“How music works, or doesn’t work, is determined not just by what it is in isolation, but in large part by what surrounds it, where you hear it and when you hear it.”
“I realized that the same music placed in a different context [venue] can not only change the way a listener perceives that music, but it can also cause the music itself to take on an entirely new meaning.”
I know in isolation, those statements from Talking Heads singer David Byrne (author of How Music Works) seems a little weird — especially for a blog that usually talks solely about business and marketing.
But this concept of “venue theory” is something that is very very important for marketers like us.
Above was a pre-launch video from Ed Dale (a man who has a frightening ability to predict the future when it come to these things), where he talked about Venue Theory, and how technology is playing a very very important role in marketing to an audience.
You see, Venue Theory describes a massive problem, especially in the information selling industry, because the “venue” where people are consuming information is changing rapidly. This means that the ways you have published information in the past may no longer be the ways people are consuming information now.
… but with every massive problem comes an even bigger opportunity.
It’s All About the Context NOT the Content
Let me give you an important example:
On January 12th, 2007, a young man wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap entered a metro station in Washington, removed a violin from its case, and began to play.
Over the next 45 minutes, over 1000 people walked by the violinist, but only a handful dropped money into his open violin case, and even fewer stopped for any amount of time to listen to the performance. In total the violinist received $52.17 in tips.
And $20 of that was donated by Stacy Furukawa, who was the only person to recognize the violinist as Joshua Bell, former child prodigy and world-famous musician who usually plays to packed-out concert halls for upwards of $1000 a minute!
The stunt was orchestrated by the Washington Post to answer the question, “If a great musician plays great music but no one hears… was he really any good?”
But what interests me most about this story is what it teaches us about the importance of context [read: venue].
You see, most of the people that walked by that morning dropped in a quarter – or nothing at all. And yet, under different circumstances, most would happily have paid $100 or more to listen to Joshua Bell perform in concert.
The venue, then, can make a world of difference, not just to people’s appreciation of something, but also to what they’re willing to pay for it.
… and for information marketers, that venue has shifted dramatically in the past 3 years!