Let’s start with a simple premise. In an day when we can all create, publish and distribute content the best ideas are those that inspire creation, publishing and distribution. Uniqlo got us to tweet about its products. Nike gave us a digital megaphone to rally cancer victims. Old Spice made us part of a real time campaign. Intel and Google let us customize digital content and attach our name to it.
But Beck’s new initiative — releasing not a new album but simply the sheet music for 20 new songs — may be the most interesting approach yet. The first time we hear the music is when we play it ourselves. Or listen to a friend’s interpretation. Or click on one of what are sure to be hundreds of YouTube videos created by Beck fans and wannabe’s. Or hear the featured interpretation’s on the website of McSweeney’s, the innovative publisher (founded by Dave Eggers, another brilliant pioneer of cool stuff like 826 Valencia and spinoffs) that will co-produce the Beck Hansen Song Reader, due out in December 2012.
Beck has essentially composed the music, the marketing campaign and the viral trigger with a few pieces of paper and a totally original creative idea. I suppose you could argue that none of this is new. Before vinyl and radio all music was released this way. But it’s a different idea entirely in the new hyper connected digital age.
Just today I was invited to speak at BMA of NYC in September at their event Transformations: Now and Next. The session contrasts the opinion of the data geeks, who argue that social, mobile and big data will reduce the importance of creativity, with the creative community, which claims all the new technologies are leading to a creative renaissance and entirely new ways of telling stories.
Sadly, I have a conflict. But I know my answer to the question “Creativity: Renaissance or Retreat?” It’s the same as Beck’s and Dave Eggers. The real future of creativity may not be who tells the story, or even the stories themselves. Instead it just might be the novel processes and experiences we invent to inspire the creation and telling of those stories.
For more on Beck’s new project, check out this great post from Ideasicle founder and Forbes blogger Will Burns.