I just read a book called “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek.
It’s about businesses and how they need to think more in long term strategies than short term. And when I read these kind of books I think of how can I apply these ideas and mindsets to myself, to my children and eventually I start to think of other areas.
So when we play or watch a sport, there are rules that everyone who is playing, know and agree with. If you take football (soccer), the players know that the objective is to win. In order to win, one team has to score more goals than the other. And they need to do it within a time limit and within the rules of the game, which a referee enforces. This is known as a finite game. It has a start and an end and rules to which both teams agree with before they start. At the end of the season there is a winner/champion.
But music or creating art is not a finite game. There are no time limits that all artists agree upon. There are no hard rules that all artists need to follow.
The “creating art” world is, an “Infinite Game”.
There’s no other way to explain it because there are no rules about how to win, no agreed way of keeping score and no time limit. So if you are an artist and you want to create art, you need to be able to stay in the art world for as long as possible.
Profits and sales are not the only targets or the markers of success which show an artists strength. A song which makes a little bit of money and saves a life is just as important as a song which makes a lot of money.
And what does making money really mean?
The sales and profits of the “Metal Health” and “Stay Hungry” album’s made Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister big names. Yet Quiet Riot couldn’t survive the challenges the following years brought upon them because in the end, their own original material didn’t really connect with listeners the way their Slade covers did.
But the mighty Twisted Sister broke through on original material, and even though they did break up they returned to the infinite game post Sept 11, because their original material was strong enough and still forming connections with people via movie placements and peer to peer downloading. And Twisted Sister stayed in the game, until they decided to check out. Like Motley Crue and Kiss and Ozzy. Or wait, those last three bands did retirement tours and came back into the game.
As an artist, create art that would last for generations to come, like how Slade did. They didn’t have the sales success of the artists who covered their songs, but they created art which has lasted almost 50 years. Black Sabbath are bigger now than they’ve ever been, even during their 70s heyday.
But MTV in the 80s and 90s made people think of short-term results.
You really want to know what killed the recording industry?
It wasn’t Napster, the way the labels and Lars Ulrich and Gene Simmons have tried to sell it.
It was no artist development from the labels because every label executive was focused on getting the best earnings for the next quarter. Profits over development.
Even the mp3 tech was offered to the labels, who rejected it, because they put profits ahead of innovation. They even put profits ahead of creating a product/service that people could sink their teeth into.
Create art and create it forever.