Innovator Relevancy in the Gig Economy

Creatives who earn even a portion of their living in the arts would benefit from taking a page from entrepreneurs.  All self employed people rapidly learn they have to be as leveraged as possible while preserving as many degrees of freedom as possible. Large companies, as well established players have infinitely more resources to apply to any situation. On the other hand the little guy or gal has infinitely more flexibility and mobility which give them an innovation advantage. Artists and entrepreneurs share the audacious attitude which either gives them, or is a byproduct of the innovation vitality required to survive, never mind thrive.

In business we leverage coffee shops and other shared spaces to do breakthrough work we used to think we required an office, lab or studio as a work platform. We leverage virtual spaces as well. This combination supports a beginners mind innovation mindset.

What seems to be less known to some portions of the business community, is that they can learn from the artistic community is how to be a monsemble (solo artist). In order to be relevant to an audience, solo artists have to emotionally engage the people listening to them. Hmmm …. this kind of sounds like the same thing a business person has to do with a customer, for customers are audiences, and like audiences they have infinite choices of who or what to listen to. Remember the next time you are making a presentation, that it is a performance and as such, if it is not emotionally relevant, your desired outcome is far less likely. You have to raise friends before you raise money and other resources.

We are familiar with many common business tools we can use to be leveraged, so let me describe some perhaps less familiar musicians tools to shake your imagination a bit.

Musicians who maximize their sonic footprint dramatically increase emotional relevancy by composing music which can leverage technology. Todays highly competitive diminished attention span market rewards increasing artistic self sufficiency. Performing as a monsemble solo artist increases earning power by focusing more on being independent and interactively engaging audiences. Multitimbral (more than one tonal quality) performances are more exciting than using a single tonal color or voice.

You rarely make it big as an imitator – cover bands have been earning the same under $100 per person per night performing, for the last fifty years with no cost of living increases. Touring musicians playing large venues performing original material generally written by them can do hundreds of times better. Technology plays a huge role here and technophobic musicians are at significant disadvantage for many reasons, including lacking the artistic self sufficiency to maximize the critical emotionally engaging “predicability to surprise ratio”. When your audience can predict everything or can predict nothing, you will not engage them. Total prediction and no prediction, both don’t work. And a strong ability to improvise, preserves maximum artistic degrees of freedom, making it more fun and engaging for everyone. In other words have a conversation – do not deliver a monolog if you want to have an audience. This is as true for technology and business statements as it is true for artistic statements.

To whet your appetites for new ways to operate, here is a partial list of music technologies I have employed to leverage myself over the years. I am not going to define them for that is beyond the scope here, but I am sure you have all noticed it is really easy to look things up these days. Musicians should recognize most of these terms; looping, harmonizing, guitar modeling, amp modeling, samplers, synths and sound file players and spatial distribution of sound. And here is a list of things musicians do to increase sonic footprint and engagement; improvisation, composing specifically for specific performances, being nonlinear tonally, dynamically, and in tempo, being multitimbral, utilizing multiple voices (parts, melodies and more) simultaneously, managing Predicability to Surprise ratio, enhancing bass frequencies for profound sonic impact, adding visual components, performing via virtual culture micro-nodes, new kinds of touring, maximizing interactivity, really sounding and being live vs. recorded, in case you have not noticed it is live shows that make the money these days, not recording royalties. And finally as we all live in a diminishing attention span world create New Short Works.

An increasing part of the work world is living in the same gig economy artists have been living in forever. And artists who do not spend as much time on their business and their tech, as their art are generally fiscally and artistically underachieving. Clearly there are many lessons to share.