What’s Your Baseline?

 

Have you ever had someone tell you something is a “good investment?”  It could have been a salesperson trying to sell you a new piece of machinery; a broker presenting a new stock;  a business partner serving up a new opportunity, or that new condo your spouse found.

 

But, how do you “really” know it is a good investment?

 

While the complexity of the answer is dependent on the level of investment, your risk tolerance, and other external factors. The solution boils down to two fundamentals. Your forecast of that return and the baseline from which you are making your analysis.

 

Today, I want to focus on the baseline as I plan to tackle the concept of forecasting in detail in subsequent posts.

 

Time and money are not infinite. This is economics 101. If you choose to spend either on one item. You take the same amount away from something else. E.g. if you have $1 in your pocket and purchase a soda for $1. You cannot purchase that $1 bag of chips as well. In this simple form, it seems ridiculous that someone couldn’t comprehend that concept, but you would be surprised how things change when it comes to long-term investments such as stocks, machinery, or large-capital projects.

 

Part of the problem is that potential investors do not have a go-to baseline to gauge the true value for the use of their money. Something that isn’t arbitrary. For instance, you can’t assess the success of one project against something else for which the returns must also be estimated, such as a stock or even another plan you are considering. Simply, you need something with a consistent history of positive returns from which to analyze your investment.

 

Personally, I gauge all potential investments against the 20-year T-bond. While nothing is risk-free, this financial vehicle is issued and backed by the faith of the US Government making it an ideal baseline for your analysis.  This is why many investment advisors follow a diversified portfolio that includes a chunk of these assets.

 

Using my suggestion, you would forecast the return on your investment. For instance, if you plan to buy a piece of machinery that will last twenty years and increase your business by 3%. You would weigh that against what you would get if you placed your funds in a 20-year T-bond. If that bond’s coupon rate is 4%, you may want to investigate that investment, your forecasts, and your decision a bit further.

 

A few notes of caution here. If you crunch the numbers and the bond turns out to be a better investment. Try to avoid engaging in confirmation bias – “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” Don’t re-do your numbers until your potential investment looks better on paper than your baseline. Second, depending on the current state of the bond market. You may want to use the yield instead of the coupon in your analysis as this metric takes into account the future value of the bond you are considering. Finally, keep in mind the gut instinct. If you trust your math and truly feel that the investment will be a wise choice. Go for it. However, give it a night’s rest before you sign the check.

 

Your baseline does not have to be a bond. It just has to be quantifiable, historic, and relatively risk-free. For example, if you are considering hiring musical entertainment for your venue. You could analyze your bar and food sales for six to twelve months before you bring in the talent and then weigh your current numbers against those historic metrics.

 

In a future post, I plan to discuss how you forecast possible returns. However, for today. Remember that to measure anything. You need a device from which to gauge the opportunity. You need a baseline.

 

 

Introducing Jeremy’s Drum Den

 

 

I am proud to announce my new YouTube playlist Jeremy’s Drum Den where I offer my insights on crafting studio-quality drum sounds in small spaces using electronic drums, digital audio workstations, and the latest drum software and plug-ins.

 

Follow me as I explore new drumming technologies and learn on-the-fly with the groove by my side.

 

 

Grab This FREE Drum Track

 

I just released this FREE drum track for all of you singers, songwriters, and producers who want to see the quality studio drum tracks I can provide for your next demo, album, or other musical projects. You can download Boot-Scootin’ Two-Step here.

 

 

 

Now Offering Custom Made Drum Tracks Online

 

 

After months streamlining the process, I am proud to offer custom made drum tracks for singers, producers, songwriters, and bands looking to enhance their demos, albums, and other recording projects.

 

 

My goal was to make this offering as seamless as possible.  It all starts on my Custom Drum Track Page here where you can learn more about my process, check out some samples, download a few free tracks to try, and place your order securely through my site using your credit card, PayPal, or Amazon Pay account. Each track is only $25.

 

Once the payment is processed, I will send you an email requesting your scratch track. Email me that file and I will drum to it on my Roland electronic kit, enhance the tracks using Logic and Steven Slate Drums, and then send you the groovy studio file all mixed down as well as the raw Midi version, so you can edit to your own liking.

 

I look forward to drumming with you!

~ Jeremy Larochelle

The Derivative Benefit of Record Studios Past

 

 

As I watched the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of fame Induction Ceremony on HBO, I couldn’t help but admire how tight many of the bands inducted were despite their long absences from the stage. Most notably were The Cars. Whom had not performed together since 2011. The group burned through some of their most iconic hits including Moving In Stereo, Just What I Needed, and My Best Friend’s Girl nailing the tiny progressions, hooks, harmonies, and changes in each that are forever etched in our minds.

 

And it got me thinking.

 

Thinking about how our foray into the modern “home studio” has killed a very important derivative benefit that blest many bands such as The Cars, Lauryn Hill, The Moody Blues, and Bon Jovi during their upbringing in the “offline” world of music consumption. The benefit of being forced to craft a song into a hit by playing through its pieces over and over again.

 

We all know the primary responsibility of the recording studio – to record. However, pre-Pro Tools. The studio was a place where you and your bandmates went to develop your songs with the help of a producer. Unlike today, where you can kind of get the right notes down and then let the engineers copy, paste, and autotune them into perfection. The studio of yesterday required you to play your parts over and over again until you got the perfect take. Sure, there were crutches, but they were costly and generally took more time than the musician just working his or her instrument until they got it right.

 

This process surely helped make great hits – just ask The Cars. However, it also forced the musicians to commit these hooks, riffs, rhythms, and notes to their subconscious must like Danielson did under Mr. Miyagi’s tutelage with his “wax-on/ wax-off technique.” Then, when the recording was done. These bands hit the road for 200 plus dates a year playing those same riffs over and over, further committing them to a part of the brain that few people will ever tap into.

 

The end result is seventy plus year-old rockers who can still hit the stage after nearly a decade of not playing together and give me Just What I Needed – a collection of iconic tunes that sound just like I first heard them in a Pontiac Trans Am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respect the Pre-Gig Window

 

 

Musicians and entertainers are a unique breed of individuals… an enigma if you will? Many times, that outgoing personality we see on-stage is not the same person behind it. In fact, from my experience, I find that most entertainers are more introverted than extroverted. They are reserved and highly emotional individuals partly because the product they present is based on emotional attachment.

 

This is why it is imperative that managers, stagehands, venue representatives, marketing personnel, etc. respect the pre-performance time of the artist. I am speaking about the hour directly before they hit the stage. During this time, that introvert is preparing to “come out of their shell,” and for your venue to succeed. You want them to complete that transition. Over the years, I have seen personnel mismanage acts large and small at this point because they do not understand this aspect of the entertainer psyche. I have watched security give them hard times as they approached the stage about their credentials (even with me leading them). Managers argue with musicians about bar tabs before they hit the lights and tech’s fight with DJs about their set-up minutes before showtime.  In all of these situations, the show suffered. Why? Because, in each instance, these events did not allow the artist to get out of their introverted state – a state you do NOT want them to be in when they are entertaining your audience.

 

I understand that any event is made up of numerous personnel with various personalities, job demands, and views of their position within the concert eco-system.  Regardless, in the end. The show is ALL about appeasing the audience and the person they are most connected to at that point is the entertainer. They are the direct link between your success and the audience and for the next forty, sixty, or ninety plus minutes the most important person on the property.  Here are some pieces of advice to help you set them (and your venue) up for success.

 

Give them their space. Make sure the act has a spot where they can “get away” if they need to. It doesn’t need to be a green room. A small corner of the lounge or section of the patio will work. Many times, you will see artists “hide-out” behind the stage.  This is usually a sign to leave them alone.

 

Hold off on your reprimands. Was the artist late? Did they not dress properly? Did they load-in through the wrong door? Did their last show bomb?  NOW is NOT the time to address this with them. You will have plenty of time to discuss these items later on. If you want a great show, you can’t send them on stage worried or thinking about how they already failed. Give them feedback after the show, or better yet. The next day.

 

Make them feel tech-secured. Make sure your technicians touch base with the artist and ask them if they have any questions, comments, or concerns about a 1/2 hour before showtime. Then, actively listen to their demands. NOW is NOT the time to fight with them about mic placement or to start a rift regarding in-ear monitors. Rather, NOW is the time to make them feel like you have their back for the next 45-plus minutes.

 

Treat them like rock stars. Even if you hate their music or dislike the entertainer as a person because he stole your girlfriend. Smile and tell them to have a great show as they head towards the stage. If you have a history of their performance. Tell them about something they did at the last show that you thoroughly enjoyed. Just don’t tell them your mom or grandma likes their music and don’t oversell your enthusiasm.

 

Remember the Berklee Recording Rule. While studying briefly at Berklee College of Music, I spent many hours in recording sessions with my roommate who was in the final year of the program. I heard variations of the following phrase.

“It is your job to support the artist and stay out of their way.” 

I learned that this meant that you supported the artist’s physical and mental space above all else. You rolled with every punch.  You didn’t force the drummer to move his snare for better mic placement. You worked around it. If the pianist runs all of his keys through the same amp, you find a way to work within his set-up and don’t force him to change it. If the singer feels comfortable in the dark with candles – you shut the lights off, even if you can’t see a damn thing.

 

What Berklee’s recording and engineering lesson teaches us is that ultimately, your goal is to send an artist on stage feeling confident, respected, and in-demand. This will help pull them out of their introverted headspace, let their artistry shine, and focus on connecting with their fans. The end result is a better show with a greater opportunity for success.