Infinite Track Minds Applies Science to Music Production

Alex Vazquez and Nick Valentin are on a mission to help aspiring artists and songwriters propel their musical careers. To fulfill their goal, the co-founders of Infinite Track Minds are combining their science backgrounds with diverse musical influences to produce an eclectic mix of music tracks, including rock, hip-hop, R&B, soul and dance/electro.

Alex and Nick started Infinite Track Minds, a Baltimore-based production group, to compose, sing, rap and perform original songs, as well as collaborate with local up-and-coming artists who share their same passion for music. Their Web site features a gallery where you can download their original tracks and purchase license packages for an instrumental.

The duo, which originally teamed up in Southern California in 2003, had no formal musical training, and their production style began as primarily sample-based. However, their degrees in electrical engineering and computer science gave them a unique perspective on music production.

As they gained more experience as producers their style changed to more originally composed beats, mainly consisting of live guitars and a variety of electronic instruments.

I reached out to Alex and Nick and asked them to share their startup experience and offer advice to aspiring musicians.

What inspired you to start your business?

We have always had a deeply rooted passion for both music and entrepreneurship. We believed that converting our passion/hobby into a business would allow us both to improve the quality of our music, as well as reach a greater audience.

The Internet has allowed aspiring musicians to share their talents with the world. However, a lot of promising talent can be easily overlooked because of lack of quality in production. We see this as an opportunity to both help singer/songwriters spread their music/message and to increase their probability of being noticed by record executives.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you launched your business? How did you overcome it?

For the past 10 years, we have been simultaneously making music and pursuing higher education in traditional engineering disciplines. Finding a way to manage our time between our business and our academics has been challenging.

Sacrificing sleep and leisure activities has been necessary. Specifically, finding ways to allocate our time and splitting up the workload based on our individual schedules allows us to maintain a steady level of productivity in both areas.

In terms of the business, some initial obstacles we faced included setting a solid business structure, creating a brand, and building a local following and an Internet presence. Conducting extensive research on successful business/marketing practices is pivotal for our future.

Starting small, with friends, family, and local community is a great way to create an initial following by word of mouth, which can lead to a strong presence online.

What is the most effective tool you use to find new customers?

Other online-based music production companies strictly use the Internet to reach out to new customers. Our business model, however, is based on a hybrid approach — leveraging technology to reach out to greater populations and doing face-to-face networking to build stronger and more personal relationships.

Sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly provide great potential to reach prospective customers in places that we wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

However, we find that working with our customers in person allows us to get a better sense of who they are, their message, and their needs. Furthermore, it enables us to learn what our current generation wants to listen to, which helps us adopt business practices that have proven to be successful for others.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in producing their own music tracks and selling them online?

We believe hard work, creativity and knowing your craft should come first.  Once you have that down, people will find you. Having a level of legitimacy is important (e.g. having a nice Web site, utilizing social media, etc).

More importantly, protecting yourself and your music through legal means is an often overlooked, but necessary step that needs to happen before you start selling your music online.

10 Ways Startups Can Track Trends: And Why It’s So Important

Keeping up with emerging business trends can be a challenge for any startup that is already focusing on establishing itself. But the failure to make adjustments in an ever-changing marketplace can break a lot of businesses. Fortunately for the startup community, Rieva Lesonsky is available to show you how to track the latest trends.

In her recent article on ReadWriteWeb.com, Rieva writes: Staying on top of trends is key to any startup’s success. Spotting trends early makes it possible to come up with smart startup ideas – or modify your startup plans to jump on a new trend just as it takes off. Just as most important, you can avoid the risk of starting a business based on a trend that’s just about to fizzle out. Fortunately, tracking trends isn’t as hard as it used to be.

Here are my tips and sources to help you stay on top of the latest business and consumer trends.

Click here to read the full story.

How To Make a Great How-To Video

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video certainly adds a good few more on top of that. One area in which video is invaluable is the “how-to” instructional that takes a diagram, recipe, or list of steps and brings the topic to life.

Whether you’re a small business owner and want to demo a product, an artisan wanting to show off your skills, or even a consumer with a passion for sharing knowledge, before you pick up the camcorder, have a read of our top tips.

Click here to read the full article.

Antique Watch Restoration Is a Time-Tested Profession

More than just a way to keep time, a watch is an expression of taste, a reflection of style and passion of the wearer. A vintage wrist or pocket watch possesses a charm that newer watches simply do not have.

Antique watches by definition are in limited supply and are becoming more and more popular today, according to VintageWatchRestoration.com. Quality vintage and antique wrist watches are sought by those who appreciate the unique style, quality and craftsmanship it affords and those looking for investments they can enjoy today and profit from tomorrow.

And there are plenty of businesses and individuals who make a living repairing and restoring antique watches to “like new” condition, whenever possible, without altering the authenticity, original appearance, or quality of the watch.

Kevin James, aka the Watch Guy, is one of those talented individuals who has a passion for restoring old watches by using diamond-dusted files and screwdrivers with infinitesimally small heads, a little practice, a little skill, and some elbow grease.

“Watch repair is becoming a dying profession,” James states on his Web site.  “So much expertise and knowledge is being lost every year as older members of the profession are preparing for retirement. I would encourage anyone interested in this field to pursue it.”

Although no one I know could tell you how to restore a vintage watch in a blog entry, James explains the task as well as anyone can in his article, Watch Refurbishing.

In this video, Brooklyn, NY, artisan David Sokosh found an unexpected vocation after his art gallery closed: watchmaker.

Interested in the history of famous watch brands like Rolex, Bulova and Corum? For your enjoyment and reference, VintageWatchRestoration.com has compiled the history of some of the fine watchmakers of our time.

How to Assess a Direct Selling Opportunity

If you have to work, there’s no place like home. For many people, having the freedom and control to earn a living while working at home is an appealing proposition. It’s the reason why a growing number of  women, and men, are turning to direct selling opportunities as a way of generating some extra income.

Direct selling is the sale of a consumer product or service, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location, marketed through independent sales representatives who are sometimes also referred to as consultants, distributors or other titles.

Direct sellers don’t necessarily have to sell door-to-door, although that is usually how they start out. Many sell their products over the phone or even through the mail or via a personal website. As a direct seller, your sales channels are limited only by your imagination.

An estimated 15.8 million people are involved in direct selling in the United States and more than 74 million worldwide. Most are women, though nearly a third are men or two-person teams such as couples.

Kim Washington, a mother of two, started her own business about six years ago as a consultant with Thirty-One Gifts, a direct sales company that offers purses, totes and accessories — “things to simplify your life.” The name refers to a passage in Proverbs 31 about a virtuous woman.

During her first year, Washington earned $12,000 selling Thirty-One products. Today, she supervises thousands of representatives as an independent senior executive director for Thirty-One Gifts. She earned about $325,000 in 2011.

Washington began her Thirty-One career for the same reasons so many other woman do —because her family was hurting financially and the idea of making a little bit of extra money was too good to pass up.

“I know that it is difficult for people to believe that you can have the kind of success I’ve had by selling purses and tote bags, but it is possible,” Washington said in a news release.

The ever-growing popularity of direct selling often motivates dishonest individuals and companies to misrepresent themselves as legitimate direct selling businesses in hopes of enticing victims.

Conducting thorough research beforehand will help you weed out the real direct-selling companies from illegitimate scams. The Direct Selling Association offers a number of resources for individuals considering direct sales.

So just how do you choose the right direct sales business for you?  With hundreds of direct sales companies out there, there’s no perfect answer, says Business Among Moms.  What may be good for one person may not be good for another.

Are you a mom looking for another way to earn additional income and stay home with your family?  Business Among Moms compiled a list of some of the most popular businesses you can start from the comfort of your own home.

Once you have a list of companies, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.  Obviously, you like the products.  Now it’s time to find out about the business.

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This slide show offers some questions you need to ask the direct sales company before signing any agreement.

Accent Studios Grows With Popular Wall Decals

Many people get the urge to redecorate their homes because they get tired of seeing the same old wall color or artwork. And simply repainting can be time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, fashionable wall stickers have become a very popular and easy way to freshen up the outdated, dull walls in your house. Accent Studios wants to make the job of bringing your walls to life a lot simpler with their wall decals.

Accent Studios, located in the Central Valley, CA, specializes in high-quality vinyl, which they turn into amazing wall decals. Vinyl wall decals are an inexpensive way to add great non-permanent designs to your wall space. The company’s Web site, DecalMyWalls.com, showcases a variety of custom wall decal designs, including Kids Wall Decals, Sports Wall Decals, Monogram Wall Decals, Tree Wall Decals, and even Wall Quotes and Sayings.

Steven Bennett, a self-taught computer specialist with a strong aptitude for technology and digital design, came up with the idea and vision for Accent Studios. “My whole motivation is to make things better than they currently are,” says Bennett, who wanted to create a way for people to easily express themselves and bring out their own personality when decorating their homes. “Whether it’s wall decals… or, whatever, I just want to improve things.”

After months of planning, preparing, and researching, Bennett began to realize there were many obstacles he had to overcome before starting a business in California.  In order to build the talent he needed to support his new business, Bennett brought in his longtime friend, Garrett Cluff.

Bennett knew Cluff’s skill set would be a great fit for what the company needed to hit the ground running. Cluff, who has a 10-yr background in customer service, pays close attention to the details, develops strategic marketing plans, and approves final product designs.

Accent Studios is at the forefront of a home design concept that is very popular at the moment. According to a recent Artworkgroups.org article, A Wall Decal Sticker Is The New Trend In Decorating Your Room, one reason wall decal peel off stickers are extremely popular is they may be easily removed and changed anytime.

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The applying and elimination of the sticker won’t harm the wall by any means nor does it destroy or peel the fresh paint. This enables homeowners and office dwellers to continuously alter the statement of the room by using a brand new wall decal sticker.

Cluff says wall art is a great way to add your personal touch, to anything. “Everyone likes to express themselves, and I see vinyl wall decals as the next popular wave in being able to do so easily, and affordably.”