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1 posts from May 2009

May 03, 2009

Social connectivity is the new management rock n’ roll

Let's Dance small pic
Pics © BBC Blues Britannia: Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?

‘It was bad man, we didn’t have any sweets’.

So it went for Keith Richards as part of his propulsion into the Hall of Fame of Rock and Roll as one of the greats. It took a depression to bring on a new vibrant sound. So it is with social connectivity, the new management rock n’ roll.

Music before then was gutless music, the big band attempting to play on as a sop to post-war austerity.

Like the blues, social connectivity bypasses existing traditional cultural understanding, and it bypasses management. As Paul Jones, the lead singer of Manfred Mann and one of the main figures of the early British rock scene described it, ‘you didn’t need any previous information, it just got to you’.

The early fans of the blues and rock and roll scene gathered in my local neighbourhood, what was known in those circles as ‘the Thames Delta’, Britain’s distant echo of the American South, in Colliers Wood, and Merton, Tooting and Ealing. They turned up at each other's houses to swap records. It was a scene of fans, similar to the Twitter brethren of today where @ is the equivalent to coming round to play 45’s.

Then and now, once you get the bug, it’s hard to get rid of it. That’s what rock n’ roll was about as the essence of a vital scene.

Management is often seen today as being in direct conflict with this. Like the big band, it has a lot to lose from the jive, and from tuning into the blues. The specialist shops selling imported recordings in the old days are the boutique social media specialists of today.

They have the same conundrum on their hands, how to break through and go mainstream, how to get to the top of the Board, the top of the charts, and sell records.

To management echalons, social connectivity is a threat to the way things've traditionally been done, but to quote the song, ‘it ain’t necessarily so’. They haven’t learned to riff, to find the truer voice that social connectivity demands but it’s in them, and like the Beatles did in that seminal moment, they can learn how to cross the road.

The brands that have to advertise in the commercial break are missing something, especially online. They’re playing either side of the music, and their media spend’s a tax for being unremarkable.

In the early days of rock and roll, if someone had a harmonica, you were there, and word of a Muddy Waters album in Tooting would be enough to get on a bus and go to have a listen. It’s like that now; the socially connected will go to anywhere they’ve been turned on to.

The drab grey world of austerity management is not a million miles away from the cold grey skies of the unreconstructured 1950‘s, and that media spend sound is being replaced with a new music - the sound of vital, visceral connections that make feet misbehave and make an audience just want to get up and party.

The Rolling Stones were formed when Keith Richards hit on Brian Jones because he was a big record collector. They became one of the greats of a new era. Meanwhile, the bowler hatted brigade carried on for a while, still getting up and taking the 7:45am train to Waterloo. But it was with the Stones that the fruitful change lay. They were the future.

Management can gain a great deal from learning new leadership skills, loosening up and listening to the band, that’s where the fans are. As David Bowie would say, let’s dance.