The Incontiguous Brick

April 29, 2010

The next generation of music marketing

Filed under: Life,Money,Music — iknowkeith @ 10:18 am

Gone are the days of bands and solo artists needing to “get signed” by a major record label.  The internet and websites like Reverbnation.com are allowing artist to direct market and promote their talents directly to fans and grow their own fan base without a signed contract.  Although there is not CD in Wal-Mart to brag about, it is a good alternative to signing with a traditional label.

Reverbnation has its own charts that artists can climb based on web traffic, song plays, widgets, and unique listeners.  These provide inputs for a ranking method that places artists on the chart as well as determines how much Reverbnation pays their artists.

Many artist on Reverbnation have joined together to “cross-promote” one another by forming their own online music labels.  This allows them to play each others songs, climb the charts and then gain more exposure.

The artist known as “Grout” is one such example.  Having joined 14 different online labels as well as started one himself, Grout has propelled himself to the top 150 pop artists in the world (on Reverbnation) and is currently #2 in San Diego, CA.  Not bad for a musician that has never released an album and has never done a  live show.

Will musicians like Grout ever be signed to a traditional label? Unlikely.  But with the growing number of artists that are bypassing the old business model and getting their music out there with the web, it is a new ball-game and the old corporate structures will have to change with the times.

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August 30, 2009

How Detroit Killed the Inflatable Car

The Inflatable Car

The Inflatable Car

I am a huge fan of new ideas and inovative technology.  XP Vehicles is developing an inflatable car that is an absolutely phenomenal idea.  If you don’t want one for yourself then that is fine.  You can’t deny that a car made out of “airbags” (the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA’s rovers when they landed on Mars) is a pretty cool idea.  Especially when that car uses no gasoline and gets over 125 miles per battery charge. Not to mention the company’s claim that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.

But the Department of Energy says…

REJECTED!

 Here is an excerpt from an email I received from XP Vehicles:
“Detroit” wants XP Vehicles stopped!

The DOE reviewers, mostly from “Detroit”, have turned down XP’s loan application in favor of “Detroit” players. Are we a nation where innovation and great ideas win support or where great influence buyers win the support? If you want an XP Vehicle, call Congress now and ask for action!

In the next 48 hours you will see a Press Release sent out by XP Vehicles after we were contacted by the Department of Energy and informed that our application was being rejected. We have been told that most of the smaller, advanced technology electric car companies’ applications are being rejected in favor of Ford, Nissan and GM applicants. XP was told it was rejected because it did not use E85 gasoline and was not building millions of cars.

As stated in our Press Release, we have no problem with the federal government supporting our traditional automotive industry, we do have a problem with absolutely no support for smaller companies who have not made the mistakes of the Detroit Three and are just trying to get new technology on the roads today and available to consumers. Americans deserve the opportunity and right to make the right choices and start reducing our energy consumption and air pollution TODAY.

If America, and the world, wants a car that goes an almost unlimited range via hot-swap cartridges, costs less than $20,000.00, uses no gasoline, is easy to repair, easy to build, saves your life better than any other car, is faster than competing solutions, does not require an extension cord, uses electricity and creates green jobs; then we hope they will let Congress hear their voices.

XP Vehicles needs your help. If you want to support them you can send the below letter to your congressman:

 

Letter of Support

DATE

The Honorable John Doe

U.S. House of Representatives/United States Senate

Washington, DC 20515/20510

Dear Representative/Senator Doe:

As your constituent and a firm supporter of our nation’s environment and energy independence, I was extremely disappointed in the recent announcement made by the U.S. Department of Energy to reject a comprehensive and thorough Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan application submitted by the California-based company XP Vehicles. Their innovative car technology has produced a vehicle capable of delivering about 125 miles per one battery pack charge and uses no gasoline. I cannot understand why the Energy Department is not willing to fund a car that goes an almost unlimited range via hot-swap cartridges, costs less than $20,000.00, uses no gasoline, is easy to repair, easy to build, saves your life better than any other car, is faster than competing solutions, does not require an extension cord, uses electricity and creates green jobs. I hope that you have the same questions and would be willing to phone or write Secretary Chu and ask him directly.

While I realize that some of these loan monies should go to established and traditional automotive companies, I find it unbelievable that the Department is not being more forward-thinking and allocating some of their investment in the future.Again, as your constituent, I am asking you to call or write Secretary Chu and ask him to reconsider the loan application submitted by XP Vehicles.

We need to invest in companies that are working on advanced technology to develop more fuel efficient, safer vehicles and will put Americans back to work in “greener” jobs. If you have any questions or would like a sample letter to send to Secretary Chu, feel free to contact XP Vehicles’ Washington Lobbyist Janet Kopenhaver at 703-528-7822 or via email at janetk@eyeonwashington.com. Thank you in advance for supporting advanced technology, less dependence on foreign oil and a cleaner environment.

Sincerely,YOUR NAME

 

Will this make a diference?  Probably not.  But at least you will have tried.

August 7, 2009

Why not model a Govenrnment Health Care plan after the FAA?

The FAA model brings up an interesting example in support of government run health care.

 

There is a definite problem with the current healthcare system. If you have private insurance and get become very sick, the insurance company has an strong motivation to find a way to cancel your policy. Although this makes sense for the companies bottom line, it is not exactly what I would call insurance. Most of us would like to imagine that “insurance” means: any means of guaranteeing against loss or harm. But this goes away when it is a for profit industry that does not want to pay for loss or harm. And quite frankly, if I was an invester in an insurance company, I wouldn’t want them to cut into their profit to pay for your illness either.

 

However, the idea of the government providing for our health care sends chills up the spines of most conservatives and many liberals. Do we really trust the government with our lives? I argue that you already do… every time you board an airplane in the United States you are trusting the FAA.

 

Here is one way to model the field of medicine after the FAA and it just might work:

 

Doctor Pay:

ATC controllers are highly paid and they make more money at larger airports (so rewarded for skill and hard work), have very demanding requirements, little room for error and are government employees. Maybe that is not such a bad model for doctors. Rather than pay them through hospitals that are billing insurance companies, why not have well compensated doctors (perhaps in a similar organizational structure as military doctors) that are paid a wage from the public coffers. Just like air traffic controllers who work at an airport but not for the airport (paid by FAA), doctors could work at hospitals but not for the hospital.

Medical School:

Obviously, we still want to attract the best and brightest to be doctors. Medical school is tough. It will stay tough. Right now it is expensive and tough and that means only people with wealthy families can become doctors (not always the brightest) or people willing to incur massive debt. This requires very high pay later to cover loans. Why not have medical education free and based solely on merit. If you are good enough to get in and finish the program, you are in the club. If not, see you later (and you owe for the ammount spent on you). No amount of money will get you in, rich boy. That makes it more like the Naval Academy which generally produces good officers.

Hospitals and clinics:

Offer free treatment to any citizen (taxpayer) and get reimbursed from the government for treatment. This is still competitive because people have a choice where they go to see the doctor. Provide a crappy facility and you get less patients at your door = less money. Patients that are not citizens can also be seen but will be billed at the same rate that the government would have paid. The non-citizen can utilize a private health insurance provider if they choose or can pay out of pocket.

Alternative Plan:
How about combining health insurance with life and disability, so the company has a financial incentive to keep you alive and healthy?

April 22, 2009

Credit Card Games

Filed under: Money,Ramblings — iknowkeith @ 3:20 pm

I have a Discover card that I have had for many years. It has a decent interest rate (5.9%) and I use it for emergencies. The other day I received a letter from Discover informing me that the rate was going up to 12.99% and if I didn’t like it I could pay off my balance a leave. This applies to all new purchases and outstanding balances. I owe about a $1000 so I would rather not pay it all right now but the new rate is crap.

discover1I called them to complain and see what we could work out. They said the new rate was being instituted “across the board” for everybody and they would send me the paperwork to appeal it. Because I have never missed a payment I could probably negotiate a lower rate than 13%.

But here is the kicker… the guy on the phone said the new rate is “due to the economy.” Seriously? The new rate is Prime Rate + 9.74% (=12.99%). So the increase is not due to the economy because that would mean the Prime Rate had gone up. The increase is not because I am a high risk borrower because nothing in my life or bill paying practices have changed. The new rate of 12.99% is because they know they can get away with it and most of their customers will chalk it up the the bad economy and take it in the shorts.

Think about it. Why 9.74% and not something else? Because that plus Prime is just under 13% and “12 something” sounds less criminal than 13. It has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with taking advantage of the consumer by playing the headlines. The letter states, “our decision to make this change was based on the higher cost of doing business due to the challenging economic environment.”  Again, that would be Prime Rate and it has not gone up.  In fact, Prime Rate is much lower than it has been in years.

ratecharts18

Discover is not hurting anymore than EXXON was hurting when gas prices were high. Discover does not make high risk home loans or anything of that nature. They only do credit cards and online bill paying. Discover’s stock is low but their P/E ratio is hanging around 4. They are showing a sizeable profit already and now Discover is going for the gold by jacking up the rates. Their profits in 2008 equaled close to $1 billion.

Discover Card… I call Bull $hit!

March 27, 2009

The Trillion Dollar Spider

Filed under: Humor,Money,politics,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 10:11 am

3387085109_57b1610c09_o

YAY! Problem solved! I knew it wasn’t that difficult to get this national debt thing under control.
If this seems silly… think about this next time the Federal Reserve says its time to increase the money supply.

February 8, 2009

uh oh.

Filed under: Money,politics,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 8:41 am

jobsrecessions

This graph is from http://www.speaker.gov/

January 30, 2009

Recipe for Disaster?

Filed under: Money — iknowkeith @ 4:07 pm

I’m no economist but tell me if this sounds bad…

Shop all the time with you credit card.
Spend more than you make.
Use the amount you are spending as a measure of wealth and get more credit cards.

How would that work out for you?

Now look at this

consumer-fallout-420

The U.S. has run a trade deficit for decades.

Therefore we buy more than we sell overseas.

We can do this because people loan us money.

They loan us money because our economy is so strong.

Its strength is based mostly on how much we spend.

Uh…

Crap.

December 31, 2008

Prediction for 2009

Filed under: Money,politics,Ramblings,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 3:13 pm

Time to put the reputation of this blog on the line with…
(drum roll, please)

My prediction for 2009!!!!

If I am wrong, oh well. If I am right, remember where you heard it first and worship my genius.

Okay, here is is…

The big three have their bail out. But the reason they needed it was because they couldn’t sell enough cars. This is because the economy was bad, sure. If that was true then why didn’t Honda, Toyota and Mazda need a bailout? Perhaps it is because the big three make cars that such and nobody wants to buy them. So how do you fix that?

Easy! Just give a tax credit for buying American. How about a nice $2000 credit (not unlike the Prius incentive a few years ago) if you buy a big gas guzzling piece of crap American car that will break down sooner and have a terrible resale value? With the right financing, sounds like a deal.

So that is my prediction. This year we will continue to see terrible new car sales from the big three and after the bailout money doesn’t save them we will all be tempted to buy them with a big tax credit.

What does that mean for the smart shoppers who care about mileage and good quality vehicles? It means that their tax dollars will go to people buy crap.

Free market capitalism? No. Democratic Communism? Maybe. We can elect our leaders but we can’t chose where our money goes. We can buy what we want but we are punished for not choosing the government’s choice for us.

I hope I am wrong this time.

December 26, 2008

Not cool to shop?

Filed under: Money,Warnings — iknowkeith @ 11:27 pm

We have all heard it… no one is shopping this year.  Retailers are scared.  Economy is crashing.  Everyone is staying home.

I was not surprised at all that the mall was empty the Saturday before Christmas.  I was not shocked there was plenty of parking on Christmas eve.  But today was a surprise…  I really thought everyone would be out for the after Christmas sales even in the slow economy.  What to my wondering eyes did appear?  Empty stores with slashed prices everywhere.  San Diego posh shopping mall was empty.

I don’t think the weak economy is keeping everyone home.  I think its just not cool to shop anymore.  There has been so much in the news about everyone staying home that it is hip to save.  The way to be trendy is to not spend money.

If this is true then our economy (based on over-reaching consumerism and impulse buying) is about to take another really big hit.  Or maybe it is just a bad time for retailers in SoCal.

December 12, 2008

Treasury heros to the rescue! Hip hip hooray!

Filed under: Money,politics,Wordpress Political Blogs — iknowkeith @ 10:40 pm

Many of you have probably noticed I have been on a rather long sabbatical. My apologies. Okay, so moving on…

Due to my absence, I have not discussed my thoughts on the $700 billion bailout that has done so much for the little guy (you know, the little bank executive whose boyhood dream was to conduct government backed take-overs of other bank). Nor have I spoken out about my joy that the Treasury is now loaning up to $7 trillion to unknown parties with little collateral for our own goodsuper-treasury. But now there is a new chapter in the saga that is our financial disaster story. THE HEROS OF THE TREASURY ARE HERE!!!

As a lowly citizen of our great democracy, what can I do when congress drags its feet? Seriously, they have a chance to use my tax money that they forced me to pay them to bail out a major American industry and they are wallowing in indecision. Not to worry! The Treasury is here to save the day.

Today, the Treasury has announced that they are ready to step in where congress has been slow. Never mind that the democratically elected government may decide to not bail out the Big 3.

“Because Congress failed to act, we will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure until Congress reconvenes and acts to address the long-term viability of the industry,” said Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin.

Yay!!! We can all sleep tonight safe in the knowledge that we don’t have to rely on our democratically elected government to make decisions for us. Now we have the Treasury and it is reigns supreme.

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