StartUp = Band Pt. 3: To Meme The Impossible Dream
In Part 1 of this series, Craig recounted a tale of fame, fortune, and unicorns–the ‘why’ behind bands and startups. Following that was Part 2 with the “2 Weeks” syndrome [obligatory Arnold reference…] This third post explores hits and memes, (or as Craig would call it, catching lightning in a bottle).
Bands and startups alike try to conjure something valuable out of thin air–a song, video, new product, or software. When this incarnation of an idea catches fire (reacts, resonates, gains traction, spins), eureka, that’s success, a hit! When this reaction is huge enough, often a meme is born. That’s why google is a verb, or why just about every pre-teen knows how to whip and to nae nae.
What makes a hit? It’s deceptively simple really–in show biz and startups alike, you either create something that resonates with a huge number of people (à la Taylor Swift or Facebook), or something that resonates in a huge way with just enough people, (insert your favorite indie star or app here). With the immediacy of social media, this magic can sometimes happen whiplash fast. (There is much more to say about social media and memes, so let’s save that for the next one…)
No doubt, creating a hit/meme is a rare and magical thing. Even with all the boxes checked, success is never guaranteed. But ingredients such as hard work and perseverance sure help. As does craftsmanship, which takes time, (much of it spent figuring out what doesn’t work). Simplicity is crucial to cut through the noise. Freshness and authenticity serve as rocket boosters. (I remember watching an early DMB show with a record exec who said, “Too bad, they’ll never play a fiddle on pop radio.” He failed to see that uniqueness can ignite an explosion that changes the course of music history.) And let’s include plain old luck, the synchronicity when right idea meets right moment–lightning snaking down the neck of an open bottle.
As a musician who didn’t want to starve nor get a 'real’ job, I’ve been fascinated by the alchemy that transforms an idea into a meme. After 25 years of making a living in the entertainment industry, I am an artist and an entrepreneur who has created both music and companies along the way, because the choice was either to figure it out, or to fail. Now, with Light the Music, we are figuring out a new marriage of music and technology–an app called ORO that gives the power of visual music creation to anyone on a touchscreen. We hope that it reaches a huge number of people, making ORO a meme that celebrates music’s power to connect and transcend. Who knows? Maybe an ORO app will allow music consumers to now become creators of their own memes. And that would be success beyond our most impossible dreams.
Steve - CEO, founder and dreamer