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What Musicians Can Learn From The Olympics

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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I don’t own a television. 10 years ago that would have seemed ludicrous. But now, in a Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go world, it’s quickly becoming the norm. At least for those under 30.

So, needless to say, I haven’t watched much of the Olympics this year.

I was on a Southwest flight the other day and they offered free TV (if you have a wifi enabled device). So I decided to tune into some Olympics action. When else will I watch a speed skating match again? Probably in 4 years. Or maybe not.

But that was the event on the screen. The American’s were out and it was looking like the Dutch were going to sweep the podium for the 10,000 meters.

I know absolutely nothing about speed skating other than Dan Jansen did it back in the day. Well I should say, I KNEW nothing about it. Now I almost feel like an expert.

That’s one great thing about the Olympics. The announcers do a great job of educating the uneducated just enough in the short amount of time they’re tuned into an unfamiliar event.

I learned skaters have to cross the center “out of bounds” line twice to be disqualified. That the 10,000 meters is by far the toughest event for speed skaters. Some vomit after the event (unfortunately didn’t catch any of that on live TV this time).

I also learned that an illegal lane change cost Sven Kramer from the Netherlands the gold in 2010.

His coach, on the ice (coaches can scream from on the ice), told Sven at the last minute, on the final couple laps, to change lanes. Sven complied. And he got disqualified.

That’s the story in the Netherlands that EVERYONE knows. I say everyone because apparently over 1/3 of the entire Dutch population was tuning into this race. 7 million people (of the 17 million) tuned in. In the middle of the afternoon. On a work day. To watch Sven redeem himself.

That’s Super Bowl numbers in America.

Sven was the last athlete to compete. Everyone was rooting for him. His coach (the same one who made the mistake) was back on the ice.

But Sven’s teammate, the race prior, had just had the best race of his life and nearly broke (Sven’s) world record.

The pressure was on. Could Sven break his teammate’s time? And the world record? And take home the gold he lost?

His country held their collective breath for the 12:49:04 race.

He raced a jaw dropping time. But not fast enough to beat his teammate’s time of 12:44:45. Sven took home the silver.

I was as glued to the screen as the Dutch. I was cheering Sven on too. I had chills watching the flashbacks from 2010. His coach’s realization that he had cost his player the gold.

I even got my Southwest seat neighbor in on the action. Boy did I feel awesome when I explained the center out of bounds stipulation to her.

But not 60 minutes prior I couldn’t care less about speed skating. I didn’t know Sven Kramer from Kramer on Seinfeld. I couldn’t tell you a single speed skating event. Or a skater other than Dan Jansen.

But now? I nearly cried when Sven missed the gold by less than 5 seconds.

No one cares about your music now. You have to convince them to care. They need a story to latch onto.

What about your project makes you unique? What will get people to root for your success? What hardships have you overcome?

What is the story people will tell their friends when playing them your song?

It’s not enough to just have great music. You need a compelling story.

This story goes in your press release and in your bio. It’s the two sentences that Fallon will say introducing you on The Tonight Show.

Why does your band stand out? Do you have a story like Sven’s?

+Your Music Doesn’t Matter

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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