December 2010

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There’s a very specific mental and physiological unity that occurs when a parent holds his or her arms out to their approaching young child.

If you’re a parent you know precisely this moment. I’ve dissected it:

The knees bend, the arms outstretch, the gaze is intensely focused on your approaching child, and you smile in the most natural and unself-conscious way.

Your mind, all the while, attempts to propel love and confidence and joy directly to your child.

Once in your grasp, your eyes involuntarily close, your smile widens, you don’t breathe, and you raise your child briefly over your head, open your eyes, and look intently into their face.

You then bring your child to you, close your eyes again, kiss the top of their head, smell all that is good in this world, hold them as tightly as you can without holding them too hard.

You note almost subliminally that time has stopped, put them down, and then breathe again.

The moment is really all about the embrace. What happens before and after, however, defines us.

What or who we choose to embrace defines us.

All the work we do — as parents, as partners to our significant others, as friends, as good business people as good artists — on either side of those all-too-infrequent embraceable moments define the quality of the embrace.

If we imagine what we want that embrace to feel like — and remember, it’s only an embrace if it’s emotionally and physically symmetrical — our actions, pre and post-embrace, improve.

In business we call this imagining a “Vision Statement.” You imagine, in the most granular detail, what you want your business to look like, and how it will lead to the accomplishment of your mission (I prefer “purpose” to “mission,” but you know what I mean).

So, as you think about your businesses, whatever they may be — from the investment banker to the folk artist — consider that moment of embrace. That moment when the deal works for everyone, when the audience and artist are unified, when a piece of prose or a photo or a song transcends and it’s no longer about creator/constituent, but rather about the intertwining.

Imagine, if you will, you as creator/business-person holding your arms out to your approaching constituent(s). Imagine that all you do, all you create, all the businesses you start, all the deals you make are made with the same hopes that every parent has: that their child will see these open arms and accelerate their gait and literally leap into your arms with shiny eyes and open-mouthed smiles.

Happy New Year, and thanks to all who read my blog. I wish you nothing but health, happiness, and accomplishment for the coming year.



I’m hopeful that the recent Yahoo! debacle will underscore a point I’ve been trying to make for seemingly ever:

Don’t build brand equity for other sites; instead leverage these non-owned “tools” to increase the value of your owned asset.

One would have thought that the thrashing that FB gave to MySpace would have been clue enough. MySpace was the place where artists began to stake out their digital homestead. Countless hours were spent “pimping” their pages, growing their list of fans/friends, updating their tour schedules, uploading photos, etc., etc.

While, admittedly, if MySpace still has anything going for it it’s music, no one can argue that the vast majority of the time, energy, and cost (real and opportunity) that artists put into their MySpace pages was wasted. MySpace no longer offers an artist any real value; particularly when compared with the value that Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/YouTube/etc. provide(s).

Still, the very fact that I continue to see artists eschewing the development of their own (owned) online presence in favor of utilizing non-owned sites (Bandcamp, ReverbNation, or others) for their primary online identity makes me fear that the message is not getting through.

Now we see Yahoo! “sunsetting” some of their properties (or maybe not – who the hell knows). In particular, the sunsetting (or not) of Delicious (nee seems to have caused not only something of a nerd-class (of which I consider myself a card-carrying member) riot, but raised the concern of even those one standard deviation away from the nerd-class because of another property that Yahoo! may or may not sunset: Flickr.

This quote from a TechCrunch article on the Delicious situation sums it up:

The entire time I was reading the back and forth of [the Delicious] fiasco, I had one thought on my mind: I need to get my pictures out of Flickr, pronto. No, Flickr wasn’t on the list of companies being “sunset”, but how do I know that in a year it won’t be? Hell, maybe even 6 months from now? I don’t. In fact, I’d say it’s 50/50 that something similar happens with that service.

Be it based upon this Flickr-related fear; the inexorable move towards irrelevance of the once-important MySpace; the continued lack of real music commitment from Facebook; the understandable growing pains of Tumblr; or whatever else it might take, I hope that artists will realize that they must be platform agnostic.

I’m not for one fraction of a second suggesting that artists should not use these services — in a thoughtful manner that is part of a larger strategy; not just as a random act of improvement.

MySpace, for some period of time absolutely did provide value for artists. Facebook, Twitter, etc., are perhaps the greatest marketing tools artists have ever had at their disposal.

Some of these sites/tools will stick around (most won’t), and while they’re around, artists should use them for all they’re worth. But remember, while you as an artist may be deriving benefit from these sites/tools, with every piece of content you contribute you are definitely building the brand equity for these sites, rather than for your owned assets.

The right approach is to use these services with the single-minded goal of driving people from these sites to your own (owned) site, where you can collect both data and traffic. (For more on this, you might be interested in this article.)

In other words, rent space from these sites/tools, but own your dominant online presence.

The alternative is to be at the whim of Yahoo! or Murdoch or someone else who may decide they no longer wish to support a platform which you’ve come to rely on. As all owners do, they’ll kick you out and move on, while you’re left putting bubble wrap around the wine glasses.

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