Why business leaders should act more like artists

Photo by Terry Ballard

So you’ve got Seth Godin in his bestselling business book “Linchpin” preaching that to succeed in the world today, everyone must be an artist.

“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artist who works with oil paint or marble, sure. But there are artists who worked with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

And here’s is a post from the Harvard Business Review

http://blogs.hbr.org/maeda/2009/12/why-business-leaders-should-ac.html

So the gauntlet has been thrown.

What do you think, you business majors out there?

Sustainability + Music: Let the Conversation Begin

In anticipation of the launch of our PSU Sustainability + Music Lecture Series, I am aiming to put up at least one post a day of thoughts, ideas, conversations and questions that have come up in my exploration of this concept over the past three years.

The questions are many. There are also a number of intriguing and thought-provoking ideas circulating in the blogosphere.  Numerous seeds for enriching conversations.

The thing about sustainability is that people use the word to mean many things.  At its simplest is the conversation about how to make music- and by that people usually mean the various activities pursued by the music industry-green.  So you have websites like  http://www.greenmusicalliance.org/.  Is this endeavor just feel-good environmentalism,  a marketing platform for celebs and pop stars? or is there more to it?

The first post I ever bookmarked on this topic asked the question what does Sustainability in the Arts look like?  The blogger Mark Robinson was looking at the issue from an arts administration point of view. But whole field is built on top of art the try to midwife it without strangulation through the birth canal of market capitalism.   Is change coming from that sector really going to be effective?

Or is the system broken?  When we talk about music (or the arts) from an economic perspective as Ian David Moss does in his post on arts-and-sustainability, Is the game just changing underneath us and we need to come up with a new paradigm for what it means to be “an artist” what it means to have “a career”  etc?

Or may the model is wrong.  As our first lecturer Jeff Titon states in his Music & Sustainability blog,.  Maybe we would be better served by thinking of music in as an ecology rather than an economy

There is some food for thought.  Let’s see where it goes.

Theses on Sustainability- Where does Music fit in?

Dang! My first post on this blog in over a year.  Just seems like the right place for these ruminations

So in our Music Department, I’m chairing a committee on Sustainability and Music.  Which is a great excuse to think about the future of everything I do- teach, perform, compose- and how it is going to look in 50 years.

This pursuit embraces a whole bunch of interesting topics and blogs.

On one of them I read the

Theses on Sustainability: A Primer

by Eric Zencey, which was published in the May/June 2010 issue of Orion magazine

I’m particularly interested in # 6.

[6] SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY describes a state in which a society does not contain any dynamics or forces that would pull it apart. Such a society has sufficient cohesion to overcome the animosities that arise from (for instance) differences of race, gender, wealth, ethnicity, political or religious belief; or from differential access to such boons as education, opportunity, or the nonpartisan administration of justice. Social sustainability can be achieved by strengthening social cohesion (war is a favorite device), through indoctrination in an ideology that bridges the disparities that strain that cohesion, or through diminishing the disparities themselves. (Or all three.)

So I’m wondering if a role for music (and a possible relationship to the topic as a whole) might be to help bring about social sustainability.  It can 1) strengthen social cohesion  2) communicate ideology (at least in a broad sense).  I don’t know that it can on its own diminish disparities in a society, although it has forever been used to advocate for such.

“Nature’s Economy”

Here is an excerpt from a wonderful post by Jeff Todd Titon, ethnomusicologist , folklorist, musician, professor of ethnomusicology at Brown University.  His blog is called ‘Sustainable Music.  Find it here

http://sustainablemusic.blogspot.com/

The post is a wonderful discussion about the nature of sustainability in relation to the arts.  Of many interesting ideas, what sticks out for me is the following”

…an economics of sustainability that follows the path of the natural world: diverse, interconnected, appropriate in size, and looked after by humans who consider themselves caretakers, or stewards, not owners. Our efforts at cultural conservation result in better best practices when we think of sustainability in these terms rather than in the terms of the economists. Following this construction of nature we emphasize stewardship, not ownership; performance and community, not product and commodity; human rights, not property rights; and not only human rights but the rights of all living creatures. An ecology or an economy dependent on continuous growth must fail.

How does this change our models in the arts world?