People in my line of work often have passions extending outside of their day job. One of my earliest full-fledged endeavors was as a bass player for a DIY punk / metal / hardcore band that did a lot of touring back in the day. While playing in sweaty, nasty houses and bars across the country may not seem related to advertising technology, I’m constantly applying the lessons I learned as a self-taught touring musician to my current career.
1. Resourcefulness Turns Up Innovation
My design experience began with creating the artwork for our band’s fliers and albums – it was a low-budget, ‘we do it or it doesn’t get done’ operation. I had no “official” design education, so we became resourceful and found ways to translate our ideas to print. My big lesson there? If you’re inspired by something, and want to make it happen for yourself, you can figure it out. Every day, my team and I take the same approach to interactive technology.
I first got involved with interactive tech when online consumption wasn’t yet mainstream. The internet at that time was a lot like the underground indie scene. Without a big budget or a mass audience watching every move, there was freedom to innovate and create. I could write code, build a website, make animations and design things in ways that simply weren’t possible in print media. There was no playbook and interactive mentors weren’t readily available back then; so, if we had a vision, it was up to us to make it a reality.
2. Have Heart
The tech space is competitive, and the reasons one company succeeds over another are often nuanced and complex. The same is true in the music industry; many great bands exist in relative obscurity, while other, very talented bands get rich and famous. Lightning does strike. More often than not, it happens when a company – or band – comes together to pour hearts and souls into the endeavor.
Hiring smart people is always wise, but heart is also vital. If you’re into it, there are no boundaries to what a person or team can achieve, particularly in creativity and computing. That sense of possibility fuels every successful (define as you will) musician and professional I know. If you practice and play your heart out, it will resonate.
3. Everyone Must Play in Sync
Surrounding yourself with the right crew is vital. The right bandmates will lead to the best vibe, produce the most gratifying work, and will even pull you through the worst tours. When my band started, we all wanted to be a touring band that put out records, even if we didn’t know how we were going to get there. We had general principles we all agreed on and then we figured out how to reach those macro goals.
It helps to staff a creative team in a similar fashion, with people who want to play the same kind of music and achieve the same goal. Everyone needs to work toward the same objective and feel like they have an equal say in the trajectory, no matter what job they have on the team. My band didn’t need 3 guitars, but what everyone added, both in sound and in attitude, was important to our success.
Success in both ad tech and music comes down to the ability to be dynamic, to evolve and to move in a new direction when necessary. Those qualities are only possible when everyone shares a unified vision, helping each other to meet their creative potential.