By the '70s, rock had become a bloated mass with few points of entry. That paradigm was smashed by punks like the Clash and the Ramones, who, armed with talent and ideas, bypassed the existing machine by simply 'starting up.' Sound familiar?
The punk idea is one of the most fascinating paradigm shifts to ever occur in the business of entertainment. It revealed that ideas were king and that capital and market could follow. And anyone could be a punk. Look at Harvey Weinstein: he forever changed film by playing the game his own way.
Flash forward to the advent of digital tools, and we no longer rely on major corporations and insulated companies to lead our cultural and business agendas. I was in a meeting this week with a legend in the music space and he said he considers 18-year-old kids armed with laptops and ideas to be his biggest competition. A pretty scary thought considering this came from a person sitting in a corner office in Hollywood.
When I started my company Jingle Punks I was jumping into shark-infested waters... but I had a good idea and a different take on the concept of commercial music production and licensing. Sometimes, a quietly unique take is all you need to shake shit up.
Visionary CEOs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg have done the same. I believe these people were true punks. In the past few years the tech and entrepreneur space has become flooded with young people building companies with a DIY ethic that mirrors the path that bands like the Ramones, The New York Dolls, The Stooges, and The Clash pioneered. What do all of these bands and CEOs have in common? They had an idea, and they set to work on it. They started up. This may be a hard pill for the old guard to swallow, but hey -- a change is happening, whether they like it or not.
Recently a mild uproar exploded after an equities research analyst accused Mark Zuckerberg of immature behavior. The crime? Zuckerberg's ubiquitous hoodie. Immaturity? More like genius branding. That first wave of punk shocked a staid mainstream with a signature look. Zuckerberg? He's raging out against a world of colorless suits and ties. Mark is the poster child of a new generation of punk entrepreneurs who "started up" and shocked the shit out of fat useless companies that could never in a million years accomplish what he has done. Let's be frank: he's built one of the most successful companies in history and has been its steward for 6 years... and they are going to question him because of his attire? Again, the young generation coming up is a hard pill for the old guard to swallow. Maybe that's why they waste time on distractions like what a successful CEO is wearing.
I like to learn by looking back and finding parallels between the world of rock n' roll and the world of business, and how they correspond. Rock, like business, used to be for the well fed and well connected. This is no longer the case. Eighteen-year-old kids on laptops are the new pioneers of ideas. In the tech space ideas have since become the new music, and CEOs the new punks.