About 2 years ago, I had this really ambitious idea for how a band could use the internet to completely change how music works. And how they could make a ton of passive income by ceding a little bit of control and abandoning old ideas. I told it one of my friends, someone I’d always thought was really smart, and is response was (quote) “If that could actually work, someone would have done it already.”
And so I went ahead and did it anyway. At 18, I ended up signing a major label musician onto an early incarnation of the idea and launched a site around it. It did ok for a while but I ended up shutting it down about a year later because I hadn’t thought it all through and was an abysmal failure as an organizer and a motivator. Mostly, I learned how all the components worked and where the future was going to a level that frankly, the heads of most labels do not comprehend. And he and I are still friends.
Since then, I’ve been kicking the idea around in my head constantly. I took what Tucker taught me about publishing and leadership and the internet and I wove that in. I took what I learned from Godin about monopolies and marketing and giving up direct ownership and added that in. I took some of the ideas that Mark Cuban threw out a year ago for HDNet and adapted them. I took what Robert said about attacking strategy and the dynamic as confirmation that I was heading in the right direction. Umair’s post about love and math recently codified the core of it. And for the last week, TheExecutive had me break it down and reconstruct so it from its flowery and hypothetical roots into a pragmatic, real product that could be stand-up to the skepticism of an inert industry. It would have been nothing without that.
Then it got pitched to the biggest band in the world on Friday. And the reports are looking good so far. This was just some idea I had when I was running when I was a freshman in college. It could have just been that if I’d listened to my friend who is apparently incapable of thinking of the bigger picture.
Vision is one of the few skills that can’t be outsourced. Do you have any? Or are all your ideas derivative of things that already exist?”It’s like Facebook but for people who love cats.” Are you able to understand where things are going well enough that you can combine converging trends into a cohesive and comprehensive conclusion? “This industry is leading this one, and what we see there will matter for this reason. Here is how we can draft of that energy.” And probably most importantly, are you in an environment that incubates those ideas instead of stifling them? “If you have any ideas, Ryan, now is the time…You’re on the right track, but it’s tell me how and why–not what.”
I’m sure vision has always been important, but today, when we’re no longer just dealing with getting trucks from one state to another or putting asses in seats, it’s just about the only competitive advantage left. You really can’t be more efficient on the internet–websites load at about the same speed and Google is hard to game–so you have to be better at scope, scale and vision. Because really, that’s all you have.
A la Jackie Greene experiment?
Best of luck.
Well now I’m curious…
Sounds awesome… would love to see a link somewhere when it’s ready. The great thing about your blog is that you’re building a solid fan base already, so you know you’re gonna have support in whichever ventures you choose.
“The biggest band in the world”? You’re fucking with me, you’ve got Smash Mouth on board? MOTHERFUCKING SMASH MOUTH!?!
Honestly though, this sounds incredible and I don’t even know what it is. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
whose the biggest band in the world? radiohead?
Radiohead? Radiohead has been around since the late 80’s early 90’s and probably sold 20-30 million albums? They’re not even close. Radiohead is a meganiche brand, which is why their downloading experiment was a perfect fit. This band is much, much bigger.
I’m guessing U2. They’ve sold something like 150 million albums (more?), and have also won a ton of Grammy Awards.
It’s totally Garth Brooks.
Why would you, the executive board of a company, hire someone who is not even remotely connected to what’s going on in the marketplace these days? How do you even sit on such a board and then ossify without penalty?