sound advice: part 2 of the tough love on marketing interview

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A few posts ago I wrote about the fantastic interview over at 37Signals’ blog. Well, the conversation has continued, and Seth Godin and Mark Hurst – marketers extraodinaire – raise a lot of interesting points in part 2 of their interview.

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation, and something I feel is very relevant to the music business, is when Seth Godin talks about what a “zoomer” is:

Q: Human beings evolved to resist big changes. So, change triggers stress. But we built a world that keeps changing faster and faster. So, how to win?

A: Easy, teach yourself to view changes as little things, not big ones. If you change faster than the competition, you will, by definition, be more ‘fit’ for the new environment. Sometimes it comes from the top, of course, but more often, it’s an individual’s choice. And if you work with non-zoomers, get out!

Within this seemingly simple observation is a lot of wisdom for those of us in the music world. First, we’ve certainly seen over and over the negative impact of the large labels resisting change. Additionally, their wisdom regarding winning certainly seems to imply that change happens most readily at the smaller level. In the record industry this is certainly the case; it’s the indies (and more and more the artist run labels) who institute the innovative change that, eventually, filters up to the larger labels.

Lastly, I love the line about getting out if you work with “non-zoomers.” I feel that value alignment, particularly as it’s presented by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great where he presents the idea of “First who…then what.” In other words, determine the people who you want to work with first, and then determine what it is you’re attempting to accomplish, rather than how most people go about it…backwards.

This, I believe, is wildly applicable to musical enterprises (be they bands or ventures); get the right people on the bus, and your potential is limitless. One wrong person (usually the drummer…I keed, i keed), will drag you down. Call them zoomers if you will, but get ’em.

If you’d like to see some video of Seth Goodin presenting his wisdom, check it out here.


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