Pollstar Live! Keynote:
A Morning With Seth Godin

The myth of Icarus reminds us that those who attempt to fly too close to the sun are destined for failure.

Nobody ever seems to remember the second half of the myth that also warns against flying too close to the sea, and it’s this major oversight that marketing guru Seth Godin’s new book, “The Icarus Deception,” brings to light.

See Also: Extended Pollstar Live! Coverage as well as Pollstar Live! Facebook and Twitter

We’ve been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, Godin explains, and the only way to survive is to stand out.

It’s food for thought in an industry where recycling and repackaging average acts for average people just isn’t working anymore. A look at the numbers finds that while about 12 percent of people in the U.S. went to a concert in 2009, the market contracted to just under 10 percent of the population last year.

“The good news here is 90 percent of people are open and available,” Godin said. “The bad news is that if we spend a lot of time measuring and corporatizing, and a lot of time focusing on the big acts and how we’re going to make our penny, we’re going to get in trouble, because we’ll be racing to the bottom.”

  Not that Godin is advising anyone pack up and call it a day just yet. There is a solution – do something ridiculous.

“The ridiculous is the new remarkable,” he said.

The old business model involved brand invention, dehumanization and industrialization to make things faster and cheaper and extract every last penny. But those methods don’t work in what Godin calls our new “connection economy.”

The four pillars of the economy include connection, trust, permission and the exchange of ideas.

The connection part seems easy. After all, the concert industry has always been about connecting an artist with hundreds or thousands of fans for an evening. But Godin says it goes deeper than that, and involves coordinating relationships with others who may help us to produce a product – be it a concert, a new festival or even a computer mouse – and building trust.

Permission allows us to tap into the audiences that want to hear our messages, and with that permission we can exchange ideas and interact with those who may know more than we do.

  The four pillars stand on a foundation of generosity and art, he says, because “we want to connect with people who are bringing us something, and we want to connect with the interesting. We want to connect with people who are on the edge, who are changing things and moving things forward.”

We’re on the verge of a revolution, but we’ve all been taught to fly too low, so Godin advises us to stop doing jobs, and start embracing art.

Art is finding your niche, making your mark and doing it with what in Japan is called kamiwaza – all in, the way a god would do it.

People may have laughed at the idea of Coachella at first. Bob Dylan still gets booed off stages every few years but continues to sell tickets.  Bob Marley didn’t invent Rasta – he just showed up to lead it.

Art isn’t safe, but it creates value. It’s important; it connects, it touches people and develops followings.

“We have no choice but to become vulnerable,” Godin said. “We need to say to the market and to the acts and to the people we work with – this one might not work, and if it doesn’t it will hurt me, because I’ve put my heart into it. But that’s OK; my job is to do this art, my job is to innovate.”