A Song to Share

To the blog universe…

Today I want to share with you my assignment for Leadership in the Creative Economy class that was taught to us by Dr. Miguel Imas, a module that was very different in comparison with all others taught in the MACE program.

This is the first and only creative assignment in the MA in the Creative Economy that is assigned to students. It is the only assignment where the students were given the freedom of assignment format submission. As I graduated with a BA in Sound Engineering and Audio Production, and given that making music is my passion, I have decided to write and record a song for this project that is to reflect the concepts of both a personal and corporate view behind Leadership in the Creative Economy.

“We Will Find Our Way” was recorded in my home studio in Hackney, Northeast London. I have composed, arranged and recorded all of the instruments on the audio track. I have also written the lyrics but asked for assistance with vocals from the rest of my band mates. The rest of the blog is an explanation and an analysis of the song. If you are too impatient to have me explain to you the reasoning behind it you can scroll past it towards the end of the post to have a listen!

Instrumentation and arrangement

I did not want any particular instrument to stand out in having a complex part but I rather worked in attempt to write simple parts that are complimentary and work together to make up the song. The song is led by the vocals, with the rest of instrumentation working in support of it.

I wanted the drum track to sound confident without being self indulgent or overpowering. The confidence is transmitted most legibly in the busiest part of the song, the second and third verse. I decided no plates will be used, no hi-hats, cymbals, crash or ride but rather just an accentuated roll across the toms of the kit.

In the verses it hardly noticeable but there is a second guitar track which is plucking away on the open chord harmonies one octave above the fundamental chord. This is due to the fact that any leader needs to make sure that the team is in harmony in order to get the best out of their potential ability.

The vast majority of the song has a double-layered bass line. The two parts are quite simple yet very complimentary. It is hard to keep the low end of a frequency spectrum busy without making the mix sound “muddy”, however if the bass lines are kept simple, such as in this case, a nice relationship can obtained in the low end.

The guitar has a simple lead part in the beginning of the song and in the choruses. I wanted to give the song a simple melody in those bits but without overdoing it because I didn’t want the guitar to stand out too much.

I have attempted to write an inspirational chorus. The multiple voices signing about finding a way is supposed to provoke a feeling of ability and willingness to attempt it. I think that this is best manifested in the second chorus where it is only vocals and bass going. That is also why the last lyric of the song is about trying to apply the concepts learned in Leadership in the Creative Economy to my own context, it is the culmination of the overall experience.

The last verse is made up of only one vocal track that is because this ending of the song is meant to be a reflection on the Leadership in the Creative Economy module and an analysis of what I intend to implement in the future.

Verse 1

I won’t settle down,

Until I earn my crown,

These lyrics are very direct and self-explanatory. It is a reference to my personal aspirations and motivations concerning future goals. For example, I cannot work in an executive position in any of the “Big Four” record labels without having an MA or experience, which is exactly why I moved to London and enrolled in the MA in the Creative Economy.

 

I’ll watch the giants drown,

But I will find my own way,

 

The second half of this verse is written in reference to the turbulent, transformative times that are facing the music industry.

 

In the early 1990 there were the ‘Big Six’ record labels that dominated the industry. In 1998 Polygram merged into Universal Music Group diluting it down to the Big Five (universalmusic.com). In 2004 the Big Five were cut down to present day Big Four after Sony acquired BMG (CNN.com). Speculations as to whether soon there will only be three major labels remaining are fueled by news such as this: “A few days after last month’s Grammy Awards, Terra Firma, the venture-capital firm that owns EMI, announced that the record giant had lost nearly $2.5 billion last year”(Time).

On the other hand my band has just gotten in touch with My Major Company, an online record label, which uses internet-based, social-network-style crowd funding. “Here’s how it works: MMC posts demos and videos of 10 artists on its website, and users are invited to invest anywhere from £10 to £1,000 ($16 to $1,600) in the ones they most enjoy or think are most likely to score a hit. Once an act reaches £100,000, the financing is locked in, and the money is used to pay for recording and possibly a tour.”(Time)

The big record labels having difficulties in the context of the present market links back to “giants drowning”. Finding my own way is again reflecting the personal solutions that I need to find in order to “earn my own crown”.

Verse 2

The next verse starts with the two following lines:

I’ll teach them with the truth,

A hand is better than a hammer,

I wrote these lyrics in attempt to reference transformational and transactional management styles. Transformational leadership is based upon three following constructs: “Charisma/inspiration, Intellectual stimulation and Individualized consideration” (Saone, 2010). In this verse the “truth” stands for transformational leadership while the hammer represents transactional leadership. A transactional leader is a “person who is interested in looking out for oneself, having exchange benefits with their subordinates and clarify a sense of duty with rewards and punishments to reach goals” (Wikipedia, 2011)

In order to become a successful leader in the Creative Economy, it is essential to have transformational leadership attributes. With intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration one can become a better leader of a team. While in other industries it might be sufficient to have transactional management skills, in its nature the creative industries are dynamic, transformative and deal with cutting edge matters. The Creative Economy needs to produce a nurturing environment for creativity and innovation to blossom, not only focus on transactional elements of management. Hence, “A hand is better than a hammer”.

And we’ve got enough tools,

And we will find our own way.

The first line is a reference to the large repertoire of tools that rise up as a result of fast technological advances and that may be used to find innovative approaches in the Creative Economy.

These two lines are different from the rest of the song. Here it switches from first person singular to first person plural. The motivation behind this is to show individuals agreeing on a certain view and coming together to support this statement or idea, much like many of the motivations behind unions or certain workplaces.

Verse 3

In honest reflection, I had originally thought I had finished the song with the first two verses however once it came time to writing this report I became nervous about not having written enough in direct relation to Leadership in the Creative Economy. In turn I wrote an extra verse and a reflective outroduction verse.

McGregor’s X&Y

Power, Motivation, Drive

These lyrics were included as they were inspired specifically by the Managing & Leading power-point presentation of study space.  I decided to include McGregor’s X & Y theory because it was based on Maslow’s Theory Hierarchy of needs, a theory I am fond of given that I find it relevant and pertinent in almost any context. The X & Y theory was developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s. Theory X states “management assume that the workforce was uncooperative, lacking initiative, unimaginative and irresponsible”(Imas, 2011) while Theory Y is based on “Consultative, seek and value opinion of workers and may accept participative decision-making”(Imas, 2011).

Any leader will hold a view on either side or somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and his or hers actions and management & leadership styles will be based upon this view. A successful leader in the creative economy, a transformational leader, will most likely be much more inclined towards theory Y, viewing his team in a more positive light.

The last two lines of the third verse are

Thoughts, Ideas Traits,

We may strive for

I wrote this open ended verse to give myself more space to describe attributes that I find important and intend to apply to my own personal development in order to become a successful leader in the Creative Economy.

One of these in particular is cognitive ability; a trait in which I find essential for I believe one cannot be a good leader in the creative economy without being a smart, educated individual. Another aspect would be leadership motivation, necessary for a successful proactive approach that sprouts from a desire to lead and assume responsibility. A good leader must be driven and see objectives merely as checkpoints and not destinations. The drive should manifest itself not only in ambition but also in persistence. Conclusively I have not mentioned self-confidence in the lyrics of the song, but it is hard to hold a valid argument against self-confidence playing a pivotal part in being a good leader.

One leadership trait however that was included in our class presentation that I do not agree with is honesty and integrity. I believe that this trait is not essential as many leaders are merely very good actors that put up a certain persona and front that they execute to perfection without that persona ever having to deal with real world moral implications. This is not to say that those good leaders are oblivious to the fact that they are being dishonest. If they are good leaders they are more likely than not to be aware of the internalized mental mechanisms they have given, both conscious and subconscious, that help them disregard honesty and integrity altogether.

The last verse is

Ideas come to me

‘Bout who I want to be

How I want to lead

Think I’ll try now

This last verse is meant to be a projection of a personal reflective nature. After taking this class I can critically analyze the different leadership theories, traits and approaches and create a personal development strategy in order to implement them into my own life.

Chorus

I layered multiple vocal tracks by using various vocalists for this project. The reasoning behind this was to create the concept of people working together for a cause, as must be done within the Creative fields.

There is one dominating singer, a lead vocalist who represents a protagonist showing authority above the rest. The other vocalists make up the team behind this leader. One without the other would cause an incomplete purpose. Together they project a form of harmony, synergy and strength.

The first chorus is written in first person singular:

So I’ll take the lead,

Follow me,

‘Cause something’s got to change

I believe more each day,

I’ve got to find a way,

The second chorus is written in first person plural:

So we’ll take the lead,

Follow us,

‘Cause something’s got to change

We believe more each day,

We’ve got to find a way,

As can be seen, the choruses are slightly different. This is not a coincidence.

The motive behind the different wording in each chorus is to show the transition from having a personal ambition and goal, to combining those ideas with like-minded people and creating a collective drive to achieve success.

The reasoning behind the lyrics is primarily that they are inspirational.

End Note

This is the only assignment in this MA up to date that I truly enjoyed working on. It was a challenge to write a song for a subject matter that is not very dear to my heart but is rather aimed in response to a class taught at my university. In the process of composition I had to critically reflect what leadership theories and traits I want to mention and most importantly which of those do I want to implement in my own leadership style.

We Will Find Our Own Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

On Human Trafficking, and on how I will attempt to help…

It has been just over a week since our last lecture in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship and the last lecture we had was somewhat unusual.

Our guest speaker that day was Jerry Leisure, UK Field Director of Compassion2one.

We were put in a problem-solving situation where we had to come up with possible solutions for the issue of human trafficking specifically for sexual purposes related to the 2012 London Olympics.

I have been somewhat aware of the issues of human into domestic servitude and prostitution but since the subject always gave me the chills I tried to ignore it and not deal with it.  I have also never given thought to the amount of people that are smuggled to certain locations for specific events. Reflecting upon it now in a detached manner is seemingly simple: The demand rises around a time when tourism to the destination peeks as it does with everything else, from the demand for accommodation to all consumables and service provided.

Some numbers about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were just shocking and even more so were the estimations for the upcoming 2012 London Olympics.

During this project I insisted to my group members that we go through a simulation of a first had experience of what a person who is in those circumstances would go through in attempting to seek help in London.

We went down to the local police station in Kingston, which proved to be a very unfulfilling visit. The staff sergeant had never handled a case that had dealt with it. He could not provide any assistance in from of a phone number or a help line. He could also not describe a clear course of action only saying ha this matter would be treated seriously and a report would be filled straight away.

The main unified help center for victims of human trafficking into prostitution is the Poppy Project. However the main mark of just how incapable it is of dealing with the real magnitude of this issue is the fact that it has 54 bed spaces available in safe houses for reported victims. This falls significantly short of the Police’s estimation of an overall of 4000 victims of human trafficking into prostitution. When I called them and stayed on the line for over a minute the person who picked up was not able to answer my questions accordingly and said that I should email someone else and that only in an extreme case of emergency would she get the manager, who was in another department to handle the problem.

In the time our group had time to prepare a little presentation we tackled the assignment quite well. We tried to apply the theories taught to us in class and answer the question provided in the scope of what was expected. Unfortunately I do not think we came up with anything so revolutionary that could sole this major problem.

I really like the fact that Jerry seemed to be content with the change he can realistically make to this issue and not worry himself about problems that were too big and out of his scope.

I have talked to my band embers and we have decided to play a found raising concert a month before the Olympics and donate all the money we raise from it to Compassion2one.

This might not be a great deal to the overall issue but I feel that this is a way that my friends and I play at least a little part in trying to help solve this problem/

 

 

 

 

KPC

KPC advert

The group has decided that the advert should would need to have three main elements.

1 – There should be a protagonist that has a problem

2 – He needs to find out about KPC

3 – His problem should be solved by KPC

1 – Kingston Pub Culture helps bring people together, get them to the right hang out spots and make sure that they have a fun and fulfilling social experience. Our adverts protagonist’s the main characteristic needed to be that he was a loner, or lacking the proper social experience that he other wise could have had he used our services.

After a brief introduction that Steven gets in the ad, he is portrayed as lonely in two different scenes. The first being where he is sat alone on the couch looking side to side without seeing any company and the other is him having a beer alone, once again looking side to side to find lack of company.

Until the words Kingston Pub Culture come on to the screen we only show one character in our ad.

2 – We are promoting our business around Kingston University and the rest of Kingston upon Thames.  Much of that is done through posters and flyers, which is why it was decided that it would be appropriate to include a shot of the protagonist noticing a poster.

The pub reviews, news and updates are available online through the website, it our intention to traffic our current and potential customers towards there and that is reasoning behind including the shot of a computer scree showing the protagonist googling the name of our company.

3 – Choosing a scene for showing the problem resolution was easy. It clearly had to be inside a Pub given the nature of our business and it had to include a group of people, a social experience and a good time. The shot of the group having a cheers with a drink and than Steven being approached by a woman is something desirable and easy to relate to for our potential viewers.

 

In the process of making this ad I ended up with about 9 minutes of footage that had to be cut down to 30 seconds. There were lots of great scenes or ideas that didn’t get used.

For example, in the first element, showing the protagonist’s problem there was a scene of him walking alone in the park dragging a dog collar on the floor behind him (showing his loneliness). Another was Steve playing a PlayStation game, looking sad with a second remote control lying down in an empty chair beside him. A shot of a mobile phone scree saying – You have no contacts, etc.

Despite my best effort to edit it down to 30 seconds sharp the ad ran a bit longer. The actual footage is 30 seconds but due to the writing on the screen for purpose of story telling the overall length extended itself.

I have tried recording a voice over narration however it didn’t work as well. The music chosen for this ad is typical of silent movie comedy, having a voice over it sounded unnatural and took away from the comedic side of the ad.

The music was obtained from a website that allows independent filmmakers to sue royalty free music that has been published don the Internet. The name of the tune is Plucky Daisy, by Kevin Macleod.

But that’s enough of me trying to explain the reasoning behind it or how it was put together, why don’t you watch the ad and decide for your self if you like it or not. You can see it by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

Getting the ball rolling

Dear Blogosphere,

It has been a while since my last entry. I have gotten back from New Zealand two days before the beginning of the second semester and it took me over a week to break the jet lag. There have already been quite a few classes that have taken place and given that we are required to have at least 8 blog post entries in the second semester I feel that it is just about time to get the ball rolling.

First of all I would like to mention the Leadership in the Creative economy class which was taught by Miguel Imas. We have already had all the lectures of the module and now only the assignment is remaining to close that academic chapter. This was the most abstract class in our Masters degree program. This was the module I most enjoyed up to date. It was the most engaging module in that you couldn’t simply sit and take notes you had to constantly participate actively, you had to think, conceptualize, and tie in different ideas and concepts together to make sense of it. I enjoyed the topic that was taught to us as well as Dr. Imas’ way of teaching. The assignment that is given to us is very open ended as well and leaves a lot of space for creativity that needs to be tied in and justified with the selected topic, nonetheless, is nice to receive this sort of liberty this far into a postgraduate course. At the end of the day this was the only creative assignment of the creative economy masters degree.

About our group’s business project – Kingston Pub Culture (KPC)

After coming back from the break my good feeling about working with Bronwyn and Sarah was once again reaffirmed. They are great group mates, their good work ethic, attitude and commitment have been virtual in pushing the idea and the business itself forward. We have met up to review several pubs on various occasions and there is more of that to come. We are in the process of organizing reviews, as well as working on other facets of the business, such as rewarding the winners of our raffle, compiling and running the mailing list and organizing the pub crawl.

At the trade fair our group was recognized with a mention for having the best sales team. It was so nice to receive a mention at the end of the fair because I felt that there were lots of other good ideas and sales pitches and salesmen that day and this came as a re-affirmation that we must be doing something right. A feeling of that sort is highly motivational and is all ways welcome. Overall the trade fair was a positive even for our business but I still feel that it felt a bit like a middle school bake sale and not something that is truly operational at a post graduate level. We have met many interested individuals, buffered up our mailing list and got people to enter into our raffle but an after hours session in the school cafeteria felt not quite as serious as I had expected and had a lot less traffic of potential customers than I thought it would

On a separate note, we have received money from Bright Ideas in form of a runner up prize which was equivalent to 250pounds. We were the only group from Kingston University to have been acknowledged by Bright Ideas this year.

To be harsh on to ourselves – We provide a service, not a tangible product. At the time of this award we did not have the service ready and were in the midst of finalizing the website. Our service is closely related to spending money in pubs and is also closely related to alcohol consumption. So in order for us to receive this reward those in charge of reviewing this idea must have seen some sort of potential so sort of good aspects in our ideas in order to reward us which was very re-assuring for all group members. I was proud that our group was selected for this award.

I am writing this post from Madrid, where I am currently finalizing Managing People and Organizations assignment and meeting with an architect to discuss a potential design for a part of my dissertation. After class on the 4th of this month I will by flying to Canada to perform at the Canada Music Fest with my band, Alex the Great. Here is a link to  video of one of our songs from Monday’s set at the Enterprise in Camden, hope you enjoy.   http://vimeo.com/20518978

First post of 2011

Happy new year dear MACE students, Corrine, and anyone else who has landed onto the page of this blog from the seemingly endless universe of the Internet.
 
I have not been connected to technology and the web in the same manner as I would have during most of the year. On the 14th of December I have ventured to New Zealand to meet my partner, her family, and to travel across the two islands of this wonder nation. Most of my time has been spent across camp grounds, beaches and forests. Amongst other my adventures have taken me to a 100 + meter sand dune where I tried sandboarding, a huge bungee jump and body surfing at a beach with pink sand. I am looking forward to meeting you all at the end of this month to hear about your holidays and tell you all about my adventures, but for now I actually would like to talk about a book that has surprised me and the content of which I would like to share with you. I am a little over half way through it and so far I haven’t found a chapter that hadn’t surprised me.
 
This book is called ‘Sway – The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour”. The topic in itself is very interesting. We seem to be convinced that we know what we are doing, that we make our choices based on either determined rationale or emotions while staying in charge of our decision making process. Cutting edge  new products, innovative marketing schemes and so much more is involved around the notion that we know what guides our behaviour, the behaviour of the consumers. This book talks about some of the more interesting/ less rational ways we come to make decisions by.
 
I am a big fan of Malcom Gladwell. I have acquired and read all his books and try to keep up with his articles in The New Yorker. One of the most pleasant surprises about this book, to me, was that it felt as if he was the author. Had I not known who has written this book I would have been sure it was him. The tone is the same, the constant revealing of new seemingly simple ideas while jumping back and fourth between examples to provide metaphors for the reader is present through out, and what is most interesting the author makes you feel like the genius, when it is really him who is teaching you as you read.
 
The first chapter puts in perspective how Captain Jacob Van Zanten, a veteran pilot and head of the KLM safety program crashed his airplane in Las Palmas. Through out this chapter various studies of how human beings face loss aversion are presented. Relating AOL unlimited Internet plans, the price of eggs rising and consumers cutting back consumption two and a half times, and stock traders chasing a loss as they refuse to sell their devalued stock helps the reader understand why an iconic Dutch pilot would ignore protocol and cause 584 death and cause the biggest and perhaps the most unnecessary airplane collision in history. And from the collective examples re examine how human behaviour is swayed by irrational forces that are not often discussed.  
 
The second chapter had brought up a story of how Harvard Business School professor Max Bazerman auctioned a 20 dollar bill to the students in his negotiations class.
 
On the first day of class the students were told the following: ‘everybody is free to bid; there are only two rules. the first that is that the bids are to be made in 1$ increments. The second rule is a little trickier. The winner of the auction, of course, wins the bill. But the runner-up must still honor his or her bid, while receiving nothing in return. In other words, this is a situation where second best finishes last.’
 
First the bids come in fast, but eventually it comes down to the last two bidders, as either one is reluctant to loose. Through using the persuasive pull of commitment and aversion loss the professor has once managed to earn 204 dollars as the bidders dragged it out for a long while.
 
I do not want to ruin the book for you in hopes that in case you haven’t read it you now will. It is filled with informative yet fun stories based on true cases and studies. It even explains how value attribution was behind several teams passing on picking Michal Jordan in the NBA draft!
 
This upcoming week I plan to do some white-water rafting, repelling into underground cave tunnels to explore them and see the glow warms that hang of the ceiling, build a natural jacuzzi at a natural reserve with volcanic activity called Hot Water beach and at the end of the week go to NZ biggest musical festival, the big day out! (Cant wait to see Tool, Deftones and Iggy
 
I am supposed to fly over to Australia for a week after that, however one of the states, Queensland, has experienced severe floods. An area the size of Germany and France combined is now underwater. Many towns I had visited spent time in last year and made friends have been almost entirely wiped out. The death toll is rising and many people are left without a home. I am considering that perhaps it would be a very good thing to fly into Sydney and drive North to volunteer with the reconstruction effort for a couple of days.
 
I hope to have a post with some updates on the book adn my travells for you before the end of the month.
 
For now I leave you a picture of Tennille and I at the north most point of New Zealand, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific Ocean.
 
 

Kingston Pub Culture

This week in preparation for the Dragons Den we have finished the business plan for our entrepreneurial business. Kingston Pub Culture, its outline, and a visual representation of the cash flow can now be seen Mrs. Wray’s blog.

I would like to take a chance to credit Jorge Peral Pereira for his help in creating the logo designs and helping us visualize the cash flow in an original way.

This afternoon we get to pitch the idea in front of the dragons. I hope the work we have done is so far will impress the audience and will be sufficient to get the approval of the dragons. I cant lie, I am very nervous…

Working on developing the business idea

Our business group has been gathering all of the elements together that we need in order to make our business as innovative and profitable as possible.

Last week we were supposed to post a drawing of cash flow for our business. I have not posted it yet because that is still an area that we are trying to work on. While all of our group embers agree that the business concept we have selected is a good one, the profitability of the business will be hard to maximize.

This became even more apparent after last weeks lecture when we had a guess speaker, Rob Fitzpatrick. He was an obviously bright individual who was up to date on the entrepreneurial matters specially those relating to computer technology and the Internet.

During this lecture I asked him about making money through advertising on the website of the business idea my team and I have decided to pursue. He had shot the idea of profitability down, saying that our intended market (students of Kingston university) will not be targeted by high paying advertisers. Furthermore our service is for students with reduced financial capabilities (typical out of cash students) which is far from what the advertisers are after.

Even though coming into the class last week my team and I had though of advertising as our main source of income and we found out that our idea would not work out quite as we planned, we got some positive feedback and new ideas of where to head with our business. A good advice that Rob gave us was to use a drawing of the ecosystem in which we operate. In this way we can draw out each separate institutions that compose our business environment, and we can see how each can individually contribute to making our idea more profitable.

For example  – Kingston Pub Culture, which is the name of our business, will charge individual pubs to featured as “the week’s hot spot” and be put on the home page of the website for the duration.  This idea for increasing profitability arose as through the analysis of the ecosystem.

Furthermore we have decided to attempt to increase either products or services offered through our business in order to give ourselves more opportunities in having a larger income. We are currently finalizing all of the work in order to have a good presentation ready for the Dragon’s Den which is coming up next week. By that date I will also post up a final version of our cash flow chart, once we have finalized and wrapped the idea of our business.

Previous Older Entries