Tribe of Mentors — Recommended Books from Mentors and Top Books from Tools of Titans

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The initial descent

The initial descent


Inspiration · Leadership

The initial descent

When we let a wildly inappropriate comment go because we don’t want to make waves or embarrass the person who made it.

When we take a comment too personally and shift into argumentative mode because it’s more important to be right than to stay present and connected.

When we stay stuck in habits that don’t serve us because we’re afraid to fail or look foolish.

When we take any kind of short-cut at the expense of quality.

When we put others down because we’re not feeling good about ourselves.

When we defend the status quo even though we know we’re headed for a fall.

Our initial descent into tolerating bad actions is barely noticeable.

In the beginning, our acceptance of mediocrity can be undetectable.

Falling into the habit of ego protection (or inflation) can be subtle at first.

But what’s clear is our trajectory. And we’re headed down.

We get to choose whether we want to crash or soar.



via Steve Dennis http://bit.ly/1Uf0dwo

November 17, 2017 at 10:20AM




I’m not supposed to talk about it.

Actually, I asked Martin Sorrell’s permission, actually SIR Martin Sorrell, and he said to run it by him first.

Ain’t gonna do that.

Actually, I deleted the e-mail the first time through. I’m invited to scores of conferences. I won’t go unless you pay me. Hell, you’re reading this for free, I’ve got to make a living! And usually conferences are worthless. Sponsored by the government to promote industry they’re clusterfucks with no point. You see the usual suspects spouting the usual statements and if you’re lucky, you make some new friends and hang with old ones. And then there are the bands, oh I hate this. The organizer signs up a hundred wannabes, charges them to play in the hope they get a deal, whatever that means these days. Actually, for about a decade there, music conferences were fascinating, because the business was in turmoil, but it’s in turmoil no more. You’re now either a winner or you’re a loser, and you know which one you are by whether you’re bitching or not. If you’re complaining about streaming and how you just can’t make any money you’ve been left behind, the past is never coming back. All that hogwash about musicians being fairly compensated for their work… Yeah, that’ll happen when you can force people to listen to your trash, and that’s never gonna be, you’re competing against the best music of all time, you’ve got to be just that good, and the dirty little secret which is actually hiding in plain sight is if you are that good, if you are at the top of the chart, you’re making more money in adjusted dollars than you ever made in music previously. But try to tell that to the losers. You’re not entitled to make music for a living, do you think you’re entitled to play in the NBA?

So Stream is free. I learned that when they tracked me down again. Sponsored by WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency, whose majordomo is the heretofore mentioned Mr. Sorrell, and a bunch of other household name companies, it brings together agency people, media people and those like me, who wonder how we got on their list.

And believe me, these are different people, I never come across them in real life. Hell, I probably hear from as many people as anybody in Hollywood, but I don’t know advertising agencies and packaged goods consultants and it’s just stunning how many people really live in the world, and many of them are foreign, with a different perspective. The more you learn, the less you know. I’m sitting around in discussion groups today wondering to what degree I’ve got my finger on the pulse, because everybody’s got a family, everybody’s buying stuff, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Well, the people at Stream are the ones who are selling it to them.

Now the difference between Stream and the music business is these people are smart. Whereas music is peopled by hustlers. With no barrier to entry and great rewards for success, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in music, which is why you can’t get access, why you’re better off making a noise and being found than knocking on doors. People are DELUSIONAL! They’ll e-mail you files that suck which they believe are chart-toppers, it’s just that no one will tell them this, and if you do, you crush their dream and are labeled an asshole, harassed forever more, which is why it’s a club you cannot get into, no one has the time to waste with the great unwashed.

But in traditional business you’ve got to prove yourself to move up the food chain. But advertising is challenged. It’s just a decade plus behind the music industry. You see they’re being squeezed out, even though in many cases they’re necessary, but no one wants to pay, can you say NAPSTER??

Everybody hates disruption. They think their job is forever, or should be. But the world marches on and new companies emerge and many no longer have a seat at the table. But rather than deal with this, many deny it, try to prevent it, and howl when it comes to be, just like you hate the rappers who built culture online, gave their wares away for free and now dominate Spotify. You denigrate their music, the system, instead of getting on board and trying to play the game. There’s no culture in rock, which is why it’s eclipsed by even country on Spotify, one thing the social web has taught us is you need a community. But there’s no new music in rock that engenders said community. You’re bitching about streaming while Fleetwood Mac has over a hundred million streams of their hits on Spotify, because they’re GREAT, you don’t need a manual to understand them.

And today it rained. You know what it’s like to be outside in the rain in Ojai, under a teepee? It’s like being at summer camp. There’s a feeling in the air, like your life could change, like you’re living in the moment, like nothing else matters. You’re pissed when your phone rings, when you get e-mail, you want to disconnect as opposed to being plugged in.

And the truth is everybody’s friendly and most have no idea who I am and there are five discussion slots a day, you go to whichever groups you want, they’re organized by attendees, kinda like electives at the aforementioned summer camp. And you encounter certain people a number of times and create bonds. And your consciousness is heightened and your social network is increased with flesh and blood friends and the busier you are, and I haven’t had a free moment all day, the more you engage, you realize technology is just a tool, that it’s really just about us.

Stream the WPP conference

Stream USA 2017


via Lefsetz Letter http://bit.ly/1UlTzoa

November 17, 2017 at 09:53AM

United Masters

United Masters


Can there be more than one Chance the Rapper?

Major labels are good for radio and TV, but what if they’re not part of the equation? Chance made it online, without the help of the usual suspects, is this formula repeatable?

That’s what Steve Stoute is gonna find out.

Now let’s be clear, he’s not the first in this space. Remember Topspin? And Bandcamp? But maybe, like Rhapsody, never mind Napster, they were just too early. The techies did devour music distribution, they call that Spotify, it rules.

Now the major labels have one thing that cannot be underestimated, their catalogs, which are generating beaucoup bucks on streaming services, with all expenses paid, the money is gravy, featuring a low royalty rate in most cases. That’s right, if you signed your deal more than five years ago, you were screwed. Now there are no expenses, no manufacturing, shipping or returns, but your deal might still have a packaging deduction, even though there is none, it’s hard to get rid of legacy deal points, but not if you start all over with a clean slate.

And the important thing about catalog is the financial cushion, it keeps you afloat while you’re looking for hits.

But what if you’ve already got a financial cushion?

In this case United Masters is financed by Alphabet, i.e. Google, and Andreessen Horowitz, the clean slate people, from Silicon Valley, who’ve revolutionized our world. They don’t improve upon old ideas, they start with new ones, or refine new ones.

Kobalt is revolutionizing publishing. It’s all about their dashboard, you can see how your song is performing, what revenue is coming in, the company is pulling the rest of the publishing industry forward, they have to change, otherwise they’re going to be left behind. Furthermore, Kobalt writers testify that they make more per song than their cowriters with traditional publishers.

Kobalt was financed by Google.

But Kobalt is notoriously bad when it comes to synch, the people problem.

That’s what United Masters is trying to tackle. Google took people out of advertising, can the same thing be done in music?

Google created an algorithm, you bid for your ad space, the ad world has been revolutionized. Can the same thing be done with music production?

It’s all about the data. Like those ads that follow you around the web. How do they know? Imagine if you could target all your listeners, know who they are. That’s what United Masters is trying to achieve. With this direct relationship you can monetize your career in heretofore unforeseen ways. And maximize those ways that do exist.

And it’s all based on fairness and transparency, concepts which are anathema to the major labels.

But the major labels are banks. With usurious interest rates. But if you could monetize yourself, and keep almost all of the money, you could float your operation until you hit the big time.

Will United Masters triumph?

The devil is in the details.

But it’s truly the beginning of the beginning.

P.S. The majors use their catalogs as leverage. Just ask anybody who tried to create a company based on their wares. Spotify was successful because it gave the majors an interest in the enterprise. Hits also give you leverage, but in the past you could not get paid without a continuous flow of product. But now you can.

P.P.S. It’s a business of winners and losers, now more than ever. But the hope of United Masters is it can generate a living wage for the losers, and prop up those on their way to stardom.

P.P.P.S. Music is the canary in the coal mine, it’s always first. In the movie business they keep railing against the unfairness of Rotten Tomatoes, we’re past that stage in music, we believe in the facts, we’re entering the future. If you’re complaining about streaming you’ve already been left behind. Use the new tools to your advantage.

P.P.P.P.S. The internet is about cutting out the middleman, going direct to consumer. That’s what United Masters is doing.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Never underestimate fresh eyes. The labels are peopled by a very thin layer of overpaid, usually ancient execs and underpaid worker bees, but the newbies are not burdened by concepts that make no sense, like the aforementioned packaging deduction.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. The labels tell you what to do, own your product, and pay you bupkes. This is a business? Once upon a time there were no options. But now there are. Do you want to be told what to do or do it yourself? Everybody’s an entrepreneur, everybody watches “Shark Tank,” if you’re not in control of your own destiny, you’re about to hit a wall of frustration.

United Masters

Medium – United Masters

techcrunch – United Masters


via Lefsetz Letter http://bit.ly/1UlTzoa

November 17, 2017 at 09:53AM

DYKES ON BIKES No Longer Idling After Matal v. Tam

DYKES ON BIKES No Longer Idling After Matal v. Tam


Simon Tam wasn’t the only one barred by the Lanham Act from reclaiming a historically derogatory term.

Dykes on Bikes is a nonprofit lesbian motorcycle organization.  According to their website, the group’s mission is to “support philanthropic endeavors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and women’s communities, and to reach out to empower a community of diverse women through rides, charity events, Pride events, and education.”  In 2015, Dykes on Bikes tried to register their logo as a service mark for entertainment.  The application was put on hold pending the outcome of Matal v. Tam, as the Supreme Court considered whether Simon Tam could register his band name—The Slants.  In view of the Court’s landmark decision holding the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, Dykes on Bikes will move forward with its trademark application as well.

It was in 2003 when Dykes on Bikes first sought to register the name of their organization as a service mark for education and entertainment services.  Registration was refused on the basis that the mark was disparaging to lesbians.  The organization appealed to the TTAB, arguing that the word “dyke” had become a positive term and a symbol of pride and empowerment.  Dykes on Bikes won their appeal before the TTAB.  But when the mark was published for opposition, an individual named Michael McDermott filed an opposition claiming the mark was disparaging to men.  Ultimately, McDermott’s opposition was dismissed for lack of standing.  In particular, McDermott failed to show either (1) he possesses a trait or characteristic implicated by the proposed mark; or (2) others share the same belief of harm from the proposed mark.  The TTAB dismissed McDermott’s opposition and the Federal Circuit affirmed.  DIKES ON BIKES was successfully registered in 2007.

Because they had already won the disparagement battle for their first mark, Dykes on Bikes was surprised to face another disparagement refusal for a second mark.  In 2015, the group sought to register their logo as a service mark.  They sought review by the TTAB, and the case was put on hold pending the outcome of Matal v. Tam.  Dykes on Bikes also filed an amicus brief in the Tam case, arguing in favor of Tam’s position.  After the Supreme Court held in Tam that “the disparagement clause violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment,” the DYKES ON BIKES W M C logo was approved for publication.

Dykes on Bikes and The Slants had similar goals.  As Dykes on Bikes described in their amicus brief, both groups “have chosen to reclaim self-referential terms as trademarks for the benefit of the groups those terms refer to.”  They also drew a distinction with respect to a certain NFL team name: “the Washington Redskins have chosen a term that is unrelated to the people who identify as members of the football team and is commonly understood to be a slur which members of the identified group have not reclaimed.  Whatever the constitutionality of the PTO’s treatment of the Redskins mark, the team’s use of that name is immoral and Dykes on Bikes encourages the Washington Redskins to give up their trademarked name as a matter of respect and decency.”

While the Tam decision may have opened the proverbial flood gates of offensive trademark applications, it also allows for these positive trademark uses in reclaiming derogatory terms.

The post DYKES ON BIKES No Longer Idling After Matal v. Tam appeared first on DuetsBlog.


via DuetsBlog http://bit.ly/2yiJYLA

November 17, 2017 at 09:05AM