David Heinemeier Hansson at Startup School 08

I just blew half an hour watching this guy when I should be on the freeway to the Valley, to pick up Felice and go to Staples to see Michael Buble.

Michael Buble?

I don’t give a shit about Buble, his manager is a friend of mine.  No one is more passionate about his acts than Bruce Allen, he’s a thinker, and a doer, and the tour is promoted by an independent, Don Fox, and even if I don’t like the music I’m sure I’ll hear words of wisdom from Bruce.  Furthermore, even though Buble is not changing the face of music history, he is filling a need, he’s not shooting to reach everybody, but a certain cult, that’s actually quite large, primarily of housewives, and that’s exactly what David Heinemeier Hansson is talking about in this clip.


The guy from 37signals.  Someone e-mailed me this clip.  I was intrigued.  And now I’m writing to you, because this guy is such a fucking rock star.

Oh, save me the e-mails that delineate a rock star plays music…  Shit, even Lady GaGa is not a rock star.  First and foremost, she doesn’t play ROCK!  Secondly, she’s fake, it’s all artifice, it’s all studied, she’s not intimately honest.  Unlike David Heinemeier Hansson.


A successful code writer.

How come all the brains, all the creative people are now in tech?

Maybe because that’s where the money is.  And you don’t have to report to your parents, or your grandparents (well, at least they’re pushing Doug Morris aside).  You’ve got a blank canvas, you can do it your way.  And didn’t Burger King finally make a comeback when it embraced this philosophy?  Who wants to work for the man?  Not me.  Who wants to be told what to do, when to wake up, when to report to work, how to work?  Today’s musicians, that’s who.  They want to sign a 360 contract and put themselves in the hands of the label, telling them who and how and what to record, when to show up for interviews, all for the bucks.  Huh?

Actually, David Heinemeier Hansson is into the bucks.  But he asks, how many bucks?  And he decries selling out.  And if you watch this video, you can get his philosophy, and some business tips.  Hell, if you’re thinking of starting a music distribution scheme, David Heinemeier Hansson should disabuse you of this notion, don’t shoot for the stars, the odds are low, start small!

But the reason I’m writing this is I’m riveted by this guy.  When he utters "fuck" about halfway in, I laughed out loud.  He doesn’t give a shit what anybody thinks other than him.

What a concept.  That’s what being a rock star is.  That’s not what we have today.

Of course you have to write hit music.  Then again, Christopher Cross had monster singles and he’s not a rock star, he can’t sell out a shed.  Ever seen a commercial with Christopher Cross?

Then there’s Iggy Pop.  Sure, many fewer people think his music is a hit, but those people TRULY BELIEVE SO!  And they’re still interested in what he has to say today.  And it’s never what the media expects, it’s never safe.  Hell, what did he say at his R&RHOF induction?  "Roll over Woodstock!  We won!"  Wasn’t he supposed to thank the Academy, kiss a ton of butt, now that they finally accepted him?  NO!

This is why actors are rarely rock stars.  They’re looking for the next gig.  You remember Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to pick up his "Godfather" Oscar, who won Best Actor the year after?  Who won LAST YEAR?

Get my point?

Somehow, music has become the repository of the bottom of the barrel, whereas it used to feature the best and the brightest.  And you wonder why the public’s tuned out.

You went to the punk show because you BELIEVED!

You go to see Bon Jovi to remember who you once were.  Who do you go see if you want to be vital today?

Don’t pepper me with suggestions, I don’t give a fuck.  And that’s just the point, the public doesn’t give a fuck.  And today, the public’s got options.  To get people’s attention is so difficult.  To hold it, almost impossible.  Yet, I watched this coder’s presentation for half an hour and then looked him up in the Wikipedia, found out why he spoke funny, he’s from Denmark, I’m up to speed BECAUSE I WANT TO BE, NOT BECAUSE SOMEONE TOLD ME TO!

That’s the difference.  For far too long, the music business has been about telling people.  You’d better like this piece of shit, or that piece of crap.

And then there are people who e-mail me telling me to watch the language.  What kind of crazy, fucked up world do we live in where music people have to watch what they say and software coders do not?


Watch this and weep.  For what’s been lost in our industry.  Malcolm McLaren understood it was more than music.  And maybe he injected too much artifice.  But in order to create icons, it’s got to be more than the tracks, acts have to have edges, they have to be willing to alienate people, they have to stand for something.  They have to be willing to come out against the Tea Party, or for it, or…

No one follows someone who sits on the sidelines.  Never.

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