Update

1. The Wheels Of Progress Move Quickly

The e-reader is being killed by the tablet. And the initial Kindle was only introduced five years ago.

The first Kindle Fire was a disaster. It sold prodigiously upon release but its lack of functionality was evidenced in the little web-surfing purchasers did with it. But credit Jeff Bezos, he realized he not busy being born is busy dying. Kind of like the classic rock acts. Convinced no one is listening, they’ve stopped making new music. They’ve put the stake in their own hearts.

Then again, I was at Christmas dinner with David Glenn and he told me he was a fan of Cal Newport. So I sent myself an e-mail and looked him up on the web and found this page. It’s important.

 

Does Luck Matter More Than Skill?

“a. For activities with clear fixed rules – such as sports, chess and music – the only way to succeed is to put in more deliberate practice than your peers.

b. For activities with rapidly evolving rules – such as business start-ups or book writing – success comes when you CHANGE the rules to a new configuration that catches the zeitgeist just right. Johansson uses Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, as a key example. Meyer, in Johansson’s estimation, is not a good writer. Her first Twilight book reads more like fan fiction than a professionally-scribed genre novel. She had not, in other words, spent much time in a state of deliberate practice. But this didn’t matter. Something about her new take on vampire tales hit the cultural moment just right and earned her extraordinary renown. The lesson, according to Johansson, is that luck plays the central role in success for these activities. If you want to do something remarkable, therefore, you have to keep trying new things – placing, what he calls, purposeful bets – hoping to stumble into an idea that catches on.”

Eureka! That’s it!

Johansson has got it half right. If you want to be a classical musician, playing in an orchestra, you need to practice and be better than almost everyone else.

But if you want to be a popular musician, it’s more about capturing the zeitgeist than practiced skill. It’s more about innovation and thinking than musical building blocks.

Instead of lamenting that your time has passed, question whether you’ve become calcified. Once upon a time classic rock musicians were cutting edge, they were challenging old norms and defining new ones. They expected that once they made it, people would continue to be interested in their creations.

This is untrue.

Sure, people like to visit the museum. But if it’s in the hallowed halls, it’s already happened. The new stuff is out on the street.

2. The Wheels Of Progress Move Slowly

Digital outlets just sold more albums than brick and mortar/physical for the very first time:

Download Me Maybe: U.S. Music Market Up By 3.1%, Fuelled By 1.3B Digital Track Sales In 2012, Says Nielsen

The iTunes Store opened in 2003, almost a decade ago.

Recently, there’s been all this hogwash that the slowdown in sales of e-readers means physical books are here to stay.

Wrong!

It just takes a long time for the old to give up their ways.

So, you shouldn’t jump ship from the past too fast. Then again, Apple became the world’s most valuable company by doing this. Don’t you remember when people were horrified the iMac didn’t come with a floppy drive? And today’s new MacBooks come sans disk drives.

Used a floppy recently? I don’t ever remember putting a CD in my MacBook Pro, except for the Microsoft Word install disk, and now you download all your programs, even the operating system, wirelessly.

There is a business in being the last person to sell a typewriter. But there’s more money on the leading edge.

The music industry has done itself a disservice by focusing on the CD. It’s not only hampered the development of hi-res digital files online, it’s skewed the entire structure and perception of the business. The CD is the tool of the major label. The days of the major label are dead. They’re like ribbon salesmen in the era of software development. And most of the early software companies of the computer revolution are carcasses on the side of the road. Use WordStar recently? How about a Borland product?

You see the record business is run by old men with no vision.

Technology is run by young people challenging all the rules.

Music is old school. Selling overpriced albums to people who only want one track. You wonder why people laugh at it.

Furthermore, the old people have control of old media, where they spin their spurious ideas. When technology boomed in the eighties, the mainstream press barely covered it. Think about it… Congress held a hearing on Napster? That’s like nursery schools holding a hearing on NASA.

3. “The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when masks are dropped.”

—Schopenhauer

At least they used to be. Before everybody got plastic surgery in order to appear young.

But you’re old on the inside.

You can’t deny death. You can’t stop aging.

Have contempt for those trying to cheat. Aging is a natural process with benefits. It’s good to allow the masquerade to end. To see the photo beauty come back to earth. To see the rich man with the same health problems as the poor. To realize being good is better than being rich.

4. “No matter how she pleaded, she couldn’t climb in someone’s head and start steering. People did what they would do.”

My shrink said this a different way yesterday. He said people have to want to change.

Most people do not.

You can know what’s best for someone all day long, you can even tell them, but it seems they have to find out for themselves.

5. “She was grateful life could be long.”

This is a secret you never see in the mainstream press. Where youth is glorified.

Being young is frequently being unhappy. You worry if you’re beautiful enough, popular enough, you’re clueless as to your career, you’re scared.

But when you get older you become comfortable in your own skin. What you thought was important is not.

6. “I’m not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach and a head. Just think about that.”

—Josephine Baker

This is when entertainers were trailblazers, artists who made you think. Now they’re nitwits like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson, uneducated idiots who are followed around, their every activity plastered in magazines and online, who’ve got nothing to say, they’re not leaders, they’re not even three-dimensional. As for musicians, they’re just as bad. Followers the lot. Usually too young to even know what life’s about.

I’ve never heard this put better.

You can win.

But you’ve got to believe you can play.

Note: Numbers 3-6 are quotes from the book “The Chaperone,” by Laura Moriarty. One of the main characters is Louise Brooks, the silent film star. She was done in her early thirties. She had to reinvent herself, she ultimately became a writer. Today’s young stars don’t reinvent themselves, they just rob 7-11’s and die prematurely.

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