Posts Tagged ‘disc manufacturing’

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Obama, Metallica, and you.

January 20, 2009

It’s only Tuesday, and already it’s been a great week.

We have a new president, and quite an exceptional one, it would appear. It is quite remarkable when you think about the challenges facing our country (President Obama has reminded us time and again that there are many) that one man can make such a difference to the psyche of a whole nation. I mean, despite being involved in two wars, the ongoing concerns about terror, and our economy shedding millions of jobs, there is great joy and hope across the country, not just today, but for the past few months. Barack Obama has singlehandedly lifted the spirit of this nation.

Imagine how different our collective outlook would have been if we had faced four more years of George Bush. Or even four years of John McCain. While I’m sure each of them is quite competent in their own right, neither of them has the ability to inspire like Barack Obama. Thanks to Obama, in the face of America’s greatest challenges in generations, our country is not just filled with hope, we’re filled with an unbridled optimism that even though things will be tough, as a nation led by our president we will battle through, and flourish when the economy inevitably turns around. Now that’s inspiration.

In an entirely unrelated event, I had the great pleasure of taking my 13 year-old son to his first Metallica concert this past weekend. I’ve been a Metallica fan since the early 80’s, and taking my son was a great father-son bonding moment. And while some of Metallica’s music over the past 10 years hasn’t excited me too much, their latest album has been outstanding. So, there, on stage, surrounded by 20,000 or so screaming fans, are four guys – about Barack Obama’s age (and a couple of years older than me) – rockin’ their butts off to an audience that ranged in age from about 10 to about 50. Hard to believe that they’ve been around for about 30 years already. And that they can relate to two generations of fans. And that without much radio airplay they became one of the biggest selling rock bands ever. And that they can still fill arenas.

What do Obama and Metallica have in common? And how can you tap into some of that magic?

Some would call it charisma. Certainly, in their own very different ways, Obama and the four rockers are charismatic individuals. But it’s more than just superficial. It’s charisma backed by a deep competence: Obama’s was proven by how he ran his campaign, and by how he’s managed his transition; Metallica’s by their songwriting skills, the way they crossed over, and their authenticity. Perhaps most of all, what they have in common is that they are deeply committed to what they do, and they connect with their audience.

Are you? And do you?

I’ve seen too many concerts where the band was just going through the motions. Where the artist wasn’t enjoying herself. Wasn’t consumed by the music they were making. Wasn’t establishing that all-important connection. And when I leave the concert I say to myself “It’s the last time I’ll see you live.”

I’m frequently asked what advice I have for bands who want to “make it.” While there are many pieces of advice to give, I’m going to recount one of the lessons Obama and Metallica have taught us: Make that connection. Let your passion show. And make sure that passion is built on a foundation of competence – of strong songwriting, recording, and performing skills. In short, be an artist of substance.

It takes work. And commitment. And knowing yourself and who you are and what you believe in.

But when you figure out the formula, your fans will thank you. And stick with you, maybe for generations.