Don’t sit here and lament "American Idol", laud Simon Fuller for coming up with the concept of "Pop Idol" and extending the brand.

And while you’re at it, give credit to Lou Pearlman, who created the boy band paradigm when no one wanted it.

You can’t look in the rearview mirror. You must look ahead, into the unknown. Creativity is about risk. And you can fail dramatically or succeed wildly, you won’t know until you try.

This is why we shrug our shoulders when a twelve year old rips off Jimmy Page’s licks and we’re entranced by less than perfect singers performing original material. Anyone can imitate, but can you innovate?

Innovation starts with a blank slate. Sure, you bring all you’ve learned, the tools to the table. But innovation cannot be proven by theorem, there’s no research that will tell you you’ve got a success on your hands. Rather you fly by your wits, your gut, you do what feels right instead of what looks right.

There is stagnation at the major labels because there’s no innovation. They’re dying because they’re not selling anything new. Despite having tons of money, they take no risk. This is what is hurting them more than P2P and the breaking of their distribution monopoly. One great thing about art is we want the original, we want the Beatles, not an imitator, sign the original and you can win for years. But you’ve got to take the risk. And now that music is more business than art, no one wants to.

The public is clueless. Did the public know it wanted "Idol"? Did the public know it wanted boy bands? Did the public know it wanted Kickstarter, to fund its favorites’ projects? Of course not. But when confronted with the opportunity, people jumped.

"X Factor" will never break out, never be gigantic, because people see it as me-too.

"Survivor" was huge because no one had ever seen anything like it before. The initial finale had the ratings of a playoff game. But now I no longer watch, because not only is the series the same, the players have seen it and have altered their behavior accordingly. It’s like watching "The Real World"… Reality is no longer real, it’s about people who want to be famous executing the paradigm, and we’re less interested.

Just like Simon Fuller became rich via television, so did Mark Burnett. That’s one of the great things about entertainment, it’s not about your c.v. as much as it is about your idea. Knowing people helps. As does paying your dues. "Pop Idol" and "Survivor" were not their creators’ first projects. For everybody at home thinking they’re going to be an overnight success…the people who appear that way rarely are.

The next great musical act will not come from a television show, certainly not one that’s based on competition. It’ll synthesize what came before in a new way. I’ve always marveled that no one has tried to be the new Beatles. Imagine boy bands that could write as well as sing, with songs featuring not only harmonies, but bridges. If Backstreet Boys could write, they’d still be superstars today, the songs were rich with feeling, but they were utterly meaningless, and that which sustains has more than nougat at the core.

You can tell the visionaries from the lemmings. The visionaries are confident. What they’re selling is not like everything else. On one hand you think their product is an utter failure, on the other you’re intrigued, it just might work.

No one knew they wanted Napster. Hell, most people didn’t even know they wanted MP3s. But once they experienced the ability to acquire music via the Internet, at home, they were hooked. Especially when rarities surfaced.

The innovators drag the masses into the future. Some are unwilling, those invested in the old ways and the Luddites. As soon as people start saying the old way was better, you know to forget them. Not everything new is great. But our entire culture is based upon the new. We’re not going backward, we’re going forward.

And it’s your responsibility to take us there.

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