has their followers, but right now they’re all spread out on different websites, and not all of them transfer over. If there was one site, the cross pollination of fans alone would be enough to create a huge boost in artist’s views and promotion.

Add all of the revenue streams I’ve been talking about to that single, strong community of indie artists, and you’re looking at a stable, independent industry, run efficiently, and very cost-effectively. And best of all, it’s free to join and use, and costs nothing up front, not even risk.

The question of how artists can make money is a rarely answered one today, mostly for lack of good answers, but with a good tool, and the power of the internet to connect people, the answers to this question could go on as long as an artist’s creative imagination.

The picture is starting to change, and the future is really looking up. Didn’t even realize? Now you do…cheer up!

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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Anything I can do, You can do too

We are all different, but we are all the same.

It’s important to note that the only differences between people rely not so much on genes, because in that respect we are 99.99% the same, but they rely mostly upon cultural, societal, or environmental differences.

A person’s own experiences will determine very much how they feel about certain things, how they react to certain things, and how people achieve certain things.

It is this fact that leaves me to conclude that if everyone were put in my shoes, and has seen the exact same things that I’ve seen, they would feel the exact same way as I do about everything.

One could argue that everybody feels differently about different things, and not everyone makes the same choices, but remember, people’s choices are 99% based on experiences that they’ve had..the things they “know.”

If you take someone, and completely replace what they’ve already seen, and put in it’s place what someone else has been through, they will react almost exactly the same way.

The reason I know this is that there is no legitimate reason anyone can give me for this not to be true. If every single aspect of a person’s life were inherited by another person, from the start, hypothetically speaking of course, that person will make all of the same choices.

This really says something for the human potential. Think about all of the great people throughout history. The greatest ones, yes may have been smart enough to figure out what the right choices were, but the chances are that they didn’t always know, and they had to make a lot of mistakes, just like everyone else, to actually figure out what the right choices were, in order to be successful.

Also, chances are that if you would have put anyone else in the exact circumstances, they would have learned the same lessons from those mistakes, at least eventually.

The almost surprising thing is that the successful people are usually the ones faced with the worst circumstances. The human survival drive is one of the deepest drives accessible by our nature, and when needed, people will literally do anything to survive. The reason the people with the worst circumstances are usually the successful ones though is that they were the ones willing to take the risk. What else did they have to lose?

It might sound cliche but the most important step is the first one. To decide to take the risk, and never turn back. But risks can aren’t just going all in on a straight draw. They are usually calculated in this context, and the important ones are usually drawn out long enough to see which decisions to make, before they actually need to be made, or at least you have more time to think them through.

Too often people settle for mediocre when their dreams are staring them right in the face, almost as if from behind a 2-way mirror. People that need to survive break straight through that glass to see the other side, and they don’t stop until they get everything they ever wanted from life..and they deserve it.

It’s just sad that not everyone accesses that innate drive, that when used correctly, can secure a person’s dreams and future, when accompanied with patience and resilience.

Remember, if you have a dream..something you long for but have been told it’s impossible..look at those people, and smile, and say to yourself “I’m going to do that.” Anyone can do anything; and if the circumstances aren’t present right away, keep believing..trust me, somehow, if you want it enough, it will come. Anyone can change their circumstances.

My mother comes from a very poor family, who sometimes even struggled for food because of an alcoholic dad who left with all the money when she was 4. She worked throughout and after high school, in order to put her older brothers and sisters in college. Then later in her life, after getting laid off, with no college education herself, she decided to start her own business, doing public relations for pharmaceutical companies. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she hired people who did, and she had great social skills..enough to secure her first client from the beginning. Now her company is worth millions, and there she sits, the head of a successful 12 year old public relations firm, run entirely by women, from their homes, and she was able to buy her mother her first house.

If anybody taught me a lesson about circumstances and possibilities, it was her.

We are all different, but we are all the same, and we are powerful.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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John Swanson Album Review

Band Name: John Swanson

Album Title: Say Hello To Lou

Band Members and Positions: John Swanson – One Man Band

Genre: New Age Jazz, with Crooner vocals typical to that of Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr, and John Pizzarelli.

Record Label: Independent Musician

Difficulty of Music: John Swanson brings an array of rhythmic and melodic jazz styles to this album in each individual song. He mainly keeps the standard swing feel while incorporating some blues, big band, and minor latin feels to that specific style. This is a very good display of altering a swing tempo to bring a newJohn Swansonsound to the table throughout the album. The many tempo changes within any given track keep the listener appealed to the music, along with the smooth crooner flow of Swanson’s voice. The overall difficulty of the music is lacking signature changes but makes up for it thought the impeccable composition and organization of the album.

Comparisons to Other Artists: Frank Sinatra, John Pizzarelli, Micheal Buble

Lyrical Significance: John Swanson speaks very highly towards living a positive life to broaden horizons. He wants people to be aware of the pressures undergone during life from others, and tells his listeners to choose your own destiny. With this album John Swanson gives us an exquisitely unique array of lyrics and melodic rhythms, incorporated into a multitude of jazz riffs.

Overall Rating (out of 10) : 8/10

Band Website: www.johnswansonmusic.com

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Knowledge: The Infinite Design

Infinite Design

It is safe to say that nobody can ever know everything. There is so much knowledge being created, and found, every second of every day, and all over the world, that keeping up is literally impossible.

It is much more practical to be the one who is creating new knowledge in one area, than to try to tackle everything that already exists in all areas.

It is also safe to say that the purpose of man is to create. We were given hands, and tools, and means to use them. No other animal has the ability to create to the extent that we can. We take abstract ideas in our minds and make them into realities. We are problem solvers, and solution builders.

We are in a infinite loop of creation, where everyday, there is more than there was before.

Some people would find this thought overwhelming, or frustrating. As soon as you climb one mountain, you can then see an even higher one in the distance left to tackled. But this to me is reassuring.

It’s important to have new goals, and it’s also important to have a niche, or several. Pioneering a field can be an endless journey, but an amazing one.

It is very gratifying to be the one to get to the top of the mountain that no one else has climbed, and then be the one to discover another mountain.

Even if you never get to climb the next one, you can be assured that someone else will, and progress will be made because of you.

Knowledge and information are the lifeblood of society. Without it, there would be no progress.

The internet and computer age has transformed the world in 25 short years, because of all of the knowledge that has become infinitely more accessible than it was before.

It has taken a country like Colombia, who just 15 years ago was still riddled with gorillas, scared and suppressed citizens, and militant mindsets, and it has transformed it into a safe, thriving, and practical culture where ideas are shared and discussed openly, and wifi, high class cafe’s and very computer literate designers and programmers are common place.

It is important that knowledge be infinite in it’s nature. If it wasn’t, things would get pretty boring, and probably pretty bad. It’s the reason for such a big fuss about Google filtering their content in certain countries.

Knowledge acquisition has actually gotten ever more important than ever before, because of the internet.

Computers and the web give us the tool, and the space, to store all of the knowledge society acquires, without much overhead. And, It can then be accessed any time with something as simple as a Google search.

This is truly power. With this power, and basic human drive mixed together, it is safe to say that the progress of society as a whole will begin to speed up exponentially, adding more knowledge to the database, and leaving more of a reason for each person to focus on one niche, and build upon it as high as possible.

This is an amazing time to be alive. I would urge us all to take advantage of what’s being given to us, and not just focus on everything that is already here, and just stare in amazement, but actually access the root of our true nature, and take charge of innovating and pioneering ourselves, so that knowledge’s infinite structure can be strengthened faster, and our progress can truly make life better.

It is not enough to stand by and watch others make the big leaps and climb the big mountains. With knowledge being literally unlimited, it is extremely important that we get everyone involved, so we can solve the crucial problems even faster. Also, with all of the tools we have at our disposal today, it’s easier than ever before to innovate. All it takes is gathering the right information using the web, and sorting it out using our analytical and naturally-problem-solving minds.

I’m looking forward to a bright future that I helped build. I encourage you to help too, and you should encourage everyone you know to do the same. If this happens, the world will be an infinitely better place.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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Don’t Just Change, Grow

This is a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while. The difference is simple.

There always seems to be two sides to the story: Stay the Same, or Change.

What I find extremely frustrating is that these two choices usually end up with similar results. The current methods might not be the best, so people opt for change, but change is too vague of a word to guarantee positive results.

If I have a choice, I don’t just want to change the methods, I want to evolve them.

Opting for change could actually mean negative progress. At least if you opt for staying the same you are assured it won’t get any worse.

The difference between growth and change is incredibly big. It’s like the difference between a 40 year old man and a 12 year old boy.

The 40 year old man made some mistakes in his past, but he eventually learned from them and moved forward. The 12 year old boy continues to make mistakes based on his lack of experience at any one given method of achieving.

Change is like putting yourself, or your company, or your country, through puberty in hyperdrive. It can cause unnecessary mistakes.

Instead, I believe it’s necessary to approach things from the 40 year old man view, which ideally is “this is what I know and what I do well, and I’m going to stick to it, and for what I don’t know and what I’m not good at, I will hire the person who is.”

Change can be a dirty word. Growth is way better than change. It implies keeping the things that you do well, while building on top of that to tackle areas that you missed.

Growth is what everybody needs. It is truly progress. Everything else, including loose definitions of change, is standing still or going in reverse.

I believe it’s important to be clear and specific any time a change is needed.

When considering a “change” its always incredibly more safe to specifically define your goals as growth, and continue to proceed accordingly.

I really believe that growth should be demanded all the time, and in all instances that would apply. I think that even though it is a seemingly small difference on the surface, the results would be surprisingly positive overall.

When faced with the option to change or stay the same, don’t forget about the hidden option to grow. This is the definition of a brighter future.

Who do I talk to to swap change for growth permanently in the english language? Hopefully there’s enough you’s out there. Thanks for listening.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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Simple Keys to a REALLY Successful Business

If you do the following, you can be 100% sure that your business will be incredibly successful.

First of all, when structuring your business you have to have the mindset of providing the best value to people. If you are approaching the organization of you business with the mind set of making money, you are going to be sadly disappointed later on down the line.

The money will come later. The sure way to secure that money is by forgetting about it, and focusing on how you can provide the most value possible to your consumers.

Study your market, study your competitors, and outdo them. Don’t study them and try to imitate them so you can fit into the market place. You want to distinguish yourself. Find out what they’re doing, and then find the problems, and fix them. That’s value to your customers.

I cannot stress this enough. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to know something nobody else knows. If you’re going to seminars, or taking business classes, you can be sure that the info you’re getting is widely accessible.

Finding what nobody knows means studying the circumstances of your market, making observations, and then structuring aspects of your business based on that.

Don’t be so anxious to ask people for advice. Come up with ideas on your own. Take time out of your day to just sit, and think. It’s these ideas that will be most valuable because chances are they haven’t been spread halfway around the world already.

Again, try searching out the problems in the industry. Focus all of your time trying to find the solutions to these problems. If a big problem exists, you can be sure that the solution is unknown knowledge, or there wouldn’t be a problem. Be the person to solve that problem, and your company will be off to a great start.

The most important thing to remember when starting your own company is be flexible, meaning be open to different opportunities or ideas that may emerge.

Nowadays, the most flexible resource we have is the internet. Be open to integrating your business with it, because it is a tool that can give your business instant flexibility.

Keep these things in mind when starting your business and you can be assured that you will have a successful future. The only other advice I can give is, be assured that you will have a successful future.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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2010, and Still Very Much in the Dark

It’s not rare to hear middle-aged people go on about the technology we have now; the cell phones, and the video games, and everybody’s busy lives. But for all the talk about how advanced we are and how everything’s getting so uncontrollably complicated, there’s not enough talk about the truth of the situation.

The fact is, as a country, America is pretty advanced, but in the age of the world wide web, there’s a lot of that web still missing from the picture. The internet has the ability to transform commerce, transform communication, and transcend boundaries. It could be argued that it’s the most important thing missing throughout the world.

The internet has means of education, means of trade, and opportunity. Food and water sent from a rich country can save a life, but it cannot sustain it.

For all the talk about how advanced we are, I think it’s time we start realizing that the rest of the world is still very far behind. When we think about “our” situation, we need to think about it from the perspective of the world as a community, because in reality, and even more so in the future, we are all connected.

I am undoubtedly a huge advocate for more innovation and more technology, but in these circumstances, I would readily support a stand still of all progress in developed countries, in order to catch under-developed countries up at least to America’s standards, which are certainly not the highest, but would still be great for the world.

This stand still would never happen, but I am hoping that with the coming technologies to emerge out of the developed countries in the years to come, a solution to this problem can be found that brings, if nothing else, widespread internet access and computers to the world.

America, Europe, and parts of Asia may be relatively advanced, but in many parts of the world, there’s still not much difference between now and 200 years ago. We tend to make a huge separation between us and ancient people, or even the victorians, but as a whole, we are not much different, and as a world community, we still have a long ways to go.

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

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The True Importance of Scenery Change

I’m writing to you today from my marketing genius’s parent’s house in Medellin, Colombia. The weather is a sunny, beautiful 82 degrees, and compared to the 20 degree, crappy weather I left in Pennsylvania, this place is a paradise. This is my first time in South America, and I haven’t seen much of it yet, having just landed last night, but I’ve already been here long enough to start feeling the positive effects of change of scenery.

Many people don’t realize, but the environment surrounding us plays a huge role on our lives every day. It’s not just the city or town we’re in, but also the people we’re around, the living conditions, and even the food we eat. It is extremely important, especially if you’re trying to work and get things done the right way, that you make your surroundings coincide with the results you wish to see.

Try to surround yourself with things that make you comfortable; things that remind you of happy times, and if you don’t have any, try to surround yourself with things that will help you start making the happy times right now. It could be a poster of a car that you hope to afford one day, or a stunning view from an Italian mountain top that you hope to visit. it could even be the music you play in the background. Music plays a huge role in changing and tuning our moods. So does..stuff…use it as a tool for change!

Also, even if your permanent environment is the way you like it, it is ALWAYS good to get a change of scenery. The simple shift in perspective traveling gives you can be more valuable to you than you may know. It gives you a different angle to look at your life from, which can help you see things you may not have noticed before.

This change in perspective is almost equivalent to taking a dose of magic mushrooms believe it or not. It’s been theorized that ancient civilizations used hallucinations to give them this change in perspective, because back then, it was too hard to go out and experience different environments than the ones they were used to, so they eventually discovered the value in these drug’s ability to provide this shift.

It is also theorized that things like mushrooms and peyote may be responsible for speeding up the evolution of human consciousness. I happen to believe this is possible, because the important attribute of these drugs is the change in perspective. Traveling has a very similar effect, and can give you revelations, and open you up to things you didn’t know existed, all while actually being coherent enough to write things down!

The perspective shift is one of the most important things we as humans can possibly habituate in our lives. To find any location, you always need 2 points of reference. You need a latitude and a longitude. Without knowing one or the other, you could be almost anywhere. It is getting this second perspective that gives you a pin-point of your location, your life, and your work, and once you have this information, you can use it to help you get to where you want to be even faster.

Looking at things from one perspective your whole life can almost be dangerous. If you grew up only in a place full of crime and anger, you may never even realize that places full of compassion exist. The perspective shift is key to helping progress.

If you are feeling lost, or stuck, or you are feeling things in your life coming to a stand still, get out and go someplace! It doesn’t even have to be far, it just has to be dramatically different than what you’re used to. If you’re used to big buildings and sidewalks, go drive 30 minutes, park, and take a walk in the woods. I guarantee it will help you get back on track.

I’ve definitely spent enough time blogging now. It’s time to go get a lot more perspective shift in. I definitely need it! Adios!

Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC