In all the conversations and dissertations and over-analysis of the music industry, precious little has been said about the need for creativity- creativity in marketing, sure, but also creativity in simply being able to look beyond the obvious.

As mentioned to someone over dinner last night, creativity seems to have left the building along with Elvis.

In a music company, there is no Creative Director and which is why there are so many “marketing” Oompa Loompas running around with, as Dylan sang, “With no deee- erection of hoooooooooome”.

Go high up the ladder and the guy at the top might think he’s The Big Cheese and be The Cheese Whiz who gets paid the big bucks , but few bring any “added value” to the business- and this is not exclusive to the music business.

Has anyone dealt with brand managers? What are they “managing”? Honestly, what do they actually do and how did they get their gigs?

Then you have the “suppliers”. Here’s the problem: Most “suppliers” cannot supply. So, when you put “suppliers”, “brand managers” and the Oompa Loompas together what you get is a bloody mess with all sides blaming the other and nothing ever getting done. It’s like a Roadrunner and Wild Coyote cartoon with the Smurfs and Teletubbies thrown in.  

Right now, though staying with music companies, incompetence is being rewarded and promoted in every industry and in every office ‘cos no one has large enough balls of their convictions to make a fucking decision.

There I’ve said it: It’s either tip-toeing around a problem or playing The  Blame Game Card. Truth is, very, very few are any good at what they do- especially at being creative. Or even simply being good at their job.

Coming from advertising, I look at the quality of “ads” these days- the typeface chosen, the layouts- and think, “Where did it all go tits up?”

When was everything lowered to such a sub-standard level where one works with someone who is  some intern art director and has the title of ‘creative director’?

Why does it take days and weeks to do a job that once took half-a-day? Wasn’t all this technology supposed to make everything so such easier- and quicker?”

Then again, as my mentor in advertising -Keith Reinhard – an incredibly bright human being and who invited once invited Wynton Marsalis to talk to us creative directors as a way to get us to think differently- always banged this into us: “The Technique Is Not The Idea.” Same with the use of technology: It is not the idea. It is only meant to enhance the idea.

This is not unlike music companies a few years ago, behaving like lemmings and hiring all those “new media” people thinking that someone who created a website was a “genius” and was going to save their bottom lines through the “digital world.” And, boy, how many worldwide digital meetings and “Digital Days” did we have? All were just shuck and jive excuses to travel and rack up air miles.

Today, these “digital” and “new media” gurus just sit there, “digital sales” are certainly not enough to keep a music company afloat and yet, they are still out there dealing with streaming sites, downloading sites and making nickel and dime deal which artists never know about. And as they look busy, they keep their gigs as those at the top of the Gomer Pyle are either getting ready to bail or else have no idea what to do next.

These “leaders” cannot lead by example as they are not creative, they cannot look beyond the obvious and they cannot think outta the box as they are stuck inside the box.  Their thinking is boxy.

For what it’s worth, here is what I think has happened: All these new “toys”, all these “apps for saps” have been “created” without an idea behind them and because they are so freely available, they have made many lose sight that, yes, The Technique Is Not The idea and neither is Technology.

Just putting crap up there on YouTube and Facebook and Twittering is not being creative nor strategic. It’s more clutter. It’s a failure to communicate.

I have mates who were hypochondriacs to start with and now, ‘cos of what they have read for hours on end on Google, believe they are suffering from every disease known to mankind.

Seriously, I think technology is leading us by the nose when we should be using technology to make us and everything we do progress and be more creative, more focused and more strategic with pinpoint accuracy when it comes to marketing. 

Somewhere along the way, we have made technology do the thinking for us and which is one of the reasons why so many industries- and, yes, the music industry, of course- is in limbo and just cruising as if they have just had a lobotomy.            

  1. Fernando says:

    Technology is like a vampire, it only comes into your house if you invite it in. Has technology made us dumber? I’m not convinced. But, in many was it has made us more distracted, which makes us less productive and less focussed.

    And art, whether it’s music or whatever, doesn’t thrive in a distracted environment.

    Of course, these debates are ancient and hoary. The same things were said about television and radio. It was once argued that recording technology would kill the music. Even paper itself was once viewed as an evil that would undermine civilisation.

    But, these things move forward and it makes no sense to me to be nostalgic. Is the music world as creative today as it was 40-50 years ago. No. But, it sure feels a lot more creative than it was 15-20 years ago. It’s just that the creativity has moved.

    Right now is an amazing time in music technology. I love the choice, quality and originality available in music making tools. I love that bands can DIY direct to fan campaigns. I love music lovers from all around the world can communicate with each other.

  2. Cat says:

    WOW…some pretty bland crap sorry to say. Technology? Creative technology? Where’s the art form? I suppose Van Gogh could have used sand and water to paint but the ‘technology of that day’ made it possible for him to transfer his ideas to canvass. Is it possible that the meaning of ‘creativity’ has been devalued and non-recoupable? Sure, yes, I get it – there’s some ‘technically creative’ things happening out there on this planet and we for sure love these new ideas and processes. However, when talking about ‘digital or streaming’ – I fail to see how they are a ‘creative’ outlet or how they can be. Perhaps we’re talking apples and oranges.

    Hans, I know what you’re talking about by the way.

    Digital for example – is only a delivery system. A cold, dry means to an end. Our values have dropped in just about every form of creative delivery over the last twenty years – possibly since the net became more important than the radio and telly, not sure. Paintings – who cares? Music – hmmm. OH and how about ‘books’? Does anyone actually read anymore? Or does anyone actually ‘author’ rather than critique?

    I had this argument yesterday with yet another guy who has the ‘answer’ to music industry woes. A new plan…yet another ‘contest’ application similar to Sonic Bids – but different :) . This guy is also making hoards of cash in video gaming. Yet, he’s just another problem on the rise. Those statements alone devalue creativity by opening the door to just about anyone who can twang a guitar string. The overall money making machine closed the door to creativity – for speed and instant cash in the bank.

    He tells me music SHOULD be free because it’s a service and that humanity should be allowed to have it any time they want. My answer, I wish my doctor thought that way. Is music not both a product as well as a service depending on usage? Now have I missed a chance to make money – YES! But do I care much – NO! Reason, he’s missing the bloody point again.

    When going to an art gallery, art becomes a service – something to generate a feel as well as a way for an artist to get their instant gratification – as is going on stage to a musician. But when someone purchases that ‘painting’, it becomes a product. All of this is brutally simple.

    What I’d like to know is how creativity lost its importance – how we’re still teaching our kids in school about music and the arts – both fine and commercial, yet there’s nothing to graduate to with the exception of web development and some graphic design jobs possibly still left. Could it be that even those jobs are on the chopping block because of cut and paste and the programs out there that make commercial art ‘easy’? Music…one of the most widely used commodities on the planet, out of business? Come on boys – time to get the message out – due diligence.

    We have to ask ourselves how this becomes devalued and then bloody well do something about it. If it means relearning or teaching our kids – then it’s our responsibility to do that. EMI, get to it…do some advertising and make the global population understand that they’re actually putting everyone out of business…a little information goes a very long way. There seems to be very little faith in the human condition – which is completely unfounded.

    When some raving lunatic Minister on the telly can sell holy ‘bottled’ water at 20.00 a bottle, holy shit guys, we should be able to sell cd’s! (I’ll bet that if we looked at the Ministry’s books, we’d find them cooked but loaded down with receivables/sales.)

    There’s a huge pile of blame going around from my standpoint – and rightfully so. Television networks and their single minded approach to the all important unreal reality shows and their weak, unfocussed messages; major labels – that need an enforcement overhaul (heavy hand) to completely white-wash the current regime and inject a shot of the ‘value’ remedy; musicians – who’ve started a million micro badly operated businesses and then the consumer – Mom and Dad who once bought CD’s but failed to pass that message along to the kidlets and likely many more all should be taking a share of the responsibility.

    As long as we don’t look back, we can’t look forward. I spent many years in the investigation business, suing and laying charges etc. etc. (as well as in music/art) I was part of three major restructuring efforts in our government…with some good results. I personally don’t buy into corporate strategies without a proper analysis of the ‘state of yesteryear and today’. And by that I mean – properly written and analyzed and investigated reports. Dump the waste, keep the value and recycle some of the materials that are still useful – but get rid of the crap taking valuable space. Then don’t restructure – start again. Forget the ‘mission’ statements. It’s a bloody business and hiring the right players means forming a well oiled machine.

    I’ll make this comparison again…recycling. Recycling became important to humanity when the issue of global warming became a serious debate – an injection of value. Over the last decade or two, music has been consistently devalued, along with just about all of its artistic counterparts, leaving a complete industry to fail. Oh lucky us – victims of the all important music conference. Interestingly enough, none of us want to take any part of the blame when we should be. We’re ALL responsible in one way or tuther. It takes getting the word out by any means possible…and money.

    Raise the bar boys…forget the music conferences, dinners and awards and hire the right bodies who are ‘able’ to inject the input required to make music, as well as just about all businesses centered around the arts and by that I mean, engineers, producers, art departments, graphic designers as independents, videographers, producers, managers, booking agents, writers etc. etc.

    Getting to the point – the corporations that have been holding the bar for oh so long, have lived in the past long enough, not taken advantage of what ‘did’ work and taking steps to make sure it continued to work etc. etc. Clean house, investigate the books, get the partners on board, make certain orgs accountable and so on and on. Highly possible to save this industry…someone needs to start the process.

  3. SasPepper says:

    The old media blames the internet and technology for their dwindling businesses and ultimate demise. But maybe it has just as much to do with the content of what the old media has been pushing for far too long. With newspapers it’s the conformist, politically correct, groupthink propaganda that seems to come from one central command so that almost every newspaper and newsprogram has the same word for word reports.
    With the movies it’s the same tired, formulaic, devoid of ideas retreads and remakes. There are probably only 3 or 4 movies a year now that I even consider paying money to see. With the music industry, the record labels and radio are stuck on giving us manufactured and manipulated crap at the expense of true authentic talent.
    So yes, I do think that the old media are seriously lacking in intelligence and creativity. However, I don’t think techology makes us dumber, it gives us a new outlet to seek out what we can’t get in the old media.

  4. George Burgess says:

    I totally disagree as technology has made it easier to communicate, and those who benefited from the older restrictions get most afraid of what the new technologies allow. Often, it just seems to be a fear that there will be more competition and more innovation, and the old-timers are afraid they’re not equipped or able to keep up…

    • We-Enhance says:

      Sorry, George, but this is such a pat reply and often parroted by those without an original idea in their heads- not to say you don’t….”Communication” and “creativity” are two very different things- and which is lost on many…There is nothing wrong with technology and nothing to be “scared of”. It’s how this technology is used. And right now, it is not used very well unless one thinks tarting up Facebook profiles and twittering about going grocery shopping and aimlessly bunging videos no one will ever see on YouTube is being technologically creative.

      • George Burgess says:

        Without creativity we could not have the modern technology that we use today. We would not have television or the Internet. We would not have MP3 players or DVDs. Every invention known to mankind has always resulted from creative thinking. Arguably, creativity is our most important asset; and information is an inestimable tool. With no electronic databases, PCs, and other supportive networking technology, we would be hard pressed to organize all of our information efficiently and effectively.

        Granted if we examine the example of the Internet closer, we can discern that the quantity of information online is escalating at a staggering rate. This means that it is difficult for individuals to remain up-to-date in their chosen fields. Due to this increasing pressure in the working world, it is therefore necessary for people to band together, to work collaboratively, and to think creatively and imaginatively to thrive and even to survive.

        The days of choosing modern technology purely for entertainment purposes are diminishing. It is no longer enough to merely own modern gadgetry. Instead, you must be able to show that you can manipulate technology creatively to suit your every purpose.

        Here’s my challenge you:

        Lose your mobile phone for a day or two and see what happens. I challenge you to turn off your computer at around 6 pm tonight and do not turn it back on under any circumstances until the next morning for one week.

        (I bet you’ll be so eager to write an article about the evils of technology on your computer while your phone is ringing next to you as the temptation builds to read those emails that just arrived in your inbox).

      • We-Enhance says:

        Cool, if into “challenging”, I challenge you to show us what you have created.

        And if you are using technology to be creative and are creating great new things, brilliant. You are then agreeing with me.

        I am negating nor writing off technology. Far from it. I am- also challenging- challenging people to use this technology BETTER.

        Right now, I am speaking to a prospective client who uses Twitter and FB when it reaches none of their customers. Why? They have no idea why they are using Twitter and why their FB page has less than 1000 fans. It is Lemmings Marketing.

        And, how did you know, I lost my mobile last week and don’t plan to get a new until next week?

        I am doing fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine without it. Leaves me with much more time to actually create and multi-task and not spend my time talking and not doing.


  5. Eric Levin says:

    It was Albert Einstein who once said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” I would change “humanity” to “rationale.” I hope, for our sake, that’s not true!

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