Are you a fan?

Posted by Q McCallum on 2013-10-07

(This is what I get for letting a document sit in draft mode. I wrote this post in June or July, but I’m just now getting around to releasing it.)

On those rare occasions that I tweet, I mostly share links to articles. Once in a while, though, I read something that requires more than a quick “spot-on” or “this is important” to explain why I feel it’s worth sharing.

That Daily Beast interview with Rick Rubin (which has since moved to Newsweek)? 1 Definitely one of those cases.

Let me explain. People who know me, know three things:

  1. I like music. I mean, I really like music. I held out buying an iPod until they made a model with sufficient capacity to hold my entire collection2. An interview with Rick Rubin, such a big name in the industry, is bound to catch my attention.
  2. I’m interested in what makes businesses tick, and music is one such business. I’ve long been a lurking student of how it works and how the various roles – from artist to label to producer – interact to create an album.
  3. I see profit as a side-effect of a successful business, not the goal. Yes, I’m often the first to ask how an idea will make money. I also advise people, don’t start with the money. Start with the “cool factor.” Improve someone’s life or business, and the money will follow.

That Rick Rubin interview? It resonates on all three points. Especially the last one. Rubin’s notion that he approaches the music biz as a fan and from the outside, not the inside, nails it.

Rubin’s role is to help bands create great albums. What do you do? Take a moment to explore your business model. Strip away the marketing-speak of your elevator pitch, to get to the core idea of your offering. Is it something that genuinely helps people improve their situation, meet their goals, or otherwise be happy?

Put another way: are you a fan of your customers and their work, and does your company exist to help them? Be honest with yourself, and you may be surprised.

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  1. If you’ve never heard the name, you’ve likely heard the music: Rick Rubin’s Wikipedia page lists a number of bands with whom he has worked. ↩︎

  2. Don’t ask when I bought the iPod. Nor should you ask whether it still fits all of my music. ↩︎