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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:07 pm

hobbyist wrote:Digital and the internet have killed the market for musicians artists photographers and writers as well as for recording editing mixing mastering.
Citation please...
They've changed it not killed it. More content is being produced than ever before. They've killed off certain business models, but the market is thriving in terms of creation.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:56 am

I think I've got to be honest with myself, I'm not passionate about recording, I can remember working for a friend helping out on sessions, it was so boring, the day to day life of a jobbing location guy is just that, damp cold churches, terrible sopranos making demos, prima-donna's everywhere, vanity projects abound. Occasionally we'd have a good job, but mostly it was very boring.
What am I good at that I can make money out of? I can't think of anything, so it looks like I may have a walk on part in my local B&Q
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:09 am

OK people - let's get real here -

Arpangel wrote:I think I've got to be honest with myself, I'm not passionate about recording,

Good! That's a start! And it's a pretty good start at that!

You can be passionate about whatever it is that you are recording - but only unbalanced nerds and loonies get passionate about bits of equipment. In other words, it is the end result that should be your motivation and NOT the process!

We can forget equipment hire for starters - too expensive to get off the ground and the marketing costs for a start-up will kill you!

What does work is to find a gap in the market for some goofy little thing that usually sell for silly money and buy that in bulk from China and sell it/them on eBay.

Look around you. Look at what you have bought in the past few months. Was there something there that was just too expensive for what it really is? Or was a cheaper version just not available on eBay? Some footlingly stupid little thing, a bit of cable, some kitchen device, some photography gizmo that seems to cost a small fortune for just a piece of metal with a screw in it?

And here's how the gig goes -

A typical example is a wi-fi dongle. The wi-fi connections built into most laptops and PCs are rubbish and large workstations usually don't have wi-fi built in. I needed one, just one. We also need two more in the office for the laptops that could not get decent connections using their onboard wi-fi. There's a bloke selling dual band and really good wi-fi dongles for £7.98 each on eBay. Now I know that they cost just $1.50 each in boxes of 500 pieces, so about £1 (FOB) - which translates to £2 delivered and cleared. So he is making about £4 gross margin after envelopes and postage on every single one - and good luck to him!

Looking at his feedback on eBay, he is selling about three a week and he also sells loads of other stuff, DP cables, HDMI cables, ethernet converters - penny-ante stuff like that. Each item represents about £500 investment in a box of the damn things but translates into £10-£50 turnover a week, about half of which is mark-up. He has a job, his house-bound wife (kids!) sends out the stuff and manages the eBay and PayPal accounts.

He now has 140 items in his eBay shop and the spare bedroom and his front room are both filled with shelves and boxes of goofy stuff from national flags to smartwatches, from HDMI switchers to false eyelashes.

He started with one box of cables bought via the made-in-china website, after being charged £15 for a poxy little HDMI cable at PC World. He bought a box of them for pennies each!

As for people who start up with hare-brained schemes that seemed doomed to fail and manage to come up trumps - for every one of those there are a hundred or more that fail. I get to see them in all their glory!

You could start by getting the excellent book 'Starting a Business for Dummies' by Colin Barrow (I have a copy which you can have if you want it! Call!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Starting-Busin ... 1118837347

The following is just a short piece I wrote earlier on how to get going if you don't happen to have a million to spare. This is how I did it. This is how others did it. And this is how you can do it. If you don't happen to have a money-hose, this is just for you!

1. Just do it! Don't say "I want to start a business." Start a business. The moment you say "I am a business person." you are a business person. It's that simple. The very act of wanting to have a business is your very first step in your journey through life as a business person. The very act of wanting it means that you are one already.

2. Aim high! I don't care how ridiculously high your ambitions are, they are perfectly achievable. Aim high and maybe, just maybe you will get there. If you don't aim high, your chances of achieving that goal are zero. You must play the lottery if you want to win the lottery! Except that the chances of winning the business lottery are about one million times higher than getting six right on a Saturday night!

3. Prepare! Understand the business you are about to enter. Work in that business. Watch what others do. Study every aspect of the business. It may look easy from the outside, but there will be things you don't know that you don't know, so find out what those things are. In business, preparation is everything!

4. Make mistakes! Yes, that's right - make all the mistakes and get them over with. Keep making mistakes but make them just once. Write down all your mistakes in a book and then read that book regularly. We call making mistakes 'Experience!'

5. Do it your way! How often do we get to hear "You must do it this way!" when what they are really saying is "That is how we have always done it and we can't think of any other way of doing it!" You must always study and learn the accepted wisdom - but that does not mean that you have to follow it. Your unique way of doing things makes what you do and what you have to offer itself unique. Let that be your USP!

6. Calculate! You must understand the numbers in your business - all of them. Understand the difference between margin, net profit, gross profit, fixed costs, variable costs, piece costs. Understand all the costs of hiring people, payroll taxes, insurance, pensions, canteen, space for cars, etc. Understand how to calculate risk and the role fixed costs play in risks. The difference between a business person and just another Schmo on the street is the business person can calculate!

7. Do it cheaply! You can start a limo company with a beautiful used stretch S-Class Mercedes for £5k or you can buy a new one for £250k. You can start a movie company with a $1m Arri-Alexa6 with grips and lenses, or you can use a DSLR for £1k. You can use sunlight and old PAR lights or you can use $1m worth of HMIs and a generator. You can start a taxi company with a brand new Audi for £50k or you can buy a used Toyota for £8k. There are several bookkeeping programmes out there for silly money and even better ones out there for free! Solve your investment problems with intelligence and initiative - you don't have a money-hose!

8. Tell the World! The idea that if you build a better mousetrap, the World will beat a pathway to your door is total bunk! The World has to know that you have a better mousetrap first! That means a sexy website that scores well for the search engines, that means leafleting, that means getting the message out to the press, that means infesting every forum, blog and idiotic social media going. That means having a YouTube channel and putting something new there every week. That means shouting your message across the rooftops. You can't afford to be shy!

9. Be creative! Never stop that Blue-Sky thinking! Keep imagining what else you could be doing. Every day and in every way, you must set aside some time to dream and think of a better way of doing everything involved in your business.

10. Rationalise to be productive! Use every possible tool to be more productive! Use the fastest software. If using an automated CNC machine will double your output, get one! This is all about calculating. Car companies make cars for tiny sums of money, usually between one-fifth and one-eighth of RRP. They do this by automating every possible process. You must do the same. Look at which type of customers are the most profitable. Deal with them and drop the rest. Rationalise each and every aspect of your operation. From bookkeeping to sales, from stock control to prepping in a restaurant kitchen, every process must be as efficient as humanly possible!
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:03 pm

Ah! Dongles!

My daughter teaches beauty therapy at Npton college and the students are required to bring a USB stick to save their work to. 1G would be plenty. Like students everywhere forever they don't!

I suggested we buy a dozen or so 1 or 2G sticks and she could dole them out at cost, which should be very low. Problem. Very hard to get a price from anybody unless you fill in a form for colour, size, type AND minimum quantity seemed to be about 100pcs.

She was not going to punt £200 ish when it would take her years to get her money back but someone else might see such a niche market?

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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:44 pm

blinddrew wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Digital and the internet have killed the market for musicians artists photographers and writers as well as for recording editing mixing mastering.
Citation please...
They've changed it not killed it. More content is being produced than ever before. They've killed off certain business models, but the market is thriving in terms of creation.

@blinddrew
Same difference. The change has left it bloody and dying even if technically still alive. It is a lot more tougher now and virtually impossible to succeed big time.

I cite my experience as photog, writer, and recordist. Also from looking at selling art not doing it.

What we have now is a VERY long tailed phenomenon.
A handful of people do very well. Some do okay, But the vast majority do not cover their expenses.

The amount being produced is irrelevant to the debate. Millions of wannabees are 'publishing' their novel on amazon for free or at least not much cost. A few sell big. Some sell okay. Most do not sell enough to cover the effort put into creating it.

Ditto for photographers. Uncle Bob does weddings for free. Millions of others have DSLRs that they use thus flooding the market with images. Newspapers stop using photogs and are turning to reporters to also take some pix with their cell phone.

The art market is no difference. Unless you have a big name then your 'art' is only worth the decor value. The BIG money comes from the name and reputation which takes a lot of time and effort to create should you succeed at that at all.

And music is the same. Big names have their studios in their mansions. Studios are folding up all over. Mid range have gear to DIY all their tracking editing mixing mastering and production needs.
Low end can't afford to pay others enough to make it worth going after that end of the biz. And if you try you are up against a few larger companies using computers and software to automate everything and who are already advertising widely.

So do it all for fun. If you become successful be happy. But do it for fun cause the chances are you are going to be in the low end of that very very long tail now.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:18 pm

I'd argue it's not the 'same difference'.
Why do we create? To make music* or to make money? If the answer is music, then the market is functioning brilliantly - more content is being produced than ever before, and the idea that most of it is junk just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. There is a huge amount of brilliant stuff being produced all over the globe on a daily basis.
If the answer is 'to make money' then art has never been a good way of doing it.
Financial success in the arts has always been the preserve of a tiny fraction of a percentage, what the new tools have given us is the ability for everyone to have a go, not just a lucky few.
The idea that there was some golden age before the internet came along has never stood up to real scrutiny (unless you're a major label of course), the difference is that now, if you don't make it with a label, you have the chance to do it yourself.
The label I was with stopped trading, not because of the internet, but because they didn't have a good enough business model and they didn't execute well enough on it.
In the pre-internet era that would have been it for me, recording wise. Instead I can carry on doing my stuff and creating, sharing, and yes, selling, my music. It ain't much, but it's more than I could have done before.

The market(s) has been disrupted, major encumbents frequently didn't react well, and hence it's taking a long time for new models to establish themselves. And that sucks if you were part of the old market, but it's what happens.


* Or photography or film or literature or any other art.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:06 pm

The label I was with stopped trading
Out of interest what happened to your masters, your publishing rights etc?
Did the label get bought out or did it just disappear?
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:09 pm

Fortunately it was a very amicable split. They retained the masters and the copyright on the recordings, I own the songs and have a garage still full of unsold CDs! :)
We have a gentleman's agreement that in the (incredibly unlikely) event of anything actually earning any money (beyond getting rid of the CDs) we would go back to 50-50 split on anything made from those recordings.
This isn't something that keeps me awake at night! :D
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby MOF » Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:07 pm

Fortunately it was a very amicable split
Good to hear you're happy with the arrangement, sounds decent enough to me.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:05 pm

blinddrew wrote:I'd argue it's not the 'same difference'.
Why do we create? To make music* or to make money?

Only the Sith..

I think many people creates to try to do both.

It’s often a secret or untold aspiration because the odds of failure are huge, and few like to be seen as failures - especially by themselves.

Making a living doing something you love is very right, and one of the ways to happinesss, while making a living with something you don’t care much about is hell on earth.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:53 pm

CS70 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:I'd argue it's not the 'same difference'.
Why do we create? To make music* or to make money?

Only the Sith..

I think many people creates to try to do both.

It’s often a secret or untold aspiration because the odds of failure are huge, and few like to be seen as failures - especially by themselves.

Making a living doing something you love is very right, and one of the ways to happinesss, while making a living with something you don’t care much about is hell on earth.

I feel that music-making is an essential component in my life, but much as I would be delighted if some random use of anything I wrote appeared in something in the wider public ear, at the same time I dread the possibility.

When I was a professional musician I mainly played live but I also did a (now lost to obscurity) film soundtrack and a few jingles on a commercial basis. I hated those experiences with a passion. Both were 'successful' in that I had happy clients but as soon as commercialism and music mix I'm looking for an exit ASAP. I'd much rather finish a novel I started-but-parked some years ago and have that published.

I exclude self-promotion/selling on bandcamp (which I'm planning to do in the not too distant) from that, but that's OK because I'm dealing with myself. My ideal compromise would be to have something on bandcamp achieve wider recognition, but nothing more than that.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:59 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:When I was a professional musician I mainly played live but I also did a (now lost to obscurity) film soundtrack and a few jingles on a commercial basis. I hated those experiences with a passion. Both were 'successful' in that I had happy clients but as soon as commercialism and music mix I'm looking for an exit ASAP.

I exclude self-promotion/selling on bandcamp (which I'm planning to do in the not too distant) from that, but that's OK because I'm dealing with myself.

Well, but isn't that because you connect "commercialism" with "having to be constrained"? I mean if I were playing in a cover band I'd make much more money, but I'd be bored to death.

But what of the Springsteens, the Simons, the U2s, the Knoplfers, heck, the Beatleses - that after a initial notoriety boot, got the freedom to do pretty much as they pleased. No commercial _pressure_ but just financial returns to keep doing what you love when and how you want it.

I wouldn't find that scary at all. :D
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:10 pm

CS70 wrote:Well, but isn't that because you connect "commercialism" with "having to be constrained"? I mean if I were playing in a cover band I'd make much more money, but I'd be bored to death.

I played in a pub band that did covers for some years and I really enjoyed it, though we did pick a wide range of source material (Ginger Baker, Boston, Huey Lewis, Van Halen, Journey, Faith No More, Mr. Big, Blondie and more).

When working professionally it was almost all original material and I loved that more (my first bandcamp release will be an album of some of those original tracks, albeit multitracked in a duo that followed the full line-up) which our very own Elf remastered for me recently.

There is little to compare with the joy of playing original material in a well-rehearsed tight, good band to a crowd who know your stuff well enough that if another band did it it would be a cover. I'll concede I miss that.

But what of the Springsteens, the Simons, the U2s, the Knoplfers, heck, the Beatleses - that after a initial notoriety boot, got the freedom to do pretty much as they pleased. No commercial _pressure_ but just financial returns to keep doing what you love when and how you want it.

I wouldn't find that scary at all. :D

Nor would I, but in order to get to that point one would have to break through a lot of BS barriers, these days especially, and I'm just not up for it. I'm now at the age where its my way or the highway and musically I'm simply not prepared to compromise, for better or worse.

I felt much the same way in my late 20s after the main band work, which is why I started 'proper' jobs, which ultimately resulted in a lot more freedom for me to do what I want musically. I wouldn't seek to change that now, only to strive to get better at it :)
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:24 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:Nor would I, but in order to get to that point one would have to break through a lot of BS barriers, these days especially, and I'm just not up for it. I'm now at the age where its my way or the highway and musically I'm simply not prepared to compromise, for better or worse.

I felt much the same way in my late 20s after the main band work, which is why I started 'proper' jobs, which ultimately resulted in a lot more freedom for me to do what I want musically. I wouldn't seek to change that now :)

Oh I get you perfectly well :), and that's another issue that stop us well over 20 to get seriously in the game. But almost no matter which field you chose, when you start you've got to go thru some degree of BS.. I mean, even Steve Jobs did. Very few outside North Korea get directly the top job.

Often when you're 20 you don't see it as BS, but just as the way things are. By the time you're 40 or 50, things are - well - resulting in a lot more freedom in music as well (if you are successful, of course, just like in any other field).

I think lots of people who make music - especially younger people but not only - hold a secret desire of commercial success in some form. Ars gratia artis and all that , but isn't it fun if someone actually listens? (other than your mom, that is :-) ). But since these desires are almost certainly to be quashed, and worse, people know it, it's painful even to think about it, and many people simply do what humans do best to keep together - build an illusion and work hard at keeping it up. Can't have it, so I don't like it, it's irrelevant, or it's a bad thing (gee, religions have built on that mechanism for millennia). Sometimes - like Arpangel mentioned earlier - are the people who for some reason aren't aware of the odds that try seriously anyways, and some of them have the luck to succeed.
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Re: Equipment hire, business idea advice needed.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:39 pm

I hear you. I think there are a couple of things entwined in that though, not all of them musical. One thing about 'proper jobs' is that you're turning a profit all the while which makes BS that little bit easier to tolerate (and I endured a lot of it back in the day).

The other is the 'ramping down' of expectation as you get older. When I was in my 20s things like band politics or world affairs were pretty much non-existent to me as considerations. I just got along with everyone, somehow. The older I got the more opinionated I got and the more I valued my time, which is both good and bad but a natural progression I suspect.

I came to understand the BS that would be involved in 'breaking through' more, and eschewed it on an incremental basis to the point I reject it now.

I get a lot of satisfaction out of my SoundCloud account, random likes and comments please me - not because I'm explicitly seeking to achieve them, more as a side effect of doing what I'm doing. If I like something I wrote then I am naturally gratified if someone else does. I don't need it, it's just nice for me because I get a feeling that I'm sharing a little bit of my own joy of it with someone else.

I have also got a lot of feel-good out of collaborating a little bit of late (though that's very recent - for years I was extremely isolated by choice) and the fact that I've got getting on for 30 tracks on SC now means that for most people who would like anything I do there's something there for them.

I am an 'honest' SoundClouder in that I will not follow anyone I don't geuinely like. There's plenty of folk out there who will network promiscuously for followers but I treat it much like I do my LinkedIn account and gatekeep it furiously. Quality over quantity.

I think that model has inherent limitations in terms of exposure but I'm fine with that. A long standing and dear friend of mine who is far more well known and works with a household name artist has often moaned to me on the phone that they feel obligated to 'do the networking' thing and as a result has thousands and thousands of 'fans' with whom they have no real connection. That's not for me.
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