Difference dictates – the importance of being original

Since setting up The Original Ukulele Songs platform and running the OUS stage at GNUF 2017, I have talked a lot about “differentiation” This has (and I’m putting it mildly) provoked a great deal of discussion, some miscommunications and even some online tantrums. I have had folks shout “You are being negative”, totally missing the point of the importance of provoking discussion. I have always consistently maintained that whether you are writing a song, running an event or creating any piece of work, consider making something new as opposed to just copying what has gone before. In all marketing “difference dictates” and I speak from 25 years in business having personally learned this truth on some occasions the hard way. If you don’t stand out, you are in danger of blending in with everyone and everything else.

In 1980s I ran a number of reasonably substantial events and in 1990s set up and ran some substantial business concerns, some at a multi million pound level. In all these instances I learned some tough business lessons and some even tougher marketing lessons. I have also been fortunate enough to know a number of professional musicians who decades on still play at an international level. All these artists have had a very strong work ethic and crucially have created and maintained a unique identity. This differentiation has meant that they are globally recognizable and their work has stood the test of time. Its of course the same for all successful businesses and in my day job I am fortunate to meet with people from literally all over the globe that reconfirms this view. Striving to create something new means taking a risk rather than playing it safe. I always make a note of anything that gets my attention whether its a song, advert or live performance. I may not even like it, but at least it got my attention and that’s usually through differentiation.

A lack of differentiation means you are in danger of being lost in the crowd and although it can be seen as a safe option its often not going to result in long term success. In the music business, I’m acutely aware that I have a definite personal taste but appreciate that there is scope for all kinds of entertainment. I massively respect those artists and promoters who encourage new talent, rather than recycle the same artists, songs and event formats. We may agree to disagree on what constitutes “great entertainment” but all my experience suggests that the work that stands the test of time, does something new to stand out from the crowd. Adopting a position of differentiation also means inevitably being a target for all kinds of personal attacks, some quite hilarious

I’ve also learned the value of working with folks who have shared values. Since setting up OUS I have met some extraordinary artists who have become good friends. At the heart of OUS is a spirit of collaboration and selflessness. There’s no place for divas or folks with poor manners and that is IMO 100% a great strength. There are some great plans ahead and I think people will be surprised at the scale of the project. In the UK there will be an OUS stage at GNUF 2018, even more extraordinary than 2017.

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