"Come gather round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone if your time to you is worth saving then you better start swimmin or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin."
The beauty of Bob Dylan is that his lyrics stay relevant. In today’s superVUCA world, innovation is the mother of necessity and in business, we need to get over this idea of treading old ground. Musicians have done the business world a huge service in providing examples of breaking the mould, stepping out and delivering show stopping performances.
The Beatles ignored the stale Rock ‘n’ Roll formula being sold by industry reps out for quick hits. They took inspiration from a variety of styles – experimenting with strings, sitars and the famous cornet on Penny Lane. From a business perspective, Radiohead and Jay-Z have ignored the traditional path of getting music to their fan bases and gone their own way.
Radiohead became rightly frustrated with the inability of record companies to keep pace with the way music is being consumed. The industry was rigid. Bogged down by the standard release process. Obsessed with criminalizing fans who file share. So they dumped the typical promotion routine, made an album and told fans it would be available on their website in 10 days – at whatever price they felt like paying. (It worked for them. See NME’s excellent analysis of Radiohead’s Rainbow album release – 3M album sales including downloads).
Business can champion best practice all it likes, but the winners in this world are the ones who can think differently. Like Mr Bob says, it’s time to start swimming.