It’s TunesDay, and today’s story has been a half century in the making. It was 50 years ago this week that The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show and the world changed. For those of you who were watching that night (as I was), you know that’s not hyperbole. It seems kind of quaint now, but here is how that change began:
We’d lost a president a few months before. America was sort of depressed. Four young men from Liverpool brought us out of our funk and showed the world that performers could also write their own material (something not very common in pop music to that point). They were just as impactful off the stage. Their press conferences were filled with laughs but also with pointed jabs at authority, setting the tone for the tumult of the next decade. 50 years ago, the revolution began with pointy boots and a smiling drummer. Which is, of course something we need to remember in business.
Everything began to change that February night and yet very few businesses were prepared. How would you like to have been a barber shop and seen those haircuts (or lack thereof)? The record business was one of singles. Albums were a couple of hit singles and a LOT of filler material. The Beatles made the entirety of an album important. Putting aside that almost every cut became a hit, three years later Sgt. Pepper set a new artistic standard that changed the business. The cultural changes came faster. Everyone knows someone who saw that broadcast and picked up a guitar – you’re reading someone who did so now. Their talent was enormous but subtle and it was easy to think “I can do that.” Sort of how digital business is 50 years later.
As business people our radar needs to be extremely sensitive to change. When that radar goes off we need to ask a great number of “what if” questions and pay attention to how things are progressing. The first PC’s were met with shrugged shoulders. 25 years later the PC in our pocket is more powerful than the computers that took man to the moon. Facebook is 10 years old and there wasn’t a “social media marketing” requirement many businesses are just learning to fulfill now.
I know – the only constant is change. True enough, and it’s rare when that change happens very loudly and clearly on a winter’s night with drums and guitars. It hasn’t been quite as obvious since then and won’t be the next time either. Are you listening closely enough to hear it?