What It Takes

What It Takes

Words of Wisdom

By Callie Oettinger | Published: March 11, 2011

Summer 2002, I caught one stop on the Aerosmith, Run-DMC and Kid Rock tour.

It was awesome.

These three different generations of artists, with distinct sounds, were all doing their own thing, yet they figured out how to work together, to keep everything moovin’ and groovin’ with rhythm and ease—void of jarring awkward transitions.

And as individuals off the stage, they’d grown—and their art had grown with them. They were all relevant. Even Kid Rock, the youngest of the group, was already mixing things up, diving into the country and sometimes pop world, rather than allowing himself to be pegged within one genre.

I have two young kids, so Kid’s music doesn’t get played in our house that often (I’m not ready to listen to my 3- and my 7-year old sing about chilling “like Flint” and finding “a spot to pimp”), but since that concert, I’ve watched his career with fascination.

Last week, he popped up again. It went something like this:

March 2, 2011

Read MacWorld article: “Random House e-book change may pave way to iBookstore.”

3:43 PM

E-mailed Steve, asking what this means for his books (his novels are under Random House).

March 3, 2011

7:27 AM

Seth Godin’s daily post hit my inbox.

Arrived with this message:

“The thing that makes it popular…might be precisely the thing that keeps it from working. . . . There are a hundred ways you and your organization can become more popular, earn more clicks, generate more comments . . . but is popular what you’re after?”

9 AMish

Opened up iTunes, to listen to music while working.

Started jonesing for Kid Rock’s “Picture” duet with Sheryl Crow.

Visited iTunes store. One Kid Rock album (which I already own). Nothing else.

Wondered why Kid Rock isn’t on iTunes.

Googled “Picture.” Found video on CMT. Listened to song while opening new Google page and searched “Kid Rock on iTunes.”

Found an article over at MTV: “Kid Rock credits Being ‘Real’ and Ignoring iTunes with Success of ‘All Summer Long.’

Read article. Tried to turn this graph into a 140-character tweet, with a URL included:

“This whole thing wasn’t some attempt to change the way the industry works or some sh– like that. It was basically me knowing I had a good song, one that people would love when they heard it,” he explained. “I mean, people say iTunes is popular because it’s convenient, but so is McDonald’s — that don’t mean people aren’t still making reservations to go eat at fancy restaurants too.”

Tweeted this instead:

2008 article on why Kid Rock’s albums aren’t on iTunes — still rocks today: http://tinyurl.com/6g6ado9

11:21 AM

Steve e-mailed his editor:

“Will we be on iTunes now?”

11:39 AM

PW Daily’s e-mail showed up.

Second item under “Latest News” list:

Apple Unveils the iPad 2; Random House Comes to iBookstore.

12:10 PM

Steve’s editor replied:

“Yes, indeed.”

12:30 PMish

Thought about Seth’s post about being popular and about Kid Rock’s line about convenience. Had stressed about Steve’s books not being available via iTunes. Was concerned that it wasn’t convenient for readers to buy his e-books on non-Kindle devices. Wondered what is better? Was I stressing over nothing? Would readers find a way no matter what? Would they make reservations at a fancy restaurant?

3:53 PM

Received Shawn Coyne’s “Third Party Validation” post for Friday.

Liked this line:

“The lust for third party validation destroys more art, beauty, and truth every day, hour, minute, and second than any of us can even imagine.”

8 PMish

Collected magazines for Friday recycling. Sat down and read Bob Geldof article in Feb 2011 SXSW World before tossing it.

Ripped out article and circled these graphs:

“As Geldof has gotten older, he has grown more comfortable in his skin as a performer. There are no longer the same hang-ups that were omnipresent when he and the Rats were taking on the world:

“‘The Rats were a big band, but it was always ‘Are we selling more tickets than The Clash?’ or ‘Are our tickets more expensive than the Jam?’ or ‘Are we selling more records than Talking Heads or The Ramones?’ You were never allowed to disappear into the music. That became too much and by the third album, it was clear that I was getting pissed off with all that stuff.'”

Reminded me of that third-party validation thing.

Late March 3 to March 10

Was still sending out galleys for The Profession.

Publisher asked me to send a list.

Was going to send a list, but didn’t have time to pull a list just for the publisher—because there wasn’t a list.

Was contacting people I’ve worked with in the past, one-by-one. Do you want one? Yes? I’ll send it. No? Thanks for considering.

First time I’ve done this for books. When I repped the docs Darius Goes West and For Once in My Life we did this—asked before sending screeners—but for books, it has always been the mass mailing.

Publisher asked about PR, too. Wanted to know what type of press is coming in.

I don’t know.

Other than the people I’ve asked about book talks/signings, I’m not asking anyone to do anything other than share.

I’m only asking if they’d like an advance copy.

If they do, I’ll send it, and then the ball’s in their park. If they want to share it and ask how they can help, then I’ll thank them and brainstorm, but I won’t ask them to do anything more than share. How and whether they share is up to them.

Back to Aerosmith, Run-DMC, Kid Rock, Seth Godin, Shawn Coyne and Bob Geldof.

I’m not saying Steve, Shawn, Jeff (our amazing site designer and tech savior) and I are Aerosmith, Run-DMC and Kid Rock, but we do rep different generations, approaches, and levels of experience—and we’re having a blast jamming together, riffing off each other. And when things aren’t working, we find common ground and figure them out. Most important: We listen to each other.

Like Bob Geldof, we acknowledge all the numbers crap, but we want to get lost in the art and not let the numbers piss us off. We want to figure out both—which means doing it on our terms, without the third-party validation Shawn mentioned gauging what we’re accomplishing.

And like Seth Godin, we’re working on doing what feels right to us, instead of what’s always been popular. That’s a tough one. Everyone wants to be liked, right? And it is so easy to want to do what has already been done in the past. And we fall into those traps, too. Do we do what someone wants, in order to remain popular with them? Even if it means doing something that doesn’t feel right?

No.

And for everyone else?

In the words of Kid Rock:

“My only words of wisdom are just, Radio Edit.”

Posted in What It Takes

14 Responses to “Words of Wisdom”

  1. March 11, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Callie,

    Fantastic stuff. It’s great how everyone on your team is putting Steven’s readers first. When you come across something that sparks or nudges, you’re all asking if it can help get the art to the right people (not all the people).

    If yes, great. If not, next.

    Can’t wait to see what’s next.

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Thanks, Jeremy! I can’t wait to see what comes next, too! Always a surprise…

  2. Paul C
    March 11, 2011 at 7:09 am

    If Steven can make a trip to Michigan for a book tour, maybe he and Kid Rock can play some golf. Kid Rock played with John Daly a couple of years ago in the Buick Open. Their scorecard was also a numbers crap. The irony was the gallery believing Tiger Woods was the conservative one of the three…

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

      Thanks for leaving this comment! Would be something to see Steve play with Kid Rock. After reading the Feb 21 Sports Illustrated article “No Joke“, about Bill Murray teaming with D.A. Points to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to see what would happen if Steve and Bill played together. Adding Kid Rock as a third would make things even more interesting!

  3. March 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Couldn’t agree with Jeremy’s comment more. I love the way your team is approaching this endeavor, Callie. From the entire series of blog posts over the past months to all of your other efforts, it’s great to see how you all are taking the best parts of the “traditional” way of doing things and combining them with new ideas and strategies.

    Really look forward to the success of “The Profession,” especially after all of the effort your team is putting into this. Keep up the good work!

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Summer of 2002 I saw a stop on the Sammy Hagar / David Lee Roth tour, too. One performance was definitely better than the other. It was awkward. I remember cheering on both – and thinking that one did a better job of meshing what worked in the past with what works now. Not saying anyone should lose themselves, but if you are bringing 80s to the table 20-some years after it made an appearance, at least do it like Jon Bon Jovi, with an updated haircut.

  4. Wiz
    March 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Love the way you end the post!
    Sincerely,
    “American Bad Ass”

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Thanks, Wiz. Like the way you ended your comment!

  5. Tricia
    March 11, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Callie,

    I like your reference to Bob Geldoff to extend the notion of 3rd party validation somewhat, to show that it can operate at all stages of one’s career. And as we all know, many so-called successful people suffer deeply from a continuing syndrome of 2nd and 3rd party validation. But perhaps the gift of that is that it creates the possibility of confronting the truth of ‘what really matters’.

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Thanks, Tricia. It’s a great article. Should have included the link. Title and link: Bob Geldof to Keynote SXSW Music 2011. His face had been staring up from the cover, sitting on my coffee table for about a month. Ended up reading it when I needed it most. That second/third party validation is a crazy thing. What feels good and what is good? Constant struggle!

  6. March 12, 2011 at 4:51 am

    screw 3rd party validation. the boss writes his art, and praps a few dozen of us will get it, get inspired by it, and change.the.damn.world. How many is enough? Ask Leonidas.
    Ask Alcibiades.
    Ask Salter.

    Your dozens, or hundreds, or whatever, will faithfully press dog-eared,well worn, underlined copies into the hands of their tribe.

    Thats enough.

    I know this, because Tyler knows this.

    Rock.on.

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 13, 2011 at 5:49 am

      Thank you for this. Easy to say screw 3rd party validation. Much harder to do it. Taking notes from Tyler.

  7. March 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Callie,

    I sent you a tweet something to the effect of- thanks for letting us in on the conversation among red woods. I’m referring to a seminar on 7 Habits with Steven Covey. He talks about how strong the roots are of redwoods that stand and grow together as a metaphor for interdependence and people working together. When you spoke of musicians, that seemed one cluster and when you spoke of your own team flushing out thoughts on how to proceed, it seemed like another cluster. The post reads like a textual documentary. It’s like you are letting us in on a “backstage” secret. Thank you! ~Regina

    • Callie Oettinger
      March 13, 2011 at 5:57 am

      Thanks, Regina. Wasn’t familiar with the redwoods in that sense. There are so many parallels between how plants/trees grow and how our work grows. Thanks for introducing the redwoods. Will have to learn more. Callie