By Jim McCarthy Feb 24, 2011 0 comments

This Can Be Better

A little while ago, I announced Goldstar’s partnership with TED, and we’re hosting a TED simulcast next week in downtown LA.  As a Live 2.0 reader, you’re officially invited.

Lately, people have been asking me about my participation in TED and why I’ve gone to the conference and gotten involved in the TED community for the last several years, and so gave some thought to explaining that.

It comes down to this: TED is very much about the belief that “this can be better.”  Whatever “this” is, it can be made better by good ideas, cooperation and care.  It’s not just that the TED crowd is smart; they’re really enthusiastic about what they do.  They care more than most people in their fields, and that’s part of the reason they’re looking for good ideas to put to work.

But to be specific, I have felt for years that generally speaking, live entertainment is a business that needs a strong dose of “this can be better.”  Of course, there’s a lot of great work done and a lot of pretty good work done, but what’s missing, in my opinion, is drive, at the industry level, to look at what we’re doing and say “this can be better.”  I’ll tell you that the guys in Silicon Valley ask this all the time; and so does the NFL and Cirque Du Soleil.  Any industry on the move is asking that question.

In fact, my complaint about the discourse in live entertainment and arts is that it’s pretty much a six month cycle of having the same debates about the same handful of small-bore issues, but every time the issues cycle back to the top, people seem to have forgotten that they’ve already had the exact same conversation, or nearly.  Thomas Cott published a nice compendium of stories about discounting (one of those topics) the other day, and I couldn’t even muster the energy to comment.  It felt like a really boring remake of “Groundhog’s Day” wherein Bill Murray just sat in his hotel reading blog posts.  Ugh.

Live entertainment is riding on a cultural wave of strength, believe it or not.  People want the product, generally speaking, which makes it a little easier for mediocrity to survive.  But sadly,  that’s what happens a lot.  The mediocrity survives in a minimal state because it can, even if just barely.  And it stays that way because people aren’t asking ‘how can this be better?’  They’re asking, “how can I survive without changing?”

That’s not the right question.

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