Bob Dylan has managed his career highly successfully for a half-century.
I studied Dylan’s business intellect as I wrote my new Penguin/Perigee book, published on Aug. 7, “Forget About Today: Bob Dylan’s Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution.”
Here are seven business tips from the Bob Dylan File:
1) Built to Last: You can’t let the newcomers throw you off your game. Just make sure whatever you have created is built to last. Dylan put it well in 1985, when he spoke with filmmaker Cameron Crowe for the liner notes to his “Biograph” collection. Dylan noted: “Muddy Waters didn’t stop playing just because the J. Geils Band started making records.” Somehow, Dylan might as well have told us, Muddy Waters’ legacy will shine brighter than that of the J. Geils Band.
|Bob Dylan at the City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco|
3) Don’t Follow the Crowd: Dylan’s landmark song “Ballad of a Thin Man” might as well be his version of a business plan. He is telling the totally out of touch “Mister Jones” that he has no idea what is happening in the world, right in front of his eyes, because he is stuck in his confining ways. Dylan is telling every aspiring entrepreneur to think for himself or herself and not worry about the naysayers.
5) Never Be Discouraged by the Critics: Has anyone made more comebacks than Dylan? He got ripped when he made the much-criticized film “Renaldo & Clara.” Greil Marcus began his Rolling Stone review of Dylan’s album “Self-Portrait” by proclaiming, “What is this sh**?” For his soundtrack of Sam Peckinpah’s western, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” the critics didn’t lavish praise on him. But Dylan never buckled.
7) Always Innovate: Dylan had a tremendous success with his concerts known as “Tour ’74,” six weeks of stressful one-nighters in mammoth hockey arenas throughout North America. Instead of embarking on another big-arena tour the following year in 1975, he formed the ramshackle Rolling Thunder Revue, a troupe of singers and musicians. This innovation enabled Dylan to enjoy making music in an informal way — and prompted some of the very best concerts of his long career.
Jon Friedman is the author of “Forget About Today: Bob Dylan’s Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution,” published by Penguin/Perigee on Aug. 7, 2012. For more information go here.