A Ted Talk about Skating and Music

Skating and Music: two industries that are more similar than you’d think. Here is a very brief summary of the main takeaways for musicians from fellow BBer Ted Maider’s TED Talk.

  1. Exclusivity:  This is a question of balance between ubiquity and exclusivity. On the one hand, you want people to be familiar enough with your product to have a demand for it. To do this, you may make your songs or merch available everywhere, ubiquitous for the fan. On the other hand, you want to make certain things you offer more exclusive than others. You want your product to be valuable enough that you can profit from being selective in its distribution.There are different ways to be exclusive. You can make a limited number of your product, and be exclusive in quantity. Many skateboarding companies make limited release boards, jacking up the price per board.

    You can also be selective in who you give your product to, and be exclusive in audience, essentially rewarding those fans who are loyal. An example brought up was the early Sub Pop Singles Club, where only those subscribed would receive an exclusive single sent to their house each month. At the time, this single could be found nowhere else. They rewarded only those who subscribed.

    Bottom line, whether it’s your merchandise, your songs, or your event, exclusivity (employed after a sufficient amount of ubiquity) breeds value.

  2. Your Image/Visual Art: You want to have a consistent and captivating visual look. Your image could be the first time a potential fan is exposed to your brand. Ideally, you’d want something about your logo or image to attract the type of people whom you cater your music to. If not, sheer consistency can sometimes do the trick.In the world of skating, stickers are huge. Placing a large volume of stickers in places where potential fans may be (skateparks, on your laptop, coffee shops, BATHROOMS) can pique their curiosity and lead them to look you up. Stick with a primary logo and make sure it’s visible across your social media, at your shows, and tagged in your music.

    To be sure, this isn’t the only way of going about it. A picture of you in your “on stage” garb can be the only visual “logo” needed. But whatever the look, consistency is still key. And if you are the logo, then you need an additional element that would captivate, leading us to the next point which is…

  3. Style: This has to be unique to you. It can be and it inevitably IS how you dress, your makeup, how you move, how you sound, everything about you that attracts and incites emotion in your fan. Most skateboarders have their “special moves”, their unique look and piercings and tattoos and t-shirts and their way of handling the board, all contributing to their appeal. Some musicians with this: David Byrne. David Bowie. David Hasselhoff. You get the deal.
  4. Entrepreneurship: Finally, skateboarding is a business, music is a business, everything is a business. You’re constantly interacting and exchanging something, and there’s something to be said about entrepreneurs and skaters and musicians building something from scratch and improving upon it constantly. Be aware of your band and the people you attract. Look for a different angle. Look for cultural crossovers. Work to make it work.
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