I was driving around this weekend listening, as I often do, to The Grateful Dead. Like them or not, you probably are aware that they were the world’s preeminent jam band, even if jamming as a concept that is as old as music itself. What’s interesting about jamming is that the music is never the same. Oh sure – ideas get recycled from one night to the next, but the entirety of the piece of always pretty different no matter if we’re listening to The Dead or to some great jazz.
What’s interesting is that some bands will cement the better ideas into songs. That is how some bands write. They just start playing until some good ideas surface. Those ideas are memorialized, lyrics added, and voila – a song. It’s not a bad business concept either.
When musicians get together to jam, they come from a place of openness and collaboration. They are there to experiment. While some jams start with the framework of an existing song or just a blues jam in G, most of the time you’re off following musical ideas thrown out there by the other musicians. You’re guessing about what will work at some points. To do that well, you need to keep an open mind.
Brainstorming is business jamming. You need an open mind and a willingness to go where the music (thinking) leads. Sometimes you happen upon a great riff – a fantastic business thought – that can be preserved and turned into a song – a product, or maybe an entire business. You might think that some brilliant new innovation was the result of careful planning. The execution probably was, but I’m willing to bet that the underlying idea came out of some mental jamming by a person or a group of people.
When I used to play music seriously, jams were fun. They involved getting the right people together – people who have both the technical and mental abilities required as well as whose musical styles meshed well with the others in the room. I can’t think of a better way to lay the foundation of a successful enterprise, can you?