Thursday, August 31, 2006

World Domination - Peru

In my unwavering attempt at world domination I have hit a milestone by registering a sale in the wonderful country of Peru. As you can see, the red countries in South America are growing. I am still dying for a sale in Russia and India and of course a few African countries would be nice too. If you haven't read the original "World Domination" post, the Abiku Record label is offering the "Big Bad Sun" CD for half price (8 bucks, shipping included) to anyone buying the CD from a country not yet on the list. E-mail me directly for information. Here is the list once again of countries where the CD has been sold: Albania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

I have also decided that since someone in a far off country has parted with their hard earned pay to support independent music, the least I can do is to learn a little about their country. This is what I have found:

Up until the early 1500's Peru was the homeland to the Inca Empire, which was at the time the most advanced civilization on the American continent. The empire stretched from Ecuador to Chile and by some estimates date back as far as 1,200 AD although agriculture can be traced back 5,000 years earlier. The Spaniards conquered the area and brought with them a campaign of evangelization and doctrinisation, which in the end made Peru an authentic Spanish colony.

Peru is known worldwide for its fascinating Inca ruins, impressive colonial architecture, spectacular mountains, and volcanoes, and lush Amazon rainforest with amazing varieties of flora and fauna.


Friday, August 25, 2006

The Housing Bubble - Reality Check

As some of you may know, I'm picking up and heading back to Los Angeles around year-end with my wife and daughter in tow. I'll be heading back to Japan for work here and there but want to settle down back in California. I first figured I would buy a nice house for us, but have changed my mind. I remember when I came to Japan 15 years ago, a "normal" house in LA was around three hundred grand, now the same house is rubbing up against a clean million. That's right, three times! Now let me ask you, have salaries gone up three times? Something is out of whack and you better watch out because property prices are beginning to wobble as the news has been telling us.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said that home sale prices are down from last year's levels in 26 major metropolitan areas. And the Commerce Department reported that housing prices are down by more than 15 percent from their highs and on top of that, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that applications for home purchase mortgages have dropped by more than 20 percent from last year's levels. I've been doing a little research and this is what I have found:

As we speak there is $2.7 trillion worth of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) that will reset at a higher interest rate in 2006 and 2007. That means that homeowners are going to have to fork out more cash every month for their mortgage. Do you know how much a six hundred thousand-dollar mortgage costs you a month? Around $3,400 and it is going to cost more pretty soon. Inflation has not been tamed and is not going away, there is a good chance that the Fed will raise rates again. You also have to remember here, you can't even get into a decent place in a good area of LA for six-hundred grand, you would have had to put up another hundred grand or so on top of that. Add in insurance, school for the kids, gas, cars and credit cards and you are looking at a nation of people in debt over their head. A time bomb.

You also have to keep in mind that lenders have come up with all these wacky loan inventions to fuel the whole thing. There are these interest only loans, which means that your first loan payments only cover the interest and zero of the actual home. When these buyers have to start covering the equity, they are not going to be happy because they won't be able to make their payments and won't be able to get out of the house because people like me aren't biting. That is right, 10% of homeowners are paying mortgages and have zero equity in their places.

Prices are starting to fall and it has only just begun. There are still people who say things will get back on track next year. I really doubt it. My reasoning is simple: No middle class person can afford a million dollar home unless salaries change (which they haven't, matter of fact they are half of what they should be to justify the price of the average house) or Americans save money (which they haven't). If all construction of new homes stopped today, it would still take six months to sell off all the inventory. Americans have overextended themselves once again and the market is heading for the abyss.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

World Domination

In my never-ending quest for world domination, I have decided to take some new daring steps. Take a good look at the map next to this text, the red countries are where I have sold CDs, the other countries are countries where I have yet to sell a CD. To make the map light up like a Christmas tree I need a sale in Russia. India and a few African countries would also be nice. I get played on a lot of Spanish language podcasts but have never sold a CD in Mexico or any other Central American countries yet either. How about Greenland, it used to be part of Denmark (where I have sold many CDs) but now is an independent country of its own. It would be cool to sell some CDs there too. I've been doing some thinking here and have come to the conclusion that it is not that people don't like me in those places but the cost of my CD, around 16 bucks (including shipping) may be a little more than the average person can swing, so this is what I'm going to do: I will sell it for half price to the first person in a country not yet painted red (on the list). Yes that's right, $8.00 including shipping. I won't make much but what the hell, I'm not in the game to be rich, I'm after world domination. The only rule is that you have to buy it directly from through paypal. E-mail me directly for details. Here is the list of where I have sold CDs, if your country is not listed, you are eligible for the discount. CDs have been sold in: Albania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Podcasting - Radio Reinvented

The commercial music business is getting it again, this time from the podcasters. Podcasts have only been around for a few years yet millions of people have heard one. Basically podcasters create a thirty-minute to one-hour internet radio program that can be downloaded and listened to at the listener's leisure. A constant internet connection is not necessary. A podcast can be listened to directly from ones computer or from his or hers iPod. Podcasters are looking for podsafe music, music that can be broadcast without having to pay a royalty. One would assume that both the paperwork and the financial obligations of playing music that is not royalty free is a hindrance. Regardless, podcasters are not looking for typical commercial music. They are looking for new music, music that their listeners have not heard before. Let's face it; if the listener wanted to hear platinum selling hits, they would prefer FM radio. Podcasts are a blessing to independent artists like myself.

Unlike commercial radio, there is no real money trading hands. This means that podcasters are free to play what they like (as long as it is podsafe). If you are older than me, you are saying to yourself; "That is what commercial radio was doing half a century ago, DJs played what they believed in." But those days are gone for commercial radio, the decisions about what is played is made behind closed doors after the money is counted.

Podcasts are fun, like old time radio. You get to hear music you never heard before in combinations FM radio could never do (for example the podcast
Eclectic Mix recently featured me along with "American Baroque" performing a Mozart Oboe quartet). Listeners are growing and that is trouble for the record industry. Music buyers are becoming more and more likely to listen to a podcast, go to the artist's site and buy some music, cutting out the record industry, CD retailers and distributors in the process. FM's crowd is shrinking and with it CD sales. Independent labels like magnatune have been offering their music to podcasters for a long time and I have begun to notice some mainstream record labels jumping in on the action by offering their catalog royalty free to podcasters, fair I guess. God bless podcasters and independent music for making things fun and interesting again.

Podcasts I like:

Article I've Written:

Friday, August 11, 2006

Washing Away Blood With Blood

When will it end? I look at my sleeping daughter's face and can't help but think about the children dying in Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and everywhere else where there is conflict. Missles falling to them in the silent night, awakening them from their innocent dreams and bringing them home to a compassionate God where they can finally find peace. They are called martyrs only because it sounds better than "dead." The children are the ones paying the terrible price for the hatred and ignorance of governments and their tailor-made philosophies and ideologies. The rest of us say; "It doesn't have anything to do with us, it is their fight." Yet the bombs are made not by them, and the money is not theirs. The aggression has its financiers. We are the silent cogs in the war machine, gas for its engine, part of the plan. It doesn't have to be so, you can be heard. If we truly love our children it is our duty to stand up against violence, in whatever form it comes. Regardless of ideology, of religious beliefs and political convictions, bloodshed must be condemned. It will be our children next if we refuse to look, if we do not stop it now. Do you understand the Middle East Conflict? Use your brain and then use your voice.

Links that will shine some light on the Middle East Conflict: