Counting Crows (Or How Sometimes Answers Are In the Most Obvious Places)
I was listening to a podcast interview with Adam Duritz, founding member and principal songwriter for the rock band, Counting Crows, in which he discussed his approach to building the band's audience around the world over the next 5 years:
In every aspect of our career, we go find people who know what they are doing, and we talk to them and we try and get their advice. In international touring...we call our agent and go, yeah, we're gonna go to Europe in June, get us gigs! And that's kind of all the thought that goes into it!
But...I was talking to one of the promoters in Italy...getting his advice on his country because he's been running concerts in that country for 20,30 years, and suddenly realize, here's a guy who knows all kinds of shit about this...why am I not talking to him about helping us?
And I asked him, Claudio, could you put together a plan for how to build Counting Crows in Italy over the next 5 years, do you think you'd have ideas? He got so excited about it! Cos, I guess no one had ever asked him before!
Here's these really, really smart guys (promoters in each country) who've been putting on concerts for decades in these countries and according to all of them at least, no one had ever come, ever, and said, can you tell me how to do this?
I thought to myself, for a minute, you're a genius! And then I thought to myself, if only it hadn't taken you 20 years to come up with this rather basic idea!
That was a gem of an insight, from a band that's been touring for almost 3 decades. A band that has a strong following, one that earns a very, very healthy living off of doing shows across the world.
It's a gem of an insight on something we all tend to take for granted. When we're stuck in a rut, when we're running circles around ourselves on a problem that's been hounding us for ages.
First, ask for help. Don't expect that you have to solve this problem all on your own. This is the biggest mistake I see people make (young and old alike). There's a perception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It isn't. It's a sign of strength and confidence. It's a sign of trust. A sign of teamwork.
Second, ask for help from sources right in front of you. In all likelihood, you work and interact with folks who have grappled with the same issues for years. Who struggled with this problem before and found ways to work through them. Counting Crows worked with those promoters for years, and never bothered to ask the simple question. It doesn't always cost money, and it isn't always hard. It just requires a bit of humility and hard work.
Cos, I guess no one had ever asked him before!
It's worth remembering when we're trying to solve a recurring problem, or something that seems to have no clear answer for us. Don't just look inward, look outward as well.
And if a band as storied as Counting Crows can come to that realization, so can we.
(By the way, if you're into music, songwriting, and how musical artists think about their craft, it would be well worth your time to check out and subscribe to the Sodajerker podcast, which is where I heard this interview. Enjoy!)