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For the past 10 years or so, Nick Cave turned his raucous career into quiet, beautiful (albeit dark) ballads. It’s sort of a typical phase of an artist growing old and mellowing out. I followed for awhile, and then drifted away, as I’ve still got a taste for the raucous. During this 10 year phase, I saw him on Letterman a few times, at a grand piano, telling a story I doubted the tens of millions of viewers were likely to get, or be interested in. Nonetheless, his songwriting was inspiring to me, and I trusted everything he did. I just stopped listening.

Then, along comes 2007, Cave grows a fu-manchu moustache, and starts a garage punk band called Grinderman. It is one of the greatest rock and roll albums I’ve heard in a long time, capturing the energy of his early Birthday Party stuff, as well as highlights of The Bad Seeds peak moments of intensity. Pleasantly brutal stuff, and a total surprise for him to whip this out after a decade of winding down. Genius. I’m listening again.

Who of us will have the energy for this level of reinvention when we’re the age of Mr. Cave? Who of us even has it now?

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Some of you might recognize the title of this post as the eighth article of the Punk Marketing Manifesto. It’s an obvious approach in music and business in general. Of course, everyone wants people to want more of what they do. Don’t play too long, don’t play too often, but find the balance where people’s interest remains strong enough to make them come back next time. This also applies to attitude and personal dealings – don’t oversaturate how people perceive you.

When Mark and Richard wrote the manifesto, they likely were thinking this concept through even further. It’s not just about restraint, but also about thinking of things you can do to carry people’s interest. How do you design your music, package, etc.? How do you stay in touch with your audience? How do you deal with dissatisfied ‘customers?’ How do you make people want more of what you do?

This is merely one point of a manifesto that raises questions each of us can apply to our work. Check it out.

If a guitar plays in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, was it actually played?

This quote is from a recent article in Rolling Stone about the major label record industry. It’s key to point out they’re referring to major labels. Not that independents are rising above, but it’s surprising to see they’ve acquired that much market share to put a dent like this in the industry. Daniel’s previous post identifies ways that major labels are trying to get back some of this market share by branching into clothing licensing, soft drinks, etc. Things that musicians like me (and you?) will never likely need to consider.

Great article (and extra links) at this Fast Company article.

It takes so much more than great music to get noticed these days.  Which is ironic since having great music would put you miles ahead of most of the dreck being foisted upon the listening public, but that’s another post.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

The video of the entire, historic interview with both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (available for free at iTunes) had me enthralled last evening, keeping me awake well into this morning.

One of the things that struck me was the genuine admiration the two share for each other. At one point Gates is quite candid in revealing that he is awestruck by Jobs’ ability to see things that others simply don’t, to map a path through the future in a way that makes total sense after the passage of time, but in the moment is seen as a visionary and daring move.

I am curious what Steve Jobs has in common with sports greats like Wayne Gretzy. This article at Wired makes quite clear that there are those among us who visualize the future with such insight that even their most successful contemporaries sit in wonder… “how’d they do that?!” Anyone who captures this elusive trait in a bottle will surely make a fortune.

A discussion point : I’d be quite interested what you think Steve Jobs and Wayne Gretzky have in common, what they “get” that us mere mortals struggle to understand even when it is explained in explicit detail.

It was 30 years ago today that the world’s first “practical” personal computer went on sale.

On June 5, 1977, Apple Computer released the Apple II.

A watershed event in the history of computing, the history of creativity – hell, even in plain ol’ history – Wozniak and Jobs enabled millions of us computer geeks to have an available outlet for our creativity.

I remember being so jealous of my friends with Apple Computers.  We were stuck with a TI-99/4a.  We didn’t even have an Atari to play games on.  Of course, all of that changed with the advent of the Macintosh (which our family’s computing life centered around from the first 128k model), but that’s a different anniversary.

For today, congratulations Apple!  And keep rocking Wall Street!!