Wrapping up trip in the Pacific Northwest, starting a week ago in Seattle, where the sushi never disappoints, including this salmon sampler from fish on both coasts. Last Friday headed up to mountains in Snohomish County in search of Black Swifts, and got great looks a few miles past driving by the site of devastating mudslide in March (photo). Saturday dipped on Skylark in Victoria in British Columbia. I will be back! Photo is on ferry from leaving Victoria to Port Angeles, WA. Next photo illustrates one of the downsides visiting these parts on a weekend during summer holiday season: lots and lots of people! Photo is of the spit yesterday at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, in pursuit of Tufted Puffin. FINALLY saw one flying to cliff on at Cape Flattery. This area, and the road to/from, is a genuine lifetime travel highlight (photos on coast). Today in SF, photo of Jen enjoying her first trip to Berkeley.

Yesterday, a Gray whale off the coast of Cape Flattery, in the NW corner of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington!

Don’t think I’ve ever been in a foursome when three of us have hit our tee shots or approach shots so close to one another.  And/or so close to the pin.  #9 par 3 at Ozaukee last Thursday.  My ball, on the left, went in the cup for a birdie.  Finally.  This hole has been a real nemesis for me of late.  For one brief moment, it wasn’t!

Don’t think I’ve ever been in a foursome when three of us have hit our tee shots or approach shots so close to one another.  And/or so close to the pin.  #9 par 3 at Ozaukee last Thursday.  My ball, on the left, went in the cup for a birdie.  Finally.  This hole has been a real nemesis for me of late.  For one brief moment, it wasn’t!

Not often I put some flowers in a planter pre-bloom that work out as well as this, so thought I’d better take a photo now so I can look back in mid-January and remember this day!

Not often I put some flowers in a planter pre-bloom that work out as well as this, so thought I’d better take a photo now so I can look back in mid-January and remember this day!

Two New Rules

This past May I hit the Big 60 milestone, and during that time, wrote a post that I decided to put on ‘ice’ for awhile.  Came across it today, and have now decided to post.  Nothing earth-shattering, but it does better frame the new chapter that I’m trying to start for myself.

In the About section of this blog, there are several life pursuits mentioned.  Two of them — birding and seeking fun experiences with family and friends — have officially gone to the top of the list, if you haven’t already noticed!  One pursuit, which has often defined my life over the past few decades — the quest of ‘doing’ things, of pushing myself, of self-initiating and developing new projects and assignments and then getting them ‘done’ — has been diminished in importance in recent years.  It’s not on the list of my pursuits.  But it’s still there.  I feel it. 
Well, one aspect associated with ‘doing’ that I’m officially retiring from involves the coming up with ‘new’ business ideas, the tinkering with an emerging hot consumer product or service, whatever.  That love of building something from nothing now transfers exclusively to my angel investing.  Oh how I still enjoy getting on board and supporting a new startup run by a smart, energetic team with a great work ethic that won’t stop until they succeed.  As I’ve written about before, from a business perspective, the BUYSEASONS experience was about as good as it can get.
I’m always around to advise, counsel, and give you my two cents, but…
NEW RULE #1:  If you see me getting excited about some new product or service that I want to start on my own, I want to you smack me upside the head! Get me to stop!  And take us someplace sometime where we can experience something fun!
The second New Rule, related to the aforementioned New Rule, involves realizing that the vision I’ve long had of pulling together a group of guys, from my Rolodex, who had the financial flexibility and who wanted to piggyback on my angel investments over the course of several years, is not going to happen.  The thought was that by investing in most of the deals I get into, certain friends and colleagues would enjoy the nice exits that I occasionally enjoy, and that when that happened every three years or so, we’d all go out and celebrate.  
Sure, some friends have piggybacked, with blended IRR’s that have been pretty darn good.  But honestly, it’s created some unintended consequences, involving responsibilities that I realize that I’d rather not have.  This concept was always my idea en lieu of being the lead guy in a fund, which has been proposed to me a few times over the past decade, but never much interested me.  As it has turned out, even with the few times someone has piggybacked,  I still feel ‘responsible’.
Again, I’m always around to offer advice and will gladly introduce you to the CEO’s of the startups I invest in, but…
NEW RULE #2:  If when I’m talking about a new startup I’m about to invest in, and start to offer the possibility of piggybacking on my investment, I want you to smack me upside the head!  And take me birding! 

Four concerts at Summerfest in eight days, culminating with Dave Mathews Band this past Tuesday night.  No opening act, just 25+ songs broken down into two sets - an acoustic, followed by an electric, followed by a three song encore.  The later additions of saxophonist Jeff Coffin (following the passing of original member LeRoi Moore), and then guitarist extraordinaire Tim Reynolds and trumpeter Rashawn Ross have added so much musicianship to the band.  

And look who Carter Beauford threw one of his drumsticks to after the main show?  A pick from Mark Knopfler, a towel thrown by David Crosby to Brent, and now a drumstick!

And last night, fireworks in downtown Milwaukee.  Happy Fourth of July.

The Future of Music

I’ve been a long time fan of Bob Lefsetz, who has a newsletter that is read by more people associated with the music industry in the world. Everyone and anyone, his fan base is incredible.  In his latest post, he’s written an exceptional overview and painting of the future of choosing, listening and enjoying music.  If you’re into this sort of stuff, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

From Bob Lefsetz:

 Just like you tossed your 8-tracks and cassettes, you’ll get rid of your MP3s, all your iTunes purchases, kaput, evaporate, just like that. It will happen when you get a new computer, which isn’t as frequent as before, but the truth is we’re moving to flash storage and it’s more expensive and you get less and you haven’t got room for your music files, never mind the inclination to listen to them.

Just like you wanted the biggest iPod but are satisfied with the smallest iPhone, you won’t find it necessary to pay extra for more flash storage even when the price comes down, whether it be in computers or mobile handsets. Because everything will be stored in the cloud or delivered to you when requested.

Hoarding MP3s is like hoarding hieroglyphics, who wants an ancient format no one can read? Especially when it’s just bits and bytes!

Eighteen years, that’s how long a format lasts.

LPs… 1964, the advent of the Beatles, to 1982, the advent of the CD.

The CD… 1982 to 2000, when usurped by the MP3.

MP3s? By 2018 they’re HISTORY!

2. Plays will be the metric.

Just like radio shifted to spins, how much someone listens to your music will be the only thing that’s important, furthermore, listens get you paid.

This will be a revolution, a good one, the SoundScan era is history, sales charts make no sense. Companies ramp up the publicity for an initial sales week that media publicizes, all to do it again the next week for new records. This reduces the chances of something sticking. Whereas when plays becomes the metric, we’ll instantly see what has stuck. Just because it was released last week or six or nine months ago, it won’t matter, because we’ll see people are actually playing it. And that which is heavily-hyped but left unplayed…beware.

3. Media will promote spins.

Yahoo already lists the top ten Spotify tracks every week. In the future, a media outlet will still talk about number one, but not how many albums or digital singles were sold, but how many plays it got. It’ll be like YouTube, on Spotify there’s a counter too, you can see how you stack up. Suddenly data is not hidden, it’s there for all to see. And the truth will be that the blockbuster era will continue. We’ll see huge winners and a sea of also-rans. We’ll be on the outlook for that which is making huge gains. It will all be based on data, as opposed to today’s smoke and mirrors.

4. Payouts will be high.

It’s all about scale. Once we wean everyone from MP3s, once everybody pays for music, whether it be monthly or baked into the subscription, a huge pot of money will be generated, 69% of which will go to rights holders. So, if you’ve got an ancient, poor-paying label deal, the company will get most of it. If you’re striking a new major label deal…think about what you’re giving up, recorded music revenue, in exchange for the company’s ability to spend and muscle and make you a star. You can stay independent and keep all the money, but your chance of rising above is diminished, especially in this world of overwhelming input.

5. It’ll be mobile.

Spotify develops for mobile first. Not only will you have a smartphone, chances are it will be large, because it will be your primary screen, where you shop and dial-up your music, you want to be able to see and make sense. Think of your handset as the new iPad, just a little bit smaller.

6. Discovery will be in the Spotify app.

It’s all about the real estate, you don’t want to jump around. You’ll roam around Spotify the same way you roamed around the record store, but inventory will be much greater and access will be instant. If your company is a recommendation engine not aligned with a streaming service, good luck!

7. Pandora survives.

Or is bought and merged. But if it survives, its impact will be marginalized over time, because we live in an on demand world, the future is on demand, not wait and see. Pandora is too valuable to be purchased by Spotify. And it’s hobbled not only by royalty payments, but the fact it’s not worldwide. In other words, you might love Pandora the way you loved your BlackBerry, as in temporarily.

8. iHeart Radio stalls.

It’s not on demand. As for listening to your terrestrial station on the Internet… Pandora eclipses that, there are fewer commercials. Clear Channel’s digital play is not revolutionary enough, it was billed as a Pandora killer when Pandora was not the correct target.

9. Passive listening.

That’s what radio is. Spotify’s got a component. There’s a market for that. But not run by algorithms, but people. Which is why SiriusXM is so successful, all those people paying to get rid of commercials on their music stations (as well as Howard Stern.) In other words, Clear Channel is in a bind. Promoting a legacy system without legs. If you don’t think terrestrial radio will be diminished, you’re still listening to AM.

10. You will share Spotify playlists.

We live in a sharing economy. You’ll send songs. This is a good thing, this is how we break bands. And inboxes won’t be cluttered-up with MP3s, waiting for them to download, eating up space, getting lost in spam folders, however expect to be spammed by wannabes, just like they have done forever in the Internet era.

11. Sound quality will improve.

It’s all about bandwidth. And LTE is faster than many people’s home connection. And mobile providers are already pondering an even faster generation. The faster the bandwidth, the fatter the pipe, the higher the quality. Remember, there was no YouTube before broadband.

12. Data charges are irrelevant.

Not only did T-Mobile just obviate them for music services, Spotify synchs all playlists so no signal is needed, the “streams” live on your handset, just like files. So even if you’ve got no cell signal, you’ve got your music.

13. It’s not about Spotify.

It’s about streaming. Google’s new service could be the winner, but let’s hope not, because it pays less. Or maybe a reinvigorated Apple Beats. One thing is for sure, one service will dominate, it’s where we’ll all go, because we want to share, we don’t want to be left out. So you might like Rdio or Deezer, but if you send a link and someone can’t play it, that’s not gonna work.

14. Exit strategy.

Just like Apple bought Beats, Facebook or Google or Amazon or even Microsoft might by Spotify. Don’t forget, Google bought Motorola and Microsoft bought Nokia. If you can’t compete, you buy.

15. Bottom line.

Don’t get depressed, it’s all about the music. Make a good tune and these services are your bitch. They allow you to reach the whole world instantly. And if you haven’t, maybe you weren’t meant to. Maybe you’re not that talented, maybe you make niche music. But as people see what succeeds, it will spark their creativity. They’ll see the high standard, they’ll see what’s left field that breaks through. The only problem we have today is everyone’s got a voice, and those who don’t win complain, whereas we didn’t used to hear from them. Ignore them. Focus on the winners. Spread the word about them. And know that if your identity is based on liking something no one else does, chances are you’re going to live a very lonely life.


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OneRepublic concert last night took me by surprise:  the musicianship of these guys is off the charts.  Front man Ryan Tedder has incredible pipes, of course, particularly on the top half of his register; but he also really good in front of a piano.  Other highlights were bassist Brent Kutzie, whose work with an electric cello was terrific, and guitarist Zach Filkins, who has spent a lot of time in Barcelona and played a very cool flamenco and later looping solo performance.  DMB tonight! 

Andre 3000 and and Big Boi on sort of a reunion tour of OutKast, after a seven year hiatus; last night at Summerfest.

Bruno!  After taking a respite from concerts last year, we are back in stride.  So tonight, at Summerfest, it begins: his voice is so strong, even with all the touring, and his band is impressively tight.  Tons of energy, a great show.  Next up:  time for a little Hey Ya.