The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

24 Nov
November 24, 2010

The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

These are Chris Martin’s notes to himself and his bandmates, one of many such items posted on the walls, a whiteboard and even Martin’s studio piano (he scribbles on it in green marker).

More precisely, these are reminders of key principles which have helped Coldplay become astoundingly successful- a “secret formula” if you will, of philosophical beliefs and strategic tactics that the band employs consistently, covering everything from song construction; to photo / video guidelines; to marketing and public relations positioning; and general business.
In the interview, news journalist, Steve Kroft, framed Martin’s practice as somehow aberrant, stating: “He is a compulsive worrier and list-maker. He sends himself electronic messages, and scrawls notes on scraps of paper, on his hands, and anything else that’s available, lest he forget some brilliant idea. Like many artists, he is openly, gloriously neurotic.”“Neurotic?”I call it pure business acumen- (beautifully) equal parts creative and analytical.

How many new ideas or profound realizations arrive for many of us at unexpected moments? Insights that you just can’t afford to forget? What do you do? Grab a pencil and jot ‘em down, of course! Most designers I know keep idea/sketch books handy and I’ve got plenty of notebooks and post-it notes full of marketing, design, business and leadership lessons that I’ve either come to realize myself, or have picked up from others much wiser than me.

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth”…

“Always have a point of view”…
“Make an emotional connection”…
“Don’t be afraid that a concept will go over your customers heads. If you assume they’re dumb, they may be smarter than you”…
“Safe is risky”…
“Advertising can’t create product advantages, only convey them”…

And so on.I keep them where I can always be consciously reminded of their powerful truths. If you happen to be the kind of person who instinctively organizes your standards and observations into digital files- congratulations! If you prefer a bulletin board, whiteboard or post-it’s, I can relate. If you use a green sharpie on your white grand piano, then ummm… well, o.k…. maybe Martin is a little bit more obsessive than most.But, based upon what I can clearly see in Chris’ notes, he is a man that is more calculating than confused; more cognitive than compulsive; more analytical than anxious. I see someone who is introspective and intelligent, and not inappropriately impulsive. Creatives, take note.

The “Mysteries” of Coldplay, revealed:

1. Albums must be no longer than 42 minutes, or 9 tracks.

2. Production must be amazing, rich, but with space, not overlayered, less tracks, more quality, groove and swing. Drums/rhythm are the most crucial thing to    concentrate on; difference between “Bittersweet” and “Science of silence.” (A reference to The Verve and Richard Ashcroft solo)

3. Computers are instruments, not recording aids.
4. Imagery must be classic, colourful and different. Come back in glorious technicolor.
5. Make sure videos and pictures are great before setting release date. And highly original.
6. Always keep mystery. Not many interviews.
7. Groove and swing. Rhythms and sounds must always sound as original as possible. Once Jon has melody, twist it and weird it.
8. Promo/review copies to be on vinyl. Stops copying problem, sounds and looks better.
9. Jacqueline Sabriado, ns p c c, face forward/review. (Not sure what this references)
10. Think about what to do with charity account. Set up something small, enabling and constructive. Ref J. Oliver Fifteen (a reference to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant in London)
The Creative Process of Coldplay: Take Notes

One Track Mind

24 Nov
November 24, 2010

This is the closing sequence of One Track Mind, a surf film by surfer, creative, environmentalist and Patagonia ambassador, Chris Malloy. If you know me, you know that surfing is one of my greatest passions. And if you’re passionate about surfing, you won’t need to ask what makes Chris Malloy, or this clip, so brilliant.

Dave Grohl “Band on the Run”

23 Nov
November 23, 2010

Last night I was channel-surfing and came across a teriffic PBS special- a White House tribute to Sir Paul McCartney (actually a repeat from earlier this summer). President Obama was presenting the former Beatle with the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The event was quite formal, with a restrained air of dignity and sophistication and a few sublime performances from such entertainers as Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris, who all sang covers of various Beatles / McCartney songs. One really special performance was “Band on the Run” by Dave Grohl, former drummer for Nirvana and current guitarist and frontman for the Foo Fighters. What I loved so much about it was that, well– he rocked his arse off, just like he always does! Never mind that President Obama was a few feet away, along with a stiff mix of seniors, suits and politicians that had likely paid thousands of dollars for tickets. Grohl blew the doors off the song like he was playing Lollapalloza, or an LA bar or something. Killer riffs. Hair flying. Ears ringing. It was great, and you could tell that McCartney and everyone else really dug it. I know I did. It was also a great reminder of what a versatile performer Grohl is and what a really talented songwriter McCartney is. Here’s the vid. Enjoy!

Keeping the Challenges of Business in Perspective

22 Nov
November 22, 2010

Keeping the Challenges of Business in Perspective

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the memorial of friend and business associate, Stephen George William Parker. Stephen lost a year-long battle with cancer last Sunday. He was only 46. A large group of family and friends gathered to celebrate his life under an ocean pavilion at the St. Augustine Pier. When my day comes, I’d like to be remembered exactly as Stephen was– with warm ocean breezes, good food, cold beverages and a live band, along with a low-key slideshow and a few heartfelt remembrances from family and friends.

For those that didn’t know Steve, he was a kind and generous guy– always quick with a smile and a wry remark, often laced with a little self-depreciating humor. He loved traveling, music, the ocean and his family- including his wife, Cindy; their two daughters; and his three brothers, with whom he was very close.

Like many of us here in North Florida, Stephen was a survivor of the real estate market meltdown. He was Vice President of Parker Associates, a real estate development / and marketing consultation firm where he shared duties with his father David, and older brother, Chris. From Florida, to Costa Rica, to Russia, if you wanted to know what to build upon a certain piece of property; how to position it; price it; and market it; then these guys could tell you. Their endurance through the market turmoil is a testament to their expertise and professionalism. With markets still trying to find their way forward and property changing hands, their insights today are more valuable than ever.

As many from Jacksonville (we, who lived “inside” of one of the nation’s largest real estate bubbles), will tell you, the battle back has been long and arduous. And while Steve and his family have overcome incredible challenges that saw so many other real-estate related companies fail over these past 2.5 years, the merciless serial killer that is cancer came along and buggered up the victory celebration for all of us.

Or perhaps I should say, “almost all of us”. Not for Stephen, himself.

You see, what those closest to Stephen reassured us was that he passed away with absolutely no regrets. He never waited for life to “happen” to him, but always “attacked” it with gusto. If there was a place he wanted to visit, but he didn’t have the funds, he’d find a way to get them. When there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for the business at hand, he’d still find a way to get the job done and do so without sacrificing time for his family, friends or even just acquaintances, who he always made feel important. To me, achieving this kind of balance is what defines a “successful” life.

Today more than ever, it is easy to lose sight of the immeasurable value that each day holds and the pricelessness of the people we spend those days with. Our family. Our friends. Our co-workers. Yes, we face a challenging economy and uncertain times. Yes, technological evolution has enabled, and as a result, required us to fit more tasks into fewer hours, often for less money, raising the bars for efficiency and production to ever higher levels.

But at the end of each day, or more appropriately, at the beginning– we owe it to ourselves to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter in this life. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. So, if you wish to live a life with no regrets, the kind of life that Stephen George William Parker lived, then don’t wait on it to come to you. Go out and grab it. At home. At work. On the beach. And remember to always do it without losing sight of the important people around you. You never know when they’ll be gone. Steve, we will miss you.

 

 

 

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

22 Nov
November 22, 2010

“Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” - James Dean

Welcome to my new personal blog. It’s actually one of two I write and am attempting to maintain. The other is “Make Belief”. It’s the official blog of Renaissance Creative. Renaissance is an integrated marketing, brand development and public relations firm I founded 15-years ago and serve as President and Co-Creative Director for today.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of help on the RC blog from Ben LaMothe, Online Marketing and Social Media Strategist at RC. Since Ben is holding things down over at Make Belief, I figured I’d go ahead do something I’ve been desiring to do for quite a while, which is to start a separate blog that would allow me to write about more personal interests. While some of the posts I write at RC are representative of my personal interests and may be cross-posted here occasionally, for the most part I try to keep those relevant to businesses, brands and industry peers who (I assume), are primarily interested in things like marketing, design, branding & advertising strategies, consumer trends, social media, etc.

I love what I do for a living, but more than that, I just love living– which also includes surfing, music, art, family, friends, God, politics and traveling, among other things. So, hopefully you’ll find this blog interesting as well. I’m curious to see what shape it takes myself- where the content goes, to see if my personal “voice” is different from my “professional” one. I may begin by reposting a couple of my favorite past entries from the Make Belief blog- the ones that have held more significant meaning to me and not the “10 Best Free or Low Cost Online Marketing Strategies” kind (although lots of people actually wrote to say “Thanks” for writing that one! ; )).

But honestly, those “How to” pieces suck the life out of me. The internet is rife with similar information and at the very least, life’s too short to spend much time churning out more of the same after 6pm.

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