• Important Note

    The 60 Works site will be kept alive for reference, but the business is no longer being maintained.

  • Turning a Corner

    Turning a Corner

    27th March 2012, (1 Comments)

    Picture: Daruma-san in the workshop. (Explanation)

     

    Long spells between blog posts tend to reflect one of two possibilities:

    1. A lack of anything meaningful to write about, and the perceived shame that goes with it.
    2. Being too busy to market yourself further.

     

    I’m happy to say that, for once, I’m falling into the latter category. February and March have been supremely busy, in the best possible way.

    Highlights:

    • A fun Zayik sale to a producer in Switzerland. I’ll post more about this via Zayik’s marketing channels when I have the time.
    • A recently-completed project with a client in South America. More on this soon.
    • An in-progress project with a customer in Canada.
    • Multiple potential clients in the hopper!

     

    The biggest highlight is the lightning fast transition from desperation to busy-ness. I’ve gone from praying that a custom controller market exists to working actively in it.

    Fun fact for potential entrepreneurs: you’re not supposed to start a business for a market that you don’t know exists. I got lucky.

    That said, I’ve only turned a corner.  It’s not time to rent a giant industrial space, or to hire people. It’s time to take five minutes to celebrate, then to dig back into this fun world I’ve created for myself.

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    Hale Micro Build Video

    Hale Micro Build Video

    26th January 2012, (4 Comments)

    Kenneth Graham at Hale Microsystems asked me to put together a “build video” — something that would show how a controller is assembled from start to finish. We’re doing this as a bit of cross-promotion.

    (I also have the sneaking suspicion Kenneth did this to help me get off my butt and focus on a new project while 60 Works and Zayik slowly gained momentum. I don’t know if this is true, but it makes him appear very wise and sage, so we’ll keep thinking that.)

    The build video went through a number of iterations, and eventually morphed into what you see here. Instead of simply presenting a build, I went for a more instructional style, with a complementary website here.

    If this takes off, I could imagine selling “Drill Your Own” kits. That controller was designed in such a way that the most complicated assembly tool was a power drill. We shall see!

     

    Anecdotes from making the video:

    • Early on, I set a rough 5-minute limit, taking into account the typical YouTube viewer’s attention span. Five minutes of content is too much and not enough, all at once. The amount of work to create this was extraordinary, as was the amount of content that was cut from the script.
    • I have newfound respect for one of my favorite TV shows: How It’s Made (on Netflix Watch Instantly in the USA). It’s a simple format, but I’m beginning to appreciate the amount of effort put into each episode.
    • My subtle, classy orange/yellow walls in the workshop look horrible on camera.
    • Editing video makes you watch content in a completely different light. You see things you previously didn’t perceive, especially cuts between shots. I imagine a basic Film class teaches this same vision.
    • Looking at yourself in the mirror is very different from looking at video of yourself. It’s a bit horrifying at first. Then you get used to it, seeing beyond your past self on the computer screen.

     

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    EQ Kit

    EQ Kit

    26th January 2012, (0 Comments)

    The EQ Kit was built to showcase an instructional video about its creation. The video can be found here.

    This controller was designed to be re-created by a novice. The wiring scheme, the enclosure and the components all take this into account.

     

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    ZAYIK

    ZAYIK

    15th November 2011, (0 Comments)

    ZAYIK is a website I’ve put together that allows people to design MIDI controllers online. It’s up and running as of this moment. Details in Press Release form are here, or you could just skip straight to the site.

    Some pre-emptive Q&A is below. ZAYIK has its own Q&A section; this one is focused on the relationship between these two sites.

     

    What’s the point of this when you have 60 Works?

    One-sentence Executive response:
    To spin off a business model based around higher volume, and to generate additional Sales Leads.

     

    Response from an actual human being:
    ZAYIK represents one flavor of “custom:” unfettered placement of components on a fixed surface. It happens to be that this particular flavor is a low-hanging fruit — something that can be automated to the point that a web application can handle much of the design work. So one answer to the question is “…because I can see a unique business around it.”

    Another answer to the question is “…to open the eyes of clients.” If people realize this one flavor of “custom” exists, maybe they’ll begin to fathom additional possibilities. For these people, 60 Works will be ready to help.

     

    Then why isn’t ZAYIK a sub-brand? Why go through the hassle of making something new?

    I want to ensure 60 Works continues to be a small workshop for custom controllers. ZAYIK currently fits in that mold, but it has its own trajectory. If it takes off, questions of inventory, scaling and logistics need to be tackled. Those are concerns I want to divorce from the warm fuzzy workshop vibe that is 60 Works.

     

    This idea sounds familiar…

    That’s because it is. The most famous example is the MAWZER controller, an ingenious idea that never fully blossomed (at least, as far as I know). MAWZER was all about modularity. Livid Instruments has also picked up this banner with some beautiful add-on units and prototypes. In fact, ZAYIK is a partially modular system, under the hood.

    I shared this idea with Kenneth Graham of Hale Micro when I was working on the implementation. Turns out he and a friend had also thought of it… a decade ago.

     

    So, do I go to ZAYIK or 60 Works?

    Depends. If you’re interested in buying a ZAYIK controller (or some derivation/modification), try ZAYIK. If you’ve got a pie-in-the-sky idea, or have general questions about custom controllers, try 60 Works. You’ll notice ZAYIK is short on bloggy-ness. I’ll keep all of that rambling here.

    One additional benefit is that 60 Works can now use ZAYIK to share ideas with potential clients. I can slap together a quick controller idea and send an email saying “it’ll be a bit like this,” without having to paint a picture in their heads. This benefit alone may be worth the entire project.

     

    Acknowledgements:

    ZAYIK is my baby, but it’s a collaborative effort. None of this would be possible without the efforts of three very important partners:

     

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    An open letter to current and potential clients

    An open letter to current and potential clients

    04th October 2011, (5 Comments)

    Hi There,

    It’s not you, it’s me.

    We have these wonderfully exciting email chats where you share your music dreams. Then they end, with me advising you against my services. I’m not actively pushing you away, but the conversation just tends to trail off into oblivion.

    I would love to work with you, but the reasons we don’t are numerous.

    • Many times, you tell me your problem, and I show you how to solve 80% of it by buying stuff off-the-shelf. Then I show you the kind of effort, money and time it would take to achieve 100% satisfaction, and you realize 80% isn’t so bad.
    • Sometimes, the technology has not caught up with your vision. The cost to realize your solution becomes huge, because I’m tasked with Invention as much as I’m tasked with Implementation.
    • Sometimes, you get caught up in a deep conversation when you were actually just window-shopping.
    • Sometimes it’s simple sticker shock.
    • I’m guessing here, but I bet that many times, I never receive an email in the first place because of fear that I’ll steal & commercialize the idea. (FYI, I have non-disclosure agreements ready for these kinds of conversations.)

     

    Believe it or not, this is pretty much what I expected. Lots of nibbling, but not too many bites. Many conversations started, just as many hanging forever in limbo. It’s the nature of this business.

     

    To be clear, I’m not discouraging ANY of this correspondence. Anyone who I’ve talked to can attest to my fervor for finding solutions to their problems, even when they involve off-the-shelf components or a competing service. Every new email is an opportunity to learn about something new — an opportunity to improve my quoting and research skills.

     

    Unfortunately, the current state of the technology makes it difficult to affordably serve most of you. This reality may change as the costs of MIDI electronics and Rapid Prototyping go down.

    While this may seem discouraging to both of us, it’s OK by me. 60 Works operates on the fringes of the music technology world. My clients are few and far between, and consist of people who are as devoted to finding solutions as they are frustrated with the current state of the art.

    Until I’m so busy that I cannot answer your questions, keep the emails coming. I can’t promise I’ll be the one to solve your problems, but I can promise to give you a clear idea of your problem from the perspective of a boutique builder.

    -Dave

     

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