Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Clash and the art of listening to your audience

I am a huge fan of The Clash. They just had it--a swagger, a conviction, and a unique style that earned them the right to be called "the only band that matters." A book I'm reading right now includes a quote from Creem writer Bob Gruen that helps explain why they were so great:

The band would stay up every night and talk to anyone who wanted to talk. They weren't just out to meet cute girls. They were available to all their fans. It was the roadies' job to get their fans into the dressing room and the hotel, which was the opposite to other bands. They wanted to know what their fans were thinking. That helped inspire them.*
So what does this mean for you? No matter who your audience is, you have to do more than just listen--you have to create an environment that encourages honest feedback. And it can't just be because you want to sell something. It should be because you genuinely want to improve. The minute you stop listening is the minute you risk inauthenticity. And if you're not going to be authentic, what's the point?

*From Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash by Pat Gilbert

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