end of the super bands

kasabian may never be generation defining, despite how much they rock
Internet piracy changed the game. Lady Gaga, Bieber and Hannah Montana get media attention because their fans are too young to know about others or download free music. Country music thrives because their fans also buy CDs.
On the upside while there may no longer be supergroups like Oasis,  there may be a bunch of small groups catering to different tastes. I personally think it’s better to have more successful bands than an “all or nothing” system like the old school music industry.
I see the same thing happening in the business world.
In the future,  there ll be the fortune 500,000. Less big public companies, and huge number of small private companies.  A more robust system, not so dependent on the stock market. Why do I say this? I feel more people now want to be in control of their destiny. That idea is taking over the world. If you got an internet connection, you can see what successful people are doing and you have to be naive to believe others also don’t desire that as well.

my amazing dancing guy video!

This time last year I witnessed the most insane 2 min phenomenon of my life –  the dancing guy at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Below is the video I managed to capture:

Now this to me is the definition of a free spirit. I was watching this guy dance like a maniac for about hour BEFORE this even happened! But then one person decided to join him, and then seconds later came number 3 running down and it became cool. That 3rd guy in my opinion made it legit. Everyone went  mental after that!! It switched from being about him to being this awesome dance party.

I love the fact the song being performed was Unstoppable by Santigold.

Which brings me to another point: Santigold should give him a yearly dividend. Cos he created a movement that single handily made this song massive!! The dancing guy videos went viral and when that happens,  its word of mouth on steroids.

Don’t believe me?

Check out all the comments for the Unstoppable track on youtube.. they all mention the dance party!  It should be taken as a blessing from the skies for any tune to go viral nowadays of 1000 niche musical tastes.

Sasquatch should give this guy life time tickets to the event as a token of goodwill!  You simply can’t create this again! If it were to happen, it would always be compared to this.

power to the people

Music is the domain of everyone and it’s great to see bands sharing the value with others.

Oasis took on innovative marketing campaign back in 2008 in promotion of their last album, Dig Out Your Soul, by giving away  unreleased music to street musicians at NYC subway stations. This way thousands of people  would listen to four new Oasis tracks, from the ground up – by buskers who might have made money off famous Oasis covers in the past. However,  this time they got directly paid for doing it. How legendary is that!? They would mention they are playing new Oasis tracks, backed with album poster and then perform the tunes in their own interpretation. This is a nice slap in the face of other bands who keep songs hush hush before the release date…aaah true OASIS.

The clip below describes it all:

One of musicians mentioned  his rent between 1996-2000 was paid off the back of the tune Wonderwall. Liam Gallagher interjects and says its helped pay for his as well! Playing for the love of music. Personally I just loved listening to the different versions of the tunes. This creates more interest in the songs and that’s what its all about. If someone were to like the tune, she might be curious to hear how it sounds originally or to check them out in concert.

Other thoughts

While watching the tunes being played, I wonder would people stop and be in awe if Oasis themselves actually decided to play as street musicians in the subway? Would they attract the same crowds without of course anyone knowing its actually them performing? Because these street musicians are also very talented, and if they were marketed differently and put in a concert format, perhaps they would receive similar adoration as Oasis? I’d assume the casual music fan might not care, but the hardcore fan would know the difference. I’d like to see a big band experiment with that.

why guitar hero rules

Heidi Klum rocking out to Guitar Hero:

Now Heidi is just loving it, going crazy on the plastic guitar pretending she’s Tom Cruise from Risky Business. She probably can’t actually play a real guitar, but that doesn’t matter.  This is the closest she can get to that feeling. And that’s what made Guitar Hero and Rock Band so popular and addictive. People want technology that transports them deeper inside the things they love. How can you leverage technology to do the same in your business? So your customers can also join in the fun. But also do so in a way without the hassle of being in a rok’n’rol band, or being GM of professional sports team (fantasy sports) or being a shoe designer (NikeiD) ?

the beauty of good enough

ze strokes circa 2001

Isn’t it kinda of  odd the best music comes from dark ages of a recession, after the bubble bursts? That’s what happened after the dot.com bubble of 2000. Nu-Metal, boy bands out, new garage rock bands in! THANK GOD.

The White Stripes and The Strokes came out with albums in 2001 and  became the new poster boys of cool.  To a generation of mp3 freeloaders, rock music is supposed to sound lo-fi. Lo Fi, distorted, rough, the imperfections made it perfect. What matters is if the message is important. Then people will listen regardless.  There wasn’t HD quality video of the demonstrations in Iran, but the video cameras on the phones will do! What about the fuzzy twitter pic of the plane landing in the Hudson river?  How did Paranormal Activity made on a shoe string 30,000 budget become the most profitable movie of all time?

Everyone has a voice now due to low cost, easy use, always available technology. The world is better for it.

what oasis taught me

Before I got into the habit of reading loads of books for fun (yeah I am a big nerd) I had this huge appetite for music. The one band that got me into music properly was Oasis.

To me, the Gallagher brothers are the most comically entertaining musicians in the world. Not only did they make the most melodic music to my ears, their antics made them seem like they were from a different planet. It was also the classic rag-riches story, from nothing – growing up in working class Manchester to icons of the 90’s – that made them so fascinating. I always find the environment successful people come from to be telling. Noel Gallagher, is actually left-handed. He just learned to play a right handed due to them being poor, and that was the only guitar in the house, which was owned by his children abusing father.  Below is one of the most candid interviews I have ever seen of Noel,  asked how this upbringing affected him. Note the 6 min 30 sec mark especially.

Now Noel to me is a hero, unlike Kurt Cobain who sang about how terrible life is. He wrote life affirming tunes that shook the music industry off its depression and made something out of the very little he had.  This kind of attitude  appealed to me when growing up. Not gangtsa rap music, not the my life is so hard – grunge/emo music scene.  It was about living forever, feeling supersonic, a champagne supernova in the sky.

The constraints of being poor, nothing to lose mentality, hard focus on music, resulted in the classic Definitely Maybe.  The second album was also recorded with constraints – in 15 days, one song every 24 hours. Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger came from this album!  Oasis were then given keys to the Bank of England, after the huge international success, and what happened? They came out with the bloated 70 minute diabolical  Be Here Now. The creativity was reduced when they were given too much. You don’t have to work as hard, when you can throw money at a problem. To be fair as well,  it was all fitting in accordance to what the public had built them up to be. They were a monstrously-hyped band at that point and they responded with a monstrous defying songs to capture all of the essence and hype which had been created around them. Noel bragged at the time of having 30 guitars overdubbed onto the song My Big Mouth! Now as much as I still love that tune, the excess made the music not as appealing as those first two killer albums. Too much fat, not enough muscle.

Same lessons can be applied to business as well. You don’t need as much as you think. These limitations force you to focus on the essentials, instead of using that extra time to get distracted by the latest email. It just makes you more creative. This also all leads to why I can’t wait to pick up the debut book released today by the founders of 37 Signals, Rework, that talks about, amongst other counter intuitive topics,  the  advantage of having constraints.

marketing bollywood


Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti

Happy Twenty Ten amigos.

Over the holiday break I watched quite a few movies, and many of them were influenced from a recent trip to India. It got me got thinking about what’s currently happening in Bollywood aka –  the Hindi Film Industry – and how it could be marketed better to  get more appreciation around the world.

Hindi Films have a monopoly on  the Fashion/Music/Wedding industry

I wish Bollywood would go more global, but you have to first understand the Indian entertainment culture. There are certain limitations it puts on itself and that is simply due to the market it caters to.

Hindi films are a unique art form that exists in South Asia. Up to recent times, a lot of the films have these set pieces that are focused on NRI audiences (Indians living abroad). The story that is presented has this superficiality – the characters wear these designer clothes, and finally there are these formulaic “filmy” songs. India doesn’t have a strong mainstream music industry like we do in the West. Because of this, the venue to show songs is through the power of Hindi films. Thus majority of the songs being generated come from film. The songs in the film also become a venue to showcase all the latest fashion styles for the upcoming wedding season for Indians living abroad. You see the cycle here? Its one big entertainment/fashion package! It’s an art form is very close their hearts of Indians and to alter it completely would be betraying the audiences expectations.

Storytelling

In 100 years, there has yet to one breakthrough hit to come from Mumbai that both West and East can appreciate. Bollywood is very good at copying ideas off Hollywood, but Bollywood hasn’t had one copied from Hollywood. I mean one of the biggest and best Hollywood movies of the past decade, The Departed, is remake of a Chinese movie – Infernal Affairs. The biggest sci fi movie of the past summer was District 9 from South Africa! Slum Dog Millionaire is the only one that can be considered a cross over hit. But it took an English director to take an Indian story, with Indian actors in an Indian setting, to be presented in a way that appealed to people in LA and Mumbai. India is the home of Mahabharata and Rāmāyaṇa. It definitely is a country of story tellers! And stories have universal appeal.  That storytelling talent just needs to be refined and presented in a manner that will allow Indian films to become global hits.

Imran Khan and Genelia D'Souza in Janne Tu Ya Janna Na

Lack of Realism

Indians love making these classic “masala”movies –  boy meets girl, girl ignores him, some conflict or twist, eventually fall in love, big wedding, lots of songs in-between. Okay not exactly like this, but they do have a formula that just doesn’t translate as well as it used to. Its gotten predictable, just not interesting enough.

So sometimes now you will see the 1st half of the movie with songs, the 2nd half something else. I find the Indian film industry is going through a transition period. So the goal for new directors is to make it commerical but also take it to another level – the content, the humour – not play it up the way its usually done in Hindi Films. These kind of movies are now becoming big hits in the Indian box office. Watch movies like Rang De Basanti. Yes, it has songs, but there is realism, in that it ties along to pushing the story forward and in many cases adding to the overall flow and mood of the film. Janne Tu Y Janna Na, Paa and 3 Idiots (hilarious, amazing film) also come to mind, in merging song-story cleverly. Audiences are getting smarter, perhaps the directors have awakened to this fact now.

In some cases no songs are used, such as in the terrorist film, A Wednesday and also none in the office politics of Rocket Singh. In the instance of Wake Up Sid, the music is there, but  its cleverly used in the background in the montage of shots. No lip synching!  More focus on reality based stories and less on the music and sometimes no music.  A refreshing change. Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair was sucessful in capturing the euphoria and fun of Indian culture, and it did without switching from one village scene to some wide angle shot of a couple dancing on the mountains of Switzerland. Sell us the fantasy, but make it somewhat imaginable!

Ranbir Kapoor in Wake Up Sid. With Chicken in his mouth

Poor Dubbing/Subtitles

They spend all this money making the film, but  then only pay 5,000 rupees for the English subtitles. Honestly, go rent a hindi movie from your local Blockbuster  and you will laugh at the absurdness of the translation. It just sounds so childish, and that is not because of the dialouge, but mostly because not enough attention is paid to this. If the Bollywood big whigs want more foreign revenues , apart from what they already receive from the Indian diaspora, then it needs spend some of its budget on this! You may argue that  they speak some English in Hindi movies, so this is a non-factor. Wrong. You can’t just do a direct translation or subtitle the jist of the scene.  The context in which the dialogue is spoken in a particular scene – that needs to be worked on. It has to capture the feel of  that moment in the movies progression. Western audiences love the dancing, but for them to take it more seriously it needs subtitles that capture the small nuances. Yes some cultural jokes still won’t come across as funny to non-native Indians. But still more effort needs to be made on this front as well.

Think Bigger

 

What am I getting at with this? There is this myth that Bollywood is already global. That just because you pick up an Raj Kapoor dvd in Hong Kong or see a Hindi Film billboard in Mexico. However these are only small pockets of influence and that popularity is declining.  The only reason you can say Bollywood is global is because there are global Indians watching. It remains a product mostly made for Indians.

There is a new big budget Hindi film coming out soon with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, called My Name is Khan. And guess how much the budget was ? 15 million USD. Now that is the same amount many A-list actors get in Hollywood. Some Chinese films are made for 50 million USD. Only way to generate such budgets is to capture more from the global pie. Number one way to do this? Invest in the storytelling. Bring some realism to the plots. It has world class directors, excellent actors and great production values. It just needs to focus more on story telling. Slumdog Millionaire did it and reaped the benefits big time.

See Also : Benefits of Being An Oveseas Citizen of India