Music Productivity & Work Writing

Want to focus? Seek ambient sound

One of the greatest myths of our time is that silence is golden. But complete silence will keep you from working effectively. It may even put you to sleep.

J. K. Rowling left the solitude of her own home to write the Harry Potter series in a coffee shop amid the cacophony of people chatting over grinding espresso machines.

The noisy environment inspired her to get to work. Studies show that just enough sound creates an ambient environment conducive to working by drowning out any other unpredictable racket in the background.

The power of music

Studies also show that learning to play an instrument makes it easier for children to learn how to read. Additionally, the “Mozart Effect” is said to improve concentration and study habits. Surgeons often use popular music during operations to relax both the patient and themselves. Muzak takes the awkward silence out of the elevator.

The right type of noise is critical to working effectively. In fact, many CEOs expect disruptions in the form of email and calls to ensure the business is actively operating. Silence is the antithesis of productivity.

In order to stay motivated and remain productive, we need perpetual sound rather than peace and quiet. Sound is productive. Rather, it is the silence between the notes that can be the most disruptive.


J.K. Rowling revisits her masterpiece

source (6)

J.K. Rowling reflects on annotating the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I wrote the book … in snatched hours, in clattering cafés or in the dead of night … The story of how I wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is written invisibly on every page, legible only to me. Sixteen years after it was published, the memories are as vivid as ever as I turn these pages.”

J.K. Rowling

Most authors refuse to revisit their old work. Musicians avoid listening to their old albums. Some actors refuse to see their own movies after they hit theaters.

Art reminds creatives of their daily battles with the blank page, canvass, or script — a craft fraught with sweat and tears, pain and pleasure. Even more, all that work was yesterday’s genius.

“There’s always more to be said, more to be felt,” Henry James once remarked. We can always do better. Yet finishing and moving on is the point. And so we buckle up and start the next one.

art via giphy




How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity

the whoosh of espresso machines and caffeinated chatter typical of most coffee shops creates just the right level of background noise to stimulate creativity.

Try Coffitivity, a website that provides ambient coffee house sounds to increase creativity.

Coffee shops inspired J.K. Rowling in writing Harry Potter.

Note:  silence is required for more focused moments:

The benefits of moderate noise, however, apply only to creative tasks. Projects that require paying close attention to detail, like proofreading a paper or doing your taxes…are performed better in quiet environments.


Rowling is not “JK” on her New Book Pricing

I love how JK Rowling flat out declared that her new book would be twice the price as typical retail. Only she could do this.

Rowling doesn’t even need a publisher and she certainly doesn’t need a retailer. She can sell everything at the highest price on her Pottermore website, take all the margin and then drop the price for the ebook and brick and mortar stores.

We’ll definitely see more and more of this model with big acts. If I were Coldplay, for instance, I’d sell the new album online and have different bundle variations that ship directly to fan. Let your biggest fans buy first.

The Do-It-Yourself model is not recommended for smaller artists. Lesser known artists need to build a tribe first and make everything available, even never-before-heard singles. And the more free content the merrier. Build up that database of fan’s emails that can be sold to. At Topspin, the general rule of thumb was to have 10,000 emails before selling anything.

Big authors and musicians and pretty much anyone that creates content with a huge following have an incredible tool on the Internet that allows them to skip traditional retail and make even more money. The content will disperse everywhere eventually, but only after the hardcore fans are treated first.


Pottermore Power

JK Rowling just ripped digital book services a new one, selling her Harry Potter books directly from her website.

The books appear on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but literally only for display and convenience to the customer. The book can only be purchased at the Pottermore store and made compatible for all eReading devices.

This deal would never happen in brick and mortar stores, simply because physical book space is a store’s treasure, accounting for 80% of the revenue (my guess). Even more, the deal symbolizes what’s wrong about the digital book format. There is none!

Just take at look at ALL the book format options on Pottermore. The one I don’t see and that is comparable to the music industry’s MP3 is the PDF. Seth Godin releases his books in PDFs which allows interoperability on any device including my hand. I like to print out PDFs and write notes on them.

We’ve seen direct to fan emerge the last few years starting with musicians. At Topspin, we white labelled our widgets so major artists like Lady Gaga could sell music, merchandise, and experiences directly to fans. Just last year, Louis CK made more money by selling his $5 video (again in any format) directly to his fans. Rowling is taking her brand to a whole new level, basically using digital retailers as props. Sure, Amazon and Barnes and Noble would love to take the traffic!

I can’t wait to see the sales results from the Potter effort. I didn’t even mention the audio versions of the books that are also sold on Pottermore. You get where I’m headed, this is an absolute power play move that puts control in the artists hands and the retailers as side posts.