Posts by Chris Duncan

    Cool to hear of your success, especially in a world where people think anything creative should be free.

    I've reached the point where I take a similar approach to life. I make a living as a programmer, which is something I enjoy doing, and my creative stuff is all non-critical adventures on the side. I'm currently working on my first fiction book (all my previous ones were career / business) and if it does okay, I'll enjoy the extra cheeseburgers. If not, like you, the day gig is still paying the bills.

    I also find that having that security makes me less stressed about it all, which in some abstract, philosophical kinda way just seems to make things go better.

    Getting someone to manage the sales push is definitely the way I'd go, if it were me.

    That would be my preference as well, but it's chasing unicorns. As a guy who used to hire salespeople, I found that the only thing harder than making a sale is hiring a capable and reliable salesperson. And that's before you even get into matters of trust, salespeople being who they are.

    Once upon a time, in a previous life, I ran a sales consulting company and made a living training and teaching people how to sell stuff. Not my finest hour, but the bills got paid. Back then we used to have a saying, "Nothing happens until a sale is made." It means nothing about your product or business matters unless someone will actually pay you for it. And for that to happen, you need a salesperson.

    No matter what your creative talents (music, vfx, screenwriting, etc.), most people who strike out into the freelance world focus almost exclusively on "doing the thing," holding the common but mistaken belief that producing a high quality thing is the ticket to making money. Back then, I would routinely laugh people out of interviews who told me, "Well, if it's a good product I can sell it." My reply was if the product was so good that it sold itself, why the hell should I pay commissions to salespeople? (I was also kind of a jerk back then.)

    You're obviously a talented musician and your work, including this piece, is always high quality. But that's not going to get you gigs. Even though this won't make sense to most musicians, I promise you that the quality of your music is at the very bottom of the list of the things that will help you make money with it. Yes, I know. Blasphemy.

    At this point, most creative types simply stop listening, because a) it's not what they want to hear and b) all they really want is to "do the thing" and somehow magically get paid for it. It's not a realistic perspective so unsurprisingly, hardly any of them make money. The term "broke musician" is redundant for a reason.

    The things that will get you paid are all about sales and marketing. You can take the world's most average music, pair it with an excellent salesperson, and make a thousand times more bucks than a virtuoso musician who doesn't want to be bothered with all that salesman stuff. This applies to pretty much any product on the market, by the way, so it's easy to see in practice.

    If you learn the fundamentals of sales and marketing, have a thick enough skin to take the rejection of 99 "No!" answers to get to one "Yes," and are willing to spend lots and lots of time on trying to make those sales, you have a much better chance of making money. Even if your music is crap. The fact that yours is good offers almost no perceptible advantage at all.

    Another concept sales professionals understand is that it's all about running the numbers. I once had a client's salesperson complain that she couldn't make any money because 7 people had told her no that day. I explained that this was her problem. If 50 people had told her no, she'd be making some money. This particular person actually got it (it's a waste of time explaining this to most since they're really just looking for an excuse rather than results). She greatly increased the number of people she was contacting each day, and ended up being that client's top producer. If you only close 1% of the people you talk to, then you need to talk to 100 people to get a sale. Want 3 sales? No problem. Talk to 300 people. It's that simple.

    This really is the way things work, but hardly any creative people are willing to do anything but their creative thing. Not surprisingly, they don't make any money with their art. A rare few put in the effort to learn sales and marketing (and no, that doesn't mean post on social media and hope for the best, no matter how many bloggers write about it). They put in even more work each week looking for leads, contacting them and making effective sales presentations. Occasionally, some of their work is even high quality, but that almost never matters.

    I was thinking about trying something else to pass the time.

    If you have time to pass, learn the fundamentals of selling. There's a lot of books out there with a fair amount of BS you have to sift through, and a much higher percentage of BS on websites since there's no barrier to entry - anyone can write a blog post. Learn how to define what your market is, who the authorized buyers are, how to reach them, what they want to hear when you speak, how to construct an effective sales pitch, what a closing question is, what a rebuttal is, where to find leads, etc. It's a lot of work, and not nearly as fun as playing guitar. But if you put in the effort, you'll make money. Posting your stuff on music sharing sites and hoping for the best may pass a little time but it will accomplish little else. There's no big, black limousine waiting to discover you and whisk you away to profitability.

    There was a time in my life when I made a decent amount of money selling before I started training others. I could put on a thick skin, deal with hostility, sell absolute crap for seven times what it was really worth (like I said, not my finest hour) and put money in the bank. And yet, I could never bring myself to apply those proven principles to selling my own music because that's a portal to my soul, and the rejection would make it past the thick skin. So, even though I was good enough at selling to teach others how to make a living, I still have my own blind spots.

    I'm also a writer with a few books behind me, so I tried freelance copywriting. I was effective at making sales and got clients. Then one day, as I was writing copy for a trifold brochure about industrial floor mats, I realized that there was no joy in making money with my writing if I had to write about crap products (even though the client loved my work). What I wanted was to write "my thing," which I can assure you had nothing to do with the durability of certain types of flooring material. Once again, my product - the writing - was too personal for me to enjoy selling it. So I quit.

    If, unlike me, you can approach your music with detachment and just treat it as a product without having any personal feelings about it, then you can run the numbers and will eventually build up a client base. If you can't, knowing your blind spots is also a worthwhile realization since you won't waste time going down an unproductive path that you wouldn't enjoy.

    Periodically I share thoughts like these with creative types who want to make money with their art. Predictably, the response tends to be crickets. People are usually just fishing for folks to to tell them what they want to hear. However, you've always struck me as being pretty intelligent, so I thought I'd give you something useful if you really want to make a go of selling you music. Hope it helps.

    In all honesty, it's impossible to assess someone's attitude and intent when it's an isolated phrase from an ongoing conversation, taken out of context.

    The fact that burn marks on the circuit board were mentioned would indicate that there was a discussion about it. As for the final sentence, there's no way of knowing if the CS agent was being snarky or if it was the result of a conversation that became progressively contentious. Was it someone who was being less than sensitive, or was it a reaction to something you said earlier in the conversation? Or was he simply being matter-of-fact about it and you took it the wrong way? We have no way of knowing.

    That said, Colorado suggests that you're an American, as am I. Kemper is a German company. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, there are significant cultural and social differences between Americans and Germans, just as there are between someone born in New York and a counterpart in Georgia.

    Having grown up in the deep south, I was raised in a culture that believed New Yorkers were rude, aggressive and mean spirited because of their fast paced and direct nature. Then I lived in Long Island and played the bars there in the early 80s and discovered that not to be the case at all. What southerners took as hostility was just a normal, direct conversation in NY. No offense offered, none taken, because it was just the way people were. Once I understood the culture I found them to be some of the friendliest people I've known. Context is everything.

    Northern and southern mannerisms are actually a pretty good metaphor for Germans and Americans. I've seen statements by the Kemper guys on the forums that might be considered rude when in fact they were simply being direct, with no offense intended.

    I do understand the frustration when a customer service experience doesn't go well, but in fairness, flaming the guy on the company's forums might also be considered rude.

    All the Kemper guys are musicians and you know that none of us are perfect, so maybe the guy truly was out of line or having a bad day. However, I have to echo the sentiment that my own interactions with them have been nothing but polite, professional and (when you factor in differing cultures), friendly.

    I spend more time in the studio than gigging these days, but I've developed a workflow that accommodates both. When I'm playing in the control room by the computer, I do most of my browsing via RM since, as you've observed, it's easy to set up intuitive file folders.

    I find browsing on the head itself to be very tedious (I believe there are enhancements in the next OS that will help) and try to avoid it as much as possible. Instead, I do all my organizational work in RM and then use performances to organize things so that they're easier to deal with when I don't have a computer. I've got the remote, which works particularly well using the performance approach.

    I also keep the bare minimum on the head itself. I do all of my experimenting with RM, so the final choices are the only things that live on the head.

    I sold a lot of pedal board gear when I bought the Kemper and one of the things I enjoy is the simplicity. My go to sound for standard classic rock is your Fried BE50 with the Klon in front, so I do enjoy the sound of the pedals but I love the fact that it's all there in one profile.

    That said, I don't own a Klon, so I can't speak to whether or not a non-Klon BE50 profile would sound better with the actual pedal on the floor - or if so, was it enough of a difference to merit hauling a pedal board around.

    In front, always a TC Polytune (because the Kemper's tuner is too slow for live gigs).

    I have the remote and am enjoying a strobe tuner for the first time since high school band (in the 70s). When you say slow, do you mean the tuner is unresponsive, or that it's too slow to have to turn around and use the tuner on the head?

    In my pedal board days I had an RJM Mastermind loop switcher (very nicely done). It had a built in bar tuner and it was so fast that it was impossible to deal with, just too twitchy and easy to overshoot for me. Perhaps it's a preference thing.

    Congrats on the new house!

    Tell your friends who would like to give you a housewarming gift that you could use a new toaster. :)

    I don't think there is anyone who does electronic anything with speakers who has not connected a speaker to a non-amplified source.

    I know I did .... multiple times 8o So welcome to the club.

    I got all that out of my system as a small child. There might have been an incident involving an A/C wall outlet, a pair of needle nosed pliers and a rather lively conversation with the elders. We each learn in our own way. :)

    Are you using a strat?

    First step for most Hendrix to be sure, especially that bluesy stuff like Axis, Bold as Love. Also the stock low output single coils, as Rapidfire pointed out. One of my Strats has Seymour Duncan single coil sized humbuckers with a coil splitter. Yeah, it splits to single coil, but it's still not the same as the real thing.

    That said, I recall being surprised when I learned that the funky verses of Dolly Dagger were actually done on a Gibson Flying V. Always something new to learn.

    Your post just a moment ago likened Fractal to a toothbrush

    I was speaking more generally about companies who do this sort of thing using an extreme example, brought to mind by others who had talked about obsolescence. It wasn't intended to be an apples to apples comparison to Fractal, but I didn't explicitly mention that so I understand what you're saying.

    The idea that in 7 years a floor unit couldn't be developed is kind of silly to me.

    My overall point, dental hygiene and dubious corporate ethics notwithstanding, was that sure, Kemper can do this. However, the laws of physics as it pertains to the number of fingers and toes available to work on a given set of projects remains a constant.

    People routinely talk about wanting this fixed, or that improved, or having an editor, etc. The moment Kemper allocates a portion of their resources to a floor unit, a host of other people will raise a ruckus about, "why isn't xyz being addressed???"

    In terms of the resources available for product maintenance and new development, it really is a zero sum game.

    So, it comes down to how many people want x versus how many want y, or perhaps how much a group of people will pay for z. No matter what aspects Kemper chooses to focus on, the only guarantee is that there will be another group who thinks the idea that their personal preference couldn't be developed is kind of silly to them.

    And for the record, I have no philosophical objection to Kemper building more toys. I like toys. :)

    In any tech shop, there are only so many developers and engineers to go around, so there's a physical limit to the number of things can be done at a given time. With that in mind, I love the way Kemper approaches this.

    Some companies have a fire and forget mentality. Design and build something that sells. Get it to market quickly and then, unless there's a critical flaw that gives you bad press (i.e. decreases sales), forget about it. Move on to the next thing you can sell. The more things you have on the shelf, the more money you can bring in. Eventually products will become too out of date to be marketable, but you're always creating new products, so don't worry about it. The old stuff becomes obsolete so the customers have to buy the new version. This means you get to sell the same thing to someone twice. Bonus points.

    I'm not a fan of this approach, but a company exists for one and only one reason: to make money. This business model makes money. However, it's not the only game in town.

    Another philosophy is to build something well enough that it lasts, and design it with upgrades and maintainability in mind. You sell a solid, high quality product, and then continue to increase its value over time. You get a reputation as a company who builds Good Stuff, as well as a rep for not abandoning your customers or forcing them to keep buying the same thing over and over. This won't appeal to everyone (some value low cost above all else, no matter how many times they have to buy the same thing), and it's rarely the least expensive product. But there's a market for it, and you develop a loyal following.

    This is the path Kemper took. I bought a toaster last year. I could have shelled out hundreds more on some high end Strymon pedals to really punch up the reverb and modulation effects. Then Kemper releases a new version of the OS that includes all of this. For free. And this is a normal thing for them. They're also working on an editor, something that a whole lot of paying customers have been asking for. While bundled editors don't usually cost extra, software development isn't free. There are only so many developers to go around, but instead of working on some new product that many of us wouldn't care about (but would make them money), instead they're paying their developers to once again enhance the product I bought last year. For free.

    So, yeah, they could be developing a floor unit, or a stomp box profiler or an AI driven espresso machine that hums show tunes while it works. They do have a new speaker thingie happening, but their rate of pumping out products is extremely low. Kinda hard for me to complain about them not creating new things for me to spend money on because they're too busy giving me things for free.

    As for Fractal and planned obsolescence comments, here's a related story.

    I just had to buy a new electric toothbrush. The old one was part of a unit that also had a water pick. The rechargeable battery on the toothbrush finally died, and it turns out you can't replace it. They put in a couple of AA looking batteries, soldered together with a plate and a few other things that make it almost impossible to replace the battery. You can do it, but you have to grab a soldering iron and other tools, and spend half your day at it. But it gets better. I thought I could just buy a replacement electric toothbrush that's compatible with their unit as a replacement part. They don't sell it separately. So not only do they want me to throw away the toothbrush and buy another one, they want me to throw away the entire water pick base unit as well. There may have been profanity.

    As a software developer I can acknowledge that yeah, sometimes Obsolescence Happens. But this wasn't obsolescence. It looks suspiciously like creating a disposable unit by conscious design. And they wouldn't be the first. The size and voltage of these batteries were identical to standard off the shelf batteries, and the world is full of two AA battery units that don't require a soldering iron and a degree in mechanical engineering to replace. That's not a design limitation. That's commercial larceny.

    My point as it relates to Fractal and Kemper? Yes, I had to buy a new toothbrush. But you can be sure that the company who sold me a disposable unit didn't get my money, nor will they ever again. There are other products I've bought from companies I'm extremely loyal to for precisely the same set of reasons.