Last night I went to see RAIN, a Beatles tribute band, with my friend and neighbor Jeff. If you haven’t been to one, tribute bands/shows are kind of odd: on the one hand, typically technically/musically perfect (the tribute band can play the entire catalog of the original band flawlessly); and on the other hand, the vibe is strange: it’s a band pretending to be a band, so it doesn’t have any original energy or punch.
As I was watching the show I kept thinking about this. What is the difference between being a Beatle and being a musician that can play the Beatles catalog perfectly, in character?
Perhaps the answer is obvious, but it still got me thinking. I believe the answer is part creativity and part risk. Creativity because, of course, half of being the Beatles is actually inventing the music, not just playing it. Probably more than half the challenge.
And on risk: playing new music, music that has not been played before, or “digested” and understood by the general public, is hugely risky. People won’t “get it” right away, or worse may simply hate it (whether on the merits or just for being new and different).
On a broader level, it got me thinking about the difference between being a leader and a follower. Once the creative work is done, and the opportunity is de-risked, it is relatively easy to look at something and copy the execution. But it takes creativity and balls to do it on your own the first time.
This applies to all things — music, art, writing, a startup, investing, restaurants, etc. I have seen it particularly first hand in the startup and investing world, where a “lead” investor not only has the foresight and conviction to back an early team, but they have the leadership to bring other investors along.
Courage and conviction are contagious.