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Leaders and followers
We live in an age of music for people who don’t like music. The record industry discovered some time ago that there aren’t that many people who actually like music. For a lot of people, music’s annoying, or at the very least they don’t need it. They discovered if they could sell music to a lot of those people, they could sell a lot more records. – T Bone Burnett (musician, songwriter & producer)
Humans are complex and complicated beings. They’re all a bit different. We don’t have the time for some big analysis of the human psyche here, and therefore we’ll simply put everyone in one of two categories:
This, of course, is an incorrect simplification and all people are probably located somewhere between the two extremes. Psychologists won’t like the way we’re dealing with those things here – but at this point we don’t care, as we just need to understand some of the basics. So what’s the difference between leaders and followers?
Followers do what other people tell them to do.
They also like what others tell them to like. They will listen to the media, to their friends (who are probably followers too), to everyone ... well, maybe not to their parents, but to everyone else. They are not critical, they won’t search for anything new or exciting, as they will simply listen to the music that will be in the Top 40, or that has been recommended to them by their social environment.
They make up the vast majority of the population, probably about 80% of all of the people out there.
They will certainly not buy your record, unless you’ll instantly make it into the charts, or if you know them personally.
If their TV set doesn’t tell them that you’re cool, then you are not cool.
It’s as simple as that. So chances that followers will buy your records just out of the blue will be nearly zero.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the U.S.
Leaders are very different from followers.
Leaders do whatever they want.
They take their own decisions, and they don’t like to be told what to do. They know what they like, and other people won’t easily be able to convince them to change their minds.
When it comes to music, then those leaders sometimes listen to strange subgenres, and they may be part of some subculture themselves.
They too won’t listen to their parents, but they will also ignore what the mainstream thinks or says. They will look for new interesting stuff on YouTube, in blogs, in magazines, always searching for some great stuff nobody ever heard of. It’s important to understand that people who are leaders in professional or private life don’t necessarily have to be leaders when it comes to art. Some very dominant leaders don’t have to clue when it comes to art and listen to any bullshit they’ll find in the charts. When I talk about leaders here, then it’s leaders who care about art, so this might be a subgroup of leaders in general.
Don’t confuse leaders and followers with bosses and employees.
Some people at the very bottom of a company hierarchy may actually be leaders, although such employees often tend to climb the ladder. On the other hand there are also people in leading positions that are in fact followers from a psychological point of view. Bozos are usually part of this group of people. So we’re talking about the people who are, from a psychological view, leaders and who care about art.
Those who are different, those who know what they want when it comes to music, those who have their own opinion and who don’t care if others agree. That’s the kind of person that would eventually listen to your record and maybe even buy it. But, as mentioned before, it’s also the kind of person that will not buy some mediocre crap that doesn’t stand out.
While your chances that a follower might buy your record will be nearly zero, your chances that a leader will buy it are a lot higher if – and only if – your record is really good and it will convince this leader that it’s worth spending some cash on it.
The music industry is focusing on selling singles to followers. You will be focusing on SELLING ALBUMS TO LEADERS.
In the Golden Age, from 1955 to 1995, record companies were producing music for both leaders and followers. The music industry completely gave up on producing music for leaders, after record companies understood the following:
Followers clearly outnumber leaders.
Followers buy music that’s cheaper to produce.
Followers are easier to manipulate than leaders.
Followers will buy and kind of crap, as long as you make them believe that it’s cool.
But that was a very stupid decision, because leaders tend to buy more, they’re more loyal, and they’re simply better customers.
Leaders are often the ones who are setting new trends, or who are even starting revolutions. You may actually earn more by creating great premium products for leaders than by creating cheap crap for the masses. And if leaders go crazy after a product, then the masses might even follow.
Ask Apple, as this is how this once small niche company became the biggest business on this planet. And now that Apple begins to abandon the leaders (aka the creative professionals), they start to lose much of their attractiveness.
Always go for the leaders if you want to change the world.