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Play the F*#@! out of it
by Andy
August 11, 2015

One of the biggest issues facing anyone trying to build category relevancy is what to say.  I face that every day.  Those who are unaccustomed to crafting content face an even taller writer’s block because (a) they don’t like writing, (b) don’t know what to write, (c) were never very good at it, or (d) don’t have time to do it.  Yet all enjoy the outcome of a well-presented speech, insightful article, or cogent perspective.  It’s like going to the gym.  Most don’t look forward to it, but are glad they went.

I gleaned an interesting perspective about this while chatting with the soundboard guy at a recent Dark Star Orchestra show.  (For those who don’t know, DSO is a tribute band to the Grateful Dead).  Unlike most rock bands today, the Grateful Dead never performed the same show twice.  In fact, you typically had to attend four consecutive shows before you even heard a repeat song.  And, the Dead never played that same song in an identical way as they would take it in new and provocative directions each time.  They did that for 50 years!  Sold out every show, passionate followers forever.

Today’s mega-concerts all seem committed to homogeny.  When a tour is announced, the band plays the same songs in the same order at every stop.  If you see Taylor Swift at the start of her tour, it’ll be an identical performance when it wraps up.  Same for U2, The Who, Dave Matthews, Beyoncé, and everyone else.  Yes, people want the hits.  Plus, these events are so wonderfully produced that it requires the stage crew to know what’s coming next.  This may be why people don’t follow these acts from site to site.

Back to DSO.  Since I couldn’t get access to the musicians, I asked the soundboard guy how they select the shows they perform.  Here’s what he told me.

  1. Don’t play what we played last time.
  2. Play the F*#@! out of it.

Sage advice and it holds true for anyone trying to lead a company or the conversation.  Repeating the same message will, in time, fall on deaf ears and curtail followers.  While it may be strategically important to impart that message, it needs to be expressed in different ways to remain compelling.  Furthermore, it must be constantly updated so it remains relevant.

Jerry Garcia once said, “Don’t be the best at what you do.  Be the only one who does it.”  This is indeed how you remain relevant, even when you’re not on the stage.

4 Responses to “Play the F*#@! out of it”

  1. Wow,
    I can tell you that having been to a Grateful Dead concert with my good friend Andy in 1981, he definitely is talking from experience!

  2. Right on the mark, Andy. So much content out there is filling in blanks. Keeping it new while staying true to your brand — and NOT phoning it in — works. Everything else is covers.

  3. Great job Andy!

  4. Right on! Repeating the same old stuff over and over might ‘feel’ safe. But it’s not. It’ll bore the audience, burn out the band and kill the business. Changing the tune may not ‘feel’ safe. But it is essential for long term success.

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