Cover Bands

Wide World of Sports (U.S. TV series)

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I suspect any of us who ever tried to play rock music for a living were, at some point, in a cover band.  Heck, a couple of my favorite bands – The Grateful Dead and The E Street Band – are just as well-known for some kick-ass cover versions of other people’s songs as they are for some of their original work.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a cover.  You probably didn’t know it was a business thought too!

There is a huge difference between doing a cover version and claiming that it’s original work.  Yes, every great band adds their own sound but the underlying work was done by someone else – the original artist.  Which leads to today’s business thought which is, as my lawyer calls it , the great American pastime of taking credit for someone else’s work.   What brings this to mind is something sort of related – the airing by ESPN of a lot of ABC’s Wide World Of Sports shows (which you should  absolutely not miss).  Obviously ESPN “owns” ABC Sports now so it’s not really a cover version nor are they taking credit for someone else’s work as they acknowledge the debt they and everyone in the televised sports business has to Wide World.  But the association of the ESPN name with Wide World got me thinking.

I can cite you a few recent articles where people took credit for innovations when, in fact, they were late to the dance or had just iced the cake others had baked.  I don’t care to defend a libel suit so I’ll skip the particulars and just stimulate your thinking.  I’m sure you know of examples of this so you can fill in your own blank.

The reality is that we accomplish very few things in business – or in life – totally on our own.  Some of the best thinking is really just our own cover versions of someone else’s original idea. I’m fine with that unless there is no acknowledgement of the original work.  Then the brilliance of the cover gets lost in the stench of the stealing.

Any thoughts?  Even if they’re not your own?

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