Tag Archives: Evolution

TEDtalk: David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve [VIDEO]

As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.

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It’s Time for Indie Artists to Organize, Now More Than Ever! – Join the Music Without Labels Community! – There are Great Benefits to Be Had!!


Right now it is more important than ever for independent artists to organize together. Music Without Labels is an environment dedicated to the ideas and solutions that are going to carry indie artists to where they want to be: in complete control, and with as many options as possible to further their careers.

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The Loss of Competition in Tech

The key to success is knowing something nobody else knows. It seems to me that too many of the people in the web or tech fields are strictly focused on what everybody else does know, and they don’t take this information and use it to create the next big evolution, but instead, they try to create something that fits into what everybody else is already talking about, or are focused on at the moment, in order to fit into a perceived market trend.

There also always seems to be much speculation about what the next big trend will will be, but usually we end up being very wrong. For example, many people are betting on the tablet PC to be the next BIG innovation, however, I will suggest something later in this post that could make the tablet PC obsolete, and even if it isn’t realized now, the chances are that someone will realize it eventually, and it will then take the place of the tab. I will give you a very recent example of why this issue occurs.

Currently, and widely because of this years CES Convention, the web is buzzing about tablet PC’s and iSlate speculation, and eReaders. It seems to me that in both categories, there are many competitors with extremely similar products. At least all of the big brands out there seem to be following a trend. There aren’t very many different solutions in terms of features and technologies.

How could they all have come out with similar products at the same time? The future of eReaders and portable PCs is so uncertain.. How could they all have come up with the same answers to the same questions, and especially when there are many different directions left unexplored by any of them?

It seems to me something fishy is going on, like they’re all talking to one another.. However, the fishy big companies aren’t the only causes of the problem. There just doesn’t seem to be any push from new companies to completely out-do their bigger competitors and introduce an innovation that makes their competitor’s products obsolete. Maybe it’s lack of resources, but I know if I’m a venture capitalist, I’m going to invest in innovation*.

The one hardware example of a new company at least slightly distinguishing themselves from their competitors has to be Plastic Logic with their Que proReader (shown at top) that is designed specifically for business solutions. But as luck would have it, eReaders may be in danger of becoming obsolete all together due to evolving portable PCs that can do almost infinitely more.

I think the winner of this debate for the hardware would be Light Blue Optic’s Light Touch 10 inch touchscreen projector; but even this has many problems, or holes, in functionality that could prevent this particular model from going to the next level. Imagine if this product was also a mini PC, but the screen expanded to Microsoft Surface proportions. It could potentially make the Surface obsolete, and in the process maybe the tablet PC as well, due to no limitations on screen size, with much less hardware, therefor less price, and the same capabilities. Why hasn’t Light Blue Optics figured this out?

It’s the same story with websites and apps. There’s about 182,000 (not accurate) music websites out there, all with extremely similar models, and if not, with similar problems. For independent artists, they either charge you too much upfront without you being guaranteed results, or they’re free but offer you no way to actually promote your music other than spamming people, or you need to use more than one site because one provides a tool that you need that the other doesn’t have, and vice versa. There’s many similar problems from a fan’s perspective as well. Why can’t someone come up with a website that solves ALL of these problems for everybody!?! (Beat-Play)

It seems that even with all of the amazing possibilities that the web is capable of providing, with a market place driven by poor competition, still, nothing is easy.

You might say “But Dante, it’s not so easy to innovate in a field these days. Where do you even start?” And I’d say to you “But it really is! And you start with your competitor’s products.” An innovation doesn’t have to be some huge evolutionary leap, like morse code right to Telephone, it just has to solve a problem that is currently put up with by society. Be the person to solve that problem, and your company should be off to a great start.

Try using your competitor’s products. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. If you don’t know what industry to start with, chances are you’re a consumer of something..what problems do you face with products? I once saw a great TED Talk by Charles Leadbeater, about the occurrence of innovation. He talked about how the invention of the mountain bike didn’t come from the R&D labs of major companies, but they came from the consumers. Avid bikers became fed up with the restrictions placed on them by the big companies, and they began modifying, and eventually selling their modified bikes. The mountain bike industry today accounts for 65% of all bike sales in America

By looking at all of the slate computers, and finding the fundamental problems, creating an alternative to these problems becomes a lot easier, instead of creating something that poses the same problems. It seems that many times the major company’s definition of “compete” is to create a product with almost identical features as the other company’s products, so when you’re in the store staring at both of them on the shelf, you’re so confused that hopefully you’ll end up picking their product. This is either lunacy, stupidity, or treachery towards the consumers. I have a feeling there’s a little bit of all three floating around in this marketplace somewhere.

People only pay attention to the products of existing companies when it comes to hardware. The web is the only medium where mass mainstream media advertising can have absolutely no effect on the success of a website. In other words, a website can completely explode, seemingly overnight, with no TV commercials or billboards up initially whatsoever.

For almost every other major industry, advertising could make or break you, which is why new competitors don’t arise very often. But, it turns out that the internet and social-ecommerce could very well offer a solution to this problem as well, especially with the massive networks of people being created by the Web 2.0 revolution. However, how the internet can make advertising obsolete is a subject for another blog.

For now, if you’re a consumer who wishes they weren’t constrained by company or brand restrictions, then now is the time to do something about it, and come up with the solutions to those problems. You might as well, the big companies aren’t going to solve them. The key to success is knowing something nobody else knows…or admits..

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

*However it is worth noting that most venture capitalists are probably in their 50’s-70’s and they’ve seen so much innovation in their lifetimes, that to them, they kind of have the outlook that enough is enough. They may even resent the fact that the world will continue to advance without them. At least this is my theory. I also happen to think the world would be a much better place if run by intelligent people in their 20’s. I should also note that I’m 21 :).

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Music Without Labels & Beat-Play Interview With Jaway

Give us some background. Where are you from originally, where are you now, how did you get there?

I’m from Liberia, West Africa, but I’ve lived in Los Angeles, California for the last six years. I fled from a very bloody and destructive civil war to make a better life for myself and to help my family.  It’s kind of funny—I never intended to pursue a career in music even though I grew up singing in a church choir. In fact, my mom still directs that choir. When I got to Los Angeles, my only goal was to pursue a career in business. But I’m also an athlete and I like to stay fit, so I go to the gym a lot. Anyhow, one afternoon I was singing in the locker room at the gym, not knowing anyone else was there. But in fact another gym member overheard me and assumed I was a professional singer. When he asked me about my next performance, I laughed. I told him I had no upcoming performances because I was not a professional vocalist. He gave me this weird look and said, “So what are you doing in LA, then?” Before I could answer, he said, “Look, son, I think you have a natural talent, but don’t take my word for it. Let me introduce you to a friend of mine who’s been a vocal coach for the longest time. Listen to what she has to say then decide what you want to do.” I took his advice and here I am now. 

What Genre would you classify yourself as?

My music crosses Pop, World, and Adult Contemporary. 

What is it that drove you to pursue a career in music, and what it is that drives you individually as a musician or a band?

Most of all, my passion for the craft. The challenge of seeing the start, development, and completion of a song. The thought process, persistence and dedication needed to put all the pieces together so that a song will transcend the ordinary but also make sense to the next person.  The fact that I can share my thoughts and feelings through this medium still amazes me.  What drives me as a musician? Like my song “Feeling” says, I got a feeling in my soul that’s running twenty miles a minute. A feeling that has taken a serious hold of me and won’t let go. And believe me I’ve tried. But no matter what I do, it’s always there. I’ve come to realize that this is me and has always been for as long as I can remember. Like another one of my songs, “But U,” says, “Don’t try to be no one else but you,” because it won’t work. It just won’t work because you can only be you—so here I am. 

What struggles have you faced with having your music heard and getting your name recognized by outside markets?

Hummm, where should I start? Seriously, being an independent unknown artist says it all. It’s difficult getting on the radio, getting paid gigs in LA, getting promotion and advertising, weeding through the people who talk lots of game and connects but have none, weeding through the real and the fake, getting the music to the right people. The list goes on and on. This is because indie artists are still up against the labels with all the money and connects. However, you have to continuously seek the way. It takes a lot of work, time, and energy but you have no choice—especially if you want to make a living in this game. And, yes, unfortunately that’s what it is to some people, a game. But, I’m doing what I can through friends (grassroots marketing), social networks, word of mouth, and a medium like this interview. Hopefully, all that effort will kick things off.  You see, I appreciate this interview so much because it’s a great way to get the word out there. So thanks very much to Music Without Labels for this opportunity. And those of you who are reading this, please help spread the word about my music. I greatly appreciate it and promise you won’t be disappointed.  
 

What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?           

Charity begins at home and ends abroad. As I mentioned above, I started with my friends and asked them to share my music with their friends. Social networks like Facebook, twitter, Myspace, etc. Go into your individual communities. You take every opportunity to perform; you do fliers and post them everywhere you can. Also, I always ask friends for help as well as ideas because you never know. These are just a few of the things I’ve found that you can do yourself, and you build on that. 

Is there a predominant message you hope to get across in your songs?

The most important message is to care for, love, share with and help one another. This will definitely make our world a much better place and alleviate most of our problems. I can guarantee you that.  

What are your thoughts on the future of the music industry and where it’s going?

The future is very promising because artists now have more control over their craft and the fans will benefit from the variety. The industry as we know it—big record labels—will be gone or change dramatically because of the new tools and media that are becoming available to artists. 

Are you currently unsigned, and do you plan on staying independent?

Yes, right now I’m unsigned.  Ultimately, the opportunities presented to me by a major label will determine my decision on whether to go that direction. 

What are your reasons for being an independent artist?

I’m smiling because at this point I have no choice, but the big advantage to me of this situation is the control I have over my music and my image and how they’re presented. 

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Maxwell, Seal, Luther Vandross, Jason Mratz, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Boyz II Men, Neyo, James Ingram, Beyonce, Bob Marley, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, just to name a few. 

Do you ever feel that people will be missing out on your music because you are not signed to a major record label?

Some people may miss out on it because I’m not signed to a major label—but I’m trying to overcome that by reaching out in various ways—like this interview—to connect my music with people I’ll never meet. I hope I succeed because I believe almost everybody can relate to my lyrics even though we all have different tastes in music. 

What would you say if I told you that there’s a new force in Independent Music that will give you all of the power of the Major Labels and more, while at the same time giving you complete control over all aspects of your musical career, and you will never have to sign a thing?

I’d say I need to be connected to that new force ASAP. 

And you would have access to the world’s first ever audio component auction, where pieces of songs are sold off at auction prices to be repurposed in other songs.  What kind of impact do you think that would have on your music?

Potentially a very big impact, especially in regard to opportunities for collaboration, different types of exposure, opportunities to work with different people and genres, as well as opportunities for new revenue streams. 

The only catch is you have to choose to use it to your benefit, or not.

I’d like to hope that any benefit I gain in terms of promoting my music is also in some way a benefit to everyone who hears my music and message. 

It’s called Beat-Play, and it will be beta tested this Fall 09. Sign up at www.MusicWithoutLabels.com