Scritti Politti, in their early days, used to get people shouting “Make one up!” at our gigs around London. We had this policy where we’d start with a song everyone knew then make one up. Then play another song they knew, then make another one up. We must have been mad!
We took it in turns, starting a song off then the other two of us had to find a way to join in. A fast guitar riff from Green, a languid reggae bass line from Niall or a Captain Beefheart beat from me. We had no idea what was coming next.
Risky. But good. It demonstrated our commitment to the DIY ethic that was around in the late 1970s. We had this uncanny ability to ‘listen’ for the ending and stop at the same time which caused much surprised laughter between us. Some improvised songs were chaotic and some were magnificent but all were applauded equally. I realise now we weren’t being judged on musical merit, it was more about courage and rebel style.
How do you keep that up as you get older, move out of your squat and get yourself a mortgage?
It’s easy enough to be a rebel, but it’s not so easy to get paid for it. Businesses want measurable results because by law they’re required to provide the highest profits they can to their shareholders. It’s created a risk-averse culture, even in the arts.
However, most companies are required to at least make a show of being interested in research and development. This means instigating, and paying for, creative input from outside consultants. All you have to do is set yourself up as an innovation guru who can help them spend their R&D budget on having some new, bright and shiny ideas. Ninenty nine percent of these ideas will never be put into production. Your role will be to provide photographic, film and Powerpoint evidence that they had a jolly go at it before deciding to revisit these innovations next year.
How do I know this? I’ve been on many such brainstorming teams. I’m valuable because I can both invent and draw things up at the same time. It’s like designing the Emperor’s New Clothes for a few days at some swanky hotel or country retreat, with a generous bar tab and no one letting on.
Another way of getting paid as a rebel is to do some REAL work like Steve Jobs, Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson. I’ve written a book about it, ‘Rebel Hearts Get Ahead’.
Only Joking. I got as far as designing the cover and sketching out the Keynote Speech and thought, “There’s no point now. I could interview 20 rebels but we all know what they’d say”.
My current policy is to reject all niches, give up on SEO, go out without business cards and spend ‘too much’ time on my Facebook timeline while completely ignoring Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In.
I need about 6 good clients a year and I’m getting them.
You wouldn’t believe it.
More about that in the next issue!
Serenading serendipity whilst lubricating the groove, Tom Morley is a spiritual activist. He creates on the spot bands, choirs and drum troupes to promote good causes from Peace to Equality to Climate Justice. http://www.instantteamwork.com The Marxist version of Scritti Politti is his claim to fame. Tom was the original drummer and founder member back in the late 70s. Following a standard music biz breakdown in the 90s Tom got out of the game for a decade, only returning to music when his wife gave him 100 African drums as a 50th birthday present. He has since toured the world energising companies and communities with his Teambuilding Facilitation and Keynote Speaking work. http://www.tommorley.com