Tag Archives: Medellin

A World-Wide Movement – Beat-Play Interview with Alejandro Velasquez from Artefacto – Medellin, Colombia

This is an amazing interview with independent artist Alejandro Velasquez, a guitarist in the band Artefacto. He talks about the struggles for independent artists in Medellin, Colombia, and also about how artists there are organizing in order to make the changes they need to be successful on their own.

I love this interview for a couple of reasons. One is Alejo’s response to my question “How do you promote yourself?” I’ve never had anyone give me his response, and I’ve long felt the same way. He said “make good music.” This should always be first and foremost.

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No Wonder America is Outsourcing its Jobs to Death

Honestly, after my first time doing business in another country, I really didn’t want to come back and do business here anymore. I went to Colombia for 3 weeks, specifically Medellin, which I’m sure you know by now if you read my blog often.

But during my trip we accomplished many things. We got T-shirts printed, a new Banner printed, Logo Stamps made, promotional fortune cookies with our business cards and custom messages, we interviewed 18 amazingly talented graphic designers, and hosted a party for independent artists at a brewery with 5 free beers for everyone, with about 155 people who showed up, we had a DJ with original music, a photographer, 3 models, and even a local TV show showed up.

Now before I even tell you how much this stuff cost, I want to first talk about the more important aspect – Costumer Service.

The reason I say more important is because I didn’t know what customer service was until I went to Colombia. Once I realized what it was, I realized it was more valuable than anything else, and even if the prices were the same as here, I would have been completely happy.

These people bent over backwards for me. They did overnight designs, on the spot changes, kept in constant contact, and then even delivered the product right to me afterwards…all of them! I’ll give you a great example with the banner. We saw a little print shop on a block near where we were staying, and we decided to stop in to see what they had. They actually did a lot of banner work, and other things like big cut-outs and stuff like that. They were a print shop and a design shop in one.

Their prices were ridiculously low, about $15 for a design, but what was more surprising was that once we said we wanted to make an appointment to meet with a designer, they took us back to a room, and we met with one right then. We gave him a couple files with our logos and stuff, described to him what we wanted, and he went to work, while we were still there. The next day he came back with a finished design version. We made a couple of changes, sent it back, then the next day we saw the changes and it was perfect, and it got printed that day.

It took 3 days to design and print this banner, where it would have taken at least 2 weeks here, by the time it got from the designers to the printers, and here if the design needs last minute changes, and the printers have to mess with it at all, don’t even get me started with what they charge sometimes. This designer delivered the banner to us personally, around 6:00pm after work, and after waiting extra time after for it to dry. If a 3 day turn around, close attention to need, and a personal delivery isn’t customer service, I really don’t even want to know what is.

Okay, the banner cost under $100, where here it would have been about $500-$600 for a banner of the size here. For the whole brewery, staffed, from 6-9:30pm on a friday night, with 5 free beers per person, we paid $5.00 per head, and paid nothing up front. We also paid like $150 bucks total for 3 gorgeous models to come, wear our shirts, and give out our information to the crowd. (Slideshow here) I won’t even go into how great the shirt guys were.

The reasons to outsource just kept adding up. We didn’t even pay these people up front. They honestly will start working before you even talk about method of payment or anything, because they figure if they do the work, and diligently, as they do, you will definitely pay them before you pay someone else. Also it doesn’t hurt that they know American’s have more money than other people in their area, which is just another perk of outsourcing.

Colombia has really taught me something about work ethic. Medellin is supposed to be a pretty laid back city, but from what I saw, people will bust their ass for you. It makes me almost sick to think about how “busy” everyone is here, and how important everyone thinks their time is, to the point where if you even approach them about work, you get thrown on the bottom of a pile that could take the person 2 weeks until they even get to you.

Here, our view of work I think is much more laid back than in other countries, despite our view that our work is more important, or on a higher level. The truth is the lack of customer service and attention to detail actually makes our work of a lower quality than in other countries, while their prices are lower! Why stay here?

Most people are almost always in a residual of work that we’ve had on our plates from 2 weeks ago, and are just starting or finishing now. People in Colombia accept new work and get started right away, literally. Not because they don’t have other work, but because they work so hard on the work that they do have, that by the time new work comes in, they’re almost done with the other stuff and they have the time to dedicate fully to you. Here we are so concerned with how busy our schedule is, and how we’re going to do the work, that we waste more time scheduling, instead of just working.

I’ve ruined it for myself. Now it’s messed up to me when I come to someone with a project and I say I need it by the end of the week, and they say “no one could realistically get that done in that time, it’s going to take probably 1 1/2 – 2 weeks.” Before, I would say “well okay, I understand.” Now that sounds insane. I just saw someone do it in 3 days! and for cheaper! and they delivered!!! Just because nobody else in the market is working harder than you, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. But that is how things operate here in our market, and when compared to other places, who are supposedly less advanced, our work is truly inferior, and worse yet, we’ve gotten used to it.

It’s no wonder everybody outsources. If you work at a company where they’re starting to outsource to another country, I would suggest taking a trip there if you can, or at least check out some Youtube videos, or make some phone calls to see how they operate there. Chances are they’re much more efficient and easier to deal with, as long as you speak their language. If you can even start to replicate what they do in the least, you would completely distinguish yourself amongst everyone else working around you.

We really need to learn something from these countries. It’s not JUST that they’re cheaper; they actually work extremely hard for their money, and the price is just a plus. They’re value-given to money ratio is WAY higher than ours. We’re all about giving a little for a lot, while they do the opposite. For them, they’re still getting paid usually more than a local job, and they’re just as happy as you are in the end.

Why would people here not outsource? Unless we start giving people a reason not to, by upping our customer service and work ethic, we will just keep losing jobs. We need to check ourselves for a second, and realize we are not as superior as we think, and I think our prices need to start reflecting the value that we do give. If the price don’t go down, pump up the customer service!

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

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LaSonora Album Review


Band: LaSonora  http://www.myspace.com/lasonoramusica

Album:

Musiquita para viajar de noche vol. 1

Band Members and Positions:

Chucho (voice / guitar), Mata (guitar / vocals), Juanca (bass / vocals) and Alexis (drums / vocals)

Genre:

Rock

Record Label:
None

Difficulty of Music:
The music on this album is extremely well put together. It’s laid back, cruising in your car music, and they do it right. Their music embodies their roots in Medellin, Colombia, and the guitarist’s licks are extremely tasty.

Comparisons to Other Artists:

Influenced by Los Rodriguez, Bajotierra, Foo Figthers, Gin Blossoms, U2, Beatles, and some of The Killers

Lyrical Significance:

LaSonora’s music has deep emotional significance and very meaningful lyrics, usually about love, or hard times, but with an uplifting tone in most songs.

Overall Rating (out of 10) : 8.5

Band Website:
Note:

LaSonora’s CD is completely in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand, their music is great to chill out to..and it might make you wanna learn.
Reviewed by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC

The Independent Fight Below the Belt – How South American Independents are Organizing

Being in Colombia for 3 weeks has given me an amazing picture of what it’s like on the other side of the equator, especially for independent artists and aspiring people all together.

There are a couple more limitations there than in the U.S., but for the most part, we all have the same problems. Even the solutions we have in the U.S. don’t solve our problems, so though South American countries may be farther behind, the same problems are left without solutions.

For example, in Colombia they don’t have iTunes. In fact, they don’t have any major website for them to sell their music to their fans in Colombia, and even if they did, most people don’t have credit cards, so it’s hard for them to pay.

In America, we have iTunes, and a 1000 other websites that allow you to sell your music, in exchange for one high percentage or another, and the people here do have credit cards, but they still don’t buy their music. The problems are the same, but they are not so apparent at first glance.

Even if Colombia had iTunes they would still have problems. They need a website that allows them to make money from their music not directly from their fans, but through advertisements or sponsors. That way people not having credit cards would not matter.

The big problem though, here and there, is promotion. iTunes, nor any of the other websites I’ve seen (and I’ve just about seen 85% of them, including a lot of start-ups that are in, or almost in beta) provide a practical and efficient form of promotion for independent artists that is both free and incredibly effective.

That’s what we all need! We in the U.S., though we like to think the opposite, are still very far from realizing any real solutions.

What Colombia does have, that the U.S. doesn’t to the extent, is the organization of the independent artist communities. There are thousands of creative and amazingly talented independent artists in Medellin, Colombia, where I was primarily, and their drive is incredible.

There is not really a want in the artists to get signed there, though they do have some small independent and some major label recognition. The artists there however, do a pretty good job at realizing other ways to get paid, and they also take the independent artist title pretty professionally.

There’s one group of indie artists in particular that I was introduced to, who meet weekly to develop strategies for how independent artists can stabilize themselves in their community and support themselves. They also have a publication that they developed to keep people in the loop. It is called Revista Musica, http://www.revistamusica.com/ or translated, Music Magazine. They refer to themselves as an amalgamation, not just a group. It’s really that simple.

This is their Vision, as translated by Google:

Use Music Magazine as a means to enable the production of national and international concerts of national artists, from the understanding of our musical expression as a competitive resource and a chance for social development.

I filmed an interview with one of the key members of the organization, and I will post it sometime this month for sure. There is actually a LOT of great footage from my whole trip that I will definitely share on this blog.

One great strategy that this group brought up was for the whole team of independent artists to talk with their local government officials about merging the independent music of the city, with the tourism of the city. Their idea was to use the artists as another resource to draw people in. Anywhere there is a public tourist spot, there should be independent artist’s music playing…Museums, Mono-Rails, Parks ect..

This was one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve heard in a long time as a strategy to proliferate the music. It seems like the people there just think harder about the issues, maybe even because there aren’t as many other options available. I think the lack of a cloud of options around them is actually more beneficial to them getting the desired results.

I talked to another artist who was telling me about trying to get his band’s music to play before a movie starts, or in elevators, or certain public bathrooms. Their thinking is very multi-dimensional.

It’s awesome that they’ve discovered the practical perception that the music itself can be a tourist attraction. And it turns out that selling that idea to their local government, being as it does make a lot of sense, isn’t really all that hard. They are in talks with them now, and plans seem to be moving forward.

I will most certainly track the progress of this awesomely innovative independent artist movement going on in Medellin. I am sure that they are not the only ones around the world banning together like this. After all, the problems are the same everywhere, but I would hope that we in the U.S. try to look past the fog of bad options that can sometimes cloud our view, and I hope we embrace measures to ban together in order to accomplish our true, shared goals, and learn a lesson from our peers in other countries.

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