Lust for Life

A few thoughts and ideas on life, the little guy and getting paid – from Iggy Pop.

Iggy Pop

The radio was tuned to BBC 6 Music a few nights ago and so I was fortunate to hear Iggy Pop deliver the 2014 John Peel lecture, he chose to speak about ‘Free Music in a Capitalist Society’. His talk is an engaging interesting piece of work and it’s available to replay and download here for a short while yet. I also recorded the session on TV and sat down to watch it yesterday. Although Mr Pop (we are not on first name terms yet) was addressing the music/entertainment industry – I got a lot from what he said and wanted to share a few things with you. These aren’t direct quotes as such – I was just enjoying watching the talk and at the same time, trying to pick up a few interesting threads.

On being yourself: If you are who you are, that is really hard to steal, and being you takes you in interesting directions when the road gets blocked, and it will. You are better off with your own identity.

On getting ripped off: I loved my vinyl bootlegs – they did a lot for me. The packaging was often way more creative than the official stuff. Bootlegs moved beyond both the industry and the artist. But now – everyone’s a bootlegger – we are swapping the corporate ripoff for a public ripoff. Devices estrange people from their morals. Thieving is bad, but so many people are broke and abandoned, who am I to say you can’t watch some shitty movie for free after you’ve worked yourself hard all day for almost no money?

On not getting stuck: Diversify – streams dry up. Don’t complain about it, survive it.

On getting paid: So how do you engage society as an artist and get paid? It’s a matter of art, endurance and study. Be curious, find smarter people to learn from. I don’t worry too much about what I get paid for any given thing – I never expected much in the first place.

On the little guy: Youtube, Spotify, they have the numbers. And the indies have the guns.

On giving: Give freely, not in the hope of reciprocal profit, but out of self respect.

On life: Dream – be generous, pursuit is better than arrival. Diversify, stay away from drugs (pause for laughs) and talent judges. Get organised, do better than me. Hang on to hopes, hang on to who you are.

If you can find the time – please check the talk out and let me know what you think, and what you take away from it too.

photo credit

Case Study Porn

Case Study Porn

Business population and their associated employment and turnover

At the start of 2012, there were an estimated 4.8 million UK private sector businesses, employing an estimated 23.9 million people and with an estimated combined annual turnover of £3,100 billion.

Almost all of these businesses (99.2 per cent) were small (0 to 49 employees). Only 30,000 (0.6 per cent) were medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) and 6,000 (0.1 per cent) were large (250 or more employees). These percentages have remained fairly stable since 2000 (the earliest point for which comparable data exists).

There were an estimated 4.8 million UK private sector SMEs at the start of 2012, employing an estimated 14.1 million people, and with an estimated combined annual turnover of £1,500 billion. 

99.2% of all private sector businesses in the UK employ fewer than 50 people.

In his talk at the CIPD HR Dvelopment Conference this week, Andy Lancaster used this fact to help illustrate an all too common dilemma, ‘how do you develop talent in smaller, flatter organisations?’ Based on the numbers in the BIS research – this challenge matters to an awful lot of us. Even if you take the large numbers of micro businesses out of the equation – the SME marketplace is huge.

So why is it that when we go to conferences, the main ‘attractions’ are often mega brands? Come and listen to sexy companies like Google, Mercedes Benz, BBC, Marks and Spencer etc. I should state I’m not against these companies, I use three of the four I just mentioned on a regular basis. I just don’t particularly want to be like them, and I think that there is a danger that these companies are positioned as the way ahead, with little consideration given to the distorting effect of trying to compare a business employing 25,000 people, to one that employs 250.

At the risk of contradicting myself (I’m sometimes wrong, sometimes right, I rarely know which is which and I reserve the right to change my mind), I do think there are possibilities to learn from bigger companies, and based on what I’ve experienced directly this week, and heard from other sources I trust, those possibilities are being hampered. Hampered by the ‘Case Study Porn’ (CSP) effect.

I’m unsure whether the CSP effect starts when Sexy Mega Brand Incorporated puts themselves on a pedestal (or should that be a pole), or when we do. Either way, my Bullshit Detector (copyright Joe Strummer) went off the scale several times in a direct response to Sexy Mega Brand Incorporated this week.

This week I found I learned much more from smaller organisations, and ones that get useful stuff done (or at least try) in a fussless, humble kind of way, than from organisations like the BBC, Google and Chelsea Football Club, all of whom came across to me as a bit guarded, a bit arrogant, and too assumptive.

Maybe it’s just that Sexy Mega Brand Incorporated can afford better fluffers – but I think conference organisers need to think more carefully about their audience and what their needs and wants are, and less about Case Study Porn. How about you? What influences your decision to attend a conference? And what would encourage you to come back again next year?