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Michael Jackson Inspired My Business

Michael Jackson Inspired My Business

Erik Stothart

Blondie’s “The Tide Is High” was my first 45. I was 8 years old. My sister and I played it to death. Toto IV – with the songs “Africa” and “Rosanna” – was my first LP at age 10. Michael Jackson hypnotized me with his Billie Jean “Grammy Moonwalk” performance when I was 12. We just about wore the wax off our kitchen floor trying to learn it. Today, each of those moments has played a major role in shaping my website: www.StumpedAgain.com – The Web’s Premier Lyric Trivia Game.

In the game, players are presented with lyrics from songs in the categories they choose. They are given four choices and twelve seconds to correctly match the artist to the lyric. Play continues until they get three wrong and have been “Stumped Again!” Points are awarded for each correct answer and high scores are tabulated. iTunes Gift Cards are awarded throughout the week including $50 to the High Score of the Week. Players are encouraged to submit their favorite lyrics for inclusion in the game and there’s a daily “Stumper of the Day” to follow on Twitter (@StumpedAgain). Generally speaking, if you like music, you’ll like the site.

When I look back at my life, I realize now just how large a part music has always played in creating memories. How many times have you heard a certain song that just takes you back to a specific moment in your life? You can recall the scene, see the people and almost smell the memory. Music is magical! I still get as giddy now as I did then to hear a new band or a new favorite song – like you just can’t get enough of it. And while my professional life has taken me into the Printing Industry and the Financial Services world, my passion has always remained with music.

Name That Tune

When I was little, my family used to make the 7 hour drive from PA to Virginia Beach for our annual summer vacation. When you are a little kid, 7 hours might as well have been 7 DAYS of being trapped in the back of our trusty station wagon. The Beach was awesome – the car ride was pure torture. After a few years, my brother, sister and I evolved to having our whole survival strategy planned out: books to read, card games to play, when we’d take naps, and the piece de resistance: my “Name That Tune” trivia game. This was a cassette tape that I would painstakingly craft for weeks with our “boombox” prior to the trip. It consisted of song snippets – sometimes broken down into clever categories such as “Songs By Groups With Numbers In Their Names” – that I would play and my family would race to name first. It was a major time-killer on the trip and whether they truly enjoyed playing it or not, I absolutely loved making it and having them play it. From humble beginnings…

Fast forward to junior high and high school, and music played a major role in the whole dating scene; from your first dances, to songs that reminded you of crushes, the dedications they had on the radio (where you secretly hoped someone would send one to you), and lyrics you would write in notes to your girlfriends. Starting in college, I kept a little notebook where I started writing down some song lyrics that I just thought were cool. From the more mainstream “I don’t feel tardy” – Van Halen, “Hot For Teacher”, to the more obscure “I only live for today, but I’m one day behind” – The Outfield, “All The Love”.

I came across it one day and a seed of an idea was born. What if I compiled some more lyrics and put together a trivia game – kind of like my old “Name That Tune” but with lyrics – and shot it off to my college buddies? Soon the idea had grown into creating a full blown website for the world to play. So 5 years ago, I started compiling lyrics in my spare time: lunch breaks at work, airplane rides, hotel stays, late at night and early in the morning. With the birth of my two daughters during this time, and the commitment to allow my wife to be a stay-at-home mom, time was at a premium. That was only the first of the hurdles I would have to figure out how to overcome.

It’s All About The Benjamins, Baby

Money was the second. As I started to learn what goes into building a website, I realized that this was going to cost money that we simply didn’t have. But a passion is a passion, right? And somehow I convinced my wife to make sacrifices such as eliminating our home phone, cancelling our trash service (and sharing with the neighbor), pretty much never buying anything new, and more (!) in order to scrape together an average of $150 / mo to begin building this crazy vision.

I could write chapters on the pains involved in putting it all together: programmers / designers – your best friend and worst enemy…and a lot of money either way, copyright laws, merchant agreements, bugs in the site, negative family / friends, money, money and more money! But I always maintained a clear vision of my goal: create a game that, like my old beach “Name That Tune”, I’ll have a blast making and will love to have others play.

The Biggest Fairytale

I love the concept of the “Overnight Success”. Kind of like winning the lottery, but I know it’s more a fairy-tale than anything, like the “Happily Ever After” princess stories that I read my girls at bedtime. Sure there may be exceptions, but I believe that anything successful has got a ton of heavy lifting that went on behind the scenes. My site was built in a series of fits and starts – as the money became available. Need to add this feature? I’ll be back in 5 months when I’ve saved up the $750. Want to add sound effects? That will take 2 months. It was painstaking and painfully slow. And all along the way, I heard the doubters asking what in the world I was doing. Yet I always had faith that the end result would be something I was proud of. And it is. We’re not quite at the “Happily Ever After” just yet, but we’re certainly headed in the right direction.

Michael Jackson Inspired My Business

On September 15 of this year, I launched www.StumpedAgain.com. And while I wanted it trumpeted in headlines of every major paper worldwide, the Marketing Budget said “let’s try Facebook first..for free”. I’ll never forget that my first real girlfriend – the one I had written so many notes to in high school that contained lyrics from “our songs” – was the first to play the game. And suddenly, those 5 agonizing years dissolved from my memory. It’s all worth it.

From tiny acorns…

Today, roughly 10 weeks into being live, having spent exactly $0 in advertising, we are gaining unique visitors daily via word of mouth. We have had eight different winners of the weekly iTunes Gift card. Google Analytics (free) shows visitors from more than half of the US. We’ve relied heavily on “friends and family” as well as Facebook connections and have a component of the game that allows players to post their scores on their FB Walls, along with a link – which equates to free advertising. Though we’d love to place that ad in Rolling Stone, we continue with our $150 monthly savings program to dictate our next steps. We are also considering Google Ads which we’ve heard great things about.

Michael Jackson Inspired My BusinessFrom here, I’ve got bigger goals. We’ve contacted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about including a version of the game to their Interactive Kiosks, are contacting radio stations about running ongoing promotional contests and we are researching how to get the game included in video game systems in bars throughout the US. Ultimately, StumpedAgain.com should be the top destination for those who want to discuss music, learn of new releases, advertise bands, play fun trivia games, and basically share in their passion of all things music. And personally, one of my biggest dreams has always been to attend the Grammy’s. To be in that environment that has the magic of music dripping out of its pores, where history is created — like the Michael Jackson moonwalk moment that transfixed and inspired me when I was 12 — and where my passion is celebrated, would be truly amazing.

From a shoestring budget of $150/mo, www.StumpedAgain.com has been an incredible learning experience, a fun dream come true and a journey that is just beginning!

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3 Responses to “Michael Jackson Inspired My Business”

  1. Steve Beard says:

    Awesome vision, awesome plan, awesome execution equals an awesome website. (Being from the 70s and 80s myself, I had to use the word “awesome,” right?) I wish I had the skills and memory to play better, but actually playing is where the fun is. http://www.stumpedagain.com rocks! (Pun intended)

  2. Judy McNulty says:

    Love the passion and committment to a dream come true. The personal background brings Erik alive and shows that baby steps can produce results. I willl definitely refer my friends to StumpedAgain.

  3. Judy McNulty says:

    Love the passion and commitment to a dream come true. The personal background brings Erik alive and shows that baby steps can produce results. I will definitely refer my friends to StumpedAgain.

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