Judging by employment history, I'm a consultant... an internet strategist really. Aside from the everyday business consulting, I started a church software product, and am involved with several SAAS technology companies. I'm interested in all things Wall Street, but my real calling is race car driving - I just don't have any sponsors yet. If you happen to have $250 Million laying around, we could start a team together.
It seems there has been some recent confusion as to what we, the non-celebrity population of America, want from you. Whether you act on stage, on screen, or sing our favorite songs… there's really only one thing we want from you. What we want, and why you're paid, is because you entertain. It's show business. You put on the show, and we pay to see the show. In doing so, you provide brief moments of wonderful entertainment. And during those brief moments, we get to escape for that time, and enjoy your talent. We thank you for that.
What we don't want is your political views and lectures on your favorite cause. If that confuses you, let me simplify it a bit further. In the same way you are paid to either act or sing, other Americans are paid to add fries to happy meals, sell cars, work at the mall, or even run multi-billion dollar corporations. In complete fairness, we aren't interested in the political rants or lectures on their favorite cause either. Somewhere along the line, there's been this confusion that the non-celebrity population of America is interested in the political rants & lectures from the celebrity population of America.
How crazy would it be if one of us stopped our mailman in the middle of their route, and asked, "Hey, what side of the political fence do you live on, and what exactly frustrates and offends you about the other side?" That's crazy right? Who would ask their mailman that? See, they provide mail, and you provide entertainment. So in that same crazy line of thinking, who would ask their entertainer that?
The confusion, celebrity, is that many of you operate under the impression that we've asked you that question. It's evident in the way you so often volunteer to answer to that question, when it hasn't been asked. We've now seen it on the Broadway stage, in the middle of concerts, and during your acceptance speeches after winning awards. I've been watching very closely, and no one is asking.
Please understand in no way does this invalidate your strong feelings regarding your favorite cause, or political discontent. Your friends and family are probably very interested in what you have to say. But the lane of legitimate influence ends there. See, I'm not a celebrity. I'm a business owner, and that squarely places me in the non-celebrity population of America. And just like you sell entertainment, I sell software. I wouldn't dare think for two seconds that you or any of my customers are interested in my political rants or most passionate causes. In that same way, celebrity, let's not confuse that your customers are interested in yours.
Now I know, I know, a moment is coming soon when you will be back on stage with the cameras rolling, and your mic will be wired to the masses. You will be tempted into thinking that everyone out there is desperately interested in your political leanings, why you're offended, and the cause that everyone else has forgotten about. Remember, we're not. No one's asking. Just entertain, and stay in your lane. We'll do our job, and you do yours.
Let me try to keep this short and sweet. All this talk about Facebook putting a dent in Google's advertising revenue is wrong. Way wrong. I have to assume it's coming from people reading news, staring at charts, and listening to FB's product evangelists. Basically, people who aren't living in both companies revenue streams. Let's call them disconnected analysts.
When I started advertising on Google in 2004, $30/month proved good ROI for me. Eventually it had to get bumped to $60, then $120, $200, $500, $1000. On and on it went. It's tens of thousands of dollars now. Per month. Only Google is getting that kind of quality revenue from me. And I am small enough to say with confidence that Wall Street will never care about my business.
When I started advertising on FB, $10/week did the job and proved good ROI for me. Here we are 5 years later, and it's still at $10/week. Meanwhile FB's user growth in the U.S. is terrible. And the users they do have are checking in less often, and posting even less often. FB's content is littered with terrible, zero value, click bait content. FB launched their own video service, and Wall Street feared for Youtube's future. The problem is - those who want to get paid for video content hate FB video. So instead they upload to Youtube, then paste their Youtube video on FB. Guess who gets that money?
When people are looking to buy a product or service, where do you think they go? Facebook? Nope. They go to the GOOG for that. They might ask their friends for a recommendation on Facebook, but they SEARCH for it on Google.
Here's where Facebook comes in handy. If you want to know what your best friend from high school ate for lunch today, go to Facebook. If you want to see 10,000 pictures of your friend's kids, go to Facebook. If you want to know who the people you barely care about are voting for in the next election, go to Facebook. Looking for a quick laugh from the latest viral video? You can see that on Facebook, in a video hosted by Youtube.
Come on people. Long term, Facebook doesn't hold a candle to Google's empire.
Update 4/21/2015: Tidal declared "Failure"
(less than a month after writing this).
My heart goes out to those select artists and celebrities who whine about not making enough money. Artists like Jay-Z, Madonna, Kanye, Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, and others backing the Tidal music streaming service... they are just scraping by aren't they? I mean, with pesky little net worths in the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, how do they get by? Bless their poor detached hearts.
One of the funniest things that happens when rich people get bored is they get involved in expensive hobbies. They tend to call these activities, "business." It just feels so much better to be in a "start-up" and call it a "business", especially if you are "revolutionizing" something. But what if your business sets out to revolutionize something that doesn't need revolutionizing? Uh oh...
Enter Tidal, yet another music streaming service that is designed to better support the artist. And like any good startup, Tidal doesn't fail us on their focus to diversify themselves in the market place. Setting themselves apart, Tidal provides the listener the unique opportunity to pay double for their music. That's it. That's the angle. Quite an elevator pitch isn't it? Instead of paying something like $0 (ie, Pandora, Grooveshark, etc..), fans now get the incredible opportunity to pay $19.95/month for music streaming via Tidal. After being gouged, they can sleep well knowing they're supporting the artist. It's the "future of streaming" Jay-Z says.
Those calling Tidal a day late and dollar short are being too kind. Tidal is several years late and $19.95 too expensive. And this just in (queue breaking news alert), fans don't really want to pay for music. Wait, what?! I can feel you not exclaiming, "You mean to tell me people want free music?!?! Say it isn't so!"
Let's take a quick trip down memory lane. AllMP3. Napster. Freenet. Kazaa. LimeWire. [fill-in-the-blank].ru. Grooveshark. Pandora. Spotify. Moral of the story? Or should I say immoral of the story (in some cases)? If you give people the opportunity to listen to free music, people will take it. Do we really need to argue this point again? Popular streaming services like Grooveshark are legal, free, & interactive. Ah, that feels good. In fact, free, legal, and interactive feels real good. A bloated $19.95/month for the same thing does not feel good. Charging $240/year to listen and not own anything doesn't feel good at all. It's way too much, and it won't work.
Remember when Lars Ulrich (drummer for Metallica), fought against Napster? "Free music is wrong," he said. "Support the artists," he demanded. The case settled and he was viewed as a hero right? The listening public's love for Lars (and Metallica) grew and grew, launching him on a path to dethrone Julia Roberts, and take over the crown of America's Sweetheart, right? Well, not so much. Sadly, he is the butt of jokes on radio stations nationwide to this day, 15 years later.
So, recording artists of the world, let me share this with you. We (the fans) absolutely support you. We love paying for music... when you're small. We love helping you go from full time food server to full time musician. We tell our friends about you. We show up to your shows. We buy your merch. We are your product evangelist, and we work for free. We eagerly wait to applaud your awards, and watch you launch into super stardom. And then, we endure asinine ticket prices to see you sell out your arena tour. While there, we take a thousand pictures of you and plaster them all over social media. We want you to "make it". We live vicariously through you while you travel the world on private jets with staff and servants in tow. It's a wonderful experience for us. And it's not so bad for you either.
However, once you make it, please do not come whining to us about not making enough money. You want to piss and moan over royalties? Take that sad story to the writers, producers, publishers, and labels. Go back in the studio and add a word and take a third. Own your music. Play it out. Fight your greedy label. Basically, go figure it out. But don't you dare pass your gold plated problems on to the fans.
If you are wondering which Amex card to get to maximize your points usage, this guide is for you. For regular American Express cards like the Green, Gold, or Platinum Amex, your point conversions looks like this:
100 points per $1 when booking airfare through Amex Travel
133 points per $1 when booking hotel through Amex Travel
166 points per $1 when using points to cover purchases already made
200 points per $1 when trading in points for an Amex Gift Card.
^ Lets be real, most of those are pretty awful really.
However, with American Express Blue Sky, your point conversion is MUCH better. You can apply your points towards travel charges that show up on your account for things like airfare, hotel, and rental cars. The point conversion looks like this:
7500 points per $100 credit, or 75 points per $1.
The way to get the most out of these points it to use them to cover parts of a travel related purchase. If my airfare was $375, then I would apply 22,500 points to cover $300 of that charge. I would not apply 30,000 points to cover the whole airfare, because when it's not in even $100 increments, you lose the remainder. In that case, 22,500 would cover $300, but the final 7500 points would cover $75, at a conversion ratio of 100 points per $1 (not as good). Therefore, always apply your blue sky points in even $100 increments to get the most of your point's conversion.
Bottom line, if you want to play the Amex point game to win, use a platinum card to get the preferred airline credits, lounge access, TSA/pre or Global Entry, platinum concierge, or any of the other nice benefits that come with the card. Then try and use the Amex Blue sky for the bulk of your purchases as to accumulate points on the account with the better point's conversion ratio.