Learning from Sting
Managing a brand is about as hard as it gets when you are managing a brand within pop music. Popular culture is, almost by definition, ephemeral. There are lessons to be learned from the masters and, without serious doubt, Sting is a master. In this talk he begins to examine the creative process of invention, destruction and reinvention: creation.
How can a boy who escapes the pain of a working class shipyard North East England, return home for inspiration when he is in the barren years of his later life? Here is a guy who, by his own definition, managed to achieve everything he dreamed of and then … nothing. His songwriting skills remained but his songs disappeared. He went from the working class rage of punk and white boys playing reggae to the smooth yoga tone of world music for FM Radio. Sting was about the CD not the shipyard.
In exile we are neither fully here nor can we be fully there. In exile we are outsiders, even outside our founding culture. A trip to our roots is unlikely to be a trip home. But in that journey we may find a new voice, from the same heart, that resonates more meaningfully with the wisdom of years. And so, from the egocentricity of art as self exploration to the inspiration of finding another mans story, Sting finds new songs. New songs about the culture that created him, a culture he now brings into his own world, still Sting, still gorgeously produced and arranged, still the same brand. But with a different voice. No longer barren.
There are lessons for us all in the journey. And “The last ship” is a great album, currently on the studio playlist.